Australian Newsagency Blog

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

The core of a good newsagency: newspapers

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2015 6:14 AM

This week I am looking five cores of today’s newsagency. I have selected five that relate to every retail newsagency, or should at least. Each core is important because of traffic and that mastering it defines our business in the eyes of these we serve.

Core #1: newspapers

Sure we don’t make a fair margin from them and reasonable supply is a challenge and their promotions can be frustrating – but newspapers are important to retail newsagents.

  • Newspapers provide good traffic. What else we leverage that traffic into is up to us.
  • The most important newspapers for us to sell are foreign language titles and local papers if we are in regional and rural locations.
  • Newspapers can be space friendly. Placing them in less expensive space tends to not hurt sales. Placing them without the full cover on show tends to not hurt sales. So, we can reduce our costs.
  • We can use the traffic generated by newspapers to promote other products. Key magazines do well when placed next to them – such as Better Homes and Gardens.
  • We can place products so that people purchasing a paper are pitched other items on the way to the counter and then as they leave the shop.
  • We can ensure every newspaper sold is sold with a flyer or offer to attract the shopper back into the business.
  • So while we can be frustrated with newspapers, they do present opportunities for us which we can leverage into other sales.

The purpose of this series is to remind newsagents what sits at the core of today’s newsagency business. And I am talking about today. Tomorrow may be different. Hat we need to do right now is manage for today to achieve the best we can with today’s traffic.

I am not including tobacco and lotteries in this list as not every newsagency has these.

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Terrific Mother’s Day sales at the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2015 6:06 AM

IMG_6145We have had a terrific weekend of Mother’s Day card and gift sales – giving me a lot of confidence about Mother’s Day this year. We have our cards located on the lease line facing into the mall to attract shoppers and to help them not interfere with everyday card shoppers.

We have deliberately not cluttered the Mother’s Day displays of gifts (on the left) and cards (on the right). the wide aisle between makes it easy for other shoppers to get into the shop and see past the Mother’s Day for the next layer of cards and gifts we have on offer. While seasonally driven traffic boosts are terrific, we work hard to ensure that our everyday sales are not hurt.

We are chasing double digit growth for Mother’s Day. It’s important to have a goal for seasons and year round.

To traditional newsagency suppliers who say this does not look like a newsagency, I say check our sales. Year on year we are ahead of the channel, particularly in magazines, so this from of store pitch to attract shoppers is benefiting traditional categories.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · Greeting Cards · Newsagency management

Launching Build the U-Boat partwork in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 4, 2015 6:03 AM

IMG_6161While only small by recent partworks launches, we are supporting the launch of the Build the U-Boat partwork with good placement so people can the low-cost first issue and know we are their local partwork specialist even if they do not purchase this title.

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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: promote your magazine point of difference on social media

Mark Fletcher on May 3, 2015 6:38 AM

foodmagsI regularly promote the depth of range of magazines in the newsagent on social media including Facebook. This screencap shops a facebook post from yesterday – for a selection of healthy eating magazines.

When doing this I tend to focus on titles not widely available elsewhere. I also promote four or five titles to speak to range. Plus I will boost the post with a small spend, usually $5, targeting a specific demographic appropriate to the magazines I am promoting.

It is important we promote our point of difference in the magazine space when promoting our business as we cannot rely on shoppers to think we have any deeper range than supermarkets.

Posting regularly about your magazine range is a differentiator as supermarkets and other outlets nearby will not do this.

My marketing tips today are: use social media to promote depth of range in magazines, boost your posts and post regularly. Let people in your area know that you are the go to magazine specialist.

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Sunday newsagency management tip: trust yourself

Mark Fletcher on May 3, 2015 6:32 AM

Talking with a newsagent last week they were worried about a business decision they thought was right for their business yet their accountant disagreed.

The accountant is in another town, an hour away. They have never seen the newsagency. Their only interaction with the owners (who have owned the business for two years) is a six monthly review of the financials.

The owners decided to make some changes to the business that required capital investment of $20,000 in fixtures. The changes were to move the business from traditional, old-style newsagency fixtures, to something more flexible and attuned to retail today.

The accountant said they would not meddle with the old style newsagency. Being new to the business the owners started second guessing their instincts to significantly change the business.

By all means seek out advice from professionals – but when it comes to what is right for your business, listen to yourself ahead of them. In this instance, money was not an issue. The only question was whether this business should pursue change. Of course it should and an accountant who has never visited the shop and who was looking at good numbers based on changes made already is too out of touch to offer advice.

