Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Ros Reines fails to backup sledge of newsagents

Mark Fletcher on September 15, 2014 1:33 PM

rostwitRos Reines from Sydney Confidential in The Daily Telegraph recently claimed to 17,500 Twitter followers that some newsagents don’t put out magazines each day. I responded and found out it was two newsagents in Bondi. Reins has not responded to other questions I’ve put.

A professional journalist would check the facts before publishing. I want to know if Reines checked the facts. What was the title being sought out? Were staff in the businesses asked? Was the title some place else and not in the usual location? Was the comment based on unopened bundles? If so, these could have been extra stock.

If the newsagents in question did not have titles out that should have been out, shame on them for their treatment of the products and for their damaging of our reputation.

Right now, however, we don’t have the facts and Ros Reines is not responding.

This is not a gossip piece like you find in Sydney Confidential. This is a sledge against a small business channel, a sledge that needs to be responded to.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Ethics · Newsagency challenges · Newspapers · Social Media · Social responsibility

Newsagent association survey

Mark Fletcher on September 15, 2014 5:41 AM

Please take three-question survey on newsagency association relevance. I’ll publish the results later this week.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagent representation

Promoting cards with magazines

Mark Fletcher on September 15, 2014 5:22 AM

cardsmagsWe love opportunities to integrate products from one category with another. Who this week gave us an opportunity to promote a card from the Spirit humour range. The card placement pitches this card as well the rest of the range placed nearby.


→ No CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards · magazines

The impact of heightened security on retail

Mark Fletcher on September 15, 2014 5:19 AM

securityuogradeHere’s the note we received from our landlord on the announcement of the raising of the security threat level. My first thought was the note was an overreaction but on reflection it makes sense to me. I’m glad they sent it.

I’m posting this note here to show newsagents operating outside a shopping centre the sorts of things landlords remind their tenants about at times like this. I hope the reminders in the note are useful.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

How is Homes+ selling?

Mark Fletcher on September 15, 2014 5:17 AM

homesplusWe have had the launch issue of Homes+ in prime position with home and living titles  as well as a stint with newspapers. We’ve not sold a single copy, making the space and labour investment worthless for us.

How is it selling for you?


→ 11 CommentsCategory: magazines

Using How Your Body Works to drive traffic

Mark Fletcher on September 15, 2014 5:14 AM

partwtrafficWe have been using to promoting How Your Body Works under a stand we have on the lease line.  This placement is designed to connect with the TV campaign. It’s selling – showing the importance and value of thoughtful tactical placement.


→ No CommentsCategory: partworks

Reminder: newsagent association relevance survey

Mark Fletcher on September 14, 2014 6:14 AM

Please take three-question survey on newsagency association relevance. I’ll publish the results later this week.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Newsagent representation

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: host a bake off

Mark Fletcher on September 14, 2014 6:11 AM

With the surge in gourmet home cooking on the back of a flood of reality TV shows covering baking to chaffing skills to complete dining experiences, newsagents are well placed to engage with the local foodie community.

Select a recipe from one of your popular food magazines run a competition for customers for judging on a day you set aside for an in-store event. They all have to bake the same dish you choose.

You could go further have choose a starter, a main and a dessert. But that could be challenging in heating so starting the idea with a cake, slice, biscuits or something similar which can be delivered and served cold could be more practical.

Find an independent judge with experience in food judging. Set aside some space where you also promote your food titles. Get the local paper in for a photo. Have fun. Remember to let the publisher of the magazine you choose know. Take lots of photos for your business Facebook page.

If you worry about space and too many entries maybe limit the size first time around. Or, plan to go big and hire a local hall or get council approval to do something on the footpath in front of your newsagency. I think it’s important for an event like this to be in or near your business. The commercial connection, however subtle, is important.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management tip: use a focus group to guide you

Mark Fletcher on September 14, 2014 6:02 AM

Focus groups are used by many businesses to test new products, advertising campaigns, business names, product packaging, business ideas – just about anything a business might be considering. While usually a big business approach, focus groups can work in small businesses like in your newsagency.

For clarification on what a focus group is and how it works, take a look at the Wikipedia page: Focus Group.

My newsagency management tip today is to use a focus group to harvest feedback and thoughts about management decisions you face in and about your newsagency business. You could convene a group of people not currently connected (this is important) with your business for advice and feedback on:

  1. A store image change.
  2. Product category changes.
  3. Product selection where you might be considering multiple options.
  4. Consideration of a new service.
  5. Community group engagement choices.

Sometimes asking the opinions of others helps us see our options differently and this can lead to better business decisions. Convening a focus group does not commit you to their advice. The investment, however, gets you listening to more people think and talk about your business.


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

Another Herald Sun cover-up

Mark Fletcher on September 14, 2014 5:58 AM

hsucoverThe Herald Sun yesterday took money from Mazda to obscure the photo of page one of the newspaper lauding the North Melbourne victory. !@*&ers is one North Melbourne fan said ripping the sticker off before buying it. I get that News wants the advertising bucks but getting between an AFL fan and their victory is dangerous, especially in Victoria.


→ 1 CommentCategory: newspaper masthead desecration

Fairfax takes online news traffic honours

Mark Fletcher on September 13, 2014 5:11 PM

Fairfax has trumped News Corp. in the latest online news site rankings by Neilsen. Click here for the Neilsen report. More at Mumbrella here. Online news engagement is relevant to newsagents as growth in engagement challenges engagement with the print product we sell.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption

Weekend survey: newsagent association relevance

Mark Fletcher on September 13, 2014 6:18 AM

I have created a three-question survey on newsagency association relevance. Please click on the link to take the survey. I created the survey as a result of a discussion with a newsagent at the Melbourne gift fair who said they got more value from their gift association membership than from their newsagent association membership. As newsagencies evolve away from the core old newsagent association concerns matter less.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Newsagent representation

Why I cancelled future Bauer merchandiser visits

Mark Fletcher on September 13, 2014 6:10 AM

I observed a Bauer merchandiser visit in one of my newsagencies on Thursday. The entire time was spent recording what we were doing: where magazines were placed and other data. I think photos were taken but I cannot be sure. It felt like we were being marked and judged.

In the ten to fifteen minutes or so in store the Bauer merchandiser did not add any value to the business whatsoever.

If what I saw yesterday is what is done by these merchandisers in other newsagencies what a waste for newsagents and how utterly disrespectful.

Given what I observed and that another Bauer merchandiser was recently filmed moving a Pacific Magazines titles into a poor position in favour of a Bauer title I emailed Bauer to cancel all future merchandiser visits. To their credit they acted quickly and took us off the merchandiser visit roster.

This is my business. I want people in the business who want to help me grow the business. The days of treating newsagents as kids to be marked as if school are long over.


→ 7 CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency management · supplier arrogance

Visual merchandising tip: use a backing colour

Mark Fletcher on September 13, 2014 6:07 AM

bb-inspireIt’s amazing the different inserting a colour sheet in a fixture can make to bring focus to products. Without the backing sheet the products blend with colours from other shelves showing through. With the sheets you see the product on the shelf and not what is behind it.

This is a simple and effective VM tip.

The photo is from a Hallmark Gold Crown store I visited in the US earlier this year.


→ No CommentsCategory: visual merchandising

If you need inspiration to engage with Halloween…

Mark Fletcher on September 13, 2014 6:03 AM

While Halloween in the US is huge compared to here in Australia, my experience is that it is growing every year. An average suburban newsagency fully engaged with the season could make between $1,000 and $2,000 in sales with between 50% and 60% GP – regardless of what nearby supermarkets and deep discount stores might do.

This terrific report from CNN in the US provides an insight into the $6B season for US retailers.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency opportunities

A WH Smith acquisition announcement imminent?

Mark Fletcher on September 12, 2014 7:24 AM

I’ve heard from several people in recent weeks that WH Smith is close to making another retail acquisition in Australia and that their focus is on the newsagency channel. The reports have intensified this week with a specific acquisition target being named. If true, it will change the newsagency landscape in Australia and reveal more about the plans WH Smith has for their engagement in Australia.

While I am not joining the rumours and naming the reported target here, I will note I think that WH Smith is investing in Australia for the long term. I am certain they have a plan that requires a retail critical mass that they do not have with their current retail footprint.

As their plan evolves, newsagents will realise the potential impact at the local business level. Smart newsagents will step up to the challenge.


→ 9 CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management

Dog and cat display update

Mark Fletcher on September 12, 2014 7:19 AM

dogcatcounterFurther to my post from September 5 about refreshing the dog and cat display at the counter, I can share that the jumbled and more orderly display work almost the same in terms of sales – the orderly display is slightly ahead. The big news is that in two weeks we have sold hundreds of dollars of dogs and cats from the counter. So much so that we’re short of stock until our order comes in so we have dogs and cats in together.

Here’s my message: plush sells at the counter if you display it in a way that is noticeable and that makes sense. We have people purchasing $19.99 items on impulse – with cards, newspapers and or magazines. yes, there have been newspaper customers who have added a $19.99 item to their paper purchase.

Our counter story is not only these dogs and cats – they are of a bigger picture story that is all about overall gross profit and margin dollars per sale.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · Newsagency opportunities · Plush · Tactical display

Making the most of Hillary Clinton

Mark Fletcher on September 12, 2014 7:14 AM

gshilaryThe Hillary Clinton cover on the latest Woman & Home gives us an opportunity to get the title out in front. This is a title not often in the spotlight. The Hillary cover is a perfect opportunity for us to refresh interest. This is what cover choices by magazine publishers are all about. It’s also how we can sell more magazines.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

The only way to display this issue of Vogue

Mark Fletcher on September 12, 2014 7:10 AM

masgvogueWe have allocated double pockets to display the current issue of Vogue which comes with a tote bag. At first look you’d think the bag is designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. I’m not sure that it is. The information on the packaging is less than clear. Anyway, we have allocated extra space for the next few days to try and move the stock as showing the bag off this way is essential for shoppers to see what they get. Too often newsagents fold the gift behind the magazine – hiding the bonus value.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

A good example of poor title allocations

Mark Fletcher on September 12, 2014 7:07 AM

changebasetelegWe often sold out of the 3 copies of the telegraph we received from network Services so they increased us to 7. I;d have thought 5 was okay but not 7. A review of our history shows volatility. It does not make sense for them to more than double supply. It makes me wonder if they are dumping excess stock they have to allocate. Better in our shop than their warehouse.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

If you have an email from Network saying your returns failed

Mark Fletcher on September 11, 2014 3:41 PM

As I mentioned yesterday, some newsagents who lodged returns during Network Services Netonline planned system outage – from 1pm Friday to 6pm Saturday – are receiving emails from Network saying that their returns have failed. Some in Network and XchangeIT tell newsagents to call their software company. This is Network’s problem to resolve as the company has now confirmed.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazine distribution

Good Peppa Pig products from Network

Mark Fletcher on September 11, 2014 2:52 PM

googpeppaI like the Peppa Pig products from Network Services. They are a terrific addition to our Peppa Pig range. Yes, I don’t like the low margin … I wish I was making the 50% and more off these that I make off other Peppa products. But it’s icing so I’ll put up with the inadequate margin for now. We have these items at the counter as they don’t fit on our existing Peppa stands.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Uncategorized

Refusing to offer the Take 5 Recipes+ discount magazine pack

Mark Fletcher on September 11, 2014 2:47 PM

cheapt5I refuse to display the Take 5 / Recipes+ discount pack which came out today.  I don;t have a space pocket in the weeklies section nor do I want to support the discount magazine strategy by Bauer that is not delivering the sales bump they need when you do a title for title comparison in the latest audit.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Bagged magazines · magazines

Discounting Woman’s Day & NW

Mark Fletcher on September 11, 2014 2:45 PM

wheapwdBauer is discounting Woman’s Day and NW to chase sales this week. Newsagents are the ones doing the discounting actually as our GP is based on the discount pack price. I’d love to know if other retailers like supermarkets make margin on the discounted price or the cover price of the titles in the discount pack.


→ No CommentsCategory: Bagged magazines · magazines

Has RUOK? jumped the shark?

Mark Fletcher on September 11, 2014 6:58 AM

Walking past a Hungry Jack’s yesterday I saw two large banners with RUOK? on them, hanging under the menu. It made me wonder if asked they asked if you wanted a large size meal for 50c more they would ask if you are ok? Of course, their involvement in the RUOK? campaign is to raise awareness and that’s a good thing.

My concern is that their involvement and the involvement of other businesses encourages us to ask the question of someone so we can tick the box that we have done our bit for another year. It makes it too easy. Asking how someone is is not always easy but it is vitally important.

Asking if someone is okay is not about ticking a box,. It is not about you. It is about asking the question and listening to the answer and engaging in a conversation. The question itself is about much more than RUOK?

I am concerned that the commercialisation of RUOK? as I’ve seen at Hungry Jack’s runs the risk of diluting the importance of asking a friend, partner, an employer or an employee if they are ok.

I get that having a day focuses attention and cuts through interns of media coverage. It also makes it a billboard you quickly pass and forget. This is where we as individuals and, more important, as employers need to play an on going role – checking in with those with whom we work and those we employ. We need to engage in conversations that go beyond the slogan RUOK? and ask how people are doing and engage with them beyond a question.

Talking with someone about how they are is a conversation, often several conversations. It is not one question and an answer. This is important way beyond one day a year. It is important way beyond standing in line to order a burger. While I applaud the Hungry jack’s promotion of the campaign, I wish it was not part of a menu. I wish their involvement was more about funding support and education in places where we can engage with people about mental health – like workplaces.

In our newsagency channel mental health is a serious issue for employees, customers and for newsagents. Indeed, many newsagents straggle daily because of personal and business circumstances. Maybe for us today ought to be a reminder to check in with a colleague to ask how they are doing and to listen to their response and explore any conversation that flows.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility