Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Dividend imminent for creditors of Bill Express parent On Q

Mark Fletcher on September 2, 2014 2:15 PM

The liquidator of OnQ, the parent of the failed Bill Express bill payments platform that cost newsagents tens of millions of dollars, has announced they are set to make a first and final dividend to creditors. You have until September 9 to lodge your proof of debt.

I am a creditor of OnQ as are most newsagents.  The Agreement I signed commits the company to paying rebates as outlined in Schedule D attached to the Agreement.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Bill Express

Tonnex under external administration

Mark Fletcher on September 2, 2014 2:09 PM

Newsagent ink supplier Tonnex International has been placed user external administration. Newsagents awaiting credits or refunds will need to contact the administrator and lodge a proof of debt.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Newsagents abused by the Queensland Country Women’s Association

Mark Fletcher on September 2, 2014 5:37 AM

dbcookLike plenty of newsagents I am sure we received stock of The Queensland Country Women’s Association Cookery Book yesterday.

Network crows that delayed billing is to assist in maximising your sales. It’s delay billed to try and stop us early returning.

Here are my specific issues with issues with the scale of of The Queensland Country Women’s Association Cookery Book to newsagents:

  1. This is a book and not a magazine. We should be getting a book margin.
  2. I have this title in other forms. I have country favourite Aussie cookbooks –  from which I make boot margins.
  3. My food section is full. There is no room for a new title.
  4. It’s full copy return. I am fined if I send this back!
  5. I had no say in supply. This is my money at risk yet Network spends without a care in the world and then comes chasing if I am late. All care and no responsibility.

The newsagent magazine distribution model makes it too easy for a new title to be scaled out with us taking the risk of time and space so a publisher can test a title and the distributor can gets their fee.

Given I have to allocate a new pocket, I should be paid $2.00 a week whether I sell a copy or not.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Uncategorized

Stunning retail window display

Mark Fletcher on September 2, 2014 5:34 AM

stunningwindowThe photo shows a window of a fashion store in Melbourne. I’ve loaded a high-res version so you can see the detail and in this why what it is so stunning.

The black and white backing is painted on a flat wall so as to give the illusion of shape.

Stunning. It’s an excellent example of terrific visual merchandising.


→ No CommentsCategory: visual merchandising

Guitars are hot as gifts in newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on September 2, 2014 5:31 AM

guitarsHere’s a tip – guitars are hot. Guitar puzzles, guitar nano blocks and these cute guitar clocks. Plus guitar magazines.

Talking with the wholesaler of Nanoblocks, they say one of the guitar blocks is the absolute top seller of their range. It’s sold to guys and to people buying for guys.

Information like this is gold when it comes to ranging gifts and allied products in our newsagencies.

Ask suppliers what guitar themed products they have. Consider being a destination for all things guitar – except for the real thing.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

Fairfax prefers 7-Eleven over newsagents

Mark Fletcher on September 1, 2014 3:03 PM

goodfoodFurther to my post about not being able to get The Age Good Food Guide to sell in my newsagency, Fairfax has been promoting that it’s in 7-Eleven outlets and newsagents. Thanks Fairfax. They go negotiate to get it into 7-Eleven but don’t even try and get it into better service focussed retail newsagents.

This is dumb.

And they wonder why newsagents retreat from newspapers.

Our channel is the best opportunity Fairfax has to increase, yes increase, single copy sales yet they continue to ignore retail newsagents.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newspapers · Ugh!

Pay wall strategy change from News Corp?

Mark Fletcher on September 1, 2014 4:46 AM

With the pay wall for News Corp’s Perth Now online news removed last week I wonder if other News sites will follow or is this a WA specific move responding to two strong local and free sites. If it is the latter other competitors will see the move as News blinking.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

Judging magazine covers for The Maggies

Mark Fletcher on September 1, 2014 4:32 AM

maggiesI’m in the middle of judging magazine covers for shortlisting for The Maggies, the annual national poll to celebrate and award the best magazine covers of the past year. The Maggies engages readers with magazines and shines a spotlight on titles in newsagencies.