My management tip to newsagents today: trust yourself.

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Leveraging My Kitchen Rules

Mark Fletcher on May 3, 2015 6:26 AM

IMG_6155We are promoting the My Kitchen Rules cookbook above newspapers, with cookbooks and next to weeklies for the first couple of weeks to leverage the opportunity. This location with newspapers puts it in front of the most eyeballs and demonstrates our valuable support.

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Mumbrella covers MPA newsagent magazine supply rule change proposal

Mark Fletcher on May 2, 2015 6:13 AM

Media news website Mumbrella yesterday covered the ACCC conference held last week to consider the application by the MPA to trial new magazine supply rules. I appreciate the time they took to learn about the proposed trial and the concerns it represents for newsagents.

This the first time I can recall such public coverage of the uncompetitiveness of magazine supply to newsagents compared to our competitors. It is good to see the story out there.

Newsagents interested in the issue of magazine supply should read the Mumbrella report.

I wish the ANF would be more complete in its coverage, more transparent with newsagents. Yesterday, they published a post which I say shows the ANF acting as a mouthpiece for the MPA when they should be the mouthpiece for newsagents. In a comment to the post the ANF says: there are no plans to disallow early returns. The problem for the ANF is that rule 4 from the MPA says:

A Distributor will not be required to accept Early Returns from Retailers, except where such Early Return is made by a Retailer to correct an error in allocations quantity.

The ANF needs to stop defending the trial by saying any trial is better than no change. They need to robustly represent newsagents if they are to recover credibility from their current low point. They need to demonstrate to newsagents that they are fighting for them and not publishers.

As I told Mumbrella yesterday:

“Newsagents want to be magazine specialists, they want to be the go to place for all your special interests. That is only going to continue if we can find a way for that to be economically viable,” he said.

People at the ANF seem to think I am against change in magazine supply. Not true – I am all for change, fair change. It is unreasonable for newsagents to accept anything which does not improve our ability to compete as that is of no benefit to us.

The folks at the ANF need to realise that newsagents deserve professional, thorough and energetic leadership – backed with open communication.

On the ANF website yesterday the ANF appeared to suggest the no early returns was for the purpose of this trial only. The documentation submitted to the ACCC by the MPA does not indicate that. Further, if this was the case the MPA members could have ensured fair supply and therefore seen early returns decline – and negated the need for the trial. Publishers do not trust this will happen because magazine distributors Gotch and Network have driven newsagents to use early returns as the only reasonable in-store magazine management tactic.

Finally, I have heard from several newsagents that they have been approached by ANF representatives to discuss this matter and the ANF reps comment about what I have written here. To date, no one from the ANF has contacted me on this issue.

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→ 9 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · Newsagent representation

Print newspapers fading from hotels

Mark Fletcher on May 2, 2015 6:09 AM

IMG_6062I am noticing fewer newspapers available in hotels now than at any time I can recall. More hotels are offering free online access through services like Press Reader which was available in a hotel I was in this week. Press reader provides access to the full content of more than 2,000 newspapers from around the world. No wonder hotels offer this over one or two print newspapers.

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Avengers the hot licence for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on May 2, 2015 6:06 AM

IMG_5996Avengers merchandise is strong with no sign of it slowing. In Hong Kong this week I saw retailers leveraging Avengers at a mega level. The photo shows one display in a mall I visited. Back home, we are selling Avengers products to guys and girls of all ages.

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Terrific newsagency opportunity in Port Lincoln

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2015 4:06 PM

11023334_10204515850961249_8856623529390678926_nnewsXpress Beers Port Lincoln in South Australia is a terrific business. Innovative, loved by customers, and respected in the local community.

The business is now for sale. Rather than hiding this as many newsagents do, they have a sign in the window – inviting expressions of interest from locals.

I mention it here today in case the idea of a sea change appeals. Port Lincoln is a wonderful place.

I have known this business for many years and remain in awe of their commitment to connecting with the community and embracing change.

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Newsagency of the Future workshop dates

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2015 6:02 AM

I have organised dates for Newsagency of the Future workshops for more cities. At this session I will explore changes which will affect our channel in the next few years, new traffic opportunities and changes newsagents can make today to improve their future. I will also spend time on the magazine supply model and open discussion about the proposed magazine supply rule changes.

Each session is free and open to any newsagent. The dates are as follows (click on the link to book):

You can also book by emailing bookings@towersystems.com.au.

There will be more locations and dates added including Tasmania, Western Australia, Cairns and Newcastle.

My goal is for you to have practical steps you can take right away and new information to consider in your business planning.

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Magazine week: How to make magazines more profitable in your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2015 5:53 AM

Each day this week I will post about magazines from an overall business perspective in newsagencies. I am doing this because some suppliers think my submission to the ACCC of the proposed trial of new magazine supply rules I made on behalf of newsXpress reflects a move against magazines. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am fighting for fairness because of believe in magazines for the long term.

How to make magazines more profitable in your newsagency.

  1. Manage your space effectively – i.e. NOT full face for slow moving title. This works well in special interest areas.
  2. Track theft – look at the discrepancy report when doing your returns. Act on titles being stolen from you.
  3. Track and manage the time you spend on magazines. Automate all processes.
  4. Do not label weeklies and high volume monthlies – save time and money.
  5. Look for bulk sale opportunities: nursing homes, businesses, community groups.
  6. Offer putaways. Cutaway magazine customers are the most valuable type of magazine customer.
  7. Early return when warranted – don’t become a lender to publishers on titles you don’t make money.
  8. Pitch outside your business to show off your point of difference.
  9. Review your floor space allocation for magazines. Is the amount of space allocated appropriate? Is it in the right location in-store?
  10. Work your magazine traffic by placing products at each entrance to magazine aisles which magazine shoppers could purchase on impulse.
  11. Place other products next to magazines.
  12. Only use magazine fixtures which can be used for other products. Do not have fixtures purpose made.

For too long newsagents have been treated by magazine publishers and distributors in a paternalistic way. Just because we ask for fair and equitable supply so we can compete with others selling magazines does not mean we want to turn our back on the category. It means the opposite. We see a bright future for magazines if we can achieve fair supply.

Footnote: I am calling this magazine week for no reason other than to label the series of posts.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines · Management tip · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities

Typo selling wrapping paper

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2015 5:46 AM

IMG_5882I noticed Typo is selling wrapping paper from the card stand they have placed at the entrance to their stores.

Newsagents with a Typo store in their area ought to take a careful look not only at their cards and wrap but also at their stationery lines as this is a competitor to be reckoned with.

The typical Typo shopper is female from mid teens through to thirtysomething. It is a loved brand.

The Typo pitch is all around value – giving theimperession shoppers save when they purchase there. Having tracked back a couple of items, Typo is not cheap. But thanks to excellent marketing and a terrific in-store experience that is not noticed.

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Visual merchandising inspiration: watch chandeliers

Mark Fletcher on May 1, 2015 5:35 AM

IMG_6138I love how Swatch uses watches as chandeliers in some of its stores. It attracts attention and makes the product the hero. There is no doubting their product focus.

More and more retailers are using what they sell in a functional way in-store.

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How one commentator sees newsagents re lottery push

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2015 10:00 AM

tlottMichael Byrnes posted on Twitter: If newsagents treat selling papers as peripheral or a nuisance then why are we protecting them through lottery franchise? They’ve lost me. While I responded and we engaged in a respectful and useful back and forth about issues surrounding newspapers, what gets me writing about this today is that he linked support for newsagents on lotteries to other behaviour. It highlights a weakness in the NANA approach on lotteries.

If you ask the public to support you, you need to have something the public will want to support. By you here I mean all newsagents, the whole channel.

We are only as strong as our weakest link.

Michael Byrnes had a bad experience in a newsagency and we are all affected by that bad experience. This is why the newsagency shingle is a risky shingle to use – because there is absolutely no discipline behind it.

Byrnes makes a valid point we need to listen to and think about. We want public support yet some of us are not doing enough to warrant that.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

Magazine week: How to drive repeat magazine sales in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2015 5:43 AM

Each day this week I will post about magazines from an overall business perspective in newsagencies. I am doing this because some suppliers think my submission to the ACCC of the proposed trial of new magazine supply rules I made on behalf of newsXpress reflects a move against magazines. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am fighting for fairness because of believe in magazines for the long term.

How to drive repeat magazine sales in the newsagency.

Whereas supermarkets, petrol outlets and convenience stores rely on impulse purchases of magazines and purchases with other destination items, magazines in newsagencies are more often themselves the destination purchase.

We have to work harder at getting more of the purchases. Around 50% of over the counter purchases of top selling titles (by value) are made outside our channel – according to data from some magazine publishers. The key for us earning more sales back to our channel comes down to what we do to drive repeat business.

Here are some suggestions on ways to bring shoppers back, was for them to think of your business ahead of others when it comes to magazines:

  1. Loyalty offer #1. A simple magazine club card. For years I ran buy 11 over 8 weeks and get your 12th free up to the value of $10. This worked very well- helping the newsagency achieve better than average results with magazines.
  2. Loyalty offer #2. Offer discount vouchers on all purchases (except lotteries). This will generate cash people can spend on magazines. Done right, discount vouchers cost you nothing. In my own newsagency now our sales are well above the channel average and I consider the discount vouchers to be a key factor in this. Indeed, I have the data to show the positive impact it has on behaviour.
  3. Actively promote putaways. Setup right with professional processes in place using your newsagency software you can be sure of bringing shoppers back into the business. Cutaway customers are more likely to purchase other items than regular magazine customers.
  4. Tell people what you have. People who come in for one or two titles regularly may not know the range you have, create a small A5 flyer and slip this into each magazine you sell. Attract them based on range.
  5. Promote ‘subscriptions’. Make it each for customers to purchase a number of copies of a magazine as a gift which you keep aside (cutaway) for the gift recipient. You can be more flexible than a subscription which is usually for a year and where product can often come damaged through postal delivery.
  6. Offer an alert service. To let customers when new issues are out.
  7. Promote and promote. Use email marketing and social media to attract shoppers back with product knowledge no other retailer will invest time in.

I don’t suggest a points based loyalty offer and that is seen by shoppers as the same as the supermarket offer – not worth much.

I see it as critical for newsagents to do everything possible to be the first location thought of when anyone considers buying a magazine. the ideas in this post are designed to get you thinking about what could work in your shop to encourage this and to drive repeat magazine business.

For too long newsagents have been treated by magazine publishers and distributors in a paternalistic way. Just because we ask for fair and equitable supply so we can compete with others selling magazines does not mean we want to turn our back on the category. It means the opposite. We see a bright future for magazines if we can achieve fair supply.

Footnote: I am calling this magazine week for no reason other than to label the series of posts.

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The newspaper as the loss leader

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2015 5:30 AM

MUZZIn The West Australian earlier this week I saw this advertisement offering a free copy of the newspaper with a coffee from Muzz Buzz outlets. While this is not the first time I have seen a newspaper offered with coffee or a meal, the ad is reminder of the place of newspapers in the value chain. In this case the coffee is the thing and the paper is the bonus.

I wonder when we will see this in newsagencies? I’d consider it if I could get a deal on newspapers. For example, if I could get the Saturday papers for 25 cents, I’d give one to each customer spending $10 or more on Mother’s Day items. I’d use it as an irregular promotion – maybe four times a year.

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Make the most of K-ZONE in your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on April 30, 2015 5:27 AM

kzoneThe latest issue of K-ZONE magazine ought to be with all your Avengers product as well as at the counter plus in its usual location. This issue should sell out. The movie opened last weekend and it did huge business. In my own shops, Avengers products are selling very well. This issue of K-ZONE is an opportunity for newsagents. I urge newsagents to check placement and act to drive incremental sales.

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World Stationery Day

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2015 11:34 AM

In case you missed it, today is World Stationery Day. I missed it. Typo told me.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: marketing · newsagency marketing

Draft legislation on unfair contracts out for comment

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2015 6:14 AM

I encourage newsagents to read the draft legislation from the Federal Government on unfair contracts. See what the Minister for Small Business has to say here. reading his comments, this legislation could be useful for small newsagencies dealing with magazine contracts.

I have not had an opportunity to read this yet. If you do, please share your feedback as a comment on this thread.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Ethics · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management

Magazine week: How to promote magazines outside your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2015 5:15 AM

Each day this week I will post about magazines from an overall business perspective in newsagencies. I am doing this because some suppliers think my submission to the ACCC of the proposed trial of new magazine supply rules I made on behalf of newsXpress reflects a move against magazines. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am fighting for fairness because of believe in magazines for the long term.

How to promote magazines outside your newsagency.

For too long magazine marketing and promotion by newsagents has consisted of putting up posters and doing aisle end displays as requested by major publishers. Some newsagents have merchandisers who visit to do this. My view is this traditional approach is a waste of time. The sales numbers suggest as much.

If you want to make the most of magazines and break free from what is traditional in your business in terms of sales you need to break free from traditional marketing. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Talk about content. Step away from mastheads and promote stories, especially those in titles unique to your business.
  2. Use social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest lend themselves to our of store magazine marketing.
  3. Have conversations.  In store and online with your customers about topics in magazines. Engage with them.
  4. Leverage unique value. If you have a value proposition which is unique to your business, leverage it, promote it.
  5. Focus on unique product. Consider window and other displays and promotions for the titles not available in nearby supermarkets.
  6. New this week. Setup a display somewhere i-store to display issues of unique titles new this week.
  7. Did you miss this. When you have returned a title check for any particularly interesting articles in titles outside those sole in supermarkets and put these on a noticeboard – promoting what your shoppers ay have missed.
  8. Create a flyer. Every couple of months create a flyer listing titles you sell in several segments which are not sold in supermarkets. This promotes your depth of range and reinforces your position as the magazine specialist.
  9. Staff picks. Get them to choose a title every week or fortnight and place a card with this explaining why they choose it as their favourite magazine.

Sure some of these ideas require additional effort. That’s the point – to act beyond what is usual or average, to uncover sales you do not currently achieve. I am confident we can grow magazines sales. While I think we ought to make more, I think we have to put revenue ahead of that argument for now as our suppliers appear immovable on the topic.

For too long newsagents have been treated by magazine publishers and distributors in a paternalistic way. Just because we ask for fair and equitable supply so we can compete with others selling magazines does not mean we want to turn our back on the category. It means the opposite. We see a bright future for magazines if we can achieve fair supply.

Footnote: I am calling this magazine week for no reason other than to label the series of posts.

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→ 6 CommentsCategory: magazines · Management tip · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities

How one retail business takes shoplifting seriously

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2015 5:10 AM

IMG_5812This photo shows how my local independent bottle shop tackles shoplifting. There is no beating around the bush here.

One newsagent was recently told by the police to take down a photo they had of someone stealing. When the police did say it was okay it was too late.

Since the shop where I took the photo is opposite a police station I suspect they were advised it was okay.

The rules vary state by state. I am not endorsing newsagents do not – rather, noting how one bottle shop confronts the situation.

I have certainly put up photos, identifying the shopper of the week and seeking their details so I can give them their prize. While I didn’t find them it at least made me feel like I was doing something practical.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Customers · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · theft

Terrific Dymocks window display

Mark Fletcher on April 29, 2015 5:02 AM

IMG_5799I like the Mother’s Day window display in the Dymocks flagship store on George Street in Sydney. The display incorporates gifts, cards and wrapped boxes. It promotes a diverse range of gifts too from the traditional to the non traditional. What is most appealing, however, is the inclusion of greeting cards in the display. Too often we neglect to include cards in our window and other displays in our newsagencies, forgetting a valuable piece of the gift purchase.

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Newsagents are being let down by their associations on magazine supply rule trial

Mark Fletcher on April 28, 2015 10:22 PM

I am disappointed in the poor reporting by the ANF of the ACCC conference held Thursday last week to consider issues raised about the proposed trial of new magazine supply rules.

The note published does not accurately report what happened. Nor does it accurately inform newsagents about the trial. My view is that the reporting reflects an ignorance these associations bring to their roles of serving newsagents.

Had these associations been doing their job they would have petitioned the ACCC for the conference. Instead, it fell to newsXpress to do this for newsagents. You are welcome ANF and NANA.

Several ANF representatives have reportedly complained to newsagents that I am wrong to have written to the ACCC about the issue and wrong about specifics. I say reportedly because no ANF representative has said this to me. But that’s typical – they will complain about you behind your back and act as if nothing is wrong to your face.

Reps of the ANF have reportedly said the trial rules allow newsagents to early return. Anyone at the ANF who had read the trial rules would have seen that newsagents are not permitted to early return. Here is what the rules say:

4. Early Returns
A Distributor will not be required to accept Early Returns from Retailers, except where such Early Return is
made by a Retailer to correct an error in allocations quantity.

There is no mention in the rules of newsagents having control over supply – meaning you have to rely on what the distributors do and their track record is less than idea on this front.

The ANF has failed newsagents o this issue and now it is engaged in spin which fails to fully inform newsagents about the proposed new rules.

Every dollar newsagents pay the ANF directly or indirectly extends this inadequate representation of the channel.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: Newsagent representation

Mediaweek helps show magazines differently

Mark Fletcher on April 28, 2015 2:45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.18.08 amA feature of the Mediaweek daily email is the display covers of magazines out this week. While not displaying all new issues, the mix is broad enough to provide a view of some titles that may not be on my radar.

As I am on the road a lot, this email lets me see a title I can get my stores to feature in response to a cover.

I’d love the magazine distributors to publish covers of all new issues out each week in exactly tis way – so those of us managing newsagencies off-site can provide direction in response to cover opportunities we see.

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