We experienced a glitch with publishing comments on the blog overnight. The process of authentication that a comment is from a human broke down following a security upgrade. This has now been fixed. Let the comments flow once more….
Mark Fletcher on June 19, 2013 8:10 AM
Mark Fletcher on June 19, 2013 6:03 AM
The imposition of an 80 cent per copy surcharge on newspapers delivered to newsagents in certain areas continues to stress the affected newsagents and leave plenty of others quietly wondering why they dodged this bullet.
News Limited has not imposed the delivery surcharge in all regions where it could apply, leading to questions about the motivation of this move. It has also not so far adjusted the cover price printed on the newspaper.
Coles and Woolworths have not so far imposed the 80 cent a copy surcharge. This is already hurting retail newsagents as newsagency shoppers change outlets. Here’s what else has happened in the last few days:
- Two country newsagents have lost up to three quarters of their paper customers.
- A delivery round has lost over 100 plus customers and they are receiving cancellations daily.
- One newsagent who is retail only has cut his paper supply by half.
- Every corner deli is losing paper sales and early morning customers and most have indicated that if this trend continues they will have to put off a staff member.
- Delivery drivers will soon have to be put off as the trend of paper losses continues.
- There are many businesses affected by News Ltd’s decision.
Questions put to News Limited remain unanswered. Newsagents feel treated poorly.
It will be some time before we understand the real game being played here. So far, based on the evidence, this appears to be a move that will harm newsagents unreasonably. There is no other explanation for the approach News appears to be taking and the lack of consistency in pursuing a more economically viable approach to distributing their product in all areas of Australia.
From what we can see at the moment, a small group of South Australian newsagents are being treated unfairly.
Mark Fletcher on June 19, 2013 5:58 AM
While Vintage Caravan magazine is no longer being distributed by gordon and Gotch, it is alive and well and available to be socked by newsagents – for a better margin. here’s a letter to newsagents from the publisher.
Dear valued Vintage Caravan Magazine stockist,
It has been brought to our attention that Gordon & Gotch have been wrongly informing some of you that Vintage Caravan Magazine is “no longer in production” and that this incorrect information has also been being passed on to our customers.
The truth is that we have ample evidence of Gotch’s wrongdoings with regards to the distribution of Vintage Caravan Magazine and when we attempted to pull them up on this they reacted by ending our distribution agreement.
As a consequence of this we have made the decision to switch to IPS for distribution from the next issue and hope that this resolves some of the supply and remittance problems we have experienced with Gotch over the past two years.
Vintage Caravan Magazine is getting bigger and stronger than ever and has a growing and loyal readership and we will be increasing the magazine by an additional 8 pages from the next issue on.
We have also just been accepted by the distributors for America’s biggest book seller Barnes & Noble so no, we are not going away anytime soon!
I just wanted to take this opportunity to quash these malicious rumours on the head so that I don’t keep getting emails from my panicking customers who have been made to believe that their beloved magazine is no longer available.
If any of you have any documentation to indicate where this unethical misinformation is coming from I would appreciate it if you would send me a copy as this is grounds for legal action against Gotch and highly defamatory to my business.
I hope that you will continue to stock Vintage Caravan Magazine and place your orders now through IPS.
If you would like us to include you on our online stockist list please email me direct with your address so we can add you to the list.
Email: email@example.com | www.vintagecaravanmagazine.com.au
Phone: 0439 993 963 | Postal address: PO Box 1052, Maleny QLD Australia 4552
Mark Fletcher on June 19, 2013 5:40 AM
Ash Long, Editor of Melbourne Observer, is an active supporter of newsagents in the pages of his newspaper. He also consults when making decisions, such as on cover price, that could impact us.
Earlier this week Ash shared a story with me about a potential Melbourne Observer advertiser and a newsagent that bears sharing. In Ash’s words…
I am a very careful reader of your blog, and take in every point that is made about how publishers need to support newsagents. Within our small business, we do the best we can, with newsagents listings in-paper and online, and “talking up” the newsagency channel as often as we can in the paper.
We had an occasion today where we had a potential advertiser wanted to see our newspaper first hand, which we encourage. We like our advertisers to make an informed decision. Our customer, at our invitation, went across the road from their shop to their local newsagent.
It disappoints me that our potential advertiser said that the newsagent “talked down” our product. Now, the newsagent is quite at liberty to make any comments on whatever subject they want. But do they realise they talked themselves out of a small regular sale, and lost us a sale too?
You often say that retail is theatre. I agree. Theatre involves delivering our “lines” to customers. These should always be positive lines to build sales. Casual, thoughtless commentary slowly kills the newsagent’s own business, paper by paper.
I am happy for you to relate this experience on the blog. You may use my name and that of the Melbourne Observer should you choose, but I would prefer that the newsagent not be identified.
My own experience is that the Melbourne Observer attracts loyal readers, readers who can be leveraged in to purchasing other products.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 10:02 PM
We shot a video of the latest Newsagency of the Future workshop today. Following post production it should be available from here sometime next week. This video is shorter than the live workshop but to covers the key themes and highlights the same recommendation and suggestions.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 9:57 PM
PaidContent is reporting that US book giant Barnes and Noble has slashed the price of its Nook e-reader. While the company offered context for deep discounting, it has been ignored by analysis who say sales of the nook are too low.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 1:14 PM
Newsagents will be thrilled to learn that Touch networks now provides access to Vodafone recharge. Read the announcement here.
Accessible by newsagents directly from within their Point of Sale software and for no setup of additional fee, the arrival of Vodafone to Touch will make many newsagents happy.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 6:16 AM
In an interview in yesterday’s Australian Financial Review, Bauer CEO Matt Stanton forecast that there would be more magazine closures as well as some launches as the business responded to title performance. Newsagents with a copy of yesterday’s newspaper should read the article – page 38.
The bigger story in the AFR article is the growth in digital subscriptions with Stanton claiming 20 to 30 percent growth quarter on quarter. He says they have 116,000 tablet subscriptions across their titles.
Stanton I think mistakenly says that tablet subscriptions are pure profit once you have the back end setup costs covered. This presumes that you have a print product to cover all editorial costs. My reading on the topic indicates we are not seeing people embracing both platforms in large numbers – it is digital or print. So it would be wrong to say that a digital subscription is pure protect. It must wear part of the content creation cost.
The AFR article reports Stanton saying its feasible Bauer could achieve 500,000 digital subscriptions across titles such as AWW and Gourmet Traveller. The road to such an achievement is by way of current print sales. I expect strategists in all print publishing businesses see the current print products as the bridge to the platform they expect one day to overtake print in sales and value to the business. This is why publishers will continue to tell newsagents that print is important to them for some time yet.
An area where the company could save is in oversupply. There are several Bauer titles I’m receiving where sell-through is lower than 50%. These titles are loss making for us. The continued excess supply does not make sense.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 6:11 AM
With the highly-anticipated kids movie still in preview this is an excellent result. It also speaks to the value of brands. Despicable Me 2 has attracted shoppers who would not usually visit because of the products being placed at the front of the store, facing into the mall.
the more we attract shoppers for high-margin products the better. It’s our goal to be known as the go to retailer for movie related product tie-ins. We have a major cinema in the centre, rear us, so this goal makes sense. We also have access to proactive suppliers who bring in a decent range of licenced product.
We have backup stock on the way.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 6:07 AM
We continues to have success with Diabetic Living by placing it with: weeklies, newspapers and other off-location positions such as the placement in the photo above our English magazines and next to our min placement of weekly titles. Diabetic Living responds to the extra attention with sales. We work on the view that it’s a title people don’t necessarily visit us to purchase. The cover of the latest issue demonstrates the broad appeal of the title.
Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2013 6:01 AM
We’re promoting the launch issue Batman Automobilia on the lease line facing into the mall as well as placement with other partworks in-store. This co-location approach works well for us with partworks – sales this season have been good for us.
While not the most attractive unit, the dump bin approach works in terms of driving sales and the floor space it takes up.
Mark Fletcher on June 17, 2013 6:02 AM
In a move with far-reaching ramifications for the entire newsagency channel, several Coles petrol outlets in Victoria are about to commence a trial selling Tatts lottery products.
It’s expected that the product mix will be similar to the Tatts products currently sold at 7-Eleven. When 7-Eleven got Tatts products newsagents were told it was about incremental business – business not won through the then current network. That has not been the case. 7-Eleven has marketed the products well, especially at jackpot time. I have no doubt that their consistent offer and marketing have seen some traffic diverted from newsagencies to their network.
I’m told the trial will be in seven Coles petrol locations. I expect it will expand beyond this in Victoria once the trial is completed and into other states as local hurdles are overcome. I’d expect Woolworths to follow in the Caltex outlets they acquired some time back. I can’t see Woolworths letting Coles get Tatts products and them not.
An additional 2,000 lottery outlets could open around Australia over the next two or three years. If this happens it will negatively impact on lottery driven traffic and sales in newsagencies with lottery products.
Newsagents facing Tatts mandated shop-fitting need to take this increased competition into account when planning for the capital investment. The capital investment must be responsible. Tatts cannot make you invest uneconomically. Indeed, I would have expected Tatts to disclose their longer-term intentions so that newsagents can make fully informed decisions.
Expansion of Tatts products into supermarket controlled petrol outlets would add strength to the perfect storm we are experiencing – migration from print to digital, migration of product sales to other channels, shoppers buying online products we’d usually sell, a soft economy, growing diversity around the newsagency shingle and its value and more retailers chasing the traditional newsagency shopper.
While Coles and Tatts can do what they like, newsagents could consider complaining to the ACCC. Rod Sims, ACCC Chairman, has the supermarket duopoly in his sights as he has noted several times since taking on the role. This move by Coles ought to interest him as it is a grab for greater market share by one of the two major supermarkets.
The geographic spread of newsagencies and other lottery outlets indicates, to me at least, that consumers are well served. More outlets does not necessarily mean more competition or better customer service. No, more outlets in petrol locations controlled by one or both of the supermarket duopoly businesses will, ultimately, lead to less competition.
So, I’d hope that newsagents and those who represent them take this issue up with the ACCC. I’d also like to see it taken up with politicians in the lead up to the election – calling for a halt to the growth of Coles and Woolworths. We need legislation to do this and this lottery move by Coles is a good reason to prosecute that case.
Now is not the time to worry about the reaction from Tatts if unified action against the Coles move is taken. Put your interests ahead of fear of reprisals.
Newsagents cannot afford for Tatts products to get into the petrol outlets controlled by the supermarkets. Newsagency businesses would suffer and the communities in which they serve would suffer.
Before anyone goes off about the ANF on this issue I’d note that it came to their attention a few days ago and that they are working on it.
Footnote: over the last six weeks, at the Newsagency of the Future workshops I talked about Coles and Woolworths, observing that they must want lottery products in their petrol outlets because of what 7-Eleven has achieved. I predicted that the supermarkets would pursue Tatts.
I made this observation without any inside information. Indeed, the dots have been there for several years for all of us to connect.
I connected the dots for hundreds of newsagents to underscore the importance for newsagents to assess whether their future is as agents or as retailers.
Mark Fletcher on June 17, 2013 5:48 AM
I was disappointed to see Get Your Business Online on the shelves of one of my newsagencies yesterday. It’s an expensive special interest title and as such should not be sent unless we request. This is the magazine distribution model I want, a pull model for special interest and other magazine titles that fit a range of criteria. In a pull model I am sure I’d be able to increase my magazine sales.
I don’t want Get Your Business Online because we have had titles for the same shopper recently and they have not paid their way. Indeed, the distributor has this data – there is no justification for now sending us this title other than for them to get paid a fee by a willing publisher ken to get stock onto shelves.
Blah blah blah, same old same old. I’ve written posts like this many times before. Magazine distributor behaviour has not changed. the sooner all magazine publishers realise that the distribution model is what causes newsagents to early return stock sometimes irrationally. It is also what is causing some newsagents to seriously think about getting our of magazines altogether.
I worry that publishers will not act on the model until it is too late.
Mark Fletcher on June 17, 2013 5:45 AM
We are promoting the latest issue of InStyle magazine with this in-location display at the entrance to our women’s magazine aisle. We’re showing off the free mascara that comes with this issue – to leverage the email campaign being run to promote the free gift to shoppers.
Mark Fletcher on June 16, 2013 6:02 AM
Newsagencies often offer appreciated services that are not well promoted. many such services are actually hidden or forgotten. My suggestion today is that you promote them.
Magazine putaways, customer special orders, LayBy and photocopying are some of the services I am thinking of with this tip. Promote them and through this promote a point of difference you offer over other retailers.
Create a flyer to be handed to each customer, consider an ad in the local newspaper or have posters professionally developed for promotion in-store. Focus on services you offer that differentiate your business.
One newsagent I spoke to recently increased copying sales by $550 a month. That’s close to $400 a month in GP.
Mark Fletcher on June 16, 2013 5:58 AM
My experience in business is that the only way to deal with a fear is to confront it. Worry will not change anything.
I faced a major fear of mine yesterday when I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been scared of heights. While I still am, that I made it up and down without freaking out (much) has left me feeling more empowered in relation to my fear, stronger.
Embarrassing photos like this one will remind me to not be blocked by a fear.
Mark Fletcher on June 16, 2013 5:55 AM
It was a thrill to be part of the ANF newsagent of the year awards dinner in Hobart last night. My newsagency software company was a sponsor so I got to say a few words before presenting the Tasmanian Retail Newsagent of the Year award.
My message was simple – we need to move from being agents making cents from a sale and embrace being retailers where we bring customers in based on our decisions and to purchase items at 50%, 60% and more GP. This means owning our own success and not expecting others to own it for us. It means being retailers being responsible for and pursuing our own success.
In a room with plenty of suppliers I made the point that our success depends more on us and less on our suppliers.
Let’s focus more on action and less on complaining.
Mark Fletcher on June 15, 2013 9:13 AM
I’ve just caught up with an interview on ABC Radio’s AM last Saturday with Andrea Carson a Melbourne University lecturer in media, politics and society. In the interview, Carson says:
So I think five years’ time, it would be unlikely to still have a Monday to Friday hardcopy newspaper for Fairfax.
I think the weekends have other attractions. They’re still in the broadsheet form at the moment, and advertisers do like the weekend papers because they know that readers have more time to sit and read the newspaper over a weekend.
From what we see happening around us, moves large and small, I except to see capital city dailies start to withdraw from seven day a week publishing of print editions much sooner than five years. This is not a new position for me, it’s something I’ve been saying for a couple of years now. What is different today is the increase in moves by publishers supporting my (undesirable) expectation.
Mark Fletcher on June 15, 2013 5:55 AM
The wet and cold winter weather in Melbourne was on our side this week as we put out a new line of heat packs at the front of the shop. As one of our team members started putting these funky products out we sold two. We were thrilled.
The first customers were drawn to the funky looking products. This is pretty special to us. It’s a goal – drawing traffic for products other than traditional newsagency lines … good margin products.
A challenge for newsagents in this gift / funky gift space is the constant change – we have to manage for that whereas in traditional categories of cards and magazines our suppliers do it for us. Harder work but compared to magazines better margin. Plus we get to make our businesses different.
Mark Fletcher on June 15, 2013 5:51 AM
This line of bug-eyed plush items being promoted by mass merchant K-Mart look surprising like a line we have been selling with tremendous success for more than a year. Their price point is very low. It matches the quality of the product.
What separates us with plush is our more creative engagement with the products in-store than you see in K-Mart. We see every shopper as a plush prospect.
Mark Fletcher on June 15, 2013 5:43 AM
We are pitching it here at the counter as well as with our sports magazines. It’s great seeing people add it to purchases at the counter on impulse. This where a 25% margin product at the counter is okay – if it is selling in sufficient quantity.
We expect sales to do very well this weekend. We’ll assess sales Monday or Tuesday in the context of a move from the counter.
Mark Fletcher on June 14, 2013 10:08 AM
Question 8 of my magazine distribution change survey asked newsagents for any other comments. Click here to see all the comments.
Mark Fletcher on June 14, 2013 5:13 AM
Only 13.8% of those responding prefer Thursday, the day selected by the magazine distributors.
This result flies in the face of the claim by the distributors that they consulted prior to making the move. Consultation of newsagents would have shown that Thursday is not a good day. Indeed, the result articulates the concerns of newsagents about Thursday, that they may lose sales to supermarkets and other retail channels – indeed, 65.4% are concerned about this.
Magazine distributors and publishers need to take note of this live concern held by newsagents. It’s borne out of what we see on the high street and in shopping centres. If any party would know what could happen to shopper traffic it’s newsagents who live this battle every day.
Do magazine publishers want to participate in a decision that facilitates a shift in magazine purchases from newsagencies to supermarkets, petrol and conveniece? I bet not since that is a shift that would not play out for them in the long run. The problem for us is that some publishers may not understand the risk for them oof migrating sales from independents to mass groups.
Click here for more on my concerns about Thursday as the second day for magazines.
Okay, this worry about a Thursday on sale could be nothing, it could be us worrying unnecessarily. Is that a risk the magazine publishers are willing to take? A genuine consultation process would have thoroughly explored these issues.
The survey results show newsagents as understanding of the need to move from three days to two. I thought the response on this was quite reasonable.
My understanding is that Thursday was selected primarily because of Who magazine. Because of how key content is sourced, out of the US, an on sale earlier in the week than Thursday would not be possible. Indeed, I am told from within distributor ranks that being ready for Thursday will be a significant challenge. If that’s the case then why not deliver Who on a Friday through IPS and leave all other titles for a Wednesday delivery? Surely a deal could be struck between Pacific and Gotch to permit such a move.
I am sure there are many complex factors that fed into the decision. However, from where I sit, it feels like newsagents were not consulted and or listened to. The result is not good for us. The magazine distributors win. Some publishers win. The vast majority of newsagents are worse off.
It is not too late to throw the issue on the table for genuine consultation. That’s what I hope will happen given the weight of the survey results. Do I think it will happen? I’m not confident. Our suppliers have a track record of mouthing how important we are and how they value our opinion. The actions of too many suppliers tell a different story.
So, magazine publishers and distributors … are you prepared to reconsider the decision and actively consult with newsagents? We sell close to 50% of all magazines sold in Australia. We’d appreciate being part of the conversation on such a business critical move.
Footnote: while we can’t be certain all responses are from newsagents, we can be certain, thanks to the survey software, that only one response per computer was received. Given the readership of the blog, I’d say the vast majority of responds were newsagents.
Mark Fletcher on June 14, 2013 5:04 AM
I am in Cairns today for the last of the current round of Newsagency of the Future workshops. It’s been terrific evolving the workshop as I’ve gone around the country talking with newsagents in many different situations.
Yesterday, I shot a video of a shorter version of the presentation. This should be available from the blog in the next week. Slides need to be integrated and some other post production done.
Mark Fletcher on June 13, 2013 7:51 AM
My survey about the magazine delivery changes will close at 9pm tonight. I left it open another day given the rush of last-minite responses – we’re currently at 379. Please click here the link to take part in the survey.