I like the criteria they have set for judging:

  • Possess a high standard of imaginative design, photography, illustration and sales impact.
  • Balance the main image with the coverlines, and encapsulate the brand with something unexpected that grabs the attention of the consumer.
  • Feature an exciting, astounding, challenging and intriguing main cover line, and an impactful image that leaps out from the crowded newsstand.
  • Speak to the audience, not the publishing art directors.

→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Bringing back the dogs and cats to the newsagency counter

Mark Fletcher on September 1, 2014 4:26 AM

plushcounterWe have plush dogs and cats back at the counter as part of a front of store refresh.

This move was an easy choice as the last two times we had plush dogs and cats at the counter they did very well.

We find shoppers prepared to spend between $15 and $25 extra on impulse lines like these having made their purchase selection and brought it to the counter. I’ve seen newspaper customers spend $25 extra!

We talk about the counter being the most valuable retail space in the shop yet too often newsagents do not stock it as the most valuable location.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency management · Plush · Tactical display

The art of the retail sign

Mark Fletcher on September 1, 2014 4:17 AM

mindblowingSometimes, how you describe something can make it more noticeable and more appealing.

While I don’t know if the garlic I saw for sale at the market stall recently was mind-blowing, the claim on the sign, however, got me looking at the garlic.

It made me smile and it made me remember the garlic. The sign sucked me in.

Getting attention for your shop or a product in your shop is half the battle of retail. This mind-blowing sign for the garlic reminded me of the importance of breaking with tradition and having fun.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip

Strong Peppa Pig Hallmark card stand interest

Mark Fletcher on September 1, 2014 4:13 AM

peppabigWe’ve had the Hallmark Peppa Pig stand for under a week in our Peppa Pig corner and it’s working a treat.

The branding is excellent – the way it owns the whole stand. This is what attracts the target audience and they bring parents and grandparents who buy.

It’s a retailers joy to watch.

The success of this stand from Hallmark is a perfect example of the value supporting licenced products that are backed by a company that understands the value of strong brands.


→ No CommentsCategory: Brand retailing · Gifts · Greeting Cards

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: look for yourself

Mark Fletcher on August 31, 2014 4:24 AM

When next at your shop, use Google on your phone and search for a popular product you sell: a magazine title, a stationery item, maybe a service you provide.

Next, from home or the shop, use Google on your computer and do a similar search but add the suburb or town where your shop is located.

Did you come up in the search?  If not, your task is to fix this,to get your business known to Google. I could tell you how to do this but it’s something you will get more from by discovering it for yourself.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management tip: train your staff to play

Mark Fletcher on August 31, 2014 4:19 AM

buildingSmart retail today is all about interacting with your products, showing them off on the shop floor so that shoppers can imagine them playing with or using the products.

This is especially true with toys, puzzles, magic tricks and kinetic sand. The more you play the more you will sell. I know from my own experience this is true.

Playing and interacting with products can position your business as more engaged with what it sells than you would see with the same products in a larger retail outlet. This is another way we can compete – by playing with what we sell.

On busy family days – weekends, Thursday and Friday afternoons in a typical shopping centre newsagency –  schedule your best players to be on the shop floor playing. Track sales as a result. Keep trying different people until you find your most lucrative players.

Watch your customers and how they react and interact. It could be that they are attracted by the playing but end up buying something else. That is as valuable as them purchasing the product being demonstrated.

The photo shows an elaborate sand-castle made by one of our team members with kinetic sand. It worked at attracting shoppers.  Years ago the team member would have been in trouble for playing – goofing off. Now, it’s work, valuable shop floor engagement.

FYI: we’ve been selling kinetic sand since March. It’s been amazingly successful for us.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

Promoting newspapers at the front of the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on August 31, 2014 4:15 AM

satpaperfosaug30We are leveraging another provocative poster and front page for The Saturday Paper with this placement at the front of the newsagency today – facing into the mall.

We are also using the opportunity to promote the Herald Sun, Better Homes and Gardens, Feast and part 1 of How Your Body Works - all popular titles that can attract shopper traffic.

This is a weekend only placement, something we are trying for four weeks to gauge shopper interaction as part of our commitment to trying changes.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Fairfax misses opportunity to connect with retail newsagents

Mark Fletcher on August 30, 2014 5:34 AM

If Fairfax wants to increase over the counter sales of newspapers they need to develop a better relationship with retail newsagents.

Yesterday, they published a list of newsagents offering a deal for the Good Food Guide and The Age bundled together. From what I can tell these are newsagents who also deliver the newspaper.

I don’t deliver so I’m not on the list. Yet I know I can sell plenty of their papers and plenty of copies of their Good Food Guide – if only they would engage directly with me.

How Fairfax has handled this demonstrates breathtaking ignorance by the company in the changing newsagency business.

It’s very simple: to grow over the counter sales, engage with those who own and run businesses with counters, engage with retail newsagents.


→ 17 CommentsCategory: Newspapers · Ugh!

Newsagent magazine supply standards

Mark Fletcher on August 30, 2014 5:25 AM

In February 2005 I spoke at a breakfast meeting of magazine publishers in Sydney and presented a suggested list of magazine key performance indicators. In cleaning up yesterday I found the list and thought I’d publish it here for comment.

  1. Scale out to reflect title performance in that outlet with proposed supply to be no more than 25% above recent sell through rates except in exceptional circumstances where the additional product is expected to sell due to cover feature or special promotion. With higher scale out to be accepted for an additional fee paid to the newsagent.
  2. Offering of a carrying fee for titles which do not meet minimum performance criteria so that the newsagent is paid to carry the title. The carrying fee to cover labour, real-estate and any other fixed costs.
  3. Introduction of a penalty payment to newsagents for any issue with a sell through of less than 50% on an escalating scale based on a falling sell through.
  4. Newsagents to be able to easily and electronically alter order quantities (i.e. without having to call a call centre and wait on line for too long) and with no maximum number of titles to be adjusted each week or month.
  5. Newsagent changed supply figures not to be altered without reference to newsagent unless such change absolutely supported by sales data.
  6. No cut of supply below current recorded net sales.
  7. No reissue within six months of last issue of a title.
  8. Delayed billing of at least 30 days for any new title.
  9. Returns to be credited within 48 hours of provision of electronic returns data or 7 days of provision of physical returns form.
  10. Returns to be called no later than the date of the next issue of the same title going on sale.

Magazine KPIs are needed for titles outside the top 200. Inside the top 200 the supply model is, overall, good – although somtimes I would like to be able to get extra stock more easily. Th real problem is the titles which generate around 20% of our revenue. These titles are cash flow negative. The KPIs I suggest above, if adopted, would make them at least cashflow neutral. The cash saved would help us have more resources to reinvest in our businesses.

I’d update my delayed billing point (8) to say that delayed billing titles are to be be supplied with an additional fee to cover labour and the space if they do not meet minimum sales performance.

In a shopping centre, a magazine pocket $2.00 and more a week. Add to this the labour cost of magazines in that pocket and you could argue that such a newsagent needs to be paid $2.50 to $3.00 a week just for the space and time.


→ 7 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · magazines

Tactical placement to drive magazine sales

Mark Fletcher on August 30, 2014 5:21 AM

tacticalmagsHere’s an example of how tactical placement of a magazine display unit can work. We placed this unit with magazines from Pacific Magazines at the end of the aisle – so everyone walking out of our magazine aisle sees the stand.

The stand is more noticeable in person than it looks in the photo.

It’s working a treat. People are purchasing a magazine on impulse after they have left the magazine aisle.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Where are the magazine publishers?

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 6:02 AM

I published a post yesterday inviting magazine publishers to speak with newsagents here about damaging early returns. It would be good to see more publishers join in – or are early returns not an issue?


→ 2 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines · Newsagency challenges

Where do you place magazine labels?

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 5:52 AM

I have shot some training videos for people working in newsXpress newsagencies this week. Each is two or three minutes and on a single topic. Here is the three and a half minute video on magazine label placement that I thought might interest readers here:

Getting stuff like this is vital for us to be seen as professional across our channel.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: magazines · Management tip

Melbourne Airport is a rip off when it comes to parking

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 5:45 AM

melbourne-airportPlease excuse this off-topic rant. I parked at Melbourne Airport for 24 hours and five minutes and was charged for two days. Yes, that’s what the published fee schedule says and yes I knew it. That does’t make it fair.

Their long term car park was full. It took ten minutes to find a park in the short term so technically I was parked and using the facility for less than twenty four hours.

A fairer fee structure would be to charge by the hour for all part days. But, hey, Melbourne Airport is not run on fairness.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Social responsibility

Wizard of Oz Itty Bittys popular

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 5:41 AM

tinmanittyWe have had the Wizard of Oz themed Itty Bittys from Hallmark for a day and already they are a hit. Yesterday I saw it myself – a customer in love with the Tin Man.

You know when a customer calls out the brand or the movie that they will most likely purchase the range. This is where collectibles work well for us.

We have the stand placed such that it attracts shoppers for us – it’s part of our front of store marketing strategy. This range not only sells well, it attracts card and magazine customers.


→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency marketing · Plush

Yes, there is a magazine called Chicks Smashing Grunters

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 5:36 AM


Chicks Smashing Grunters is a new magazine title being distributed by IPS. Thankfully, we did not receive this title. I know one newsagent who received fifty copies yesterday. They think they will sell all if not most. Extraordinary. The title itself sounds wrong.

Yes, we are not our customers.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazine distribution · magazines · Social responsibility

Discounting Shop Til You Drop

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 5:33 AM

eapmagsbauer2Newsagents have another discount magazine pack from Bauer. This time it’s the challenged Shop Til You Drop and a mini version of Cleo for $7.95. In addition to training customers about title price, there is the space challenge – needing to find two extra pockets in a full rack for this ‘new’ pack. Supermarkets are not forced to do this.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

How Your Body Works – again

Mark Fletcher on August 29, 2014 5:29 AM

bodyworksNewsagents have been sent the launch part of the How Your Body Works partwork. It’s a re-launch actually – of a successful partwork from a few years back. It’s coming out a bit late with Father’s Day in full swing then Halloween and then Christmas. Space is tight and will only get tighter. We have allocated limited space to the launch (relaunch).


→ No CommentsCategory: partworks

Inviting magazine publishers to speak up about ignorant early return behaviour

Mark Fletcher on August 28, 2014 5:17 AM

I had a discussion with Terry Thelwell of Lovatts at the NANA Newsagent of the Year Awards in Sydney last week about the poor behaviour of some newsagents in early returning magazines. Terry and I have discussed this often and the data Lovatts has of newsagents early returning to a point where they have considerably less on the shelves than their usual sales of titles.

Lovatts is not alone experiencing ill-considered early returns where newsagents deny themselves sales they would have achieved. Many publishers have told me their stories and other stories about newsagents who then call saying they need more stock – because early returns too much stock.

The purpose of this post is to open the topic for magazine publishers to share their comments about early returns. Ideally, I’d like to see specific examples of where newsagents have hurt themselves through ill-considered early returns.

This is a serious topic because it could drive a self fulfilling prophecy about magazines in newsagencies. The poor behaviour of some could ultimately see a publisher or more flee our channel.

So publishers, share your stories…


→ 35 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines