Australian Newsagency Blog

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

UK start-up newspaper closes after two months

Mark Fletcher on May 5, 2016 1:36 PM

The New Daily, a national newspaper launched in the UK two months ago, is to close. Here is brutal commentary from Jeff Jarvis, respected American journalist and journalism professor:

It is most unfortunate that every time this happens, journalists suffer job losses or at least disruption. But enough with the Quixotic attempts to preserve a dying business model that we know is dying. First there was the News Corp. tablet app that was going to preserve our God-given right to package the news and get paid for it. Dead. Then came the Orange County Register’s doubling down on print. Bankruptcy. Now there’s Trinity Mirror’s new print newspaper New Day. Folded. 

Yes, I argue that we must innovate. But sorry, these are not innovations. these are exercises in nostalgia. Innovation would be using new tools in new ways to serve people as we could never serve them before.

So, yes, I’m sorry for the disruption to the journos in this latest case but I cannot help chortling at the comeuppance to this effort to restart the Brigadoon Daily, doomed from the start.

I like Jarvis’ directness. I also agree with him. The future of news is about news and not the medium. Too much time is spent by too many on the medium while the future slips away from them.

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Officeworks evolving and posing increased challenges to newsagents

Mark Fletcher on May 5, 2016 7:00 AM

I visited several Officeworks businesses in Melbourne and Sydney this week to assess changes in-store. I decided to do this following media reports of planned expansion.

In each store I found a layout that made sense and shopping easy, an excellent range of brand and generic products, a feeling of good value in the pricing, engaged staff on the shop floor keen to help and easy access to help through local training.

Most important of all was the personal pitch in-store. While the brand is national, the promotion of local people, in that business, who can help makes the pitch more personal and local.

Here is a pull up banner that greeted me at the Pitt Street Sydney store a couple of days ago:

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What is newsagents who are focussed on stationery did this, had a pull up banner of themselves or a team member, personalising the pitch of customer service out the front of the shop or near the entrance.

While this banner is more targeted at the technology customer, it could work equally with stationery as there are many options, many choices to make.

Sure, you would hop your customers would know you, but unless everyone in the town or region shops with you they do not know you, so promoting the people in the business is an important and regular activity.

Also at the entrance to the store is this sign:

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Plenty of newsagents I know offer free delivery for stationery, especially in regional locations. However, most do not promote this. Officeworks consistently promotes it.

Inside the store, in the stationery department, regularly they promote impulse purchase items outside their usual location. Like these Sellotape Sticky Dots:

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Using a simple clip-strip, they are making a more valuable pitch to shoppers in the aisle looking for calculators and pencils. I do this type of thing in my newsagency, leveraging destination shopper visits to greater value by promoting items one would not usually find in a destination aisle.

Their approach to pens is easy, too. This photo shows part of one side of a double-sided stand. Selecting is easy as is testing the pens.

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The simple Try me! message is terrific. In newsagencies we usually have a small pad stuck on a wall. At Officeworks they have long pads, on a small bench, and they invite trying. This simple move shows a more customer-focussed approach on their part.

Outside the shop, on the front window, is this sign that reinforces a key message: shopping with us is easy and can be done at any time.

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While I get that many newsagents love to hate Officeworks and that we all have our bad stories about Officeworks, that they are expanding ought to concern us as this shows they are winning with customers and that is all that matters.

Yes, their prices are higher than their marketing suggests. In my view, that ought not be your focus.

If your stationery sales are up year on year then maybe you don’t have as much to work about. However, if your stationery sales are flat or declining year on year, take an objective look at Officeworks. Some of what they are doing could work in your newsagency, even on a smaller scale.

There is plenty Officeworks is getting right. The purpose of this post is to encourage you to treat them seriously as a competitor, to learn from what they are doing and to encourage you to create a better stationery pitch in your business.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: Management tip · marketing · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Stationery

Please support Gluten-Free Line out tomorrow

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2016 7:05 PM

The publisher of Gluten-Free Life has been using social media to promote the new issue, out tomorrow. e all ought to respond and leverage this title by promoting it in-store and on our social media pages.

