Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Non shoppable content – how big businesses are engaging on social media

Mark Fletcher on March 23, 2019 7:08 AM

Big brands and retailers are spending up on non-shoppable content. That is, content designed to entertain with only a small acknowledgement of the brand behind the content.

Successful non-shoppable content is entertaining, highly shareable, accessible and, often, inspiring. Dollar Shave Club in July last year released a video, which has now been viewed close to three million times. The video is an excellent example of non-shoppable content. It is fun, inspiring and for our times in that it reflects diversity without judgement.

The financial resources of Dollar Shave Club are considerable, enabling them to fund the professional production of the video. Small business owners could watch the video and say we can’t afford to produce something like that.

The reality is that atone with a smart phone, slime time and creativity could produce effective non-shoppable content. There are plenty of small business retailers I see who do this already. Creativity is key. Massive tech. skills are not critical.

Here is the video.

Please take a moment to think about non-shoppable content you could create that might get people watching connect with your brand.

Too often I see newsagents on Facebook saying look at what we just got in or come shop with us when a more successfully engaged campaign could be hey, we thought you might enjoy this.

People are on social media for entertainment. Often, that is why people shop too. Putting entertainment as the top priority could, indirectly, do more good for your business than a more direct ad on social media.

I love the Dollar Shave Club video. I watched it all the way through, which is rare for videos I often see on social media. The stats for the video speak volumes.

Now, if you have got this far in the post and think it does not relate to you, please pause for a moment … because, I think this topic of non-shoppable content is relevant to every retailer. Everyone in retail has an opportunity to find new customers through a non-linear approach to marketing, by entertaining first, y having fun in the name of your brand.

This is retail today, in tis world of myriad social media platforms. It’s exciting and filled with opportunity.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip

Buy now, pay later helps drive sales

Mark Fletcher on March 22, 2019 7:31 AM

Using buy now pay later platforms such as Oxipay, Zip Pay and Afterpay businesses can expect increase sales.

Talk to any fashion retailer and they will tell you how important these finch offers are to sales.

Talk to owners of big toy shops or other businesses for which LayBy was an important factor in sales and they will tell you these new finance models have helped cut costs and provide greater business certainty.

In my own experience, the buy now pay later offer is tremendously valuable online, accounting for between 15% and 20% of purchases depending on the product category and time of the year.

In-store, the buy now pay later offer is key in driving purchases of more expel dive items, items priced at $200 and more.

Add to this the opportunity of the retailer not having to image LayBy product and account for the financial risk associated with LayBy and you can see why many retailers have shut down LayBy in favour of these new lines of funding.

I mention this today as it offers newsagents who are actively evolving their businesses options for more easily selling higher priced items. I think this is critical if you are pursuing higher margin dollars from sales.

By integrating the buy now pay later platforms in your POS software you can make taking them as a method of payment easier.

Just as your product range needs to change, so do backend business practices, to have the business leaning into new opportunities that come with new ways of doing business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Turn the sound on, press play

Mark Fletcher on March 22, 2019 6:32 AM


→ No CommentsCategory: Fun

Serving newsagents

Mark Fletcher on March 21, 2019 7:36 AM

I was fortunate to see ALNA representatives, including their CEO, field questions from newsagents about lottery changes announced by Tabcorp this week, at the ALNA hosted newsagent meeting in Cairns.

All questions were welcomed and considered. Where there were known answers they were shared. Where answers were not known, that was stated.

It was a transparent Q&A session that also provides an insight into the process and reasoning for some timing.

One of the most important takeaways for me was the clarity about the introduction of an appeals process for retailers unhappy with in-store reviews. The appeal process will be a new thing, an opportunity retailers have not had. Given the importance of in-store reviews in the new remuneration model, having an appeals process is key.

I guess the key point I would make here is that ALNA is helloing newsagents understand the changes and providing support on getting answers to outstanding questions.

This face to face retailer to retailer engagement is association service in action. I am glad I got to see it.


→ No CommentsCategory: Lotteries · Newsagent representation

Thirteen years ago, Rupert Murdoch gave a speech about the future of newspapers that remains relevant today

Mark Fletcher on March 20, 2019 6:17 AM

Rupert Murdoch have a speech in March 2006 to the Worshipful Company of Stationers And Newspaper Makers on the future of the newspaper industry.

The speech was seminal at the time, particularly because it came from someone who had not been a believer in technology, someone who was old school.

What we know, thirteen years on, is that News Corp. and Murdoch has changed and done reasonably well through the change.

While the speech has plenty of terrific takeaways, this resonates today for me as it did thirteen years ago when I first read the speech: But we must not lose our nerve. We must be prepared to take risks and accept that we will make mistakes, sometimes very large ones.

I am sharing the entire speech here, it is still available online at The Times, as a point of inspiration for change that is as big an issue as ever confronting newsagents…

Thank you very much for inviting me to give this annual address.   It is an honour to join such distinguished company and to share with you some thoughts on the huge changes that will reshape the human experience in the 21st century.

I think everyone in this magnificent hall would agree that the world is changing at a pace never experienced by our ancestors.As that great American scientist, Freeman Dyson,*1 has said,  the technological revolution is like an explosion which is tearing apart the static world of our ancestors and replacing it with a new world that spins 1000 times faster.

The scientific revolution that began 300 years ago in Europe has accelerated exponentially, spreading knowledge at a speed that will, I believe, change our way of life.

It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and to destroy –  not just companies but whole countries.

For instance, we probably haven’t heard the name of what will be the world’s largest company in 2020.

Indeed that company may not even exist yet — although I hope that it does, and that I know its name!

Societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall.

That applies as much to my own, the media industry, as to every other business  on the planet.

Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry – the editors, the chief executives and, let’s face it, the proprietors.

A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it.

This new media audience – and we are talking here of tens of millions of young people around the world – is ALREADY using technology, especially the web, to inform, entertain and above all to educate themselves.

This knowledge revolution empowers the reader, the student, the cancer patient, the victim of injustice, anyone with a vital need for the right information.

It is part of wider changes that reach far beyond the media industry.

I will discuss those changes in a minute, but let me first say that I understand why many people find the speed and direction of change so unsettling.

To them, this is the age of anxiety, an age in which technology and science seem to pose huge threats, rather than present great opportunities.

And it is perfectly true that we do face some daunting challenges.

Let us consider some of them.

How will the old nations of Europe cope with the economic rise of nations such as China and India?

Will the US and Britain remain immune from the challenge of these emerging  superpowers?

Can we find victory over a new and harrowing form of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam? We should not fool ourselves. There are no civilians and no chance of a negotiated peace in this war.

How do we contain unstable regimes in North Korea and Iran that are bent on, and very close to, developing nuclear weapons?

How are we to provide food and water for a global population that is set to rise from 6.4 billion today, to 9.2 billion in 2050 ?

As we ponder these and other truly momentous questions, we would not be human if we did not look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren and sometimes wonder what world we will be leaving them.

My argument this evening is that, whatever our fears, we actually live in a second great age of discovery.

I believe that the fusion of technology and science allied to the natural creativity embedded in the human spirit will enable us to  surmount the dangers we undoubtedly face, and forge a better world for all of us.

And equally I believe that what is loosely called the media will play a crucial role in shaping that destiny by facilitating the flow of ideas and the interaction of creative minds.

Never has the flow of information and ideas, of hard news and reasoned comment, been more important.

The force of our democratic beliefs is a key weapon in the war against religious fanaticism and the terrorism that it breeds.

Remember, it was ideas – the ideals of democracy allied to the free market – as much as the economic collapse of the Soviet Union that brought the West victory in the cold war.

The free flow of information is not just a building block of our democratic system;  it is also the fuel of the technological revolution.

We are making new discoveries across the spectrum of science: in medicine, genetics, biology, physics and in every field of technology because information is flowing like rivers between universities, drug and biotech companies, libraries, laboratories, and public and private research centres. And, of course, across most national boundaries.

That information is carried via print, newspapers, magazines and books.  It is carried on television, laptops, personal organisers, cell phones and, of course, the web.

The media use all these platforms to give the public access to this waterfall of information.

This is how public opinion is shaped. And we know how public opinion can make history.

Let me give you an example.

Consider this splendid space, the Stationers’ Hall, with its many coats of arms mounted on these ancient walls.

I hardly have to tell you that this Hall was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London, and completed 333 years ago in 1673.

If you happened to be living in London that year, you would know that Europe was briefly and uneasily at peace. You would hear the political gossip about popish plots swirling around the court of King Charles the Second.

But you would not really know what was going on beyond the shores of this island, or perhaps even in the next town.

You would not know, for instance, that British power in North America was being challenged on an issue – taxation – that would lead to revolution.

You would not know, of course, because there was no means of finding out.  There were no newspapers and obviously no radio or TV. The little information available was circulated via pamphlets and filtered through coffee shop conversations.

But history in those early years of the 1670s was, as ever, on the march.

A year after this hall was finished, a small event in the British colonies of America went un-remarked upon elsewhere in the world. Philip Carteret, governor of New Jersey, launched a campaign to enforce payment of quitrents, land taxes raised by Parliament in London.*2

The Governor’s decision turned simmering resistance into local rebellion. The rebellion petered out, but a fuse had been lit that flared through the 13 colonies  leading to the revolution of 1776 and the creation of the United States of America.

Yet it took 100 years from that unnoticed event in New Jersey before English Rule in North America was ended.

Think what would have happened had the news of the tax revolt in New Jersey been made public throughout England and Europe as those events unfolded across the Atlantic. Think of the pressure on monarchy and parliament from a people weary of war and foreign involvements.

Think of the great excitement in France at another chance to do down the ancient foe.

Historians will argue forever about what might have been.

Let me join them and entertain you with this thought:

If print technology had allowed The Times newspaper to launch 100 years before it actually did in 1785, the American Revolution  – and everything that flowed from it –  might have happened much earlier.

Had The Times reported the growing fury in the last decade of the 17th century among the North American colonies at taxes imposed by government in London, do we think it would have taken another 100 years before revolution ended colonial rule? I doubt it.

Since those days, and especially since the rise of the popular press at the turn of the 19th century, the power of the media to influence events and drive change has grown hugely.

But, as I said earlier, power is moving away from those who own and manage the media to a new and demanding generation of consumers – consumers who are better educated, unwilling to be led,  and who know that in a competitive world they can get what they want, when they want it.

The challenge for us in the traditional media is how to engage with this new audience.

There is only one way.

That is by using our skills to create and distribute dynamic, exciting content.   King Content, the Economist called it recently. But – and this is a very big BUT – newspapers  will have to adapt as their readers demand news and sport on a variety of platforms: websites, ipods, mobile phones or laptops.

I believe traditional newspapers have many years of life left but, equally, I think in the future that newsprint and ink will be just one of many channels to our readers.

As we all know, newspapers have already created large audiences for their content online and have provided readers with added value features such as email alerts, blogs, interactive debate, and podcasts.

Content is being repurposed to suit the needs of a contemporary audience.

This divergence from the traditional platform of newsprint will continue, indeed accelerate for a while.

The same is true of television.

Sky has already started putting programmes onto PCs and mobile phones.

That old square television box in the corner of the room may soon be dead but the  television industry is seizing the opportunities thrown up by the technology revolution.

PVRs – personal video recorders – streaming live TV onto mobile phones – beaming programmes onto computers via IPTV – internet broadcasts –  this wave of innovation gives the consumer huge choice at relatively low cost.

So, media becomes like fast food – people will consume it on the go, watching news, sport  and film clips as they travel to and from work on  mobiles or handheld wireless devices like Sony’s PSP, or others already in test by our Satellite companies.

This does not mean that television and newspapers need lose their historic role of keeping people informed about what is happening in the world around them.

Given the speed of change around us that role has never been more important.

Consider the field of medicine where science fiction is becoming science fact.
We have learned more about how to prevent and treat cancer in the last 10 years than in the history of mankind.

That is the stated view of the American Cancer Society.*3

Here is another view from the National Cancer Institute in the US :

“By the year 2015 we aim to see the elimination of death and suffering due to cancer.” *4

What has prompted two such reputable organisations to make these huge claims – claims that will, if true, change the lives of millions of people on this planet?

Three years ago a group of scientists made a breathtaking breakthrough by publishing  a genetic map showing the DNA breakdown of the human race.5

Driven by ever-more-powerful computers, the new science of DNA is giving us control over the evolution of most life forms and most critically of our own human existence.

It means that scientists are gaining the power to create plant and animal life with the specific intention of feeding more people with better food, with curing people of a range of diseases: the power to enable people to lead far better lives.

It means that medicine has been changed forever.

Already DNA knowledge is being used to manufacture human hormones, reduce heart blockages, shrink tumours and treat multiple sclerosis.

Little wonder that governments, universities and the big drug companies are investing billions into DNA related research.

The DNA breakthrough happened because, throughout their research, scientists in the US were able to post their findings on the web, drawing information and inspiration from colleagues around the world.

The internet was crucial to that astonishing development and I am sure that the web will continue its rapid development as the prime media channel for information, entertainment, business and social contact.

One of the reasons I say that is the success of a company we bought last year called

This is a networking site in which millions of people, aged mainly between 16 and 34, talk online to each other about music, film, dating, travel, whatever interests them. They share pictures, videos and blogs, forming virtual communities.

Since launch just two years ago, the site has acquired sixty million registered users, thirty five million of whom are regular users.

This is a generation, now popularly referred to as the “myspace generation”, talking to itself in a world without frontiers.

It is just one example of how the media, with its ability to reach millions with information, entertainment and education  can use the achievements of technology to create better  and more interesting lives for a great many people.

And it is one reason why I believe we are at the dawn of a golden age of information – an empire of new knowledge.

But knowledge alone is not a magic wand which can be waved to banish poverty and produce riches. Life is not like that.

Consider the words of the Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, President of the California Institute of Technology, who said recently. *5a

“We are creating a world in which it will be imperative for each individual to have sufficient scientific literacy to understand the new riches of knowledge so that he can use them wisely.’’

There you have it.

Those people, those companies, those nations which understand and use this new knowledge will be the ones to prosper and grow strong in our age of discovery.

History is populated with examples of how knowledge can transform the fortunes of a small company, a weak nation, a threatened tribe.

The caveman who first struck fire from a flint was possessed of knowledge that made him master of his universe – although not for long.

Knowledge, in the form of superior technology, won Nelson the Battle of Trafalgar.  His brilliantly aggressive tactics decided the scale of the victory.  The victory itself was won before a shot had been fired.

The British ships had faster firing, more accurate, guns and better gunpowder. *6

That technological advantage ensured victory and allowed the British control of the seas in the decades that followed, contributing directly to the prosperity and innovation of the Victorian era.

From the wheel to the web, from the printing press to fibre optic cable, it has always been technology that has driven history. Those in the driving seat have always been those who fully understood and used that technology.

Today one of our great challenges is to understand and seize the opportunities presented by the web.

It is a creative, destructive, technology that is still in its Infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything it its path.

The web is changing the way we do business, the way we talk to each other and the way we enjoy ourselves. As old and new technologies merge, the questions multiply:

Will the internet kill fixed-line telephony? It is already happening via VOIP  – Voice Over Internet Protocol.

When high-speed broadband pipes TV and film onto enhanced computer screens at home, what happens to the television companies, the film studios and indeed newspapers?

I pose these questions – and there are many more thrown up by the web – in this context.

There are about one billion people in the world who have access to computers, although only about 10%  to broadband.

In 20 or 30 years there will be six billion such people, or two-thirds of the human race. We know the $100 laptop is on the way. In a few years, there could be a $50 laptop.

It would be folly for me to stand here and pretend I know what this really means in any detail for future generations.

But I will answer a question I suspect is forming in your minds.

What happens to print journalism in an age where consumers are increasingly being offered on-demand, interactive, news, entertainment, sport and classifieds via broadband on their computer screens, TV screens, mobile phones and handsets?

The answer is that great journalism will always attract readers.  The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism have to be brilliantly packaged;  they must feed the mind and move the heart.

And, crucially, newspapers must give readers a choice of accessing their journalism in the pages of the paper or on websites such as Times Online or – and this is important – on any platform that appeals to them, mobile phones, hand-held devices, ipods, whatever.   As I have said newspapers may become news-sites. As long as news organisations create must-read, must-have content, and deliver it in the medium that suits the reader, they will endure.

Great content always has been, and I think always will be, king of the media castle.

Caxton’s printing press marked a revolution that is with us 500 years later.

But the history of that revolution is not one in which the new wipes out the old. Radio did not destroy newspapers, television did not destroy radio and neither eliminated the printing of books.

And whatever you think about Hollywood, the film industry is very much alive.

Each wave of new technology in our industry forced an improvement in the old. Each new medium forced its predecessor to become more creative and more relevant to the consumer.

I began by saying that some people find the changes we all face daunting.

This is understandable because we all fear the unknown.

In the first Age of Discovery, some six hundred years ago, the great European explorers stood on the rim of the known world and set sail, literally, into the unknown.

Technology had given them ships equipped, although barely so, for long voyages. Science provided rudimentary navigational aids, and royal and private treasuries the financing. But what sent Bartolomeu Dias, Christopher Columbus, John Cabot and Henry the Navigator across the ocean was not just a quest for new trade routes to the East.

They consciously sought to expand the horizons of humanity, to risk their lives to find a new world.

That is where we are today. We are immeasurably better equipped than our ancestors to face the challenges posed by some of the issues I have raised this evening.

But we must not lose our nerve. We must be prepared to take risks and accept that we will make mistakes, sometimes very large ones.  Above all we must have what those great seafaring  explorers had in abundance: the courage to use the technological change that is unfolding around us to help make a better world.

We are all on a journey, not just the privileged few, and technology will take us to a destination that is defined by the limits of our creativity,  our confidence and our courage.


1.  Tomorrow’s People. Penguin. Susan Greenfield: P 268
2. Chronicle of the World, News International Library, London.
3. The Genomics Age, Gina Smith, Amacom 2005 p 137
4. National Cancer Institute newsletter Vol 1 issue 2.Fall 2003.See Gina Smith ( above ) p 135.
5. Two groups of scientists cooperated in the final breakthrough. Those from the federally funded Human Genome Project and from the privately financed company Celera.
5a.  David Baltimore, 66, is a leading American biologist who won the 1975 Nobel prize for Medicine .He has had a profound influence on matters concerning DNA research and AIDS. Outside science he is best known for his role in an affair of alleged scientific misconduct which cost him his then job as President of Rockefeller University in 1991. Although Baltimore was not personally accused ,a fellow researcher with whom he co-authored a paper was alleged to have failed to back up certain claims with scientific evidence. In 1996 all charges against the fellow researcher were dismissed and Baltimore’s conduct was not even addressed by the enquiry. This allowed him in 1997 to become president of the California  Institute of Technology a post he is due to leave at the end of this academic year.
6. Trafalgar and the making of a British hero, Adam Nicholson p 176

*Freeman Dyson is the grand old man of American Physics having retired from a lifetime spent mainly as Professor of Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.His most famous book The Sun,the Genome and the Internet was published in 1999.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Media disruption · newsagency of the future · Newspapers

Easter is a wonderful opportunity to extend the reach of cards

Mark Fletcher on March 19, 2019 6:15 AM

Easter is a season beyond eggs and religious cards and gifts. It is a perfect opportunity for people to reconnect.

By broadening the focus on the Easter season inside and outside the business you broaden the customers you sound attract.

I am not suggesting you turn away from the traditional Easter. No, my advice is to run a reconnect with family and friends campaign alongside Easter, in partnership.

In-store and on social media, especially inn social media, you can use the season to remind people of your business being somewhere that can help people reconnect.

Customers focussed on the religious observances at easter and unlikely to be offeneded by an allied campaign as it broadly fits with Easter themes.

Retailers can run a traditional easter and achieve traditional results. Alternatively, they can reach beyond the traditional and, maybe, achieve better than traditional resets.

Oh, and by the way … my suggestion here does not require any capital investment.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards

Supercars part series

Mark Fletcher on March 18, 2019 8:55 PM

I’d be interest in feedback from others about this part series. While I may have missed it, and I apologise if I have, this part series launch does not appear to have had much support. we have it on the floor, but not in a significant position, like we did with part series of old.


→ 7 CommentsCategory: partworks

Participating in some ALNA regional meetings

Mark Fletcher on March 18, 2019 2:04 PM

I am attending some of the ALNA regional meetings over the next few weeks: Cairns (tonight), Gold Coast, Gladstone and Rockhampton. I mention this for transparency. I am not paying to participate. ALNA has an open invitation for suppliers to attend. I encourage others to join in. Click here for the session details.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagent representation

Using Twitter for good

Mark Fletcher on March 18, 2019 6:08 AM

There are plenty who dismiss Twitter, and other social media platforms as 0ffering no value. The reality is that Twitter, despite flaws, a useful platform for immediate access to news. In a country like ours with the concentration of news ownership we have, Twitter is valuable. Sure, there are many ridiculous tweets. Then, there is a tweet like this one:

And this one:


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility

Pitching card range

Mark Fletcher on March 17, 2019 6:58 AM

I did a quick walk around the core card offer in my high street store and used this on social media as part of an out of store promotion on card range. I shot the video on my iPhone and used iMovie to back it with some music. Ill drop the video on social media several times as a reminder as to range and that we have new cards – to reinforce the store as a good local destination for everyday card giving occasions. I think it is critical every newsagency do this, remind shoppers of card range and pitching their business as the destination.


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Parliamentary committee reports on franchising

Mark Fletcher on March 16, 2019 8:02 AM

On Thursday, the parliamentary committee reported on its inquiry into franchising. Here is their media release on this:

 Inquiry into Franchising in Australia 

14 March 2019 

The committee has completed its inquiry into franchising in Australia. 

A decade ago, the committee’s inquiry into franchising identified relatively isolated opportunistic behaviour by franchisors. The current inquiry has identified something much worse: systematic exploitation of some franchisees by a subset of franchisors and a regulatory framework that does not provide adequate protection against such practices. 

The existing regulatory framework and Franchising Code of Conduct were developed on the assumption that adequate disclosure would be sufficient to allow franchisees to protect themselves from opportunistic behaviour and power imbalances. 

Disclosure and transparency are still necessary, but are insufficient to protect franchisees operating small businesses against the abuse of contractual power by some franchisors. 

The committee is therefore proposing substantial changes to the Franchising Code of Conduct and to the responsibilities and powers of the ACCC. 

Recommended regulatory changes address: disclosure, franchise registration, supplier rebates, whistleblower protections, unfair contract terms, cooling off periods, exit rights, collective action, dispute resolution, binding commercial arbitration, alignment of industry codes, churning, education, and leasing arrangements. 

The recommendations are designed to lift standards and conduct across the industry and to rebuild confidence in franchising in Australia. 

The committee acknowledges the many franchisors with profitable franchise systems that treat franchisees fairly. In developing its recommendations, the committee has been mindful to avoid imposing unnecessary burdens on those franchisors, and to strike an appropriate balance between the legitimate business interests of both franchisors and franchisees. 

Newsagency marketing groups can fall under the responsibility of the Franchising Code of Conduct depending on their contractual arrangements That is why this topic may be of interest to some newsagents.


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The ATO benchmark for retail newsagencies continues to be out of date

Mark Fletcher on March 15, 2019 6:19 AM

The Australian Tax Office uses benchmarks to trigger investigations and audits, among other things. Their benchmarks for our channel are out of date. Take a look:

I think they need to have a series of sub-cat benchmarks based on the product mix as well as the location. Rent, for example, on the high street is different to a major mall and in a rural situation it is different again.

Similar differences exist with labour, based on product mix and location.

Their cost of sales benchmark data is wrong, too, in my experience.

This matters because of actions by the ATO that can be triggered, attention that can be drawn, based on the comparison of data from a business against the benchmark.

I have sought engagement with the ATO on this, without success at this point.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management

Oh no, Facebook and Instagram are down

Mark Fletcher on March 14, 2019 6:37 AM

Facebook and Instagram are inaccessible for some people this morning and have been for hours. Facebook, the own er of both platforms, says they are working on. Meanwhile, millions have to contemplate being told what to think and what to do for themselves or through some other old-school platform.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future

Broadening the stationery appeal to find new shoppers

Mark Fletcher on March 14, 2019 6:07 AM

Inventory range is key to in-store shopper engagement and new traffic attraction in retail in my view.

In the stationery category, Typo has been demonstrating this with terrific success for years as has kid’s store Smiggle and as did in their earlier days girl-targeted Kikki.k.

I think expanding the range of stationery we carry is key to stationery sales growth in newsagencies. This is why I like the Harry Potter themed journals and related stationery items – people can buy them for beyond their intended function.

Serving multiple purposes is important to maximising the ‘stationery’ opportunity. I say ‘stationery’ because we need to not look it as stationery, not traditional stationery at least.

I was talking with a newsagent last week about these Harry Potter journals and they said they have enough journals. While they do have enough of journal journals, they have no licenced product journals, journals that can be bought by collectors and for brand fans, not because the products are journals.

It is important that a chunck of our stationery budget is spent on licenced products and not on purpose outcomes. The stationery world has changed ing many ways and this is one of them.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Stationery

Major announcement from ALNA following negotiations with Tabcorp

Mark Fletcher on March 12, 2019 7:31 PM

Here is the ALNA announcement in full:

A better deal for lottery retailers: New Tabcorp model
After years of negotiating, ALNA and LRA are pleased to have secured significant improvements for you.
Today the Lott has announced a positive new retail remuneration model that reduces costs, increases commissions, and opens the door for newsagents and lottery retailers to benefit from digital sales.

We know there was a need for change and ALNA and LRA have worked very hard for many years to conclude a lengthy negotiation on a raft of changes to address shop fit costs, remuneration challenges and the cultural divide created by being excluded from online. We have made numerous submissions and thirty recommendations, and we are pleased to see these being implemented in this comprehensive and positive new model that we have been able to negotiate with Tabcorp to benefit our members.

More details about the remuneration model are attached, with more information still to come. Here is a summary:

New model

  • Increased commissions: More than 10% increase in commissions* earned on lottery product sales for outlets who achieve nine criteria that are existing requirements (subject to appropriate regulatory approvals by state gaming authorities for price increases and commission adjustments).                                                                                            For example, for a business with an average of $22,000 a week in lottery sales, this represents $220 extra commission a week or over $11,000 per year. And a retailer with an average of $50,000 a week in lottery sales could earn an extra commission of $26,000* per year – and this does not include the commissions from digital sales and the refund of DigiPOS.         *Retailers that are fully compliant have the opportunity to receive more than 10% additional income from the sale of lottery products (compared with FY18)
  • Refund of DigiPOS: Along with other savings already achieved by ALNA and LRA on shop fits, this new model removes all DigiPOS fees, and on top of that you will receive a refund for already purchased DigiPOS screens. For example, a two-screen outlet who had installed DigiPOS already at a cost of $8000, will receive this back in full as a cash-in-hand refund. For stores that install DigiPOS in the future,  the Lott will now pay for the total cost of future DigiPOS screens and all reasonable maintenance costs, completely abolishing these costs for retailers. This change is worth $17million over five years to retailers.
  • Digital sales: Recognising that omni-channel customers are the most valuable, retailers will finally benefit from online sales through an opportunity to earn commission and bonuses from all digital lottery purchases by members you register and through registered omni-channel customers who buy online at least once per year.
  •  Free membership for customers: Free membership for all customers, win notifications and a digital wallet for prizes that can be used in retail stores for new lottery purchases with no merchant fees.
  •  Adjusted franchise fee: A 1% increase in franchise fees is overcompensated by the increase in commissions and a performance adjustment to this franchise fee, along with the other new benefits available from the remuneration model.

How do you access the new model?

  • Engage with site surveys and comply with your franchise agreement, including nine criteria that are existing requirements e.g. participating in free training. This is rewarded by eligibility for the new benefits.
  • Offer new free membership registration to customers from your lottery terminal to link their online lottery purchases with their in-store purchases so you can benefit. Data shows that customers prefer to use both channels (for example, in-store during opening hours and online outside business hours). These customers spend more overall than any other lottery customer. This results in bonuses and commissions paid to retailers from online sales.

We are here to help you:

  • Many of ALNA’s and LRA’s recommendations have been implemented to make this new model easier to use and achieve. And we will be actively providing you with support and advice to help you comply with and benefit from this new model.
  • ALNA and LRA will be providing you with site survey guides and a checklist to help you receive a Green Performance Rating, which gives you the highest commissions and benefits available in this model.
  • You will receive methods to provide feedback on the model and its ease of use to ALNA and LRA.
  • The new model is unable to be introduced in South Australia at this stage and we will be working hard with the South Australian Government, regulators and our retailers there to get agreement on an approach that will allow our retailers to benefit.

We appreciate the patience our members have shown during this lengthy, complex and at times very involved consultation process based on detailed analysis and collaboration. The result is a better deal for our members that addresses many of the challenges and that opens the door for an improved partnership.

We have prepared more information explaining the new retailer remuneration model for members HERE

ALNA’s CEO Ben Kearney spoke at the launch of the remuneration outcome today and you can read his speech HERE

You can also read ALNA’s media release on the outcome HERE

If you have any questions, please contact your State Manager, come to our roadshows in March and April or email

For the ALNA Roadshow schedule, click HERE


→ 60 CommentsCategory: Lotteries

Selling out of papers more often

Mark Fletcher on March 12, 2019 5:59 AM

We are selling out of papers earlier in the day than we used to. Getting additional stock is impossible. The only option is to guide shoppers to the nearby supermarket, which always has stock.

It is a fight to get an increase in planned supply and impossible to get additional stock on sell out.

All this feeds into our consideration as to the future role of papers in the store.

I’d be interested in comments from retail only newsagents.

Footnote: if you work for a publisher and plan to contact me to help. While I appreciate it, the reality is that your intervention should not be necessary in a good newspaper distribution model.


→ 7 CommentsCategory: Newspaper distribution · Newspapers

What has changed with Lottoland?

Mark Fletcher on March 11, 2019 1:39 PM

If you visit their website, k other than a terminology change, nothing obvious has changed. The most significant impact they are having is in educating lottery related gamblers about the convenience of online purchases and ticket management.


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AFL record supporting newsagents on social media

Mark Fletcher on March 11, 2019 7:45 AM


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Empire magazine supporting UK newsagents to their 500K+ Twitter community

Mark Fletcher on March 11, 2019 7:31 AM


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Shrink-wrapping a magazine hinders sales

Mark Fletcher on March 10, 2019 8:06 AM

Anyone who watches shopper engagement with magazines, especially in Australian newsagencies, knows that browsing is key to selling any title. This is why I am surprised that Spaces magazined is shrink-wrapped, hindering browsing. It will be interesting to see how sales play out for the title.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: magazines

Pitch the latest issue of Who magazine

Mark Fletcher on March 9, 2019 4:03 PM

The latest issue of Who magazine, featuring Luke Perry on  the cover, is worth pitching on social media as his fan base spans generations from original 90210 fans through to Riverdale fans.

This issue of Who is an excellent example of when we can use a title to attract shoppers.

Here is what I posted on Facebook with the cover shot:

There is a lot of love for Luke Perry in Australia is the sales of the lates issue of Who are anything to go by. People are loving this special tribute put together by the folks at Who magazine. Luke’s career spans generations from 90210 through to today’s Riverdale. Vale Luke Perry.


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Cumbersome prepay and save offer from News Corp to try and grow newspaper sales

Mark Fletcher on March 9, 2019 8:08 AM

News Corp in Queensland has pitched a prepay and save promotion to newsagents using the bloated Blueshyft platform.

I say it is cumbersome because of the approach being taken by News / Blueshyft and the operational implications, especially for those with their POS systems integrated with accounting software.

As usual, News did not tell key stakeholders, the software companies, about the promotion. This matters as it is the software companies that are carrying the load of calls from newsagents trying to work out how to operationally run the promotion.

Here are some details from the launch announcement from news:

On Monday we launch our new initiative – Prepay & Save. This  Newsagent-exclusive promotion is designed to support you and increase sales by rewarding your loyal buyers, driving higher purchase frequency by offering an always-on discount equivalent to  20% discount.

What is the offer?

Customers can top up a Prepay & Save Account with either $20 or $50, and get:

1st Paper Free

Every 5th Paper Free (any paper, day of the week)

No lock in contract

This offer is only available to Blueshyft agents. You will receive many benefits by participating in this offer, including:

– Offer Exclusivity – Prepay & Save is only redeemable at Blueshyft newsagencies so customers will need to return to a Blueshyft newsagent to receive the ongoing discount.

– New Sign Ups: earn $5 commission for every new customer sign up. Paid by Blueshyft monthly on the 21st of each month (for the sign ups achieved in the month prior).

– Newspaper Redemptions: standard commission will be paid for every paper redeemed through the Prepay & Save Program (including the free copies). Reimbursements will be paid by Blueshyft

fortnightly for the prior two weeks of newspaper sales taken through the Prepay & Save platform.

This offer costs the newsagent absolutely nothing! You will be fully reimbursed for all paper transactions through Blueshyft so there is absolutely no reason not to participate.

We also have a special launch incentive exclusive to Queensland which could see you earn $30 dollars for signing up 3 customers and a further $50 if you sign another 2 to make it 5 in total. Full details on the attached flyer.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Uncategorized

PacMags Bill Busters promotion

Mark Fletcher on March 8, 2019 5:55 AM

Newsagents who are part of the nexus program from Pacific Magazines will have been advised of the Bill Busters cash prize promotion that starts next week.

Based on past years experience, this promotion is an easy win for attracting shoppers and driving purchases.

My advice is to engage early and regularly with the opportunity with in-store and social media engagement with multiple touchpoint. We know from research that three points of promotion is the minimum required to get value from this promotion: front of store, magazine department and counter.

I appreciate plenty here will say why promote products from which you only make 25%. While I think that is a fair argument to make to any magazine publisher, it should not be a barrier to engagement with the certain win of this promotion.


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At Shoptalk in Las Vegas

Mark Fletcher on March 7, 2019 8:18 AM

Shoptalk brings together more than 15,000 retail professionals for four days to talk all things retail and to contemplate the future.

This year, Shoptalk has been extraordinary, insightful, challenging and encouraging.

On the last day, the team I was here with shot a brief video outlining key takeaways. However, this shot video does not do justice to the valuable content and learnings. These will be obvious over the rest of this year and into 2020.

Here is the video we shot:


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Uncategorized

Dealing with customer complaints in 2019

Mark Fletcher on March 6, 2019 9:17 AM

Today, shoppers have multiple ways they can complain about a product, a service or an experience with a retail business. Whereas in the past it could have been by phone or in person, today, they can call, email, Facebook message you, Twitter DM you, review you on Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp and more … they can complain in places away from you too in social media groups – the new form of word of mouth. This lis is not complete.

My point is that complaining is easier. While this facilitates fake complaints from people with a legitimate or illegitimate grudge (see some comments here) or .com a competitor.

Since complaining is easier, the responding is harder. How, when and where we respond is critical. 

In the response is not what a complainer wants but is truthful, they may avert it or say you are a bully or say you are lying or have some other attack. So, you need to be aware of this as you prepare your response.

To be on top of this challenge you need a consistent process, a structured process … to ensure you respond to every complaint. Your responses need to be truthful. They need to be human, in the voice that fits with your business and the customers you aspire to reach. I say this because your response is not only to the person complaining but all in your community.

Today, wha this means, is being on the platforms used by you customers and being responsive on these. This is a tough challenge for small business retail. There are outsource businesses that will do this for you. However, in our channel I don’t see it as an opportunity.

But no matter how good your processes, how accessible you are and how truthful your position, sometimes, you need to give a complainer what they want even if they are wrong because the cost of not doing that is greater than the cost of being right. I say this because today’s megaphone world of social media is easily leveraged by those few out there who know they can get stuff and benefits by being critical at volume. And this is the biggest challenge in this area of customer complaints today.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Uncategorized