Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Simple displays work well

Mark Fletcher on August 4, 2015 6:36 AM

IMG_8868 (1)On stands and in common spaces there are plenty of good examples of low cost displays and merchandising at the Gift fair in Melbourne.

This use of pallets for creating a noticeboard and display table could work in many businesses.

Gone are the days of spending more than we should on refitting shops. Instead, it is fashionable to repurpose old furniture and other items for retail display.

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Newsagents need to stop complaining about freight

Mark Fletcher on August 4, 2015 6:01 AM

Freight has been a hot topic on the floor of the Melbourne gift fair over the weekend with penalty of retailers including newsagents saying they should not have to pay freight.

The reality is: whether you are charged for freight or not you pay for it.

Your suppliers need to make money as do you. They choose to locate their businesses where they do as you choose the location of yours.

It is easy to demand freight free. It is equally easy to source products that do not have a clear or suggested retail price – thereby enabling you to set a retail price to cover freight.

The low Australian dollar, higher freight charges and higher importation charges are behind more suppliers reviewing freight arrangements. Many suppliers I know are not passing on the full impact of the low dollar compared to where it sat a year ago so to pressure them on freight places a further burden on them.

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Melbourne gift fair participants show how blurred lines are between retail channels

Mark Fletcher on August 4, 2015 5:51 AM

The lines between retail channels continue to blur as retailers pursue traffic and revenue in a crowded and competitive marketplace.

Supermarkets are not alone in reaching into the product categories of other channels to make their businesses more successful. Pharmacies have been doing this for years as have proactive newsagents.

The gift fair on at the moment in this has demonstrated how much previously defined retail channels cross over into others. On gift and homewares stands I have seen owners of gift shops, jewellers, garden centres, newsagencies and general online businesses.

Gifts are the ultimate board offering, working well in a variety of retail channels. Newsagents need to consider this as they expand their gift offerings as they need to ensure they are in a highly competitive category with obvious and not so obvious competitors.

This presents a significant challenge to many newsagents who enter the gift space for a point of difference. It is why you need to be careful about suppliers you use, to ensure that your investment is not challenged by the same products being placed in a supply business nearby.

Several suppliers at the fair told me of independent retailers asking if they supplied this group or that group. In one particular instance the supplier mentioned that a no meant the retailer walked off the stand. Groups in several retail channels work hard to keep their supplier relationships secret for this reason.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · Newsagency opportunities

Tatts ignoring retailers in Set for Life promotion

Mark Fletcher on August 3, 2015 4:15 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 4.11.14 pmTatts has been active on social media promoting Set for Life and from what I can see on Twitter they are promoting buying direct from them, online. WA newsagents will be happy Lotterywest are not doing a Tatts.

If I was a Tatts retailer and under pressure from the company to promote the game I would be frustrated at the lack of support for the retail network.

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How is BBC Earth going for you?

Mark Fletcher on August 3, 2015 7:32 AM

A couple of newsagents I saw on the weekend asked me to open a post here where newsagents can comment on how the BBC earth promotion from News Corp. is performing.

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Finding the sweet spot for Justice League

Mark Fletcher on August 3, 2015 7:08 AM

IMG_8816I love the floor display unit for the Justice League figurines. It is strong, dramatic and perfectly branded. The products did not sell. Price point was an issue. I think this is because it is licenced product and from Schleich – a premium brand.

Performance demanded we quit the range. We dropped price to $9.99 and immediately the products started selling. Customers love the characters and everything else about the Justice League range including the new price point.

The space we freed was more important than holding out to possibly make margin on the stock.

Quitting underperforming stock has to be done without emotion and at a price point that meets the needs of the business.

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Making the most of Set for Life in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on August 3, 2015 7:00 AM

While I don’t have lotteries in my newsagencies, I have been helping a few newsagents engage with Set for Life to make the most of the launch opportunity. This is important regardless of Tatts also offering it online.

Here are my tips for launching this new game in your business:

  1. Know the target demographic. All I have read suggests this game will appeal more to a younger audience than traditional lottery games in Australia. Play to this demo in your marketing.
  2. Talk about the game online, on Facebook and other platforms where you represent your business.
  3. Tell stories about what the $20,000 a month could mean.
  4. Run a competition on how would you spend $20,000 a month.
  5. Consider launching with a competition or promotion where one customer wins a $8.40 Set for Life ticket – run this for four weeks.
  6. Look for stories from the US where major prize winners have been able to take prizes monthly for many years.

It is not too late to go big and loud in promoting Set for Life as it will take some time to build interest in the new product. It is essential you do more than sell the game across the counter.

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New Tatts Set for Life game available online

Mark Fletcher on August 3, 2015 6:50 AM

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 6.46.30 amSeveral newsagents have mentioned to me recently that they like that the new Tatts Set for Life game is only available in Tatts outlets.

Be aware that Set for Life is available online and through the mobile App. To lottery customers this will make sense.

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Happy newsagents at the Gift Fair

Mark Fletcher on August 2, 2015 4:16 PM

It’s been a thrill to catch up with many happy newsagents at the Gift Fair. I have seen plenty of smiles and optimism and heard of money being spent on new product categories through which they are changing their businesses.

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Sunday newsagency challenge: get cards out of the card department

Mark Fletcher on August 2, 2015 6:31 AM

IMG_8829 (1)This is easy. Take a spare stand, fill it with a range of cards that appeal to a shopper you struggle to get into the business, put it on the lease line so passers-by can see it and watch to see if the stand attracts people. If the stand does not work, change the cards and keep doing this until you see people who would not usually shop with you stop and take a look.

Look at the photo how one of the people in my newsagency set this up. The branding at the top and bottom are key to making a strong and professional statement.

Don’t assume that having a card department is all you need to do to get people to consider purchasing cards from you.

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Sunday newsagency management tip: know your total stock holding

Mark Fletcher on August 2, 2015 6:24 AM

A retailer last week told me that they enter inventory into their shop computer system when they move it from the garage at home to the shop. They explained they purchase products at a discount by buying in bulk and don;t consider them part of the shop’s stock until it is at the shop.

Their approach means this business does not have accurate reporting on stock turn, return on investment and aged sock performance. I6 means they are ill-informed when it comes to making buying decisions.

Buying because of a special deal for bulk could be false economy. You will rarely know unless you carefully track your stock.

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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: use TV advertising

Mark Fletcher on August 2, 2015 6:15 AM

IMG_8738Partwork launches provide us the best opportunity to drive traffic yet many newsagents ignore this, preferring to complain about the margin rather than considering the value of the bigger picture. Most partwork launches in Australian are supported with a high rotation TV ad, often on free to in prime time. Here is how we leverage these:

  1. Placement of the launch issue so people outside the shop can see it.
  2. Talking about the launch on our business Facebook page prior to launch.
  3. Talking about the launch issue immediately it is in stock and through the two week launch on-sale.
  4. Using other social media to leverage the launch TV for our business.
  5. Emailing all customers through the Pacific Magazines nexus program or directly to promote the launch.

A comprehensive co-ordinated approach is key to enjoying the most success possible from apart works launch.

With hundreds of thousands spent on a launch it makes sense to me that we ride the back of this to drive traffic with the goal of that new traffic seeing what else we sell.

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The number of candle suppliers is a warning

Mark Fletcher on August 1, 2015 12:30 PM

Walking through some of the gift fair in Melbourne today I am surprised at the number of candle suppliers. I do not recall seeing this many. Small independent makers showing off boutique candles and importers with international ranges.

The number of candle suppliers tells me to be careful about candles, to ask questions about other retailers they stock. If I was to offer candles I am more likely to stock a range that is not available elsewhere in my catchment area.

However, given the broad availability of candles I am not like to stock them.

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Melbourne Gift Fairs important for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on August 1, 2015 6:32 AM

The Melbourne Gift Fairs (Reed and Home & Giving) start today and Life In Style started 2 days ago. Here is some of the advice provided by newsagency marketing group newsXpress to members in advance of the fairs:

  1. Know your data. Look at your reports and be certain of what is working and what is now. Have sales data for each supplier you plan to visit. Have your card category data as this guides gift categories you can sell.
  2. Know your finances. Know how much you can spend and when through the next six months.
  3. Know your timing. There are space, cash flow and other factors to consider when agreeing dates on when to deliver.
  4. Know your competitors. Know your competitors before you go. Look for changes in their ranges. Spot strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Buy strategically. Think about suppliers who place product anywhere compared to suppliers who make sure retailers with their ranges are not too close to each other.
  6. You are not your customer. Buy for your customers and not for yourself.
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A Disney pitch behind the counter

Mark Fletcher on August 1, 2015 6:28 AM

IMG_8853We have refreshed our behind the counter offer with a range of Disney art pieces by Pop Artist Romero Britto. Disney collectors love them. Britto fans love them. They are an adorable gift. Better still, they are a perfect behind the counter offer for pitching what the business stands for compared to others.

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Have you heard about the National Geographic Kids Special offer with the Sunday Age?

Mark Fletcher on August 1, 2015 6:23 AM

The Age emailed me about this National Geographic Kids discount offer last night as a consumer and not ad a newsagent. It’s the first I have heard of it unless I have missed something.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.00.45 pm

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Resetting the magazines for the weekend

Mark Fletcher on July 31, 2015 2:17 PM

IMG_8815On a Friday we reset magazine facings to reflect the different shopper we have visiting from Friday afternoon through to Sunday afternoon. In our case they are more interested in fringe and special interest titles. Our changes reflect this, to create a magazine department different to the two Coles supermarkets in the centre.

Placing Daphne’s Diary and Vintage Made at the front with the full cover on show are two examples of moves we make to position our magazine offer differently in the centre.

While the magazine distribution model continues to frustrate, we continue to try for tasty lemonade with how we manage magazines in-store.

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Frustration with IPS

Mark Fletcher on July 31, 2015 2:08 PM

IMG_8814 (1)I like Forge magazine but I do not like that I get four copies when I only need 2 and that I have to keep it on the shelves longer than viable given the cost of the space it occupies.

It is tough and often unprofitable work being a magazine specialist.

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Is the IBIS report on newsagencies based on flawed Hubbed pitch?

Mark Fletcher on July 31, 2015 6:11 AM

Reading the IBISWorld Industry Report OD5495: Newsagencies in Australia, I am left wondering how wide their research took them since they place considerable emphasis on the Hubbed Connect platform. There are nine references over 29 pages including this from page 11:

The Connect model, which is being offered to newsagencies, is anticipated to provide significant growth opportunities for outlets. The Connect portfolio is expected to offer consumers a one-stop shop for a range of products and services that they would previously have demanded from a range of alterative retailers. The Connect model is expected to reinvigorate the Newsagencies industry by proving scope for growth across a number of products.

It appears inadequate research was done when you consider this from page 6:

The Connect system enabled newsagency customers to undertake a range of tasks they would previously have done at other retailers, from bill payment to parcel shipment and photo printing.

Newsagents have had parcel shipment and photo printing for years.

The Connect related statements read like they are from Connect or their launch partner the ANF. Today, in 2015, I know of plenty of newsagents trying to ditch Connect but having trouble.

It is disappointing that the Ibis document has not covered more commercially valuable innovation being leveraged by individual and groups of newsagents. To me, the inadequate coverage means the Ibis report is not accurate, certainly not worth the $900.00+ price tag (unless you got it free).

The report was published to the ANF managed Facebook group and removed shortly after I wrote about it here.

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A timely reminder about retail business security

Mark Fletcher on July 31, 2015 6:07 AM

A newsagent in a small town in Victoria was hit with an armed break in earlier this week. The two criminals were clearly looking for cash following the OzLotto jackpot. After trashing this business they went on to several others.

Look at the security you have in place for your business and those who work in it. Make sure the business itself is safe and that you have in place good detection systems to assist the police in the event of a break in.

  1. If you work late, consider installing good lighting for safe visible access from your business to transport.
  2. On particularly busy days, bank during the day. Do not follow a regular pattern for banking.
  3. Use a big mother of a safe that will withstand sustained attack – as happened in the newsagency break-in earlier this week.
  4. Have an excellent LOUD alarm system.
  5. Have a height scale at the door.
  6. Have a CCTV system with cameras positioned so they cannot be tampered with and your DVR placed where it cannot be easily found.

Here are some useful resources for you to research and consider:

Newsagencies are easy targets according to police I speak with because criminals see us as less protected or organises as supermarkets and convenience stores. We can combat this with simple measures.

Take care by being prepared before anything happens.

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A note on taking photos

Mark Fletcher on July 30, 2015 4:05 PM

IMG_8388 (1)With many newsagents using photos on Facebook and elsewhere to market their businesses, I encourage people to contender investing in a good light box. This small investment, not much over $100, will allow you to take better quality photos that work well on social media and lift the professional look of your business.

I took this photo of the bat in a light box in the office using the camera on my iPhone. The photo have not been edited or touched-up in any way.

Click on the image for a large version and see first-hand the value of the light box. Gone are shadows and flares you’d get with regular photography outside the light box.

I got this light box from Amazon delivered for under $100.

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Newsagents are toy lovers at heart

Mark Fletcher on July 30, 2015 8:30 AM

In my involvement with newsXpress I have seen a new range of what could be described as boys toys released through the group recently with some excellent sales success. What’s most interesting to me is that most of the male newsXpress business owners have taken one of the boys toys home for a play. The stories have been hilarious. Better still, their playing with the toys has made them better sales people and this is driving good sales.

Playing in the shoes of our target customers is a business activity that will drive sales. 

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Promoting the Australian Women’s Diary 2016

Mark Fletcher on July 30, 2015 6:48 AM

IMG_8784While we have the Australian Women’s Diary 2016 edition in a couple of locations, this location above worm’s magazines is where it will work best based inputs experience.  I urge you to place at least one unit with women’s magazines ASAP to make the most of the opportunity. We achieve good sales early in the diary buying cycle.

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Misplaced Habits: The Newsagent

Mark Fletcher on July 30, 2015 6:08 AM

Misplaced Habits: The Newsagent is a heartfelt and moving blog post by Cath Feely, a social and cultural historian of modern Britain. I encourage you to read it as it takes you on a journey of memories to the quintessential British newsagency business. At the end is this paragraph:

Proper newsagents now seem to me to be an endangered species, a misplaced habit. Some are still there, clinging on, diversifying as they always have done, in the face of competition from supermarkets opening ‘local’ shops. My local newsagent in Withington, Manchester, closed last year as it sat opposite a new Sainsbury’s Local. The place where I got my pic ‘n’ mix has been converted into a house. For me, the newsagent has become a place of nostalgia. But I imagine there are still many communities in Britain where the newsagent remains a gateway to the wider world.

These challenges faced by UK newsagents are challenges we face here. The benefit for us is that we have such a solid based in greeting cards and this for many newsagents is proving to be the foundation of a bright future.

The majority of UK newsagents years ago appear to have decided to compete in the convenience space and in doing so took on the most powerful retail business competitors. I don’t see any cost effective upside for newsagents in the convenience space as I explained in a post here recently.

Each of us in business is responsible for our situation. It is too easy to blame supermarkets or the landlord or declining print media sales. None of these is a new challenge. Smart newsagents have managed through changes necessary. It is tough and the future we pursue is very different to our past. So while the newsagency of the past is disappearing, in many cases a new business emerges that is as locally connected as the newsagency.

Please read this history piece by Cath Feely. It’s a good read.

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Perth newsagents for sale

Mark Fletcher on July 29, 2015 9:02 PM

READ ALL ABOUT IT is an interesting article online published by Perth Interactive Voice. It starts with a compelling opening paragraph:

DOZENS of Perth newsagents are selling up amid fierce competition from major retailers and the rise of online media.

The article goes on to respite about a proactive newsagent diversifying to attract more shoppers.

This report is more interesting and accurate in reporting good news about our channel than the story APN published in Toowoomba a few weeks ago.

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