Australian Newsagency Blog

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Delayed billing support in newsagency software helps reduce early returns and make magazine more viable

Mark Fletcher
February 7th, 2013 · 25 Comments

The comprehensive delayed billing support provided in some newsagency software packages is helping newsagents and newsagency employees make more informed decisions around how to manage some magazine titles.

From the indication of the barcode label of delayed billing (see the photo) through to the proper management of delayed billing at seven key tough-points in a newsagency, newsagents are better informed about a title subject to delayed billing.

While the most obvious indicator of delayed billing is on the magazine label, this is just the cosmetic step. There are more important places where delayed billing is indicated and managed in the business, using the software.

While not all newsagency software programs handle delayed billing in this way, any of them can since they all have access to the same data.

The more complete the solution the better for newsagents and magazine publishers.  The latest comprehensive software developments, released last year, provide magazine publishers with another mechanism with which they can challenge the early returning of their titles on the day of release or close to the day of release.

I urge newsagents to use the new delayed billing facilities – beyond the information on the magazine label.

Range is vital to our pitch as magazine specialists. Delayed billing can make some titles we range more viable.

Publishers of longer shelf life titles, greater than a month, should take note of this and consider delayed billing as a means of combatting early returns and providing newsagents more reasons to treat your titles differently.

The extensive delayed billing enhancements have been delivered at no cost to newsagents, publishers or magazine distributors.


Category: magazine distribution · magazines

25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Helen // Feb 7, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Okay this will help me decide what to early return. While I like the label, I like the including of delayed billing in reports.


  • 2 Clive // Feb 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    I’m interested to know why Newsagents place a label on every magazine?

    The only labels we produce are for the put-aways. All shelf magazines have no labels as it is time consuming placing a label on every magazine every month. It also de-faces the magazine.

    The software tells you when a magazine comes up for return and how many you have on the shelf so you just go down the list and collect each mag from the shelf or return draw when its time. We got rid of the practice nearly 3 years ago and haven’t had any problems. Hence my question and interest?


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Feb 7, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    They should not label every magazine. We do not label weeklies and high volume monthlies. For the rest, the labels contain wonderfully useful information. The labels do not damage the covers.


  • 4 Shaun's // Feb 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    I label all but weekly a BHG and AWW . Might be lazy but I do this instead of checking off each delivery docket . I find it a lot quicker and if you have a sticker left over you know that you are missing stock . Back in the days before we got our point of sale system it would take hours ticking off every magazine for the same result ..I would note that customers have asked not to sticker the mills and boons books mainly I suppose because they keep these for,longer than a magazine .i should also note that awhile back I purchased the wrong labels and they will not come off with out taking the mAgazine with it


  • 5 David // Feb 7, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Is this required for all newsagent softwares?


  • 6 June // Feb 7, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Clive how do you know if mags are missing if you don’t label them. We count
    all high volume weekly and aust monthly mags and don’t label them but the rest are
    all labelled for ease of return and more importantly if we have labels over we know
    we have shortages and if we don’t have enough labels we know we have received too many and in both instances we inform the distributor


  • 7 Brendan // Feb 7, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    I label for the same reasons as Shaun and June and this also allows us to judge whether a magazine should be early returned and whether a full or partial early return is more appropriate. It wall also save the delay billed magazines from being early returned provided they are paying for their space, this is still an important consideration.


  • 8 Clive // Feb 7, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    I can understand the labels for put-aways and foreign mags.

    When we receive the mags we check the manifest which will tell us if a bundle is missing or not. Then we check each bundle as we open them and check each mag off when we shelf them. The old mags go into a network/gotch draw.

    When we do the returns we go to the draw to get the mags and either top or full return them as the report tells us.

    We early return any mags that we deem appropriate on receipt and the delayed billing ones we know about as we are told this in a flyer.


  • 9 Mark Fletcher // Feb 7, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Clive, we completely process magazines for returns when we take them off the shelves. No drawer storing here. Saves time. labelling non high volume monthlies is a must in my view.


  • 10 Jenny // Feb 7, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Ditto Shaun June & Brendan.
    Clive, you can quickly tell a customer when the magazine came in without going onto computer.
    And what would a Wednesday be without the task of having to find the magazine with the wrong label when you finish labelling but you still have a mag and a label that don’t match. More challenging than sudoku!


  • 11 Clive // Feb 8, 2013 at 7:26 AM

    Jenny, that would be worthy of a Code Cracker entry. LOL


  • 12 eric // Feb 8, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Clive, you gotta be kidding me.

    You don’t sound like a newsagent to me.

    How do you work out which “draw” to put returns in without knowing where the mag came from.

    Do you keep a copy of every email regarding change of distributor on hand to remind you.

    I think the extra $ on labels is well worth it.


  • 13 Alf Santomingo // Feb 8, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    A publishers response to delayed billing, early returns and viability of magazines.

    We have previously offered delayed billing with established bi-monthly and quarterly publications, and have done so with a few new launches over the past two years to maximise the reasons for an agent to not early return.

    Unfortunately, to date, we have found that even with it being promoted on flyers with delivery and weekly or specific emails to outlets, we get the same (average) percentage of early returns as titles that don’t have delayed billing.

    It’s also the same with higher trading terms. I remember another publishing house worked very hard on offering delayed billing and higher commissions, and it seems that stoped after a couple months.

    I guess the other thing to note is that although there is a decline in daily/weekly and monthly mass consumer publications, there has been growth in bi-monthly and quarterly publications. I can appreciate that not every newsagent can afford (or have the space) to have a single title ranged on the shelf for 8 or 12 weeks but many (a third to half of our publications outlets) early return stock.

    It might be because a sub agent closed, refurbishment or damaged stock, but in most instances, it’s not.

    We are also very confident that we do not grossly oversupply outlets. (I should know as I check the allocation to each outlet each issue)

    Mark, if delayed billing resulted in a 10% increase in sales, we would do it, but we find that we get over a 10% increase in sales just by convincing outlets to retain our publications on the shelves for the entire on sale period (2 or 3 months).

    What we try to do to reduce early returns is have our publications go on sale earlier in the month, BUT we are restricted by production schedules and printing schedules.

    If the regular readers of this blog early return a publication, I hope it’s because they have been grossly oversupplied, not because of the monthly bill. We have soo many examples of agents returning more copies then they sold of previous issues, and while I reduce their supply each issue, they continue to early return a certain percentage each issue.

    The responses I get are because they look at the distributors monthly invoice (not the publications sales).
    They treat bimonthly and quarterly sales like monthlies and use the second or third months sales as a guide to how many they should stock .
    They don’t look at their sales history.
    Or they have a rule set up in their software to automatically return a set percentage with each delivery.

    Alf, Circulation Manager at Morrison Media.


  • 14 Mark Fletcher // Feb 8, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Alf these latest software changes should help considerably as they make the opportunity obvious where it matters.


  • 15 rick // Feb 8, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Alf, you say you dont “grossly” oversupply, so is that admitting you do oversupply, just not grossly? By definition oversupply is to supply more than what is required. Why would you oversupply at all, what is the advantage in that? Be honest.
    Also provide a list of all your mags and i will check them against my sales history. Sorry but its hard not to be sceptical with mag supply.


  • 16 Brendan // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    In my opinion delayed billing is good and will give titles a better chance of staying on the shelves longer but they still have to be selling.
    Ideally we will give magazines as long as we can on the shelves but a title with two or three months delayed billing that has not sold is still costing us money if it keeps profitable titles off the stands. They will always be returned to make way for a newer title that we know will sell when space is tight.
    Here in lies the issue, as magazine space is reduced titles have to perfom to warrant their space whatever the billing terms are.


  • 17 Alf Santomingo // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Thanks Mark for the feedback.

    Rick: I say grossly oversupply, because it needs to be in context.
    eg. If you are supplied with and sold two copies of a publication over two issues, and you receive 4 copies for the next issue, that’s a 100% increase, in which some agents could consider based on % as oversupply.

    Others wouldn’t consider it oversupply as the number of copies show that there is room for AT LEAST one additional sale.

    Previous sales do help forecast outlets that will sell out of stock, but they aren’t as helpful when you consider the issue might also be a collector’s edition, or a covermount, surrounding an event, an exclusive or features local talent on the cover.

    It’s understandable to be sceptical, but this is why conversation is key. To assume is to… well, you know the rest.

    If you want a list of our publications, just click on my name, our website comes up.
    Also, feel free to get in touch and I’ll be happy to look at our publications sales in our outlet.


  • 18 rick // Feb 8, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    appreciate the opportunity to have the discussion Alf, cheers


  • 19 Mark Fletcher // Feb 8, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    The key with these delayed billing changes is that they go beyond the label and provide newsagents with better information. The more publishers who embrace this the better.


  • 20 wally // Feb 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    3 months is generally to long for any mag to be on the shelf. If a publisher wants it on the shelf for that long they must have delayed billing OR redeliver in the 2nd or 3rd month. Most mags sell in the first week on the shelf. by leaving a mag on the shelf for 3 months means something else is not displayed or has to be early returned. 1 magazine takes as much space as three or four depending on thickness. If you are supplied 6 mags that means 2 facings. After a week in many cases i only have room for one face even if it is delay billed. After 2 months and it is till there it has to go back. The mag distribution companies have our sales data nightly, they can replenish based on those sales if they wanted to. Often the SBR is wrong and we simply return them anyway. ie we receive 6 sell 3 they SBR 2 we return 2. What a waste of everyones time and money.


  • 21 Mark Fletcher // Feb 9, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Wally SBR only exists for a small selection of Bauer titles.


  • 22 h // Feb 9, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    You are probably correct for your situation, but I have a lot of customers who come into town once every 2 months and buy a hundred dollars worth of mags all at once. I carry a lot of titles that sell right through a three month shelf-life.
    It is so great to have your contribution to this site. We, the sellers and therefore the FRONT LINE STAFF of your magazines, need all your feedback to inspire us to do a good job.


  • 23 Paul // Feb 9, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Alf, the example you’ve provided of selling 2 of an issue indicating that there is probably room to sell more of them is really only correct for a percentage of the various titles out there such as some of yours. The problem arises when I order a single specific title (such as an obscure US or UK title) for someone and Network or GG decide I must want more when no one else in my demographic is likely to want one. Often it doesn’t stop with a single issue increase but two or three extra copies that just get topped and go in the returns as soon as they arrive because I have neither the room on the shelves or the want to put them out there when I have proven sellers using that space. If they supplied them on delayed billing I’d consider giving them a go as it lowers the cost threshold to me (ie if I miss early returning then I pay for them that month even though I don’t want them).

    As an aside, it’s been interesting to see how you’ve handled Frankie supplies as my sales of it have porpoised a bit over the last few issues with only about a 50% sell through one issue, back to nearly a sell out the next on a similar allocation and this issue with still a fair number still on shelf . My supply numbers haven’t skyrocketed which is what has happened with other titles after a high sell through month and which in turn is what results in alot of early returns from me. Your generally measured adjustments to supply are appreciated.


  • 24 Mark Fletcher // Feb 10, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    Paul this is where publishers and distributors need to give those of who who seriously want to grow magazine sales the right and opportunity to genuinely control supply.

    The current system treats all newsagents and titles the same and this stops some in our channel growing magazine sales.


  • 25 Bill // Feb 10, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    At the end of 2012 I ran a ranking report for each of GG and NDC. Of the 750 titles sold by NDC 440 made up 90% of my sales, yet the bottom 10% of my sales accounted for 40% of the stock I had on hand.(And I early return on arrivals on items which are not in my top 200)
    This was done on a Sunday just after I had imported Mondays arrivals.
    Give me control of what I stock and the quantities I want and sales would increase.
    SBR on weeklies is a waste of time as it arrives too late. I would return 90%+ of weekly stock delivered on SBR. All SBR on weeklies does is contribute to the increased cost of handling this title. Why send me 1 Grazia on Monday and if I sell it early another 2 on SBR which I may get Friday? I either get 1 or 4 each week. Each week I sell 1. It doesn’t pay for the space it takes up.


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