Mark Fletcher on March 8, 2014 6:38 AM
Distribution newsagents have told me to be ready for sell-outs on Monday – Labour Day everywhere except for NSW and QLD – as those managing circulation nationally for News Corp. have set supply numbers based on Australia Day this year. Yes, seriously!
Newsagents who have sought to change their Labour Day 2014 figures based on sales for Labour Day 2013 have, I am told, had their allocation reset to reflect Australia Day 2014 sales.
There are plenty of areas in Australia where customer traffic on Australia Day is very different to Labour Day. I know in Victoria, for example, that Australia Day is about BBQs and parties whereas Labour Day is more likely to be family outings often including shopping.
Looking at my own retail data, Labour Day is easily double the Australia Day sales.
So, if you own a retail only newsagency and find supplies of your News Corp. products low for Monday and can’t get extra, don’t blame the distribution newsagent. They are likely to have been cut by a circulation management decision at News Corp. that has not sought to understand the differences between Australia Day and Labour Day.
One newsagent I was talking with about this yesterday questioned the News Corp strategy: if they want to kill off newspaper sales they’re going about it the right way.
Footnote: today is not GET NEWS CORP. day. This post and the previous one are here because the company is letting shoppers and newsagents down.
Category: Newsagency challenges · Newspaper distribution · Newspapers · Ugh!
Mark Fletcher on March 8, 2014 6:33 AM
News Corp’s Herald & Weekly Times division issued an apology to newsagents about returns issues with the Mr Men books. It appears the company’s software platform will not allow returns to be done the way the company intended. They have requested manual returns in a letter to distribution newsagents. While News Corp has excuses for this and for the lack of top up stock where there have been sell-outs, and there have been plenty, it keeps having problems like this with promotions and opportunities where the resolution is for newsagents to spend more time. As one newsagent pointed out this week: this is 2014, not 1974. News Corp needs to adopt current practices.
Category: Newspaper distribution · Newspapers
Mark Fletcher on March 8, 2014 6:30 AM
I love Pure Bride magazine. The content and stock are a package targeting a different wedding magazine to the usual. Having it on the shelves gives us a valuable point of difference pitch. It’s a wedding magazine we could comfortably place next to the highly popular frankie magazine. Right now we have Pure Bride placed as one of our hero wedding magazines. Next week we plan an off-location feature.
Mark Fletcher on March 8, 2014 6:26 AM
With space limited we have the Disney cakes part series launch display unit located next to the Disney Princess range and the Pacific magazines WIN A CAR impulse unit next to it – bot on the lease line facing into the mall and both driving purchases off the respective units. While they are targeting different shoppers, both are connected with high-profile campaigns. Connecting our business with the campaigns is key to attracting new traffic. hence the placement.
Mark Fletcher on March 7, 2014 7:05 AM
Check out a new style meat shop in Glenferrie Road hawthorn that I saw this morning. I call it a meat shop as that’s what it is.
This is not a butcher, certainly not what I’d expect a butcher to look like.
Branding themselves as The Meat Cellar separates this business from butcher businesses. In doing so they change the expectation of shoppers, they pitch themselves as specialists.
The days of similar small business retailers trading under a common name are over. Specialisation is the key – under a group banner or under your own name – what you call your business and how you present it on the high street or in the mall positions your point of difference.
With the gap between good / successful retailers and bad / unsuccessful widening – as evidenced in the recent newsagency benchmark study results – connecting your business with the worst is not ideal. I suspect this thinking played a role in the development and branding of The Meat Cellar.
By the way – if you love cooking and eating meat, you must check this place out.
Mark Fletcher on March 7, 2014 5:43 AM
Newsagents Products on Consignment – a business offering newsagents counter items that I wrote about recently – has sent at least one newsagent products that were not requested or agreed to. This is contrary to how the company said it would operate.
The newsagent who contacted me advised that they received the goods in their shop with an invoice despite having had no contact with the company prior.
While I am no lawyer, I’d be surprised if the supplier had any rights in relation to getting paid for the unsolicited goods.
On the products themselves – touch screen bullets, newsagents have access to better packaged versions that provide a considerably better margin.
Has anyone else been sent these items unsolicited?
Mark Fletcher on March 7, 2014 5:39 AM
Our sales of issue #2 of Yours magazine were down 30% on issue one yet we promoted the title the sale. Bauer increased our supply of issue #2 significantly so we had plenty of returns. Despite having sales data from the last two weeks, Bauer kept issue #3 supply at the same level as issue #2. We continue to support Yours with placement in two high-profile locations. If sales don;t lift we will scale space allocation for future issues back to one pocket. The question then will be – with Aussie weeklies or English weeklies as it’s the latter location that works better for us.
Mark Fletcher on March 7, 2014 5:37 AM
We’re promoting the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens with this display at the entrance to the main magazine aisle. Within minutes of putting in place yesterday I saw a customer purchase off it. They had selected a greeting card and was walking past the stand to the counter. I suspect this customer would not have gone into the magazine. This type of impulse purchase is important for us – we achieve it by tactical placement.
Category: magazines · Tactical display
Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2014 6:06 PM
A colleague shared this video. Pizza hut money invested in a technology prototype taking pizza choices to a new level.
I’d hate to be waiting for these people!
Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2014 6:13 AM
Michael Kozlowski writing at Good Reader says that Marvel is retreating from retail distribution to focus on digital:
Marvel is endeavoring to focus almost exclusively on digital distribution to maximize revenue. In the past few months the company has pulled their comics from bookstores all over the world. You would be hard-pressed to find anything but the odd graphic novel in your favorite bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble.
Marvel is finding that they are selling more comics online, than they are in the retail environment. Comixology is their main partner in the digital sphere and they have dedicated reading apps on every major platform. They have sold over 125,000,000 comics since 2009, most of them from Marvel.
Category: Media disruption
Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2014 6:04 AM
On checking out of a hotel overseas at 4:30am a couple of weeks ago they gave me this breakfast to go package: yogurt, a croissant, a fruit danish, butter, jam, a bottle of water and an apple. I had a long drive to the airport and the food was a welcome start to the day.
The hotel did not need to provide breakfast, there was no commitment they would. It was a complete surprise. A delightful and delicious surprise.
Here it is a couple of weeks later and it’s memorable to me.
It’s hard for large hotels to provide genuinely personal service. This hotel has 500 rooms. They were at 100% occupancy during my stay yet them had processes in place to know that I was leaving early and would have a bit of a drive ahead and could therefore use a breakfast to go. They provided a service as personal and appreciated as I’d expect from a tiny boutique hotel or a B&B.
How can we do this in our newsagencies? – have systems and processes in place to help us consistently provide extra services that delight our customers. Such memorable service is key to business growth now more than ever.
Category: Customer Service
Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2014 5:58 AM
In the Australia Post Annual report for the 2013 year (yes, I’m months late reading this), the organisation reports a 4.5% decline in retail foot traffic. They attribute this to consumers migrating to digital (online) channels for products and or service they would have access in an Australia Post retail outlet.
This year we experienced a decline of 4.5 per cent in retail foot traffic due to the challenging retail environment and the continuing shift of consumers to digital channels.
While the annual report offers no specific data, I expect a chunk of the decline in traffic is due to a decline in over the counter bill payment. There is no upside in over the counter bill payment in my view.
Category: Australia Post · Bill Express · Bill Payment
Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2014 5:51 AM
I love how one of my newsagency team members created this display to leverage the launch of the Disney partwork series – with product from several suppliers. With Disney products also being advertised heavily by Woolworths, smart newsagents can trade of this heightened awareness and the partworks advertising and attract new traffic and sell a range of excellent high margin products.
How do we make more money of magazines? By being a smart and commercially attuned retailer.
The photo shows the display on the lease line facing into the mall. It is attracting people who do not usually shop in this business.
If your newsagency is experiencing declining traffic and sales consider this approach to what you are doing with the new Disney part series.
Category: newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities
Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2014 5:39 AM
Further to my post Tuesday about mental health in a newsagency I want to draw your attention to some tips I shared on May 6, 2012 on how to like / love your newsagency again.
I know from my own conversations with newsagents that there are many unhappy newsagency business owners. Their unhappiness can manifest in anger and frustration toward those not responsible for creating the unhappiness. This becomes unproductive for everyone.
I’m concerned at the hours we lose in our channel every day to misplaced anger.
Category: Newsagency management
Mark Fletcher on March 5, 2014 8:10 PM
A newsagent I know was called today by someone saying them were from Epay and asking them to print an ePay voucher and read the voucher number to the caller. This is a scam. Epay would never call and ask you to print a voucher and read the number. Tell your staff.
Category: Ethics · theft
Mark Fletcher on March 5, 2014 5:58 AM
What’s the song you play when things really get to you and you’re just about ready to give up? You know, the song that takes you to a better place – maybe some nostalgic or somewhere you dream to be. The song that helps you process, deal with and or forget what appears to be a road block in front of you. The song that helps you creatively. The song that makes you smile.
In theatre they often have a song for the production that blares through the empty theatre prior to opening the doors to the public. I have seen it used is to ‘cleanse’ the theatre, reset the cast and backstage crew and focus everyone on the production.
This song of yours can help in business – if you’re not using it already. Use it to inspire you and to help you look at challenges differently.
I was talking with someone about this recently and they said they didn’t have a song. They actually did and didn’t realise that it was the song.
I have a few songs including: Orinoco Flow from Enya and Hungry Town from Big Pig’s Bonk album to help with creativity; Dirty Boulevard from Lou Reed, Things Can Only Get better from D:Ream and Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire when working on business plans.
I have the songs I really like on my phone, laptop and iPad. If I need to shut out the world they are nearby for comfort and inspiration. If I don’t answer your call it could be because I have the ear plugs in.
What are your songs?
Category: Management tip · Newsagency management · Small Business
Mark Fletcher on March 5, 2014 5:37 AM
Daiso is a Japanese gift store. Some would label it a discount store but it’s not – yes, the items are cheap but the price reflects the quality and the impulse-purchase type shopper they attract. What’s interesting about the model is the opening hours. One store I saw a couple of days ago is open to 9pm Monday to Thursday and to 10pm Friday and Saturday. Their Melbourne CBD store is open to 9pm Monday through Saturday.
Seeing these extended hours for Daiso is a reminder that trading hours is an important point of difference. There was a time when newsagencies were open almost the longest hours of any retailer. That’s not true with more newsagency businesses trading as retail only.
In a world where people are always shopping and where the traditional work day is a thing of the past, considering trading hours is something we will have to face.
Category: Gifts · Newsagency management
Mark Fletcher on March 5, 2014 5:32 AM
Here is communication from IPS on how to get The Satruday Paper in your newsagency:
After the successful launch edition of The Saturday Paper (TSP), IPS have been inundated with calls from retailers requesting additional supply.
To assist retailers IPSonline www.ipsonline.net.au has been opened up so allocations can be adjusted to avoid sell outs and ensure sub agents are supplied with suitable quantities.
Newsagents can also call the customer service number on 1800 606 477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Based on sales last week I;d urge newsagents to ensure they stock the title and keep in on sale through the week. Co-locate at the counter.
Mark Fletcher on March 5, 2014 5:29 AM
This image came up in my LinkedIn feed yesterday. It’s irreverent yet hilarious marketing promoting The Saturday Paper in Sydney, pitching agains the Daily Telegraph.
I like the optimism embedded in their pitch!
Mark Fletcher on March 4, 2014 1:16 PM
SmartCompany reported on the sale of Wild Cards & Gifts to WH Smith two days ago. The report contains some insights that will interest newsagents:
WH Smith plans to continue to operate the Wild Cards & Gifts brand under its existing name but Boyle says the UK-based retailer plans to grow the business further.
“The intention, as I understand it, is to maintain the brand in terms of what the customer sees and to look at the way the business is supplied, the marketing and the support structure of the group,” Boyle says.
“[Wild Cards & Gifts] is going to grow through profit improvement programs that WH Smith has planned from increased critical mass and being part of a worldwide network.”
What a WH Smith owned Wild shop looks like remains to be seen.
Later in the piece, Lawrence Boyle, one of the founders of Wild, takes a swipe:
“We have removed our main competition from the market place through that time, Kenny’s Cardiology, it’s a business model based in the 80s that is no longer relevant.”
Hmmm … Kenny’s is still around – much smaller, but still around.
Category: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management
Mark Fletcher on March 4, 2014 7:02 AM
As employers, as retailers and as small business owners, mental health issues are often not far away from a newsagent. Sometimes we don’t know it while other times it’s obvious and on show for all to see. How we confront mental health challenges is important for us, our business and those presenting with issues.
Beyond Blue has published Business In Mind, a useful resource for small businesses on issues relating to mental health in the workplace. This is a good starting point for learning more. In the resource there are links to other resources that can help.
Finding mental health resources for small business owners dealing with mental health issues is not as easy as it is finding resources for managing the workplace for better mental health. It’s tough running any business and sometimes things can feel overwhelming. This is where networking can help as a first step, talking with others.
Newsagents and other small business owners feeling challenges within themselves need to treat themselves as employees and use the resources available. To this end, starting points suggested on various sites include:
Doing better with mental health matters in small business starts with understanding. That’s where the Beyond Blue resource is helpful.
Category: Newsagency management
Mark Fletcher on March 4, 2014 6:45 AM
At the NZ Gift Fair in Auckland on the weekend I visited the Jasnor stand and saw this slat-wall plan-o-gram approach to displaying the Sesame Street range of plush. For newsagents who don’t have a floor display unit, this wall unit is an excellent alternative as it leverages the profile of the Sesame Street characters to drive shopper engagement.
Mega brands like Sesame Street can separate us apart, they can promote our businesses as relevant. They can also help us combat ignorance on price as it is rare you would see a retailer discount licenced product except in a short-life catalogue special.
Whereas cheap plush is cheap in discount and department stores, licenced plush is more likely to be the same or close to the same price everywhere. It’s a bonus if you can buy better than usual.
I’ve been selling the Sesame Street range from Jasnor for many years and expect to carry it for years to come.
Mark Fletcher on March 4, 2014 6:29 AM
We are leveraging the launch of the Disney Cakes & Sweets partworks with placement with Disney products from four or five other suppliers ofDisney Liucenced products including plush, homewares, cards, wrap and gifts lines.
The advertised partwork launch brings the traffic and the other items are the icing and cherry on the cake.
Mark Fletcher on March 4, 2014 6:26 AM
yesterday I received more than ten emails from Stationers Supply about the VANA trade display later this week. This was after I requested several times they stop. I’m not a customer of theirs and will not be at the event.
I’d be curious if other newsagents were spammed too.
Mark Fletcher on March 4, 2014 6:24 AM
The front-of-store magazine display at an inner suburban Melbourne Coles outlet was turned into a Bauer promotion yesterday. Titles from Pacific Magazines and other competitor publishers have been removed and the space used for Bauer titles and their Access All Areas promotion. The display itself was moved a metre back from an excellent position and turned 90 degrees – to a location where it will not be as successful as people need to now look back on entering the store to see it. Placement is everything.