Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Terrific product for newsagents in cattle country

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2014 6:53 AM

driverThis is a product tip I heard about from Peter at newsXpress Emerald.  The Drover by photographer Al Mabin is a wonderful photography book documenting a 2,000km cattle run of 18,000 head of cattle through two states. It’s selling exceptionally well at newsXpress Emerald and could sell well in other cattle country areas. Here are reasons for newsagents to get behind The Drover: It is self published, it beautifully documents Australia and this Australian event, customers love it, it’s a great Aussie story. Contact Al directly to purchase the book at wholesale for sale in your newsagency. You can be part of a terrific local story.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Book retailing

Pie Face a timely reminder about the importance of a healthy core

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2014 5:38 AM

piefaceThe appointment of Administrators to the Pie Face retail chain is disappointing for a high-profile Aussie retail start up. It’s never good reading about a retail group in such trouble.

News reports this week have gone into some detail about challenges for the business that led to the owners bringing in the Administrators. The stories are a reminder to all retailers to ensure the core of your business is healthy.

The core of any retail business is fixed costs, traffic generation, current cash flow and future plans to grow traffic and sales. These all play into the health of any business. Weakness in one plays into another and another.  Each can be affected by weather, local economic conditions and consumer confidence. It’s why running a retail business is often compared to juggling.

To the credit of the owners of Pice Face, they are owning their situation and this is evidenced by them appointing managers.

Our channel continues to face extraordinary change. Like Pie Face we are in a competitive marketplace. Unlike Pie Face, our retail businesses have been around for a long time. Usually, longevity would be a foundation for strength. In our situation, longevity is a barrier to change.

The challenge for newsagents is to be alive to the challenges, be realistic in assessing your business health and acting early rather than late to build a better future.

While you may not feel a connection what is happening with Pie Face, there is one. Take a moment an consider your core health.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities · retail

Newslink promoting crosswords throughout

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2014 5:35 AM

newslinkadCheck out how Newslink in Brisbane airport is promoting crossword titles above magazine pockets. They had these located throughout the magazine department – promoting crossword titles to just about every magazine shopper. It’s an interesting approach – something newsagents could try.


→ No CommentsCategory: crosswords

Terrific promotion by The Courier Mail

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2014 5:33 AM

cmadThe large electronic billboard out the front of the Brisbane News Corp. offices yesterday was proudly promoting The Courier Mail in a series of digital ads. While I’d like to have seen more promotion of print and newsagents, promoting the masthead on a corner with tons of traffic is good to see.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Placement challenges when you have an extra title

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2014 2:13 PM

magsbauerextraThis photo shows how one newsagent has placed the Yours / Woman’s Day discount bundle from Bauer. You can’t see the Yours masthead. Only the discount pitch is clear but that covers the magazine in the next pocket above. Maybe I am missing something – I don’t see how these discount bags work in newsagencies where space is limited and we are not paid to allocate it.


→ No CommentsCategory: Bagged magazines · magazines

The ANF advertises Officeworks on its website

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2014 5:31 AM

anfofficeworksThis image (click on it for a larger version) is a screen cap from the ANF website yesterday. It shows the last paragraphs of a news story about a newsagency on the ANF website. Immediately after the story is an ad promoting ink and toner at Officeworks.

The image was sent to me by a newsagent.

The ANF, the body that claims to represent newsagents is advertising one of our most aggressive big business  competitors.

There is no excuse for this.

I expect the ANF response to be something like – we have signed up for an ad feed and can’t control the ads. To that I would say: you at the ANF, representatives of newsagents, need to be accountable for the decision that saw stories you publish about newsagents being used by Officeworks to grow their business and generate revenue for you.

The ANF is profiting by promoting a business competing with those the ANF claims to serve. The ads are served through From what I can see, you need to register for Gravity. The Terms of Service show how little control the ANF has over advertising on its site.

Those responsible for Officeworks ads appearing on the ANF website ought to apologise to newsagents and resign.


→ 20 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Newsagent representation

News the loss leader to music?

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2014 5:23 AM

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.22.37 pmI received this offer by email from Fairfax yesterday for The Age: $3.50 a week for digital access for six months. The bulk of the email was about the music offer: a free album to download every week of the six months. The value proposition is pitched in therms of music and not news. I found the offer to be interesting and disappointing – that they have to do this to get people to ‘pay’ for news.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

Loving graduation season

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2014 5:22 AM

graduplushThe end of calendar year graduation season is the most successful for us. We sell more gifts and cards now than for the university season early in the new year. In the last week we’ve sold plenty of plush, cards and other gifts – up on last year. The key is having everything together to ‘own’ the space.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

Is WWE Kids something we would want our kids to read

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2014 5:20 AM

wkidsI am concerned that UFC, wrestling and similar programs educate kids to be violent. These shows glamorise it in an unhealthy way in my view. However, just as it’s not my place to determine what people can watch on TV, it is not my place to restrict what magazines they purchase. That said, I was surprised to see WWE Kids on the shelf in my newsagency. We received two copies and sold one.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

The Morning Bulletin: a good local newspaper

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2014 5:17 AM

morningbullI was on Rockhampton yesterday and got to sample The Morning Bulletin, the local daily newspaper. If yesterday’s issue reflects their usual approach, The Morning Bulletin is a good local paper offering better coverage of local stories than we see in capital city suburbs. it had  a cover news story rather than political agenda setting. I’m glad I got to see it.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Take customer privacy seriously

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 2:03 PM

A newsagent supplier last week published information on their website about a customer of theirs. That information also included the name and address of a customer of the newsagent supplier customer. This post was a serious breach of privacy.

Take care when posting on your website, Facebook, Instagram or any other public platform to ensure that the privacy of your customers any others is not breached. The consequences of a breach can be very serious.

I let the supplier know. they too some measures to correct the breach but not enough in my view.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Vacancy for sales manager in Perth

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 7:14 AM

The newsXpress newsagency marketing group, of which I am a Director, is seeking a sales manager to take on Western Australia based out of Perth. I know plenty of supplier reps read this blog – If you know someone who understands newsagency businesses and has sales experience, please have them contact me and I will share details: The ad is also on Seek.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Newsagent representation

Are Christmas card sales slow at Typo or was 5 for $10 always part of the plan?

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 5:24 AM

typoxmasI was browsing the Christmas card spinner at Typo in Brisbane late yesterday when a staff member said hey, right now our Christmas cards are five for $10, it’s a great deal. Her delivery was exceptional, if felt like a personal recommendation. It was perfect.

Christmas cards five for $10. These are hip cards too. They look like designer cards.

I wondered if Typo’s Christmas card sales were slow and this was their was of picking things up. Then I noticed the collateral promoting the offer – professionally printed, down the side of the spinner. No, this offer was part of a plan all along.

Typo is using Christmas to extend the reach of their businesses, to educate more that they are an ideal destination for people looking for greeting cards.

It’s working – from in front of the shop I could see it was packed.  I counted twenty-five people shopping, all under 40.

If you get a chance, check out the tough competition at Typo, they are doing it well.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Competition · Greeting Cards · Newsagency challenges

Another good newspaper fixture

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 5:23 AM

ww-newsI like this newspaper impulse unit I saw at a Woolworths in the heart of Brisbane late yesterday. It has a small footprint, can hold plenty of product and can be easily moved.

I am more likely to use a unit like this than the bigger and more cumbersome units traditionally suggested to newsagents by newspaper publishers.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Too many Christmas food magazines

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 5:21 AM

magsxmasWe have too many publishers publishing Christmas-themed specials. Some are publishing two and more. While I understand that publishers see this as an opportunity to extend the reach of their brand, we retailers need space to do the titles justice.

Our shelves are overflowing with Christmas themed titles.

I doubt we will see a net increase in sales of Christmas themed magazines. The extra range is driving churn among the titles and not making us any more money.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

Coles and magazines

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 5:15 AM

colesmagsCheck out the magazine display unit at a Coles in downtown Brisbane yesterday – three pockets for their house freebie. Maybe it’s there for storage or maybe it’s part of a plan to attract readers from other titles. I don’t recall seeing this in other Coles’.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

When you’re short of magazine space

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2014 5:13 AM

noroomCheck out how a Woolworths in Brisbane handles being short of magazine space – they turn a pocket into something less and cramp stock in anyway. Recipes+ is one of several titles treated this was in the Woolworths in Brisbane I visited yesterday.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · visual merchandising

A timely reminder about discount policy

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2014 7:13 PM

There are some newsagents currently running an ink sale where the sale prices are their regular prices. It’s not a sale. The discount claim is a breach since the ‘discounted’ prices are the everyday prices of the newsagents involved.

The Age today has an article about this behaviour of retailers advertising things being on sale or discounted when they are not. Read the article if you discount.


→ No CommentsCategory: retail

How to cut your end of month magazine bill

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2014 6:11 AM

magreturnsThis photo shows some of the magazines I took off the shelves for early return in one of my newsagencies on Saturday in my weekend cull.

Every Saturday I review all magazines on the shelves, considering the stock on hand, the length of time on the shelves already, the pressure on space and sales history.

The extent of the cull as shown in the photo is average for a Saturday.

Why Saturday? The pace in the shop is different, headspace is different, it’s a management function that for me works best away from everyday.

This is how I manage my magazine accounts – by culling to serve the needs of my business as opposed to the needs of publishers and distributors. The culling is considered, careful – focussing on monthly and longer on-sale titles, not top sellers but second tier and beyond titles.

If I am unsure about early returning a title I check sales history – I don’t want to cut myself out of certain sales.

I take care with publishers who actively support the newsagency channel and are fair in their allocations, publishers like Pacific Magazines.

The weekend cull an opportunity for a fresh eyes view. Being done by the owner of the business clarifies the goal – managing your magazine account.

I trained a newsagent on the weekend cull strategy recently and the result is a 50% cut in their magazine bills and no loss of sales. In their case this has freed up more than $10,000 in working capital, cash that was tied up in the systematic oversupply merry-go-round that is newsagency magazine supply.

If you are not doing this type of cull already and follow my advice, let me low how much cash you free up.

Note: I recommend against early returning the day stock arrives as there is nothing to be gained from this – unless you see gross oversupply.


→ 15 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines · Newsagency management

Another example of Bauer Magazine oversupply

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2014 6:05 AM

peoplemagI don’t want to be in a position to write this blog post. No, I want fair and justified magazine supply. I don’t want unjust treatment that is not based on data facts.

My story plays out in thousands of newsagencies each week, costing our channel millions of dollars. It disadvantages us.

Click on the image – see for yourself evidence of Bauer oversupplying People. For no reason they increased our allocation by 1 copy. Okay 1 copy is not massive. But it is unnecessary, a waste and a cost to my business.

This is another example of the waste of newsagents sending sales data.

Actions like this increase in supply make us look stupid for working hard to send accurate sales data.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · Social responsibility

See, promoting at the counter works!

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2014 6:02 AM

hmksnowLast Friday I wrote about the placement of this Hallmark Christmas snow globe at the counter and how lighting three globes up made it more noticeable. One customer purchased three, others purchased singles. Showing how a product works at the counter pays off.

Yes, we can grow sales in our newsagencies by being smart and engaged with our products!


→ No CommentsCategory: retail · Tactical display

Great story of retail theft

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2014 6:02 AM

Long Beach police arrested more than 70 people over the course of three days during a retail theft operation. Read the story here and then talk to nearby retailers and your local police about something similar.

We are seeing more reports of retail theft, by employees and customers, in 2014 than in 2013.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · theft

Sunday newsagency management tip: act on trends in your business

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2014 6:39 AM

In the context of the discussion of the future of lottery revenue last week, trends are important in your business planning. Newsagents can access data trends in their businesses that can guide wise business decisions. Unfortunately too often newsagents ignore this opportunity.

Look at unit sales for cards, magazines, newspapers and compare the sales volume, not revenue, year on year and see how you are tracking. Break this down by supplier and by category for different views of the data. There is considerable value in looking at the same data set through various angles.

Look for trends good and bad.

The data from your business will not lie. It can be trusted more than your gut feel. It can be trusted more than what suppliers tell you since they go off sell in data and you are looking at sell through data.

Consider the trends to set your short and medium term plans. If sales in a category or segment are down, what can you do about it? If sales are up, how can you leverage that for growth? Your data should guide your actions … use it!

If you’re still with me – GREAT STUFF! Many newsagents would have clicked on by now as a call to use business data to guide business decisions is a boring topic many would fall asleep to.

The truth about newsagency business data is – the newsagents achieving the best growth are more likely to be making decisions based on their own trend data while those in declining businesses are more likely to never look at trend data. Which one are you?

I’d be happy to help anyone on this.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: walk your products outside your shop to attract shoppers

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2014 6:35 AM

Picking up on my post yesterday about the new customers I attracted when I put Henry in the front seat of my car to drive him from the shop to the office here is my newsagency marketing tip for today …

Grab a products and take it for a proud walk outside your shop. Of course, the product needs to be big and noticeable. It also needs to be something you would not usually be seen carrying. Plus it should be something that makes people feel good.

A nice big plush item works well – as I found with Henry. A collection of Doctor Who memorabilia could work as could a large Frozen doll or a stack of calendars with a cute dog calendar facing out for people to see.

The point here is fort you or a team member to become a walking billboard without you being seen to be a billboard. Subtlety is the key here. The more real your action in walking the product the better chance of someone engaging with you.

As I found with my time with Henry, people who otherwise might not see you notice, they talk to you.

This is an easy to try marketing idea that costs nothing but a bit of time outside your shop enjoying the sunshine.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Attracting shoppers to the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2014 6:30 AM

Here’s a video of a large Christmas music box playing in a retro TV case at the entrance to our newsagency. We have it for sale but we also have it playing to attract shoppers – it’s doing this with terrific success.

xmas from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

It’s a thrill watching people walk tower the newsagency to see what it is. Their faces light up when they hear the music and see the actions play.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing