Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Kikki K competing with newsagents for greeting cards

Mark Fletcher on November 30, 2015 9:32 AM

IMG_2201Kikki K is pitching strong competition with newsagents this Christmas with their three for two offer for Christmas cards. Their approach is the same as Typo but for an older shopper. It is in every Kikki K store I have seen. Be aware of this.

The Kikki K offer is differentiating compared to the traditional newsagency offer unless you are doing the Hallmark Hot Press 3 for $10 offer or unless you run a front-end loyalty offer like discount vouchers. In fact, in my own newsagency, the discount voucher offer is better value than the Kikki K for. However, I don’t have the resources Kikki K has to promote.


→ No CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards

Can’t give away the newspaper giveaway

Mark Fletcher on November 30, 2015 9:26 AM

IMG_2279We could not give away the gas leak detection giveaway free with the herald Sun on the weekend. We asked customers and most said no thanks with a quizzical look – like, what is this and why are you offering it to me. This promotion is not relevant to us, especially at such a busy time of the year.


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Some newsagency supplier websites turn you off doing business with them

Mark Fletcher on November 30, 2015 5:51 AM

Some product and service suppliers to newsagents have the worst websites I have ever seen. They are a barrier to doing business. Too often when I speak with a supplier about their website the answer is they are working on it. In the meantime, they complain newsagents are not doing enough business with them.

Here are the faults I have seen in the last few days with some newsagent supplier sites:

  1. Out of date information.
  2. Poor graphics.
  3. No product images.
  4. No e-commerce facilities.
  5. A 1980s look.
  6. Too many mistakes.
  7. No useful downloads.
  8. Not automated login access management.
  9. Not mobile friendly.
  10. Serving consumers ahead of stockists.
  11. Not listing stockists and making finding them easy.

A website is your shop window. If you want people doing business with you it needs to be stunning and it needs to be changed regularly.

A good supplier website should give me everything and more I could get from a good rep.


→ No CommentsCategory: Customer Service · supplier arrogance · Suppliers

Sunday newsagency challenge: repurposing the newspaper stand

Mark Fletcher on November 29, 2015 6:24 AM

IMG_1924Newspaper stands no longer need to be in prime position or taking as much space as they used to. My challenge today is: use this prime space for more valuable items through which you re-position your business. Place newspapers in a more space efficient floor unit.

This photo shows a terrific newsagency I visited recently. The Christmas tree, off of which they are selling ornaments and other products, is located where their newspaper stand once was.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management advice: managing spinners for success

Mark Fletcher on November 29, 2015 6:14 AM

I have a love-hate relationship with spinners. I love a clean shop without them and then find myself bringing them in for specific tasks and promotions.

Here is advice designed to help you make the most of the spinner opportunity.

  1. Keep them tidy. Duh! This is very basic advice. But it needs to be said. Daily you should have your spinners checked and tidies. Move products to the front, keep products clean, pose products to show them off, if appropriate to the products.
  2. Keep them full. A half empty spinner will not work as well as a full spinner. This is retail 101.
    1. If you plan to keep a spinner for the long term, order stock regularly to keep it full. We know that a full Beanie Boos spinner will around 20% more sales than a half empty spinner. Keep your beanie Boos spinner stuffed to the brim. For these long-term spinners check stock levels weekly.
    2. If a spinner is a one-shot – get it in, sell it down, take it off the floor – once it starts to look empty, consider taking all stock off and placing it elsewhere in-store. Leaving it on the floor and half empty will hinder sales.
  3. Move your spinners. One a week tweak spinner locations to keep your shop floor story fresh. Have a plan. Don’t move them just to move them. Move them to drive sales – to get the products considered by people who may have missed them so far.
  4. Respect the brand. Never put product on a branded spinner that is not from the brand. Not only would such a move disrespect the brand it makes you look like an unprofessional retailer.
  5. Use thoughtful adjacencies. When placing spinners next to each other, think about the shopper and what they are looking for. This will encourage a shopper attracted to a spinner to consider the products on the spinner next to it.
  6. Avoid orphans. There is nothing sadder than a lonely spinner at the back of a shop. It’s usually half empty and looking tired and sad. It does nothing for the products or the business. Find it some friends or remove the stock and throw the spinner out.
  7. Spinners have a limited life. While a spinner for which you no longer have the original product can be useful for displaying other products, don’t work the poor thing beyond its useful life. Hideously bent wire, cracked and broken pockets, no signage, seriously chipped paint, broken casters … these are all indications that the poor old spinner ought to be tossed out.
  8. Leverage traffic hotspots. This only works with certain products on spinners – locate the spinner next to high traffic generating products such as weekly magazines, newspapers, lotteries etc. The products need to be products shoppers of the destination items will purchase.
  9. Leverage seasons. Around your cluster of cards for Christmas, Mother’s day, Father’s Day etc place spinners with products appropriate to the season.

→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities

Sunday newsagency marketing advice: leverage obscure

Mark Fletcher on November 29, 2015 6:11 AM

IMG_2120 (1)Where can you buy dice? From a newsagency of course! Sure a toy shop may have dice as might a major like K-Mart. But good luck finding it from either. Your local newsagent is more likely to have dice and to make it easy for you to purchase. However, the newsagent is not likely to promote this in any way.

My marketing tip this week is to call out obscure items such as dice and promote then on social media and elsewhere.

Make sure you are known as the go-to retailer for hard to get and infrequently purchased items.

A test I did of this recently revealed stretch community interest in where people could reliably purchase such items.

Consider a feature somewhere in-store, away from Christmas business, promoting obscure items.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Saturday newspaper sales important to newsagents

Mark Fletcher on November 28, 2015 6:04 AM

A deeper analysis of over the counter newspaper sales indicates Saturday remains a valuable newspaper day. While sales are down, they are, generally, down less on a Saturday. In most capital cities, the decline on Saturdays is less than for the weekday and Sunday edition.

Newsagents who are placing newspapers further into the shop and pulling back from other engagement may want to consider what they do on a Saturday. This could be the day they treat newspapers differently, to leverage the stronger interest on this one day of the week compared to the rest.

if you are going to promote newspapers, Saturday is the day to do it for sure.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Magazine floor unit helps pitch mag at Christmas

Mark Fletcher on November 28, 2015 5:59 AM

IMG_2202We are using the strong well-branded Pacific Magazines floor display unit at the front of the business to promote magazines in with our Christmas ranges. With magazine sales lifting through the Christmas season, tactical placement of the unit is a key factor in maximising this opportunity. We place this unit outside the magazine department as this is where see it is works best. I recommend it.


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Using Doctor Who to drive traffic for the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 28, 2015 5:51 AM

IMG_2110 (1)Doctor Who is one of those worldwide product licences we can use to drive traffic and revenue for the newsagency. Using the image of one of the various Doctor Who 2016 calendars, posters, figurines, books or other products we can get good traction on Facebook and elsewhere through regular posts as well as boosted posts.

We are using this to attract new shoppers to the business – and it is working. We find the best posts are those using an image like the one I have included here. It is colourful and therefore easily noticed in a Facebook feed.

Our newsagency businesses are full of licenced items like the Doctor Who calendars that we can use to drive traffic. Using them is free and takes little time. It’s no brainer marketing.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Typo gift cards speak to their challenge to our businesses

Mark Fletcher on November 28, 2015 5:48 AM

IMG_2198I have seen these Typo gift cards in several retail locations this week. The gift cards are part of their plan to reach out beyond their shops and to drive engagement through the gift card purchase. Typo is taking stationery purchases we should be winning. The gift cards and the usual excellent design work from Typo – on point.


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Magazines as a Christmas gift to drive newsagency sales

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2015 9:18 AM

IMG_2196Magazine sales spike from now to Christmas as they are purchased as Christmas gifts. We can drive sales by calling out titles as ideal gifts. Australian Coast to Coast Country Style is one such title. This is a perfect gift for someone overseas – easily posted and showing off Australian beauty. I love the cover of this issue. Take it out of the magazine rack, place with Christmas gifts and include a handwritten bookmark pointing to it being a Christmas gift for overseas friends. Send them a bit of Australia.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Harpers Bazaar barcode issue

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2015 6:01 AM

Network Services has advised of a barcode issue with Harpers Bazaar that needs attention at the store level:

Network recently distributed an edition of Harper’s Bazaar where the barcode that was provided in the XIT data did not match what was on the magazine.

