The traditional Aussie newsagency has all but disappeared from Sydney’s CBD. In their place, and in far greater number, we have convenience stores. It seems that every block of Sydney’s CBD has two or three convenience stores.
These convenience stores all look the same – they have (overall) the same range, the same prices and offer the same service.
While it would easy to criticise the convenience stores in Sydney as lacking an Australian-ness and not covering anything like the range in a newsagency, they own their space and serve a need. They must be successful given their number.
Thinking about these convenience stores and newsagencies that have taken on convenience retail yet retained a newsagency focus, I find myself wondering about the competitive positioning. Being a convenience store is its own thing: you are chasing shoppers with little time who are in your store primarily because of your location. While destination purchases are up, the mix of what you sell is very different that of a more traditional newsagency.
Newsagents competing with or considering competing with the growing number of convenience stores and their strong banner groups need to think carefully about their own business, they need to decide whether they fully embrace the convenience model opportunity. They need to decide if they are prepared to become a convenience store and stop being a newsagency.
While I am no expert in the convenience space, I don’t think it is something you can half do. You’re either a convenience focused business or not.
If you are a convenience focused business then it informs all your business decisions: ranging, pricing, displays, customer service. This is where the business plan would diverge from the traditional newsagency business plan, it is why newsagents who see themselves as operating a convenience business – in the true sense of that type of business – need to fully embrace it.
Now for clarity I want to note that I am not talking about newsagencies that are convenient because of parking. No, to me, a convenience business is one located for high volume foot traffic, open long hours – into the night – and covering a brand range of consumer products plsu with little or no emphasis on circulation product.