Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Woman’s Day wedding issue

Mark Fletcher on October 1, 2014 10:41 AM

Info just in from Network Servcies on a special edition for eastern seaboard states (excluding far north Queensland) of Woman’s Day out tomorrow:

There’s an additional Woman’s Day being delivered tomorrow to replace the stock that is currently on the shelf. It’s the same magazine, but with a 16 page cover wrap of George Clooney’s wedding.

It’s going out as a redistribution, so it will have the same bipad and issue code.

It was run after Monday’s XIT file release, so the files for this stock will be out in the late file batch this evening (after 6.30 PM).

Weddings are big sellers, so stores can expect almost a full supply of what they usually receive of Woman’s Day.

I can foresee complaints from customers who have already read or purchased Woman’s Day. A 16 page wraparound will not be worth a full cover price to some.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · magazines

How a newsagent allowed a staff member to steal from the business

Mark Fletcher on October 1, 2014 8:08 AM

A newsagent discovered massive theft by accident this week on checking the business numbers. The theft was allowed because the business did not sell items with accuracy. For example, many items were sold through the computer system as you would on a manual cash register. This permitted negative sales by department. The employee wanting to steal only had to do a -$100.00 (negative $100) sale and they could take $100.00 from the cash draw … and that’s what they did, often.

While it is stressful and upsetting for the newsagent involved, the outcome is a direct result of their actions.

Newsagents can cut theft. It starts with good management, following best-practice theft management advice.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · theft

Finance Minister makes case for selling government owned Australia Post retail outlets

Mark Fletcher on October 1, 2014 6:09 AM

At his press conference on Sunday announcing the privatisation of Medicare, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann made the case for privatising the government owned and protected Australia Post retail outlets.

There is absolutely no good reason for the Federal Government to own a private health insurance business today. Medibank Private is a commercial business, operating in a well-functioning, well-regulated competitive market with 34 private health funds. There is no reason as to why the Government should be involved in that commercial, competitive market. Furthermore, by selling Medibank Private we will remove the current conflict which the Federal Government has by being both the regulator and the largest market participant.

The justification used for privatising Medicare applies 100% to the Australia Post corporate store network: these are commercial businesses operating in a well-functioning, well-regulated competitive market. The government is the regulator and the operator.

The only difference between the Medicare situation and Australia Post corporate store situation is the size of the competitors. Medicare’s competitors are big businesses whereas Australia Post’s competitors are small businesses, like newsagents.

If this government was fair dinkum about competition, government ownership of businesses and small business it would sell off Australia Post owned retail stores. Further, it would sell them to small business operators as part of a strengthening of the franchised network trading under the Australia Post name. This would end government owned retail outlets from competing with small businesses.

Further on in the press conference the Finance Minister is clear about the privatisation case:

REPORTER: What do you say to policyholders, particularly older Australians, who specifically joined Medibank Private because it was Government-owned. I spoke to one this morning and he was pretty annoyed, he did join because it was Government-owned and he was pretty upset.

MATHIAS CORMANN: The Government has made a judgement that in 2014 it was no longer appropriate for the Government to run a private health insurance business.  Private health insurance is a very well functioning competitive market which is well regulated. There is no public policy reason for the Government to continue to be involved in this market. We believe that on behalf of taxpayers that the capital that is currently tied up in Medibank Private can be used better. Furthermore, I would say to the member of Medibank that you spoke to, that he or she will be able to have access to at least the same level of services into the future if not better because in our view without public ownership, without the restrictions that public ownership brings with it, Medibank Private will be able to go to another level.

Australians would be better served with locals awning and operating Australia Post shops and these being on a fairer competitive footing than the government owned outlets today.


→ No CommentsCategory: Australia Post · Competition · Ethics · Newsagency management · Social responsibility

Take care with your backups

Mark Fletcher on October 1, 2014 6:02 AM

backupThis photo shows a USB stick received at my software company last week. It’s from a newsagency sending in a backup for assistance. The damage to the stick and, in particular, the part that stores data was such that the backup was useless.

There is no point in backing up your data if you do not take appropriate care of the backup medium. Bending USB sticks kills them and their capacity to store your data.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

Layering product placement to drive sales

Mark Fletcher on October 1, 2014 5:58 AM

steppedvmWe have a three step approach to pitching our 2015 diary range – in part because we don’t have space for one big display and in part because we know that pitching to shoppers several times in a visit helps drive sales.

If you look carefully at the photo you can see our layering approach in action for 2014 diaries. The diaries are placed in three locations: two floor display units, on a column and on the wall.

If we had the diaries in one location we have one shot for them to discover. Also, that approach requires a larger single location space commitment. Our approach makes better use of smaller space spots. Plus it situates the diaries such that more shoppers will see them.


→ No CommentsCategory: Calendars · Tactical display

Counterfeit money warning: Gold Coast

Mark Fletcher on September 30, 2014 3:37 PM

Queensland Police has asked that this information be shared:

The Gold Coast Police District and the Gold Coast Major and Organised Crime Squad are warning local businesses and members of the community to be vigilant after a recent increase in the use of counterfeit currency during the holiday period.

The Gold Coast Major and Organised Crime Squad is investigating several reports of people manufacturing and distributing counterfeit $50 and $10 notes on the Gold Coast.

Detective Inspector Knowles has urged business owners and community members to be mindful of people presenting large value notes for relatively low value purchases.

“In many of the transactions involving counterfeit notes we are seeing people buying a soft drink and handing over a fake $50 note to get legitimate money back,” Detective Inspector Knowles said.

“Shop attendants and business owners should check notes for the security features including the coat of arms watermark, the red and green diamond-shaped pattern lining up correctly, the clear plastic window is part of the note and not stuck on, and the Southern Cross stars look genuine and do not scratch off with moderate rubbing,” said Detective Inspector Knowles.

More information on detecting counterfeit notes can be viewed on the Reserve Bank of Australia website:

Anyone who may have any information concerning the manufacturing and distribution of these notes is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or 24hrs a day.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Expensive magazine partworks returns

Mark Fletcher on September 30, 2014 12:50 PM

Several newsagents have contacted me about the freight costs in sending boxed of unsold part 1 of new partworks back to the distributors. My experience is that distributors will cover this if you contact them and explain that the allocation of oversupply is their responsibility. If the supply model was more accurate such wastage could be avoided.

I was talking about this with a non circulation product supplier recently. They were shocked that newsagents had to pay to send back unsold stock, especially where newsagents had no say in the allocation of stock in the first case.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · partworks

Magazine publishers: are you happy with this retail display?

Mark Fletcher on September 30, 2014 6:11 AM

supermagsHey magazine publishers, are you happy with this display of magazines that I saw in a supermarket at the weekend?

Even if fully stocked this display would look scruffy with the covers hard to read. The display does nothing to support the products in a way that I’d call respectful of the product. There is a problem with the design.

The continued poor management of magazine supply to the newsagency channel risks more displays like this in supermarkets as unfair paternalistic behaviour encourages newsagents to further reduce their commitment to what should be an important channel for newsagents.

Magazine publishers and their distributors can affect change in the decisions newsagents make about magazines. That they are not doing this makes me wonder if they do want the supermarket share of magazine sales to increase.

The photo was taken in a mid-size regional supermarket. While it is not representative of what you see in major city and suburban supermarkets, it does reflect a magazine model a particular group has settled on for their model.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Competition · magazines

Think before you place product in retail

Mark Fletcher on September 30, 2014 6:08 AM

adjacenciesProduct adjacencies are vital in retail. Get it right and you can drive excellent incremental business. In addition to ensuring that products placed next to each other speak to the same shopper, you need to ensure that the products are safe or at least feel safe together. That’s not the case with this placement of peanut butter next to fly and mosquito killer. While not actually harmful given the packaging, it feels as if it could be harmful and that’s enough for me. I’d not buy the peanut butter from here.


→ No CommentsCategory: retail · Tactical display · visual merchandising

Brilliant monochrome ModelArt Australia cover

Mark Fletcher on September 30, 2014 6:04 AM

agsmodelartI love the monochrome cover of the latest issue of ModelArt Australia magazine. It stand out in the sea of colour surrounding it on the shelves. Better still, the cover is perfect for showcasing the Model T. This cover for is a reason for giving the magazine time in the spotlight and that’s what we are doing.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

4 Corners on tobacco and e-cigarettes

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 8:41 PM

If you’re in front of TV tonight check out the ABC’s 4 Corners two-part British documentary on tobacco. It also touches on e-cigarettes. If you miss it, catch it on iView. It’s a fascinating insight into a product category that is still important to plenty of newsagency businesses, albeit a declining number.


→ No CommentsCategory: Tobacco sales

The AFL promotes newsagents

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 8:33 PM

aflThe AFL has promoted newsagents to their 255,000 Twitter followers in promoting the AFL premiers magazine which is  out now. Their tweet was retweeted 23 times – extend the reach of their support. Good stuff AFL!

Footnote to suppliers promoting newsagents – please don’t use the term good newsagents if the newsagents themselves have no control over whether they get your product.


→ No CommentsCategory: Social Media

Why is the ANF promoting discount stationery?

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 5:22 AM

bpThe ANF and GNS are both shareholders in Newspower. They also both exist to serve newsagents. These two connections between the two organisations alone ought to align their interests yet recent activity by the ANF suggest they are not aligned with GNS.

On Friday, the ANF sent out an email to newsagents promoting Buyers Paradise – a business that appears to offer remainder stationery and related lines. Their pitch is about price. It’s a pitch at odds with the brand focus of GNS. Brands support our channel, often funding industry events.

The ANF support of Buyers Paradise looks misplaced to me. But maybe there is something I am missing. If you think I am please let me know.

The ANF will say it was an advertisement. Indeed, the subject line makes it clear: ADVERTISEMENT: New profit source for essential stationery supplies – everything @1.50 plus bargain deals on gift supplies, party supplies, batteries.  However, all actions by the ANF need to be considered through their charter to serve the interests of newsagents.

If I was an ANF member and a GNS shareholder I’d want to know why the ANF is actively promoting a GNS competitor. I’d want to know what due diligence they have done into the Buyers Paradise business. I’d want to know whether there is any connection here that could impact on Newspower given that the ANF and GNS are each shareholders in Newspower.

I checked out Buyers Paradise on ASIC and found that it’s a registered business name but not a company. While that is not a big deal, it does put them on a different footing to, say, GNS.

I emailed the ANF Friday about this but have not yet received a response.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Newsagent representation

Relocating crossword and puzzle titles in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 5:17 AM

magscrossAs part of a refresh of the magazine offer in the newsagency we relocated crossword and puzzle titles last week. The photo shows the new placement. The result improves shopability and better represents the category.

Whereas we previously had the titles over two tiers with a third of titles obscured, in this new display all titles can be easily seen. We are hoping for a further sales boost from the move.

We have a small selection of crossword and puzzle titles with our weeklies.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities

Overloaded with The Block magazine

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 5:15 AM

blockoversupplyWe have been sent three times more copies of The Block magazine than we sold last year. That doesn’t make sense to me. This is a perfect title to be supplied using the Bauer Media Sales Based Replenishment program and not using newsagencies as warehouses.

I decided to early return stock at the weekend and reduce our exposure. Space is too tight.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

Exclusive Women’s Weekly offer at Coles

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 5:14 AM

magscolesawwColes Supermarkets have an exclusive offer from Bauer Media with the latest Australian Women’s Weekly that is being promoted by way of a sleeve surrounding the current magazine. Shoppers can choose food, healthy, beauty, royals, entertaining or lifestyle title to go with their AWW purchase.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Loom band title too late for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on September 29, 2014 5:13 AM

late-magazineAmazing Loom Bands is a title that has arrived in-store a few months too late as the latest incarnation of the Loom band craze has passed for now. Australia is ahead as Loom bands seem to be big in the UK right now. The other issue with this magazine is the price – $16.95 is too expensive for the Loom Bands fan.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · magazines

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: use smell to attract shoppers

Mark Fletcher on September 28, 2014 6:20 AM

scentUsing scents to engage shoppers in retail is not new, not even in newsagencies. I remember Darrell Lea supplied us with a diffuser in the late 1990s for spreading an aniseed scent through the shop to drive liquorice sales. It worked a treat – sales increased when we used it!

Today, many retailers use scents – from coffee shops to soap shops. Too often, newsagents do not use scents.

My marketing suggestion today is to deliberately source a range of products for their scents. Of course, they need to fit in your business, to be of interest to shoppers you attract and to attract shoppers who will like what else you sell. The scented products need to fit in your business.

You could consider diffusers, candles, soaps even perfume. Given the cards we sell there are plenty of scented gift ideas that could fit in a retail newsagency with a focus on the future.

Place scented products where they will have maximum impact – ideally, on the lease line if you are in a shopping mall so passers-by can be attracted by them.

For more on using scents in retail check here, here and here.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management tip: make sure your employees know what you expect of them

Mark Fletcher on September 28, 2014 6:17 AM

Do you employees know exactly what you expect of them? Do they each have a position description? If not, how can you be certain they are certain they know what you expect of them?

A good position description outlines the goals of a role, specific tasks and how the performance of the incumbent is measured in the role. I don’t like to make it too formal as I think that is not helpful in a small business. Indeed, to me, the best position description is one that is read when someone starts a job and not referred to thereafter because they employee and their magazine (often the owner) deliver on their commitments.

My suggestions for a position description are: use plain language, keep it under a page, write it with a view to the development of the employee and get feedback before you lock it in.

Your position description is also useful for people not in a role yet keen to develop their skills to get into a role.

Here is a position description I wrote for another newsagent recently who asked me for help with one they could use for a store manager:




This incumbent in this role is responsible for the successful and profitable operation of the nominated retail business.

The role includes the following tasks and functions:

  • Selecting, managing, training and motivating employees.
  • Dealing with employee management matters.
  • Creating and adjusting the employee roster to best serve the needs of the business.
  • Liaising with current and potential suppliers.
  • Purchasing stock as agreed within the budget set by the directors.
  • Ensuring proper processing of stock into the business.
  • Accurate recording of all sales by all employees.
  • Approving all accounts to be paid.
  • Ensuring the shop is clean, safe, well presented and that products displayed in a creative and commercially successful way.
  • Developing and executing marketing of the business.
  • Engaging with newsXpress for maximum effect for the business.

This is an autonomous role without major management overhead. It is important that the incumbent manages their own time effectively and with due care and caution.

Given the level of responsibility of business assets, resources and finances, attention to business processes, details and honesty of all involved is vital.

The key measure of success in this role will be the financial success of the business.

Position descriptions provide structure for your business and those who work in it including you. Think of them as part of the foundation of the business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

Using the Jamie Oliver to drive magazine sales

Mark Fletcher on September 28, 2014 6:13 AM

eww-jamieWe have ensured customers see the full Jamie Oliver cover for the current issue of English Woman’s Weekly as this is what will drive impulse business for us. If you leave this issue in a usual magazine pocket you are less likely to achieve impulse purchases. I obsess take notice of covers as they are an important factor in driving magazine revenue growth.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency opportunities

Hillary Clinton sells magazines

Mark Fletcher on September 28, 2014 6:08 AM

magshilarysellWe have one copy of the current issue of Woman & Home left thanks to the Hillary Clinton cover. I am certain interest in her has been the driver of this excellent result – demonstrating the value of a strong cover to drive incremental sales. We drove the success through prime position placement and with the full cover on show. Yes, we can grow magazine sales.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

AFL Grand Final Day: a great day to get stuff done

Mark Fletcher on September 27, 2014 7:24 AM

With shopping malls and the high street to be empty from just after lunchtime today as almost all of Victoria and plenty of Australia turns to the AFL Grand Final, it’s a terrific opportunity to work on your shop floor – relocating products, creating new displays, resetting your business.

Take a moment this morning and create a plan for the few hours or quieter than usual time you have this afternoon. Make it count.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency opportunities

How violent can Halloween products be before they offend?

Mark Fletcher on September 27, 2014 6:18 AM

stabbingmanThe name of the product screams: STABBING MAN WITH BLOOD CLOTH. A few weeks ago I thought this was pretty cool. Today, with the higher terror alert and the recent tragedy in Endeavour Hills I wonder about the name of the product and whether it has a meaning that does not work today as it might have a few weeks ago.

No offence is meant by the product name but the news of the day could impact that and invite offence and this concerns me.

I’m not taking it off the shelves or hiding it from display. In fact, right now it is a feature in the Halloween display. I guess I am raising it here to see what others think about the product name. Personally, I have no issue whatsoever but I would not want to unreasonably offend someone touched by recent events.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Ethics

My Little Pony popular

Mark Fletcher on September 27, 2014 6:11 AM

mylittleponyI’m thrilled with the sales of the My Little Pony products we have got in. They are appealing to a different shopper than the other plush we have in store – including the Bronies I wrote about almost a year ago … a non-traditional plush shopper.

We have them on the lease line – to attract traffic in this business school holidays season … and they are doing just that. I wasn’t sure, I thought the current interest may be fading. That does not appear to be the case.

The good news is the traffic they are generating leads into sales of other items.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency opportunities · Plush

Cool card company ad cuts through

Mark Fletcher on September 27, 2014 6:04 AM

goodcardadIt is a challenge for card companies advertising their cards in industry journals. Cut through is difficult promoting products that often need to be see in person to be appreciated.

Card company is Spirit cleverly using their irreverent cards in an ad in the latest Greetings and Gifts magazine with excellent effect. Their ad gives us the can they really say that? thought by showing off what makes their humour range different.  Good on them – their cards sell well and their spinner attracts people looking for some entertainment.


→ No CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards