Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Newsagency of the Future workshop – Perth next Wednesday

Mark Fletcher on April 2, 2015 10:34 AM

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 10.29.29 amI had to reschedule my last Newsagency of the Future session in Perth because of a flight delay of several hours. The next session is in Perth next Wednesday at 8am (breakfast included).

Perth. April 8. 8 am.  Country Comfort Inter City. Great Eastern Highway Perth.

All newsagents welcome. It’s free.

Click here for the booking form, or email bookings@towersystems.com.au.

I will share insights relevant to newsagents and detail opportunities available to newsagents to attract new shoppers and to improve what we make from existing shoppers. I’ll back this with data from some newsagency businesses growing against the channel average.

This Perth event is the first of a national series that will include Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Hobart, Cairns, Townsville, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Newcastle, Parramatta, Geelong, Launceston.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency benchmark · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

January – March newsagency sales benchmark study

Mark Fletcher on April 2, 2015 10:30 AM

I have started gathering sales and other data for the January – March 2015 versus 2014 newsagency sales benchmark study. In just over 24 hours I received data from more than fifty stores. I am looking forward to the results as history has shown the first quarter to be a good indicator for the year ahead.

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The challenge of roadworks for newsagents and other small business retailers

Mark Fletcher on April 2, 2015 5:32 AM

rwIn Mackay in North Queensland earlier this week I saw dreadful disruption of shopping streets in the centre of town. The work is dragging on for too long, keeping shoppers away from the centre of town and making access to some shops near impossible. I walked in and around to see what it would be like for shoppers. It’s awful. I can understand why shoppers are avoiding downtown Mackay at the moment.

The council claims the works will improve the amenity of the area. Looking at what they are doing I doubt it. I certainly doubt that the ‘improvements’ will provide a return to the small business owners over years which covers the reduced profits caused by the works.

Unfortunately, the council, like so many councils, pushes on with works with little regard to the actual cost to business. There ought to be assessments at yearly anniversaries for several years to report on the return on investment and to assess the economic benefits to businesses so profoundly affected.

Whether it is parking restrictions, council beautification works, road works or other infrastructure works impacting foot traffic, small businesses like newsagencies can be affected as shoppers are given reasons to try retailers elsewhere.

The only way for retailers to confront this situation is to look for opportunities to transact business outside the business. If the customers can’t get to you, you need to get to them. This involves more marketing and other investment, investment the council should support to help a small business get through the council caused disruption.

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The easy way for newsagents to be competitive on stationery

Mark Fletcher on April 2, 2015 5:26 AM

Download the officeworks App onto your phone and use this on the shop floor to show your customers that you are cheaper than Officeworks. It works a treat – especially for ink and toner. Being able to prove to a customer that you are cheaper, while retaining good margin, is excellent.

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Terrific placement of EmpireTV

Mark Fletcher on April 2, 2015 5:21 AM

placementI was thrilled to see EmpireTV co-located with Tv magazines, next to weeklies in the newsagency yesterday. This was a smart move, more than doubling opportunities for eyeballs and browsing. This is the kids of title people will purchase on impulse and not as a destination item.

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Submissions to the ACCC on the proposed magazine supply trial

Mark Fletcher on April 1, 2015 8:29 PM

Click here to see responses to the magazine supply trial the ACCC proposes to authorise. The list is not quite up to date.

Click here for the newsXpress submissionClick here for the Tower Systems submission. Others are welcome to publish their submissions here too.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

Newsagents given the ability to compete on magazines

Mark Fletcher on April 1, 2015 6:47 AM

Australian small business newsagents will rejoice today on the news of a new magazine supply model to start immediately.

  1. Newsagents control the titles they receive.
  2. Newsagents control the volume of each issue they receive.
  3. Magazine distributors to suggest range and volume which newsagents can accept or reject.
  4. Newsagents, publishers and distributors agree on a benchmark returns percentage.
  5. All returns will be tops (covers) only.
  6. No early returns.
  7. All magazines to be 30-day on-sale unless agreed otherwise.
  8. Publishers will, at their discretion, offer a per pocket stocking fee they want newsagents to carry but for which there is lower than needed update or for titles with a longer than 30 day on-sale.
  9. All supplier funded awards and rewards to be same store year on year sales related criteria and nothing else.
  10. Publishers to contribute to a newsagency channel marketing fund (estimated to be $2,000,000 a year) to be run by advertising experts and overseen by a panel of newsagents elected by newsagents.

What a wonderful day.

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→ 14 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Fun · magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines · Social responsibility

An identity check can protect your business

Mark Fletcher on April 1, 2015 6:05 AM

A newsagent yesterday gave away confidential information about their business lease to someone on the phone without verifying who they were. The caller said they were from an organisation associated with the business. It turns out the caller was from an organisation seeking to compete with them.

If you are not certain of who is on the phone seeking confidential business information, have some questions ask to be sure of their identity. Without certainty, don’t answer the questions. The last thing you want to do is to help a potential competitor cause your business harm.

Yes, unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous people associated with the newsagency channel.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newsagency management

Ethics in business

Mark Fletcher on April 1, 2015 6:01 AM

As I write this (Tuesday 4:05pm), I am sitting in a regional airport lounge listening to a car dealer on the phone tell his staff how to fudge sales figures so they continue to be in the running to win an award from the respected car brand they sell. They are booking ten sales by the close of this month, reach target and then push them through another business at a discount. The sales are not real sales. He’s now into his fourth call. His advice to one person was: I don’t care, I don’t care just get her to sign the fu&*%!g contract. To another his advice was: so fudge the figures then. Crazy.

Now, twenty minutes later, he’s on the phone to someone else gloating that he hit target and the business gets a bonus of thousands as a result. He’s making out that his business and his team are the best – when they had to fake it for this.

There is no point in business people kidding themselves to win awards or the back-slaps of their peers. The truths the truth and you can’t change that.

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Be thoughtful in discounting

Mark Fletcher on April 1, 2015 5:55 AM

discThis flyer has been circulated by  anew cafe near my office. I think they are making a mistake with their pitch as the different discounts are not time based or targeting different categories.  If I was them I’d offer 50% for use within 48 hours, 30% for use within 7 days and 15% for use within 30 days.  This approach would separate the discounts and offer relevance for the different percentages. As it is without any difference it looks a bit odd to me.

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Here’s why the MPA magazine trial fails

Mark Fletcher on March 31, 2015 5:07 PM

magscI took this photo yesterday in a regional town at the entrance to a national brand convenience store. They can fit close to 70 titles in their magazine fixture. If you look at the top 70 titles in Australia they would account for probably more than half of all magazine sales. This c-store could, with current arrangements and a direct account, control what they get. The newsagent a few doors away with more magazines available, cannot. The newsagent is disadvantaged – now and in the MPA trial world. This is one of many unfair differences in the supply model. It is something the ANF should have considered before supporting the MPA trial. It is something the MPA ought to have more thoroughly considered prior to investing so much time in their trial.

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→ No CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

Newsagents responding to the ACCC trial

Mark Fletcher on March 31, 2015 4:30 PM

Click here to see responses from newsagents to the magazine supply trial the ACCC proposes to authorise.

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→ 5 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply

Make it easy for people to complain about your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on March 31, 2015 5:46 AM

In this era of social media it is easy for customers to amplify their complaints about a business. Here is a complaint shared with me a few weeks ago about a newsagency with which I have no connection. They contacted me because of this blog and because they felt they had nowhere else to take their concerns..

I hope you can help me. I want to tell the owner of [REMOVED] newsagent that the lady they have who opens the shop in the mornings is rude. She would rather talk to her kids on the phone than serve customers. The young girl they have after school spends too much time flirting with boys. The owner doesn’t work in the business any more and I have no way of contacting them. The staff tell me to give them the message. I have stopped shopping there.

Make it easy for your customers to complain about you. Otherwise reports like this can spread you having the opportunity to fix the problem.

The easier we make it for people to complain the greater our commitment to good customer service.

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Price based marketing is a difficult habit to break

Mark Fletcher on March 31, 2015 5:36 AM

priceeasIn the main window of a Target stop on the weekend was a large sign promoting that they guarantee the best Easter egg prices in Australia.

Attracting shoppers on price only works if this is your thing, if your prices will always be lower and if you keep promoting your low prices.

I think promoting a retail business on price for most items is a mugs game as shoppers who purchase on price are fickle. They will chase the best price and anyone can promote that they will beat you on price.

Price is a point of difference which can be easily topped. At a K-Mart in the same centre as this Target, they were beating Target on a couple of Easter items I checked. But the items were not exactly the same and this is how retailers can get around we will not be beaten on price claims. Chemist Warehouse promoted lower prescription costs as a traffic driver. Now, there are many pharmacy groups and pharmacists matching them.

This is why I suggest to retailers that their point of difference ought not be price.

Newsagents can’t compete with the majors on price so I suggest we don’t. Promote other features of the business.

Sure, some people will shop at Target because they believe the claim and it plays into the relentless claim by Target about price. However, I doubt many will be loyal to Target because of it.

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Using AFL Beanie Kids to drive traffic

Mark Fletcher on March 31, 2015 5:31 AM

aflplWe are using floor display unit of the new range of AFL Beanie Kids to drive traffic into the newsagency with this front of store placement of the display unit on the lease line.

With the AFL season set to kick off and school holidays under way, the timing of this placement is perfect.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · newsagency marketing · Plush

Here’s a reason to support Fuel magazine

Mark Fletcher on March 30, 2015 4:54 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 4.52.11 pmFuel magazine has today told their 5,839 Twitter followers to get the latest issue from a newsagency. Check where you have the magazine and shine a spotlight on it to appreciate their support.

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Will the Collingwood drug story drive newspaper sales?

Mark Fletcher on March 30, 2015 4:43 PM

Melbourne is abuzz with reports two Collingwood players have tested positive to a performance-enhancing drug. While we’re hoping it will drive newspaper sales tomorrow, it’s providing plenty of opportunities for cheap fun across the counter today.

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ACCC submission in relation to newsagency magazine supply trial

Mark Fletcher on March 30, 2015 8:38 AM

The ACCC has proposed to authorise Magazine Publishers Australia to conduct a trial of an alternative magazine supply model.

As I wrote here in November, I think the proposed code of conduct changes are ill conceived and will not address the unfairness for newsagents compared to others with whom we compete. Earlier this month I encouraged newsagents to respond. Here is the first response I have submitted:

I make this submission on behalf of newsXpress Knox City in Wantirna South Victoria.

The ACCC proposes to authorise a trial which does nothing to address the anti competitive behaviour enshrined in the rules, processes and systems for distributing magazines to newsagents. The trial does nothing to get newsagents to closer to fair supply, to the controls over supply that supermarkets, petrol outlets and convenience outlets have in relation to magazine supply.

In proposing to authorise the trial, the ACCC is tacitly approving a continuation of behaviour which blocks newsagents from stocking magazines on terms which are fair.

The ACCC ought to hold piublic hearings into the proposed trial.

These are not new complaints for the ACCC. Newsagents have complained for years, providing examples of gross over spply in terms of volume and titles.

Unless newsagents are given control over the magazine titles they stock they will remain at a commercial disadvantage. This, in turhn would place our customers at a disadvantage.

In 1999 the ACCC oversaw the deregulation of the distribution of newspapers and magazines in Australia. At no time since has there been a review of the impact of deregulation. I call on the ACCC to consider such a review. While the ACCC could argue that such a review is outside its remit, I say it is within its remit given its direct involvement in deregulation which left newsagents competitively worse off.

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→ 21 CommentsCategory: Environment · Ethics · magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities · Social responsibility

Proud to sell Quarterly Essay

Mark Fletcher on March 30, 2015 5:46 AM

qessDEAR LIFE Caring for the Elderly by Karen Hitchcock and published as the latest Quarterly Essay is one of the best essays I have read. It is confronting, moving and thoughtful. It is timely for Australia and its ageing population. I am proud to have this title on sale in my newsagency.

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→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · Newsagency opportunities

Good to see Cairns Post promoting its print newspaper

Mark Fletcher on March 30, 2015 5:40 AM

cpIn Cairns last night I was thrilled to see News Corp’s Cairns Post proudly promoting that they have sold 6 million copies of the newspaper in the last year. This promotion speaks to locals and tourists about the position of the title in the community. I see plenty of publishers use their offices to promote websites and Apps – I’m pleased to be able to recognise good promotion of a print product.

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Easter cake decorating works in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on March 30, 2015 5:34 AM

cdeceasI love that the folks at the Cake Decorating partworks bring out seasonal themed issues. Their Easter issue is going well for us. We have it with Easter product at the front of the store as well as with cake decorating titles. It’s an easy up-sell.

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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: make a brochure

Mark Fletcher on March 29, 2015 6:10 AM

Take an blank piece of A4 paper and sketch out a flyer to promote your business. It’s important you start with blank paper so you really do have to start from scratch. The goal of the flyer has to be to get people into your business who are not regular shoppers with you.

I am serious, make a flyer. Single sided or double sided.

It does not have to be a work of art. Think about more as your ideas you;d have a designer turn into something professional.

The keys are: what messages to you pitch, what products to you feature and what is your call to action.

Once you have your draft flyer, think about this and your business. Are they aligned or is there a disconnect between you have on your flyer and the business being promoted?

If there is a disconnect, think about what you need to change in your business to connect with the business in the flyer.

If there is no disconnect and if the message is enticing, consider having the flyer professional designed and distributed.

Rely less on marketing others do for you and more on marketing you do for yourself.

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Sunday newsagency management tip: 30% is the max. you should allow for a category

Mark Fletcher on March 29, 2015 6:05 AM

Does your newsagency rely on too much traffic, GP or revenue for a single product category? By too much I mean more than 30%?

30% is a figure I have come up with, based on years of working with newsagents affected by categories which dominate their business falling into decline.

Tobacco, magazines and lotteries are three categories which can account for more than 30% of revenue, GP or traffic.

Any category accounting for more than 30% of revenue, GP or traffic presents you with a risk as it is a big hole to fill if something happens to the category – such as a store nearby getting lotteries or tobacco sales crashing following tighter regulation. While it is easy to blame these external factors, I blame any retailer for allowing too much of their revenue to be dominated by a single product category.

Take a look at your data – any computer system should provide you with the percentage breakdowns for basket penetration, revenue and traffic. Look at your data and act on any category accounting for 30% or more. No, don’t cut the category – work on other areas of your business to dilute the impact of the above 30% categories.

Act now, own the situation and your actions.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

Easter sales strong in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on March 29, 2015 6:04 AM

easslEaster is in full swing with excellent sales over the last week. Displays are thinning at the right end of the season. We’re not discounting and don’t plan to until next weekend – if at all. Cards, plush and gifts are all doing well. If I had to tag a hero category it would be plush. $2,000 for the season is excellent – and there will be flow on sales having introduced shoppers to new lines.

Easter is a season our channel could do considerably more with, beyond the traditional. Families are out shopping together. Yesterday was crazy around shopping centres in Melbourne. Centres were full of people spending. It was terrific.

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What is the best thing you can do in your newsagency today to show that newsagencies are good businesses to buy?

Mark Fletcher on March 28, 2015 6:17 AM

Newsagents want people to be interested in purchasing their businesses. You cannot make people be interested by telling them to do be. The best way to make people interested in newsagencies is to make them appealing. The best way to make your newsagency appealing is make every day your pay day. The appeal of businesses in our channel to possible purchasers comes down to how we run our businesses. If you want to eventually sell, what are you doing today to make your business appealing?

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