An email communication was sent out to newsagents advising of this error and to update the barcode in their point of sale system to the barcode on the magazine cover for that product and issue code.

–       Incorrect Barcode 9313006005407 12

–       Barcode on magazine 9313006007739 12

This edition’s issue code is 1512, however we’re seeing a large number scans coming through for 1412, last year’s DEC edition. It seems that these agents have not updated the barcode “9313006007739 12” to apply to issue 1512.

If the magazine continues to scan as 1412, these agents will be scanning sales at the 1412 price which is different to the 1512. It also means that when the title is recalled it will be scanned out as 1412, and so reject in the return claim.

In the Tower newsagency software resolving this is easy. Go to Utilities, scroll to Change/Merge Barcode. Enter the old barcode in the top box (without the space). Enter the new barcode in the second box (without the space). Click modify. You;re done. Other software companies are welcome to provide advice here for newsagents.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazine distribution

Another reason to not pay there ANF $60 a month

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2015 8:43 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 8.36.00 pmFurther to my post today looking at what newsagents could spend the $60 a month is costs to be in the ANF, consider this promotion by the ANF of Hubbed. I think the ANF promotes Hubbed because of a commercial relationship, the details of which are not disclosed.

My view is that industry associations ought not promote commercial activities. They should not play favourites because when this happens they leave themselves open to a claim of bias.

they will say they need to engage in commercial activity to fund their activities. I disagree with this. Newsagents either want an association or not. Direct funding by newsagents should be the only source of income, for the sake of transparency and trust. Such a move would make the association a genuine servant of members.

Hubbed has competitors who do not get a look in with the ANF and the various communication channels of the ANF because they are not a commercial partner of the ANF.

Criticism I make of the ANF for their selective promotion of suppliers to newsagents is seen by some here as criticism of the association. Rather, I am critical of the use of the association as a commercial activity supporting newsagent suppliers they like for reasons that are not clear and transparent.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: Newsagent representation

What $60 a month could buy your newsagency and why it matters

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2015 5:25 AM

$60 a month does not seem like much but play it out over a year and you have $840. Why $60? This is what ANF membership costs in some states.

When a newsagent asked me recently if I thought them joining the ANF for $60 a month was worth if, I talked with them about what else they could spend the money on.

Before I get to the list, I suggest newsagents think about what they get for the $60 a month it costs to be a member of the ANF. I cannot think of any tangible benefit. For all their talk of lobbying and representation on policy – the bread and butter of a good association – the ANF does not have anything to value to point to. So the question about the value of $60 a month is important.

Smart newsagents will take the $60 a month the ANF would have cost and invest this in new traffic strategies that add  value to their business.

Here is the list of how one could spend $60 a month that I discussed recently with one newsagent:

  • Facebook advertising. $10 can put an ad in front of between 5,000 and 8,000 people depending on your location. $60 can buy plenty of new eyeballs and eyeballs drive new traffic.
  • Google advertising. At between 3 cents and ten cents a click, your website, e-com site or other online presence could achieve 2,000 clicks and more. Each click could be someone new to the business and could result in feet through the door.
  • Visual merchandising. $60 a month could buy close to two hours in-store of a visual merchandising professional on a regular call cycle. This could be someone who provides you with a fresh look in-store as well as training for your people.
  • New product lines. While funding this from the monthly saving, over the course of a year, investing $840 in a new product line fresh to the business could generate More than $1,000 in gross profit and attract new shoppers to the business who also purchase other items that make the $840 investment worth in excess of $2,000. Yes, there are specific lines that fit this criteria. So, in year two, you’d have another $840 to invest as the first year’s investment would be paying for itself.
  • Dinner outside. Have a pub meal with your business partner away from the business, to talk about business. You are certain to look at the business differently and through the conversations reveal to yourselves valuable opportunities you might have missed without such time out.

Sure I could add other items to the list. I wanted to go for ideas that helped attract new shoppers and give the business fresh appeal.

I am serious in suggesting newsagents think about alternatives for the $60 a month they pay for the ANF as $60 a month invested wisely ought to deliver between three and four times the cost to the business.

Every dollar you spend is a business decision. Think about the alternatives and consider what you could do in your business.

The $60 spend is about relevance to your business today as it is only the money you make from the business today that matters.


→ 8 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Newsagent representation

Crappy plush display disrespects product

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2015 5:20 AM

IMG_2170 (1)This photo shows a display of plush items in a c-store I visited earlier this week. The premium plush items are promoted between a couple of food fridges. There is no respect for the product, no story being told. It is a poor quality display from a poor quality retailer.

Everything a retailer stocks deserves to be displayed professionally and respectfully. Premium items, like these are, deserve better. Independent convenience stores have some of the worst displays I have seen. It is good to see local newsagents often doing better.


→ 1 CommentCategory: visual merchandising

Newspaper publishers snipe at each other when they ought to focus on their customers

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2015 2:35 PM

IMG_2174 (1)News and Fairfax are sniping about layoffs at their competitors. With print copy sales continuing to decline and ad revenue down it is only natural the publishers want to cut costs.

Publishers ought to focus on creating more compelling products for today’s marketplace. With editorial roles at the heart of what publishers create, retaining and hiring good and important voices ought to be a core goal.

I want a newspaper I can enjoy for more than the 2 or 3 minutes I give many I pick up to read today.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newspaper distribution · newspaper home delivery · Newspapers

Help for employees who want to steal from the retail business where they work

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2015 6:38 AM

One part of my work with newsagents if dislike is dealing with employee theft situations. Too often a newsagent has come to me after they have discovered theft, having ignored advice on how to protect against this.

Last week we shot this video at the office to try and grab attention in a different way. Please watch it. The sole goal of the video is to get newsagents and other retailers engaged to manage against theft.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management · theft

Terrific teacher gift promotion in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2015 6:23 AM

IMG_2159I love this display of teacher gifts at the counter of a newsagency in Cairns I visited on Monday. I love the mix, the placement and the layout. I also love the circular nature of the display as it makes shopping the display easy.

Teacher gift giving season is an opportunity for newsagents to own more so than other retailers. Doing this starts with a terrific range of products tactically displayed as in the case in this Cairns business.


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How a retailer had their business ‘stolen’ from them by a franchise promoter who said they can get a better lease deal

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2015 5:59 AM

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a retail business owner who wanted to tell their story about how they had their business “stolen” from them.

Their lease was close to being up and the head of a franchise group happened to walk in one day for a chat about business. Thinking he was talking to a colleague, the retailer shared information about the lease and issues he was having in negotiating with the landlord. The conversation ended with no help sought and no offer made.

A couple of weeks later, the retailer was visited by the same person again and told that if he wanted to keep his business he would have to join the franchise group as they had negotiated a head lease for the premises and that trading as part of the franchise was a requirement.

The retailer was given an ultimatum: walk away from the business they had owned for years or join the franchise group. He saw it as no choice as the business was his main asset. He joined the franchise group.

His experience in the franchise group was awful, business went downhill. Product arrived in-store that he had not ordered and was unable to return. He was visited and told to do things in the business he did not want to do. He was forced to pay hefty fees he had not had to pay when he operated independently.

The business went downhill and the retailer eventually sold for a lower than reasonable price. He felt he had no choice but to accept the low offer because the franchise agreement had conditions relating to the sale that made it challenging for him to sell outside the group.

The retailer concedes his naiveté and wishes he had engaged a lawyer immediately on hearing of a lease deal to effectively steal the business from him.

This is the story as told to me. While I am not a lawyer, I suspect the actions of the franchise operator and the landlord were illegal and that the retailer could have taken action. But he was broken and was happy to get out.

This is a cautionary tale.

  • Never share lease information unless you are 100% certain of the person involved.
  • Never take on a business where someone else holds the head lease as this gives them power over you.
  • Never join a franchise when you feel you have been coerced, pressured or threatened to do so.
  • If you have been wronged, be prepared to fight at the earliest opportunity to right the wrong.

Industry associations representing retailers ought play a role in monitoring and protecting retailers in this area. When they take money from any franchise group and promote them in journals and elsewhere they offer tacit endorsement. It is incumbent upon them to ensure they understand the values and processes of any such business they endorse in this way.

Yes this story is vague. The franchise group I am writing about is litigious.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · retail · retail leases · Retail tenancy · Social responsibility

Tatts promoting its app on Facebook

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2015 5:00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 4.56.59 pmIn Brisbane this morning in my Facebook feed was this ad for Tatts, for their app. The presence of the ad is a reminder of the investment by the company in promoting online. The comments on the post, and there are plenty, are a reminder of the popularity of Tatts and that punters like online and the Tatts app.

The biggest point I want to make about the app, however, is that it is not reflective of the corporate image newsagents are forced to invest in.

If I was a Tatts agent I’d want to know why the company forces me to invest in their corporate image when they do not themselves. It challenges their case to me on investing in their image.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Lotteries

Are you a gunna when it comes to managing your newsagency?

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2015 5:23 AM

I’m gunna redo the stationery department, move it to a better location and get rid of the stuff that’s been there for more than a couple of years.

This is what a newsagent told me earlier this year. Gunna is the key word in the statement. Gunnas are the people who are always gunna yet often never get down to actually doing what they are gunna do.

Actions speak louder than words for sure and gunnas, in my experience have plenty of words.

What is it in your newsagency you are gunna do and probably have been gunna do for years that you have not actually done?

If you are a gunna there is only one thing to do: do it.

Sure you might come up with barriers. If they are real, at least stock talking about what you are gunna do and work on the barriers. If the barriers are not real, what are you waiting for?

The gunna newsagents I worry for are those who rely on traditional newsagency lines for more than 50% of their traffic, the businesses doing nothing to attract new shoppers to the business. Being a gunna in these situations is no future.

Footnote: If this post makes you angry, think about why. If it is because it is about you there is only one thing to do. If you think I should not shine a light on the gunna newsagents, realise it is for their good and for the good of others trading under the shingle.


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

Pitching the magazine point of difference in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2015 5:19 AM

IMG_2136When deciding which magazine titles to give the full face display treatment to in special interest / fringe sections of the magazine department in the newsagency, we absolutely to preference magazines not sold in supermarkets – as shown in the photo.

While we cannot always be sure, just thinking about this sees us make choices that support us as magazine specialists and the publishers who support us.

Being conscious about this is being conscious about leveraging a point of difference in our magazine offer compared to the magazine department in a supermarket.

Here is another example from the weekend in part of our car section:



→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Newspaper oversupply in Brisbane?

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 9:11 PM

IMG_2155Further to my post about a promotion offering free copies of the Courier Mail and other newspapers at a Night Owl Convenience store in Brisbane, check out the stack of newspapers I saw at this store just now – at 8pm Sunday night. That’s a lot of unsold newspapers.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspaper distribution · Newspaper marketing · Newspapers

Sunday newsagency challenge: don’t follow tradition

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 6:24 AM

IMG_1644What Christmas ornaments have you ordered to sell this Christmas? Are they the usual tinsel, angels and of Christmas colours? If so, you are competing in a crowded ocean. This owl is one of the ornaments we are selling and which customers are noticing because they are different – and people love that, especially if the ornament is to be a gift.

Challenge yourself with buying: avoid tradition and attract new shoppers.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: improvise and get noticed

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 6:16 AM

IMG_2079At a concert at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne Friday night, down in the middle of the theatre during intermission, I noticed a bright bottle of water bobbing above the heads of the crowd. It was a beacon in this venue packed with close to 3,000 people on the night. It aught my attention and I had to go see what looked like magic up close.

On approaching the bottle of water, I could see the person holding it up high had a torch on and facing upward into the bottle – providing the beacon effect. This was a perfect way for the water to be noticed from a distance, for the theatre management to drive water sales inside the theatre in interval, a perfect marketing initiative.

Often when it comes to marketing we look for complex solutions to simple challenges. In this case, theatre management placed the pitch in the right location and used a low-tech approach to ensure it was noticed.

My marketing tim for retail newsagents today is to look for simple, low-tech, ways to promote products from your business in-store and outside.

A secondary time from this experience is to create marketing for the curious, so they will go see up close and, maybe, consider a purchase.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing tip · newsagency marketing