Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Halloween is big enough for Time Out to be interested

Mark Fletcher on September 23, 2014 1:53 PM

halA few newsagents I have spoken with recently have said that Halloween is not a big season, not big enough for them to sell halloween products. My own experience is different. It’s bigger than some more traditional seasons for us. More fun too. The value of Halloween is reinforced with the cover story in Time Out magazine. Other titles will embrace the season in coming weeks.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency opportunities

Seeds help push Gympie Times

Mark Fletcher on September 23, 2014 1:30 PM

The Gympie Times was the only newspaper with a positive result in the June audit results – posting .56% year on year growth and while not much growth off a circa. base of 3,776 copies, being the only paper to record growth in the audit it’s notable. They are currently pushing sales with a seedling offer – free seedlings with the newspaper over a two week period. Good timing and well-targeted to their readers. I hope it’s working.


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Calendar terms illustrate the brokenness of the Australian magazine distribution model and how it hurts newsagents

Mark Fletcher on September 23, 2014 5:15 AM

The margin newsagents make on calendars from magazine distributors are a perfect example of the brokenness of the newsagency magazine distribution model.

Distributors and publishers think they are doing us a favour offering 40% gross profit can delayed billing to January. These terms are out of date, they are unacceptable.

I make 60% from calendars and I don’t pay for my stock until late in January.

What’s more – I choose exactly the calendars I want and I do this based on what I know about what will sell, data accessible through analysing magazine, card and gift sales.

Calendar publishers ought to not participate in a scaling out of calendar stock to newsagents who do not want this sub-standard margin product.

While I appreciate some newsagents will accept calendars through magazine distributors because they know no better, the current supply model is wrong and out of date.

Calendars are an excellent sales opportunity. In my experience, as a benchmark guide, you should be able to sell calendars worth between 50% and 100% of your monthly magazine sales.

To calendar publishers using magazine distributors I’d say – you need to offer terms that are commercially viable for newsagents. If your own model cannot then stop using our channel as there are other calendar publishers who do partner with us on terms that are mutually respectful and viable.


→ 8 CommentsCategory: Calendars · magazine distribution · magazines · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

I like to see kids on the floor admiring our range of Beanie Kids

Mark Fletcher on September 23, 2014 5:11 AM

kfloorSome collectors of Beanie Kids like to take their time looking at what we have and we encourage it. Even though space is limited in the shop, we are happy to see someone so devoted that they are kneeling or sitting in front of the stand looking at each Beanie Kid in the extensive range.

The interest of an intense Beanie Kid collector can attract others and drive sales as I saw happen for myself Friday last week.

This girl in the photo was fascinated and another girl noticed and started looking. Soon the two were talking and the first girl was selling her new friend on collecting these Beanie Kids. It was a thrill to see.

Collectible products come in all shapes and sized=s and price points. Each is valuable in its own right if you have a good range and merchandise it how collectors like.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · retail

Terrific promotion of RSPCA cards in this week’s Woman’s Day

Mark Fletcher on September 22, 2014 3:49 PM

On social media as eel as in paid TV spots, Bauer is actively promoting this week’s Woman’s Day and the free RSPCA trading cards pack. I’ve see a bunch of tweets. Here’s the TVC:


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How new owners trashed a retail business in two months and look set to lose money

Mark Fletcher on September 22, 2014 5:34 AM

There is a cafe near my office that grew in popularity from opening several years ago. The food range was excellent, the quality high, the service friendly and the coffee good.

Three months ago, the business changed hands. The new owners replaced the staff, changed the food range dropped the food quality and demonstrated little care for customer service.

Now, in apparent desperation, they have signs at the front of the café offering discounted deals. I suspect they will be out of business soon. The signs are sometimes shrill in approach, acting as a turnoff.

The best way to build traffic and success for any business, especially any retail business, is from within – through offering products nearby people want and that these are offered with friendly service.

The best way to take over a successful business you have paid a good price for is to ensure you understand how the business operated to achieve the numbers you paid for it and to ensure that at the very least you do what was being done before.

While a poor business you take over will demand change, a successful business you take over will benefit more from considered nurturing. That’s where the people who took over my local coffee shop have failed. They made a successful business bad, they are driving it to failure.

Taking on a retail business is not rocket science, not even if you have no retail experience whatsoever. Take your time, understand successes in the business and support them. Discover weaknesses and work on them. Back your judgement as it’s your own money on the line every day.

In the case of the café near my office, they took the business down market and in doing so misread what locals wanted – that they would pay more for quality product. These new owners offer cheaper product as a strategy, I suspect, to grow volume. The reality is they’d make more by selling less but for a higher margin.

I see newsagents make this mistake. They chase cheap products and happily sell them at a low margin. While sales may be okay, how many customers who buy on price come back? I’d say that number is less than those who find products they cherish and for which they pay a higher price.

The only way for the new owners of my local café to turn around their situation is for them to start selling quality products backed by friendly service.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: buying a newsagency · Customer Service · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · retail

Another Rolling Stone off-location opportunity

Mark Fletcher on September 22, 2014 5:29 AM

rsfrankiePlace some copies of  Rolling Stone with Frankie or similar titles to make the most of the Katy Perry cover. While Katy Perry is not a perfect match for the frankie shopper, it’s close enough to get more people considering purchasing this issue of Rolling Stone.

Engaging with magazine covers helps drive sales.


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Off location works best for this new partwork

Mark Fletcher on September 22, 2014 5:27 AM

locotrainWe have been promoting the launch issue of Great British Locomotives Collection with train magazines and it’s from here, on the floor in front of the train magazines, that we expect to sell out. There is nothing special about the placement other than the location itself.

I share the frustration of others about the partworks model. Rather than complaining about it or trying to fix what they will not fix, I make the most of the opportunity with as little cost as possible.


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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: use puppies and kittens to attract shoppers

Mark Fletcher on September 21, 2014 6:05 AM

dogswindowWalking past a pet store near my newsagency Friday and in awe of the people crowded around looking at new puppies in the window I thought I want those eyeballs looking at my shop. I soon realised how I could do that.

Local pet rescue services are always looking for people to take abandoned animals. Why not invite them into the newsagency one day each school holidays or every couple of months for a display of animals available?

While there may be a couple of landlord challenges, if you do this as a charity exercise for a local respected animal rescue service you ought to be able to overcome any objection. Then you’ll have people stopping and looking at the cute animals, donating to the cause and hopefully connecting your business with this good deed – and, maybe, shopping with you.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management tip: revisit past suggestions

Mark Fletcher on September 21, 2014 5:57 AM

Make a list of ideas, advice and suggestions you have been given over the last two or three years that you did not take up or embrace. I’m talking here specifically about relating to your newsagency.

Go on, make a list.  Yes, write them down!  From the smallest idea to the biggest. Be honest – no editing.

Once you are certain you have the list, put it away for a few days.  Then, after a break from thinking about what you have not done, sit down and reconsider the ideas, advice and suggestions. Did you pass on something worthwhile? Or did you pass for good reason.

Too often we dismiss an idea and neglect to check in at a later stage to see if it was worthwhile or if circumstances have changed to make it worthwhile now.

It could be that you have an idea from a while back that is perfect for you today and al you have to do is dig it up.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

Repurposing magazine fixtures

Mark Fletcher on September 21, 2014 5:52 AM

spacejigsawWe needed space for Halloween, Calendars and the start of Christmas stock in our 135sq m floorspace newsagency and so had to find a temporary home for our popular Jigsaw range. The placement revealed another use for magazine fixtures.

While not perfect, we think it will work. These jigsaws have been deliberately placed next to our newspapers.

Having a limited amount of forces us to be creative with space use and that often reveals surprises from which we benefit.

I am very happy with this move.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency management

One week left for James Hird?

Mark Fletcher on September 21, 2014 5:49 AM

weekhirdI wondered if the placement of the home delivery subscription ad stuck on the front page of The Age yesterday was placed as commentary about the future of the disgraced James Hird as clash of Essondon AFL team given the latest turn in the drug cheating story that has dogged the club for two years. This is the most enjoyable stuck on ad I have seen.

I guess Fairfax continues to deface its front page because it works for them.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Watch out for IPS calendars: 40% is an unacceptable GP

Mark Fletcher on September 20, 2014 6:21 AM

wineI don’t want calendars off of which I make less than 50%. This is why I am making sure I don’t get the calendars IPS has allocated to newsagents. IPS emailed newsagents with only the weekend to opt out of a bad deal.

