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

Stunning Father’s Day display

This Father’s Day display at newsXpress Sarina is stunning. Shelley and Mark run an innovative business, which is continuously evolving. What they achieve in their town, which is 30 minutes from Mackay in Queensland, is best-practice.

Their success, like this display, is their own innovation. I share it here for inspiration.

Newsagency management

A new business insights dashboard in newsagency software offers newsagents a bright pathway

The Tower Systems newsagency software has benefited from a major update this week. While the company releases 3 or 4 updates a year, this update is special because of the new business insights platform it delivers.

There is nothing like it in any other newsagency software.

This dashboard pushed business insights, it collects, curates and presents the insights data without being asked to do so.

Whereas plenty of software programs offer reporting facilities for discovering insights, it’s a pull approach. This dashboard is a push, and it focusses on key measurement points that are vitally valuable to local small business retailers, especially retail newsagents.

This new dashboard focuses on 6 critical areas of retail to assist you on making key decisions by representing data in a graphical & easy to understand format.

These 6 metrics are among the most important metrics that Retailer should be focusing on to impact the profitability of their businesses.

  1. Where Are We Today – Gives you a snapshot of the overall sales & liabilities as it stands Today, this powerful tool can also be expanded to a desired time period.
  2. What’s Not Selling – This gives you a visual understanding of what is not performing in your business.  Deadstock in any business is lost cash.  This report gives you the ability to make decisions on this underperforming stock whether it be discounting or other stock reductions strategies to unlock this lost cash.
  3. What Am I Missing Out on – This give you a list of items that have sold out and potential missed opportunity. The visual sales history will assist in ensuring the right items are restocked to ensure future revenue is not missed out on.
  4. What Sells With What – This gives you an insight to consumer basket analysis. Through this you will see exactly what stock items sell with other stock items and from this you will be able to leverage upsell opportunities, co-location and promotion opportunities.   This also shows the sold alone percentage so you can see item upsell efficiency.
  5. Is Theft An Issue – This provides a in-depth visual overview of all the retailer audit log records by reason, number of occurrences by time day. This will assist in identifying staff theft/training issues that may need to be addressed within the business.
  6. When Are We Busiest & Quietest –   This is a visual overview detect any quiet or peak times in your business by displaying over the week as well as detailed by hour

The idea of the dashboard was mine. While the Tower newsagency software offers the insights, newsagents needed to know they wanted them, they had to look. Too many did not – for a range of reasons. Hence, the decision to create a push approach. I brought the idea to the tech team and, at the same time, tested the idea with some customers. Soon enough, we were invested.

Built from scratch by the Tower software development team, this is a significant investment of a genuine value-add for small business retailers, like retail newsagents.

Once the new dashboard was created, we showed customers in a Zoom meeting, and then we live-tested it in my own newsagency shops. Wow! The value was immediate. I saw things that I did not realise, opportunities there for the embracing. The visual ways the insights are presented are terrific, accessible.

We then offered it to the close-knit Tower Systems beta community – a community of retailers from different channels who get top test an early release of the software. Their feedback was wow, this is amazing!

Now, this week, it is available for all Tower Systems customers.

The enhancement is available to all Tower Systems customers as part of the regular update enhancement service from the company. The company is also providing complete documentation as well as training.

The what am I missing out on tab has shocked some retailers. They did not realise that they were missing so much revenue by not being consistent with re-ordering. Some retailers choose to not reorder some lines as they want to see change in their shop. That’s a reasonable decision, unless it cost the business out of certain revenue.

The goal here is to underscore business decisions with accurate data. the easier we make that data available to local small business retailers line retail newsagents the greater the value they can derive from the POS software they use, and value today is critical in every area of our retail businesses.

If you’d like to hear more about some of the insights offered in the new insights dashboard, here’s a video from me speaking about it:

Yes, I get that there will be some grinding their gears at what may read as an ad. The thing is, there has not been much genuine innovation for retail newsagents in newsagency software in recent years. There has been some enhancements connecting with The Lott, integrations with BNPL, integrations with more EFTPOS platforms, but not much innovation around newsagency retail management.

This insights dashboard is something I am proud of because it is genuinely innovative, serves the retail newsagent and is available to newsagents for no additional cost. It’s a true value-add, and we don’t see enough of that these days.

Disclosure: I own Tower Systems and am proud that my company serves more than 1,700 newsagents with newsagency software. The company also serves another 1,500 or so retailers in other specialty retail channels. If you think you might be interested in the Tower software, please email sales@towersystems.com.au.

Newsagency management

A New York card shop used GoFundMe too help recover from a huge fire

Here’s the post announcing the fundraiser for the Essex Card Shop that was hit by fire early this year.

Help Essex Card Shop on Ave A

Hi. My name is Saba Aslam. I am making this fundraiser for our family business, Essex Card Shop located at 47 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009. Muhammad Aslam is my dad and the owner of the store, Jay Patel is my uncle and the manager of the store, and Mehnaz Noreen is my sister and works in this family business. There was a huge fire today (01/10/22 at around 4:30 pm), and the entire store is destroyed by the fire. Thank God everyone made it out alive! This fundraiser can really help this small business pick themselves up again and recover from this. Every single corner of this store is burned, damaged, and destroyed. I am 27 years old now, and I have seen this store as a part of my family ever since I was a little girl. Let us all please come together as a loving community, and help this small business rise from its ashes! It’s heartwarming to see all the love coming from the community. Please help in any way you can. Keep us in your prayers

Click here for a recent story on progress.

It’s a fascinating approach to recovery from something like this. Not sure about the legal obstacles here in Australia tho.


Advice: never let someone else setup your Google business profile

I have been helping a retailer recently try and get control of their business profile on Google. It was setup for them by another party that has been reluctant to give the local retailer access.

Google has been no help in resolving the situation.

Setting up a Google profile is easy. My advice is do it yourself, control how you want your business represented to the world. The profile is about you, after all, and not how a bland marketer thinks your business looks.

A Google profile is a living thing. If someone else sets it up for you, are they going to maintain it? Probably not, do it yourself, be responsible for our your business is seen by the world outside.

While I appreciate to a non-tech savvy person it may seem an easy decision to let someone else do this for you, it is not because they are not you, they are not your business. It would be like you letting someone else control a key part of your business, a key resource on which you rely.

Doing it yourself is easy. No tech skills are required. Google offers advice. This link from Google takes you to where you can get started: https://www.google.com/intl/en_au/business/

Hootsuite also offers advice on setting up your business profile that I think is worth reading: https://blog.hootsuite.com/google-my-business/

Please, don’t be duped by people who say they are the experts to do it for you. This is absolutely best done by you.

Newsagency management

Early start to charity boxed Christmas card sales

We decided to kick off access to charity boxed Christmas cards early this year at our online store, and sales have been good.

Some customers purchase only cards while others buy ornaments and other items and add a box or two of cards into their purchase. The basket data is fascinating as we try and figure out the initial shopping intent.

Looking back over the charity boxed Christmas cards sales this year already and for Christmas season last year, not one of the purchases was from a customer local to us. There were several businesses that bought big, which was terrific. In fact, I think this business opportunity is something newsagents could leverage.

We have had this range of charity boxed Christmas cards in the shop through the year and while they have sold okay, it’s online where there is more interest. I guess that is because online makes it easier for us to reach those early seasonal planners.

The other point that is interesting is that shoppers love that most of our charity boxed Christmas cards are Australian designed and made.

What we are doing with this website any newsagent or other retailer could do. For us, our approach is to grow the percentage of revenue the business earns from online versus in-store. Currently, for this shop, it sits at around 40% of revenue, which is at the high end for similar local Aussie retailers. It’s tough and relentless work keeping the data on the site up to date, answering customer queries and fulfilling – but the right processes can help streamline all of this. It pays off when you get good sales and repeat business.

In fact, repeat business is key for this type of seasonally-focussed business.

We are five years in and still growing, which we appreciate.

Anyway, back to my point – people are shopping early for charity boxed Christmas cards so if you have stock in the back room, consider getting it out and pitching it on social media and elsewhere. Being in front of an opportunity and winning business is better for you than someone else getting that revenue.

Footnote: the shop managing fulfilment of these purchases is not the same shop I mentioned in my previous post.

Greeting Cards

You’ll find the best range of Father’s Day cards in your local newsagency

This is the range of Father’s Day cards in my newsagency on Glenferrie Road Malvern.

We have cards from two suppliers covering a broad range of captions, and this matters for Father’s Day … caption range. We also have money wallets, a card with a premium gift and a very cool card that is a bit of a DIY opportunity for dad.

I like the breadth and depth of range. It makes the shop the destination for Father’s Day cards on Glenferrie Road, which is positioning we sought.

Cards sales in this business are up 25%, in a marketplace that is, overall, flat. Cards are important to us in terms of GP contribution, and we manage them with that in mind.

Anyway, back to Father’s Day. We’re making noise on the shop floor and outside the shop about it because we see it as a good traffic driver. early indications are encouraging.

Looking outside this shop at other newsagencies, for sure, the local newsagency is the best place to find the best Father’s Day cards this year … since the same cards are not everywhere.

Footnote: yes, I know the Father’s Day cards in the photo are blocking the gift packaging. It’s a temporary situation until next week when we can better situate the Father’s Day cards.

Greeting Cards

Tips for hiring and retaining employees in local small business retail

Talk to anyone in business and they will tell you that hiring and retaining employees is one of the biggest if not the biggest challenge they face.

Retail is finding it tougher because working in retail is tough. Besides the obvious of being on your feet all day and how working in retail is seen by many, there is the challenge of dealing with difficult customers. Abuse of staff in retail is common, and no matter how much we provide support in a shop, there are customers itching to take their anger out on someone.

There are ways we can make working in retail more appealing so as to attract good people, and retain them. Here are some of my thoughts on this.

Hire people who want to work with you and help the business thrive. People working to make money only will only focus on that. You need to try and find people looking beyond this week’s pay check. You need people wanting to build something for themselves long-term.

Give your people power. Let them make decisions about the business, encourage them to be personally invested in the business, and this this help develop their skills. The more their future is enhanced working in the business the more they will love working the business and contribute positively.

Support them. Everyone working in your business is on your team. Nurture them. Train them. Support them. have their back. The more they experience this, the more they will do it for you. This support is especially key in retail where customers may be abusing at the counter.

Cut the mundane as much as possible. If there are mundane tasks in the business that could be eliminated with better processes, do it. The less mundane work the more people enjoy their jobs and that helps them stay with you.

Open the books. Sometimes people look for work elsewhere because they think the business can afford to pay them more. By opening the books you might be able to show enough for them to respect and appreciate what they are paid. Opening the books also offers the opportunity for them to think and act more like an owner, to be more invested in the financial success of the business.

Offer a pathway. As much as you are able in your local retail; business, offer people working in the business a forward pathway, opportunities for them to personally advance.

This is not a complete list, of course. It is offered to get you thinking about your situation.

The only topic I have not canvassed is pay. Of course paying the award is inadequate as it is the bar, and plenty would say it is a low bar. What you pay depends on your circumstances and, considering them, how you view your staff. If your staff are adequate, pay the award. If you value them more, pay them more within your capacity and considering what else you offer, such as flexibility to their schedule.

It is easy to complain that finding and retaining employees is difficult. It is hardware to take steps to fix the problem / challenge for your business. complaining achieves nothing. It’s the forward steps, no matter how small, that matter.

The newsagents best placed to find and retain staff are those transitioning or that have transitioned away from the old-school agency model, or at least in part – for it is these forward-focussed businesses that are more interesting.

I have owned retail businesses, newsagencies, gift shops and online shops, since February 1996, and own 4 shops today. I’m not an expert, nor am I professionally trained in this. But, I have learnt from many situations, many mistakes. Good people are essential to any local retail business. Business size is not a factor in attracting and retaining good people.

Newsagency challenges

Columbia Journalism Review on Murdoch: Does Murdoch make the political weather or follow it? Yes.

This piece by John Allsop in the Columbia Journalism Review is a must-read for anyone interested in news, especially in Australia with the dominance of the Murdoch outlets. The headline is smart, and to me, true.

Does Murdoch make the political weather or follow it? Yes.

Any analysis of Murdoch influence interests me as we sell their products, which are a cause for plenty of conversation in the business. I think there has been a shift in Australia. Whereas 5 or so years ago the majority regarded Murdoch papers as sources of news, the majority today regard them as opinionated entertainment. Hopefully, their influence is waning here.


Ovato creditors meeting update

Issued today, by the administrator:

The first meeting of creditors for Ovato Limited was held this afternoon.

Regarding the situation at Ovato, a spokesperson for the Administrators said:

  • The Administrators are continuing to trade the business as a going concern while they run a sale and recapitalisation process.
  • There has been excellent support from customers and employees, and the Administrators continue to work with the suppliers.
  • The sale process has commenced. There has been a number of expressions of interest, and the Administrators are working through those with the interested parties. Binding bids are due by the 11th of August.
  • The Administrators are looking for a buyer as soon as possible, as the sooner the business has a long-term owner the better off all stakeholders will be.
  • As part of their role, the Administrators are investigating a number of matters before reporting back to creditors (next creditors meeting scheduled to be issued on 17 August), including:
    • The historical footprint of the company and legacy costs the company has been burdened with.
    • The claims of various suppliers.
    • The activities of the Group leading up to the appointment.
    • The impact of the pandemic.
    • A number of transactions involving the sale of divisions or businesses in recent times.

Stuart Carson

magazine distribution

Newsagency for sale, Mount Morgan, Queensland – tree change opportunity

Wattle Bee Next in Mount Morgan is for urgent sale for health reasons. The sale profile has all the details.

What’s interesting about the business is that it is transformed, it is not your typical newsagency. This business is an early-adopter of coffee in our channel, and it has a reputation for good coffee. It has also pioneered white goods, the cafe experience and gifts – all done in a style that fits with this town outside of Rockhampton.

I don’t often mention businesses for sale here. I mention the Wattle Bee Next newsagency for sale because it is urgent and because it represents an opportunity for someone looking for a change to a terrific part of Australia.

The freehold is available to purchase from the landlord too if that interests.

From my understanding of the 491 visa sub-class in Queensland, the purchase of this business would qualify for providing a pathway to permanent residency.

buying a newsagency

Retailers are upbeat at the busy Melbourne Gift Fair

The mood on the floor of the Melbourne Gift Fairs over the weekend was upbeat, positive. Plenty of retailers had stories of trading success and an optimistic view of the rest of 2022 and into 2023.

There was no talk of recession, none of the mood reflecting new coverage re falling consumer confidence, no discussion about concerns over interest rates. There has also been plenty of good news about product availability.

And, this is from a mix of retailers, from folks owning and running gift shops, jewellers, newsagents, garden centres and more. These gift fairs attract a broad range of retailers.

The other comments from people who also attended the Sydney fair earlier this year is that this Melbourne event is far superior. Some of the suppliers with booths made the same comments.

While the event has three days to go – which it at least a day too long – it’s already a success according to some I have heard from based on their buying (retailers) and based on sales (suppliers).

Side events have been going well too. These are events on at the same time, designed to leverage the influx of retailers in Melbourne for the fair.

The organisers of the various fairs, AHGA, Reed and Life InStyle should be happy with the results. They have created trade events that retailers are enjoying.

The only downside, or risk, is the lack of mask-wearing.

This event could be more successful if it closed at 5pm each day, instead of 6 and if it was a day shorter. Those two changes could make it a more enjoyable event for suppliers in my view, and I say that as an owner of a company that has exhibited at the event for years.

Newsagency management

A masterclass on creating and managing a Shopify website connected to POS software

My newsagency POS software company, Tower Systems, also makes websites for local retailers. We have Magento, Woo and Shopify experience. Shopify is the platform we use most often as it is super easy for retailers to maintain themselves. A few days ago, a couple experts from the company got together and shot this video, which is a masterclass on making the most of the Shopify / Tower Systems connection.

I share it here for anyone considering a website as it offers insights, advice and training for free – there is no login required, no email address collected – you can watch anytime, anonymously.

having a website is critical today for being found, for being able to reach new shoppers.

Newsagency management

Navigating volatile economic conditions is up to each of us in our businesses

There is plenty of news coverage about the challenging economic situation. We are seeing an impact on house prices in some areas. News outlets are full of stories about the rising cost of raw materials and retailers being squeezed unable or unwilling to increase their prices.

There are reports from the IMF and others that a global recession appears unavoidable.

All of this plays into consumer confidence and discretionary spending is typically hit first in such situations, except for lotteries – those sales tend to increase.

I expect to see more news coverage about it, and I expect to see more retailers impacted.

Our advice is to run your business as if things are already tight, as if the recession is here. Do what you know works:

  • Buy what sells easily, and quickly.
  • Keep your roster as tight as possible.
  • Increase your margin every opportunity you have.
  • Run a loyalty program and consistently pitch this to every shopper.
  • Be positive in-store and on social media.
  • Be active on social media and elsewhere is trying to attract new shoppers.

The three key opportunities in local retail are: people through the door, the depth of their purchase basket and the margin you make on what they purchase.

The healthiest retail businesses are those that work on all three at once, every day, consistently.

This means chasing new traffic and attracting regulars back more often, getting people to purchase more each visit and achieving a better margin every time you are able.

Basic stuff really. But, now is the time to be energised about this.

I first shared this unremarkable advice with newsXpress members earlier this week and with retailers in the Tower Systems community this morning. I share it here as I think it is relevant to all newsagents.

There will be some over the next year or two of choppy waters who complain about the tough conditions as if they have no opportunity to mitigate the impact in their businesses. While, for sure, there will be aspects of the economic conditions that we cannot mitigate, there is plenty we can. hence, the advice I provided, along with the urging to engage now and consistently.

Newsagency management

Lottery in NZ retail

I am grateful for the opportunity to see a range of retail businesses in New Zealand in the last few days. Lottery branding has changed since I was there last, more than 2 years ago. Signage is more consistent, as is in-store placement. But, the space requirements in store remains less than we see in Australian lottery retailers.

Here are 3 photos from one business. They represent what is typical for NZ independent lottery retailers.

Out of store signage:

The customer ‘bench’:

The sales counter from the customer side:

All compact. Neat. Consistent.


Text marketing from The Lott

The Lott sent out a text message this morning pitching their $30M draw this Saturday:

Mark, TattsLotto’s $30M Megadraw is this Saturday!
Grab an entry in-store, online or on The Lott app http://bit.ly/play-megadraw
Tatts. Play Responsibly. Optout?TXT STOP to 0429542184

While they will say they pitched in-store first, the link is for online purchase. They could have easily provided a link for finding my local retailers.


POS software for newsagents

Here’s a 40 minute demonstration of POS software for newsagents from my newsagency software company, Tower Systems. No login ia required, no email or other details are collected. It’s available for anyone to see at YouTube. Scroll down to find out who I am sharing this.

While the newsagency software continues to evolve, this demo from 7 months provides an insight to specialty facilities in this software.

I’m sharing it for a few reasons: of course, to pitch my newsagency software company, to offer an easy way for newsagents to see what newsagency software can do and to underscore how much business has changed. This video, raw as it is, is a key reason for a surge in newsagents installing the software in 2022. Back in the day we would demonstrate in-store, one-on-one. Now, most sales flow from videos like this.

Just as selling software has changed, so has retail. How people shop and when they shop.

This software offers newsagents a range of ways to connect with the evolving shopping experience. As the software more newsagents use than any other, the development investment in the Tower software is more resourced.

In terms of how people shop and when they shop, this software links direct to Shopify, Magento and Woo Commerce. It also links to all the newsXpress national group websites for an easy and fast path to selling online.

newsagent software

Shopify announces staff cuts is a transparent and data-supported way

Shopify overnight announced a 10% cut in its workforce. They did it with transparency and professionalism. I mention it here as there are some in and around the newsagency channel who talk Shopify down for their own personal reasons. This announcement might be used by them. But, the announcement from Shopify explains the reasoning, which I think newsagents will find useful. Yes, I like Shopify. I use it in my shops, and I use a couple of other web platforms too as appropriate. Many newsagents use Shopify.

Here’s the CEO’s statement. It’s worth reading IMHO.


I’m sitting down to write this email not far from where I once sat down to write the first few lines of code for Shopify itself. Those lines of code started a company and sent it on a fascinating journey full of wonder, toil, success, failure, ambition, and above all else comradery. Being on a journey, surrounded by great teammates, doing difficult things is what it’s all about.

All this makes this email so much harder to write: the next part of the journey will involve fewer teammates than we have picked up along the way. Shopify has to go through a reduction in workforce that will see about 10% leave by the end of the day. Most of the impacted roles are in recruiting, support, and sales, and across the company we’re also eliminating over-specialized and duplicate roles, as well as some groups that were convenient to have but too far removed from building products. Emails will go out in the next  few minutes that will clarify if your role was affected; those impacted will then have a meeting with a lead in their team.

For a company like ours this news will be difficult to digest. It will be even harder for those leaving today. I’ll share as many details as I can about how we got here and, for those that are leaving, what will happen next.

How we got here

When the Covid pandemic set in, almost all retail shifted online because of shelter-in-place orders. Demand for Shopify skyrocketed. To help merchants, we threw away our roadmaps and shipped everything that could possibly be helpful. It was hard, but we know for a fact that more merchants’ businesses survived the pandemic because of the work we did in this time and that’s exactly what our mission is about.

Shopify has always been a company that makes the big strategic bets our merchants demand of us – this is how we succeed. Before the pandemic, ecommerce growth had been steady and predictable. Was this surge to be a temporary effect or a new normal? And so, given what we saw, we placed another bet: We bet that the channel mix – the share of dollars that travel through ecommerce rather than physical retail – would permanently leap ahead by 5 or even 10 years. We couldn’t know for sure at the time, but we knew that if there was a chance that this was true, we would have to expand the company to match.

Source: US Census Bureau
Source: US Census Bureau

It’s now clear that bet didn’t pay off. What we see now is the mix reverting to roughly where pre-Covid data would have suggested it should be at this point. Still growing steadily, but it wasn’t a meaningful 5-year leap ahead. Our market share in ecommerce is a lot higher than it is in retail, so this matters. Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong. Now, we have to adjust. As a consequence, we have to say goodbye to some of you today and I’m deeply sorry for that.

To those leaving Shopify

Everyone will feel this news in their own way, but what’s universally true is that it will be hard for everyone. We want to support each of you through the coming weeks and months as much as possible, so we’re offering a generous severance package. Those affected today will get 16 weeks of severance pay, plus an additional week for every year of tenure at Shopify. We’ll remove any equity cliff, and extend any medical benefits.

Knowing that Shopify is just one stop on a career journey, we’d also like to help set everyone up for success as they take their next steps. We’ll offer outplacement services with access to career coaching, interviewing support, resume crafting, etc. And because every path taken requires some basics, we’ll continue to pay internet costs for the period, the home office furniture we provided is yours now, and while we’ll need to recover our hardware, we’re offering a kickstart allowance that can be used to buy new laptops. If you want, you can add your email addresses to a list that we will share with other companies looking for talent. And for those who find themselves drawn to the path of entrepreneurship, Shopify also covers a free account for everyone.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to each of you for everything you’ve given to support merchants and our mission of making commerce better for everyone.

What’s next

Our opportunity is massive and it’s still early days for Shopify. Every team here is now either focused on building products or directly supporting those who do. Our customers are merchants, entrepreneurs, and small businesses owners – the bedrock of our economy and precisely those that are typically hit hardest during recessions. Most are already feeling it. We again have a clear objective in these challenging macro economic times, and we will use everything we’ve got to help them succeed and come out stronger. That’s our core mission.

The entrepreneurs we serve are remarkable individuals. They inspire us individually and as a company to be the best versions of ourselves. We’ve adapted many times, in many ways, during Shopify’s intense growth journey. Most of the adaptations we’ve had to make have been to grow into something bigger. This time we grow into something more focused, more driven, and more singular in mission. The times demand it of us, and we will rise to the occasion once again.

– tobi

CEO Shopify

What I like about the announcement is the acknowledgement that they got is wrong in terms of what they expected from the pandemic and transparency about the parts of the business impacted and the explanations as to why. If I was a Shopify investor I’d appreciate this, as I do as a customer. While the employees being let go may have a different view, they are entering a jobs market where their wills are in high demand.

Newsagency management

Customers are loving the green stationery pitch

Our expanding green stationery section toward the front of the newsagency is working a treat. The bright green backing paper draws attention. We will place any product there that is made from sustainably sourced materials.

This simple and easy to make move is a good differentiator for us in the stationery space.

Already we have paper, pens, glue, business books, rubber bands and plenty more. We are grateful to our suppliers for working with us on this.

There is nothing proprietary about what we are doing here. Any newsagent can do it. I recommend it. You only have to visit an Officeworks to realise how important they view the environmentally aware shopper. But, they do it in a corporate way. We in local retail can do it in a more engaged and relevant way I think.

Look, we started small and did it without fanfare, without external marketing. It has evolved and customers have responded. We are very happy with where this is at, the return on space an inventory being achieved.

Social responsibility

If you are time poor in your newsagency, what are you doing to fix it?

If you are not getting to everything you want to in your business, missing opportunities, being late to respond to time sensitive queries and never getting done in a day what you want to get done, I’m sure you feel time poor.

We all talk about in small business retail. Suppliers to small business retail talk about it too.

But, is anything being done?

It doesn’t feel like it.

There are more emails than ever, more unscheduled supplier visits, more offers, more calls. To plenty of newsagents I speak with it feels worse, it feels like there are more demands on time than ever.

If you feel time poor, I urge you to ask yourself, seriously, what am I doing about it?

I think there is plenty we can do to ease feeling time poor.

  • Make decisions. For some, time is spent thinking, pondering, worrying when making a decision early without all that time lost could be the answer.
  • Delegate. You hire, train and motivate everyone who works in the business. If you are time more more so than the business, delegate some of what makes you time poor. Nurture the right people for you to do this.
  • Ignore time wasters. Unsolicited phone calls from sales people. If I’ve not spoken to them before I always say what are you calling about? if they don’t answer that question or make it clear they are selling something, I hang up. Unscheduled sales rep visits disrespect and waste your time. Sure you may worry that you’ll miss out on something. If an offer is that important they can email you.
  • Ignore inefficient suppliers. Don’t deal with suppliers that have processes from decades ago that cost more time than they should. It’s likely that their inefficiencies make their products less profitable for you.
  • If it doesn’t serve the goals of your business, don’t do it. Look at what you do in a day. If it is not helping the business, not making the business more valuable, question whether that task is necessary.
  • Create a not sure folder. You’re sure to get mail and emails that you’re not sure about. I have a physical and an email folder labeled not sure. If something sits in there for 6 months untouched, it’s binned or deleted without another thought.
  • Know when you are most efficient. For example, if interruptions make you less efficient on tasks only you can do and that you struggle to get to, care out that time, ring fence it and ensure you are not interrupted. One of the things work from home taught plenty of businesses is that plenty of people were more efficient at home since there were less interruptions. Sure, they may be a downside from less colleague interaction, but there was, for many, more efficiency. One of the reasons I am at the office at 6:30am every morning is for that first 90 minutes of no interruptions.
  • Keep the inbox clean. I know of newsagents who read their emails once a week. This is nuts. Check your emails first thing and several times in the day. Make quick decisions to forward, delete or quickly respond, only leaving a few more more attention later. I get several hundred emails every day and staying on top of the inbox is critical, saves time.
  • Have a to-do list. Finish every day creating the list for tomorrow. It means you can start the next morning and not have to think what you need to do. Start with what’s on the list. I find it makes the first hour more efficient.

There is nothing groundbreaking here.

Next time you go to say to someone that you are time poor, stop and think for a moment what you have done or are doing to win time back. Thinking about demands on your time from a perspective that only others control it is the wrong way to look at it I think. 

Newsagency management

News Corp and Nine Media gave control of newspapers delivery to my shop to NDS and it’s been a mess ever since

For 11 days off the last 13 since NDS was given control of newspaper delivery to one of my shops in Melbourne, the newspapers have either not been delivered, not delivered on time or not delivered to the connect location.

This failure by NDS has resulted in the business spending many paid hours trying to resolved the failure relating to this mess.

The cost of the failure is amplified by the pittance Nine Media and News Corp. pay retail newsagents.

All we get from people supposed to be in control is words.

What a mess.

It’s like News and Nine want to manage a decline in print.