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Next time you buy gifts for your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2016 5:31 AM

A newsagent called yesterday angry a gift supplier they had purchased from for years has started supplying a pharmacy nearby. The apparent promise of exclusivity has been ignored with a there is nothing in writing comment.

If a rep or agent makes such a claim to you, get it in writing and make it clear this commitment is essential to you doing business with them.

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Are you leveraging Captain America in your newsagency?

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2016 5:20 AM

IMG_9662 (1)Here is how we are leveraging the Captain America: Civil War movie release in the newsagency. Opening last Thursday in the cinemas, the movie blitzed the box office, delivering extraordinary numbers.

If you do not have Captain America product in your newsagency you are missing an opportunity.

In addition to the items in this centrepiece traffic-acttricting display, we have more products nearby.

I think it is essential we connect with these large movie franchises in-store, before the move opens and through the first few weeks … and then later, even years later, as people want to remember the movie.

If you do not connect, you miss the opportunity to demonstrate relevance, achieve excellent impulse purchases and, most important of all, to attract new shoppers to the business. We have been promoting Captain America: Civil War products outside the business and this has resulted in identifiable new traffic shopping with us.

While you could get into this opportunity now, it may be too late for the first major wave of opportunity. The time to order for any major movie franchise is six months or more out.  For the last Star Wars movie release, for example, we ordered close to a year out.

The other comment I would make about leveraging movie franchises, aside from the magazines, occasionally, greeting cards, it is non newsagency suppliers who have this licenced product.

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Pens next to the counter can change the pitch in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2016 5:17 AM

One of the ways we can increase engagement with pens in newsagencies is to change the way we approach pens. Or maybe not change, but add to – keep our traditional pen display and add to it by trying something like this, which I saw in a shop last week.

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I watched shoppers in this business and plenty who went to the counter with a purchase tried a pen or two. A couple purchased, making the tactical move valuable for the business.

You don’t need to allocate as much space as you can see in the photo, the keys, though, are to have enough range to make a statement, to make testing easy and to change it up regularly so regulars are not blind to the offer.

When it comes to stationery we rely too much on people seeking out the stationery department and making a destination purchase. We need to do more to drive impulse purchases.

One can never have too many pens … that ought to be our motto.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency management · Stationery

New greeting card outlet in Sydney CBD

Mark Fletcher on May 3, 2016 3:14 PM

A new card outlet has opened in Sydney’s CBD, in the prestigious Strand Arcade. The Bespoke Letterpress cards are beautiful in design and of excellent production quality. The outpost is inspiring and attracting plenty of interest. I urge newsagents near Sydney to check it out.

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Wow: The Rotten State of Newsagents

Mark Fletcher on May 3, 2016 10:49 AM

The Rotten State of Newsagents – Is it any Wonder Publishers Are Pushing Digital? By John Freeman is an indictment of the state of newsagents in the UK. While I have challenged him on some points, he makes other points all newsagents need to consider.

Freeman needs to look at why newsagents cram magazines into less and less space. Next, he needs to talk about how to address the issues to respect newsagents and publishers. His article misses some key facts.

I agree with what much of what Freeman has written about UK newsagents. Plenty of shops are tired and not up to current retail standards. However, part of the problem could be the return achieved from the category by retailers in the UK. My experience with retailers is they invest based on the financial return.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management

newsXpress marketing to newsagents

Mark Fletcher on May 3, 2016 5:24 AM

Here is the content of an email sent to newsagents last week promoting newsXpress:

Innovation for newsagents.

If you want new traffic, a higher than average gross profit, a fresh in-store look and excitement about the future of your business, consider newsXpress. here is just some of what we have delivered this year:

  1. National e-commerce strategy. newsXpress members are offering products for sale through a variety of websites connected to newsXpress member businesses. Members are thrilled to get news of sales overnight, while their shop is closed, sales with 100% of GP being retained by the members.
  2. Magazine incident reporting: an exclusive time-saving approach to handling magazine under supply, over supply and more.
  3. National Unicorn season. This innovative season, right after easter, increased traffic and drove excellent sales. With no competition.
  4. An interactive online calendar – never forget any deal, opportunity or season again. Delegate more easily. be more in control.
  5. Exclusive good margin dollar traffic generating product lines.
  6. The launch of an exclusive range of niche cards to be sold outside the card department to new shoppers.
  7. National catalogue strategy – 10 years old and still making good money.
  8. Full page advertisements in national magazines.
  9. Launch of a new local supplier in-store strategy.
  10. Regional member meetings – networking and business growth opportunities.
  11. Newsagency shop floor restructure for your Newsagency of the Future.
  12. Free access to labour rates and other HR assistance.

These are just the highlights. We have also engaged on behalf of our members with the ACCC on Tatts related matters and with senior management at Bauer and Gotch on the transition.

We would love to welcome you to our newsXpress community. Click here to read what newsXpress offers. Contact us:

  • National Sales Manager: Peter Francis. 0423 298 020.
  • WA Sales Manager: Lynn Martin-Brown. 0412 665 822.
  • Managing Director: Mark Fletcher. 0418 321 338.
  • Director: Graham Randall. 0419 711 153.

Four videos were also included in the email:

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Promoting magazines to magazine lovers

Mark Fletcher on May 2, 2016 8:11 PM

IMG_9548Check out the ad being run by Mildura newsagent John Klemm in a glossy magazine being widely distributed in the area. I like the ad because it pitches quality and customer service in the headline and then focussed on magazine enthusiasts and also pitching a strong commitment to newspapers. It is rare to see such a commitment to print.

Having seen the newsagency for myself on the weekend, the in0store experience matches the pitch in the ad.

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Costco now sells magazines in Australia and other magazine retailers will not be happy

Mark Fletcher on May 2, 2016 5:58 AM

I am not sure when this happened but US warehouse retailer Costco is now selling magazines in Australia. Their price is 20% off the cover price. Yes, 20% off. Here is a photo I have been sent from someone visiting a local Costco store.

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Costco currently has eight locations in Australia with plans to grow to 25 sores within four years. While it would be easy to dismiss eight stores as not a large enough footprint to hurt magazine sales in other retailers, with revenue of $1.3B in 2015 (source: SMH), Costco is a force to be reckoned with.

While I have never shopped in a Costco, I am told some days the warehouse is packed with shoppers. Each person passing a magazine rack promoting 20% off is being told magazines can be discounted. If these people see the discounted magazines occasionally in supermarkets and regularly at the airports, the message soon sticks to not pay full price of magazines.

Magazines being available in Costco and at 20% off cover price ought to concern us. It demands a response, in-store.

From what I can tell, Costco US started selling magazines around ten years ago. I found this photo promoting 20% off cover price in the US at the Time is Money Mommy blog.

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FYI, here is the blogger’s comment:

I used to subscribe to several magazines, but have cut back over the years since I don’t have time to read them. I’ve realized even though subscriptions are cheaper, it makes more sense to just buy the issues I’m interested in. Costco is the place to do it, as they give a 30% discount off the cover price. And yes, I totally bought the US Weekly with Princess Kate on the cover. Chase is golfing tomorrow, and I’m going to sit in the yard and relax while the kids nap!

While we can be angry about what is happening at Costco, that would achieve little. We are better off responding commercially, in our businesses.

I good response from newsagents would be to actively and consistently promote their discount voucher, magazine club card or similar good-value loyalty program. This is what I do in my newsagency. I mention discount vouchers and magazine club cards as they are differentiating offers whereas loyalty points are not – they are not understood and of dubious value, and shoppers get that.

The Costco range is small and magazine purchases will be on impulse. Our best pitch remains to be the destination magazine specialist and to to this in cost effective and commercially viable ways.

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→ 7 CommentsCategory: Competition · magazines · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management

Sunday newsagency challenge: check your audit log

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2016 5:49 AM

Look at the audit log maintained by your newsagency software. Look for patterns of misbehaviour. Look for fraud. If you are not sure, ask your software company and they will help – as there are patterns easily identified that can reveal theft from your business.

This is a challenge as most will not look, preferring ignorance.

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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: promote what is different about your business

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2016 5:36 AM

While it is good to see newsagents using Facebook and other social media platforms to talk about and promote their businesses, too often the pitch is for product available everywhere, including outside the newsagency channel.

Marketing most noticed is that which stands out, is different to what everyone else with a similar business is doing, unless you want to stay in the chorus and not be noticed.

My marketing tip today: promote what is unique to your business.

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Sunday newsagency management tip: hiring from the window

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2016 5:29 AM

IMG_9380I love this employment available poster I saw in the window of a Hong Kong store last week. I love the style, the pitch and the opportunity. From the outset, prospective candidates would understand the opportunity and plenty about the business.

This sign is better than the old: Casual position available, enquire within we see in too many shop windows. Note the commission opportunity and staff discounts. Inspiring!

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Who Prince cover ought to drive a sell out for this issue

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2016 5:03 PM

IMG_9539The Who cover story about Prince is an excellent opportunity for all newsagents to drive a sell out. Place it at the counter, with newspapers and in the best location with weeklies.

This is a perfect issue to go above and beyond for as impulse purchases are each to achieve.

Our competitors are not treating this issue any differently – this is our opportunity!

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The Weekend Australian front page newspaper cover up

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2016 4:58 PM

Whatever is under the Audio Clinic stuck-on ad misses being promoted.

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Distribution newsagent refuses to supply The Saturday Paper

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2016 8:53 AM

A newsagent wanting to close their IPS account checked on supply for The Saturday Paper from their distribution agent, who already supplies newspapers to the business. The distribution agent has refused. This is kind of like the taxi driver who refuses a short distance fare. Refusal to serve ought not be allowed.

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Planned scarcity to drive retail sales

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2016 6:03 AM

IMG_9311 (1)This sign at the Lady M cake shop in Hong Kong somehow made the cakes even more appealing. This is a bakery where they control the volume of product they have available yet here they are, long after establishing the business, restricting what customers can purchase. This is similar to the Lego model where they supply to Australia at a volume that always leavers retailers wanting more than is shipped. This constant desire by retailers and their customers drives more interest, or so business strategists think. There must be something in the model of planned scarcity as I am seeing more global brands use this approach. I know of several suppliers to newsagencies and similar businesses engaged in planned scarcity. Most get it right while a couple don’t Those that don’;t turn people off their brand, including the shoppers they want to attract with the model.

At Lady M, the model seems to work – it should as their cakes are delicious.

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What we can learn from the $34,000 pen for the train enthusiast

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2016 5:54 AM

In Hong Kong this week in plenty of retail businesses I saw excellent examples of products focussed on collectors who spend up big on their passion.

Look at this pen I saw at a S. T. Dupont store, Central, Hong Kong. It is a jewell encrusted train, limited edition, pen.  The price is A$34,000.

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This pen is on display for the ‘museum factor’ – to attract people to look, and to sell. yes, people purchase the pen.

Could we sell this in a newsagency? No. Well, probably no. However, in the right situation, I am sure a newsagent could sell one.

We can sell any expensive item in the right circumstances, regardless of the limitations we place on ourselves under our shingle and regardless of the limitations some suppliers place on us because of our shingle.

At our core, we are special interest businesses. In our magazines and some other departments in our businesses we serve people with passions. So, shy not an expensive pen for the train enthusiast? maybe not a $34,000 pen but why not a $500 pen?

In my own newsagency I regularly sell limited edition collectible items priced at between $500 and $1,000. I recall when we got into these some in the channel poked fun. They would not poke fun at the money through the register as a result.

The key is to not look at what we sell in the traditional way. This train pen is not a pen, well it is, but not to most shoppers. No, to a train lover it is a showpiece item for their collection. That it is a pen is of little consideration.

Seeing this pen, and the other collectible pens for other special interests, was a reminder of the value of collectors and the importance of serving them with the same passion with which they collect.

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Newspower marketing to newsagents

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2016 4:23 PM

Newspower sent out an email to newsagents today marketing their services:

News from the National Manager

We are very pleased to report an outstanding response to the Newspower Easter Colouring Competition this year with over 25,000 entries across Newspower stores.  What a fantastic opportunity for newsagencies to engage with families and schools in their community. This Easter tradition, sponsored by Staedtler, is just one of many seasonal promotions we support at Newspower, with individual members able to work with their local primary schools and local media.

Newspower continues to measure the value of membership.  We have drilled down to identify the costs to a newsagency business that can be reduced and avoided.

As an example of reduced costs, a member of Newspower gains significant savings, especially when it comes to design, printing and distribution of our seasonal marketing campaigns. Have you ever thought about what it costs in time and dollars to have posters and flyers/brochures designed, approved, printed and distributed every time?  An example of this is our Mothers’ Day campaign that features glorious pink, crimson and yellow gerberas in eye-catching visual merchandising material. Posters feature the bright visual of the flowers with additional cut out flowers in different sizes, which can be utilised to build brilliant in store displays highlighting all the gifts & cards for Mother’s Day. Our proven approach helps you, our member sell more products to more customers more often!

Newspower’s real point of difference for you, our member is the increased brochures/flyer program. We keep up with industry research to make sure you get the best ‘bang for your buck’ with design and content – and brochures, delivered to homes, are consistently amongst the most cost effective forms of reaching your customers.  The Australasian Catalogue Association reports that more Australians read a brochure every week than watch television or listen to commercial radio!

There are tremendous results from our Inkpower Program so far with some stores have more than doubled sales! For stores that have not carried ink before they are now positioned as an ink retailer – a destination for customers.

In 6 weeks since the brochure was distributed my ink sales have gone up 278% by units and 415% by dollar turnover.  I am selling more genuine cartridges than ever, and still doing well with compatibles. This is the best return I have had on any Newspower promo – long may it continue!                               David Brindley – Angle Vale Newspower

Wishing you all a very successful month and you and your family a lovely Mothers’ Day this year.

Helen Dowling
National Manager
Newspower Australia

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Staff theft costing retailers 11 times more than shoplifting in the UK

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2016 6:21 AM

Newsagents should read the excellent report, Staff theft costing retailers 11 times more than shoplifting at Better Retailing on staff theft. The opening par is a wake-up call on an issue most newsagents prefer to ignore:

Shock new figures reveal staff theft has soared by 129%, costing retailers on average 11 times more than shop theft.

I know from my own work through my POS software company working in several retail channels that theft costs between 3% and 5% of total turnover. However, the majority of independent retailers do not get serious about managing theft until they have been hit.

In every instance of employee theft I have seen over many years, retailers have had the tools necessary to track and stop the theft before it was ultimately detected, usually when less than 5% of the ultimate amount stolen had been taken.

Talk to your software company, ask about the theft mitigation tools available and engage. Do not wait to discover theft by some other means before you act.

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Lotterywest leads Tatts on community engagement

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2016 6:19 AM

Check out Lotterywest on Twitter and compare their engagement to Golden Casket and NSW Lotteries – two of the Tatts Group brands on Twitter – and you see different engagement. Whereas the Tatts brands promote their products, Lotterywest promotes products but with a strong community connection. The difference starts with the Lotterywest tagline: You play. You give. There are many Twitter posts that demonstrate the commitment to giving, and not all are from Lotterywest themselves, like this one fro the RSL:

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While I am no marketing expert, I think there is an extraordinary value in the community engagement of Lotterywest and this value is seen in in-store engagement in newsagencies.

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Magazines in prime position in 7-Eleven in Hong Kong

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2016 5:59 AM

IMG_9337The space and prime location commitment of 7-Eleven and other c-stores in Hong Kong is not diminishing. They are always at the front of the shop, inside the door, with easy access.

While every display is crowded and full covers rarely are shown, that the space, location and range commitment is maintained speaks to revenue success I suspect. As I have noted here in the past – many magazines in Hong Kong are in sealed plastic bags, reducing browsing.

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Displaying the challenging gift with purchase in Hong Kong.

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2016 5:57 AM

IMG_9514Check out the large Sabon brand gift with purchase bagged with the latest Cosmopolitan magazine in Hong Kong … and I thought some gifts packaged with magazines in Australia were challenging.  This gift takes up 50% more space than the magazine.

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kikki.K in Hong Kong

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2016 5:55 AM

kikki.K is making its mark in Hong Kong with store openings in good locations. Their approach is as consistent as in Australia. Emotionally pitched displays in their windows and in-store. Retail in Hong Kong is competitive and displays are high-end. The kikki.K offer is competitive and fits in the busy city. Here is the Mother’s Day themed window display I saw at the Times Square outlet.

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