Check your IPS email people.

But back to calendars. I said I want at least 50%. In fact, I get 60% for most calendars I sell. If the majority of calendar publishers and distributors can provide us with this why not for calendars through magazine distributors?

Calendars through magazine distributors are usually a waste of time and money for smart newsagents.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Calendars

Sydney Reed Gift Fair starts today

Mark Fletcher on September 20, 2014 6:18 AM

The Sydney Reed Gift Fair starts this morning at 10am and runs for four days. While nowhere near as popular as the fair earlier in the year, this fair is expected to attract around 10,000 visitors. Plenty of those will be newsagents.

If you are based in Sydney and not already into gifts, make time to get to the fair to start looking at what you could carry. Time is running out for you to make that transition. Maybe I’ll see you there.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Gifts

Loving Halloween in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on September 20, 2014 6:11 AM

outoftheboxHalloween is always a fun season on the shop floor and setting up. Yesterday it was a thrill to peek inside some of the boxes and the horrors we ordered. This character in the photo is one of several larger-format Halloween products we have. They make for good display features and centrepieces for customers hosting a Halloween party.

Halloween attracts new shoppers. It also gives the shop a very different feel that customers react well to. Oh, and it’s a good transition into Christmas.

The nature of the products are such that we can be more relaxed than usual in our display, more creative too.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

Coles promoting the Bauer $10 discount offer

Mark Fletcher on September 20, 2014 6:09 AM

colestendollarmagsHere is how Coles is promoting the three Bauer magazines for $10 offer at a local Coles supermarket. I feel for the newsagent nearby. They can’t compete with this cheap deal. The Bauer pricing approach makes competition tougher.

Either a title is good enough to carry the cover price or not. All the discounting around from Bauer in transit and supermarkets and newsagencies for some bindles suggests some in the company doubt it.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Coles offering iTunes vouchers at 30% off

Mark Fletcher on September 20, 2014 6:07 AM

coles30offitunesColes is offering 30% off the price of iTunes cards in return for a $50 grocery spend.

This is another example of one of the supermarket duopoly getting favoured treatment for a product which other retailers sell more of.

Shame on the parties involved in allowing Coles to have this offer as it only serves to make the duopoly stronger and thereby stifle competition.


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition

Spiteful reporting in Daily Telegraph helps sell AWW

Mark Fletcher on September 20, 2014 6:03 AM

awwsamarmatygeThe media and social media coverage following what I’d label grubby spiteful reporting in The Daily Telegraph yesterday about Seven Network personality Sam Armytage helped drive interest in The Australian Women’s Weekly late in the on-sale for this issue. I’m happy to see we are down to our last couple of issues.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

With print newspaper sales falling Fairfax increases cover prices, again

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 6:31 PM

For years newsagents begged newspaper publishers to set cover priced that were more realistic for the product being sold. News was the worst at rejecting this for well over a decade (the Tele in Sydney was $1 for 13 years I think) and Fairfax not much better. As sales of the print product have fallen, both publishers have been regularly increasing cover prices. The latest announcement, today, from Fairfax in Victoria lifts the price of all editions of The Age:

  • Commencing with the Monday 29 September 2014 issue the cover price of the weekday Age will increase from $2.30 to $2.50 (incl. GST)
  • Commencing with the Saturday 4 October 2014 issue the cover price of The Saturday Age will increase from $3.30 to $3.50 (incl. GST)
  • Commencing with the Sunday 5 October 2014 issue the cover price of The Sunday Age will increase from $2.80 to $3.00 (incl. GST)

→ 1 CommentCategory: Newspapers

Film Ink supports newsagents

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 6:18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 6.16.40 pmThe folks at Film Ink have tweeted to their 8,720 Twitter followers that the latest issue of their magazine is our now in newsagents. More good support for our channel from an independent Australian magazine that we should support in return.


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A Companion to the Australian Media preorders open

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 11:39 AM

I contributed a chapter about the newsagency channel to A Companion to the Australian Media. Pre-publication orders are available now: Companion Order Form . Here’s more about this publication:

A Companion to the Australian Media is the first comprehensive, authoritative study of Australia’s press, broadcasting and new media sectors. This multi-authored, edited volume will be an essential reference work for media organisations and practitioners, media and communications academics, tertiary students, and libraries. The Companion is all the more timely given the restructures and fractures being faced by the old media, and the emergence and challenges of new communication technologies.

Australia lacks an authoritative reference work on, or history of, its media. The development of ‘new media’, the rapid uptake of new communications technologies, and the burgeoning of journalism, media and communications courses in Australian universities points to the centrality of the media and communications in contemporary Australian life, and the gap in the market that will be filled by A Companion to the Australian Media.

The Commissioning Editor, Professor Bridget Griffen-Foley, will commission and bring together new work on the history and contemporary practice of media corporations, outlets, practitioners, industries, audiences, policy and regulation in Australia. Beginning with the contemporary media landscape and working backwards, the Companion will provide coverage of all the key aspects of the Australian media – newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet – since the launch of Australia’s first newspaper in 1803.

I’m grateful to have been involved in this project.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

Australia Post shows why we’d be wasting money on over the counter bill payment

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 5:53 AM

Australia Post has been doing more clever stuff as it recasts its business with a stronger digital focus. The latest announcement – about its digital mailbox – further demonstrates why newsagents who want an over the counter bill payment solution for the channel are out of date in their thinking. That ship sailed years ago and here’s how Australia Post is focused on a more mobile and digital future:

Australia Post opens up its MyPost Digital Mailbox to Android smartphone users

With more Australians wanting greater convenience and choice when it comes to mail delivery, Australia Post has launched the beta release of MyPost Digital Mailbox for Android devices to the public. The Android App is available now at (search for MyPost Digital Mailbox). And Australia Post invites user feedback at

It joins the Apple iPhone App and of course the laptop or desktop options of accessing your MyPost Digital Mailbox. Whichever way you access it, MyPost Digital Mailbox gives you the power to receive and pay most bills and store important documents securely online, all in one place.

Organisations like Telstra and AMP, utilities that include Sydney Water, Goulburn Valley Water and Shoalhaven Water, myGov, and local councils across the country, are choosing to use the MyPost Digital Mailbox as a billing and statement service.

The online free storage also lets you keep records that you might need for tax or when you are travelling, and lets you manage important paperwork securely and much more efficiently. By putting all your important paperwork in one secure place that you can access anytime, anyplace where there’s an Internet connection, you can streamline the process of managing an important part of your life, at the same time freeing time to do other things

To find out more and to open your free MyPost Digital Mailbox from Australia Post, visit

Sure I have issues with Australia Post – in particular their government owned stores that continue to compete with small business newsagencies. Outside of that though, kudos to them for their work in recasting their business model.

Newsagents who want a bill payment solution to offer through our channel should spend their free time wishing for something more relevant to today.


→ No CommentsCategory: Australia Post · Bill Payment · Competition · Newsagency challenges · newsagency of the future

Leveraging interest in Hawthorn

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 5:48 AM

hawkscounterThe team setup this display of Hawthorn AFL club themed merchandise at the counter this week.  They included a broad range of products from various suppliers: Hallmark cards and team song button, AFL Beanie Kids, plush. It’s working a treat!


→ No CommentsCategory: Tactical display

Early returning the discount magazine bundle

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 5:44 AM

cheapwheelsmagWe early returned this bundle of Wheels and Motor because I don’t want to be part of what is oe a campaign by Bauer to push down magazine revenue. I have seen no evidence that these discount magazine packs from Bauer drive incremental sales in newsagencies. I am having far more success with a whole of business loyalty program.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Newsagency management

Promoting Better Homes and Gardens

Mark Fletcher on September 19, 2014 5:42 AM

15253_471373739669250_7949989954994141008_nWe have  the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens with weekly newspapers, next to weekly magazines, at the counter and in this aisle end display. It’s all part of our usual first week on-sale push for what is our top selling monthly magazine. It always responds well with strong sales. We pull back after the first week to two locations.

bhgcounterThis month we are also promoting Better Homes and Gardens at the counter with this display unit from Pacific. The unit is part of a promotion through their Nexus newsagency marketing program. I like that it’s compact and can be used in multiple locations.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines