Australian Newsagency Blog

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

More respected brands cross into retail, opening more opportunities for us

Mark Fletcher on February 18, 2018 6:09 AM

Stanley is the latest brand that I have seen cross into a retail offering. If the John Deere experience of a year or two back is anything to go by, Stanley will do very well because of the multi-layered appeal … as a straight out kids product and as a product that an adult who loves and uses the brand will buy for kids to bring them into their world.

It is terrific seeing adult brands leverage brand awareness for products we can sell as part of a toy / craft pitch.

Newsagencies are well placed to leverage opportunities in this area, as the John Deere launch showed. It was great at new traffic generation and shop floor impulse purchases, because of existing brand awareness and respect.

The gift segment of our businesses continues to evolve, which is good for businesses – especially as specialisation is more important than ever. Opportunities abound.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · Newsagency opportunities

Newsagency VM tip: inspire gift wrapping

Mark Fletcher on February 17, 2018 7:07 AM

The placement of a wall of seasonally-themed gift wrapping could be the inspiration shoppers need to buy from you as you show the potential of what can be achieved. Walls, like those below, appropriately located and lit, could attract shoppers deeper into the business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · marketing tip · visual merchandising

What do you think of the Powerball changes?

Mark Fletcher on February 16, 2018 4:39 AM

I have been asked by several people to start a topic on the Powerball changes, so they can comment. Here it is. For those unfamiliar, here is a summary of the changes, from an email to retailers from Lotterywest:

More overall winners
We’re improving the odds of winning any prize from 1 in 78 to 1 in 44.

Big Jackpots
Bigger jackpots that customers love.

More Winning Numbers
The new Powerball game will draw 7 Winning Numbers from a barrel of 35 balls (numbered 1–35). The Powerball will still be drawn from a barrel of 20 balls (numbered 1–20).

New Prize Divisions
We’ll be adding a new Division 9 to the game, helping to increase the number of overall winners in every draw.

Pricing update
To help deliver more winners and big prizes, the cost of entry will increase by 25 cents per game (plus retailer commission). 


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Lotteries

More suppliers moving away from offering trading terms

Mark Fletcher on February 15, 2018 6:16 AM

One way any business can among cash flow is to delay paying creditors. Suppliers often factor the average collection time into their business cost model. A challenge arises when the average collection time extends beyond the anticipated.

Two suppliers I spoke this week mentioned seeing significant increases in average collection time. Each saw it grow by close to 20% in the last year.

One supplier was now at close to sixty days for accounts with small business newsagents. Their response is expected to be an increase in the benefit for ‘early’ settlement, by 30 days.

The other supplier is looking at a price increase to reflect this growing cost of doing business.

Thee challenge is some of these suppliers, especially the smaller ones, are squeezed at both ends – on price and on settlement time.

I’d like to see suppliers give benefits to those who pay on time or early and penalties to those who pay late as it the late payers who impose greater costs on businesses. Those who pay early or on time should not suffer because of the late payers.

I get that small business retailers don’t always have the money to pay on time. However, making that the problem of a supplier is an unreasonable joist on the supplier, which they have to cover somewhere.

Tough as it is, if you think you may not be able to honour the payment terms of a supplier, don’t purchase or make other arrangements so that you can pay on time. To say to a supplier who has supplied that you can’t pay is unfair. You may think you have won when they agree to extended terms. The reality is there is a cost somewhere, to someone. It may not be obvious right away but there will be a cost.

I expect more suppliers will take a tougher stance on payment terms with more benefits flowing to those paying early or on time. This would empower these businesses, enable them to be more competitive in retail. This is competition at play. Smart suppliers will seek out these early / on-time payers as they will be more valuable to them.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency management

Deconstructed pens popular but not seen in newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on February 14, 2018 6:13 AM

Officeworks is pitching deconstructed pens in this build your own pen display.

I have seen a similar pitch in stationery outlets in the US and Europe this year too. It’s a new thing in stationery based on all this activity, a trend if you will.

I am not aware of any supplier to newsagents offering build your own pens to retailers in the channel. Maybe we do it ourselves – if it is a trend and we want to be part of it.

At the two Officeworks locations I visited I noticed it in prime position, facing traffic as it enters each business. This says something about their support for the pitch.

Stationery has changed. Whereas in the past it was all about function, today, fashion is key. That is why the4se build your own pens are current and cool.


→ No CommentsCategory: Stationery

Would a business tax cut encourage you to pay employees more?

Mark Fletcher on February 13, 2018 1:08 PM

The Treasurer was on TV last night saying that passing a tax cut for businesses, including small businesses, would see the businesses increase wages. Maybe I am missing something for I don’t see the two as connected in this way. Wages are a pre tax cost of business.

If the government succeeds in reducing tax paid by business do you expect wages to increase?


→ 11 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Small business matters to the Australian economy and local communities and families

Mark Fletcher on February 13, 2018 5:40 AM

I am proud of this infographic created by the team at my POS software company pitching accurate data on the value of small businesses in Australia.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Social responsibility

A busy day for the Gotch change

Mark Fletcher on February 12, 2018 6:04 PM

It has been a busy day dealing with the Gotch data structure changes. Speaking from my own Tower Systems experience, help desk call traffic was up 350% as newsagents called to check that they were not making a mistake or to ask other questions.

As is the case with any tech change, it brings to the fore unrelated questions that users think may be related.

The situation was not assisted with inaccurate information being shared by at least one XchangeIT person for part of the day nor by Gotch sending a file unexpectedly.

Today was day one. Tomorrow will be as busy. Later in the week, issues will change as some newsagents who have ignored the digital and print communication realise they have arrived late at the party.


→ No CommentsCategory: newsagent software

Typo card prices up?

Mark Fletcher on February 12, 2018 6:13 AM

Typo has Valentine’s Day cards at $4.99. Most cards in the seasonal range at this price point are basic in their finish / treatments. The $4.99 price point is expensive when compared to cards in newsagencies with treatments at or close to this price.

If I remember correctly, last year they had three cards at $10.00 for Valentine’s Day. There is no sign of that price offer this year at the Brisbane CBD store, the same one I visited this time last year.

It will be interesting to watch Typo, it always is. I have a feeling they are changing their approach to cards based on the Valentine’s offer and what I saw in-store.

Typo is a tough competitor for newsagents on a range of fronts: stationery, art products and cards. Any move they make is relevant to our channel and ought be interesting to us.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards

Do you have to pay employees to attend team meetings?

Mark Fletcher on February 11, 2018 7:27 AM

Yes, all employees, casual, part time and permanent, are to be paid to attend team meetings. Fair Work is clear on this.

A newsagency employee contacted me last week to ask whether they are supposed to be paid to attend team meetings at the business. They had been with the business for three years and had always not been paid or team meetings. A friend at university told them they should be paid. This is what got them asking me.

The situation is exacerbated by the need for them to travel 45 minutes to and from the shop. This makes it a three hour commitment to attend a meeting.

I suggested they contact Fair Work if their employer said no when they asked them, explaining what I understood but advising that it is best is FairWork advised them.

The challenge for the person who contacted me is they feared losing their job if they asked their employer to be paid. This led to a deeper discussion about the workplace and their situation. The discussion revealed other challenges: no regular payslip, being paid at the wrong level for the work allocated to them and the requirement they pay for uniforms.

I explained the law as I understood it and again suggested they contact Fair Work. If what I was told was true, there are too many problems I think to navigate this by talking to the employer.

After the call I did a quick calculation and figured the employer could be entitled to thousands of dollars.

Next time you host a team meeting, ensure people are paid or compensated in a way that is 100% acceptable to them, without any pressure from you.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Pitching Valentine’s Day in the high street

Mark Fletcher on February 10, 2018 6:34 AM

One of the benefits of having a newsagency with no agency lines is the flexibility to pitch what we want to passers-by how we want.

Here is out front window Valentine’s Day pitch in the high street store we have It is working a treat:

The concept is to kind of wrap the business in the love of the season. It is working in that people are coming in to check out what we have inside … plenty of new faces too.

Being the only shop in the strip shop location this committee to Valentine’s Day helps the business get noticed.

I think it is vital that we pitch seasons like this, out to people in the street as getting them to step through the front door is the most important action you can have them take. Once inside, the shop does (or, hopefully does) the rest.

Give the situation off th store sand the location of the counter we cannot display products in a boxed window. Hence the pitch las you see it in the photo.


→ No CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards · newsagency marketing

How to avoid hiring the retail employee who has failed elsewhere

Mark Fletcher on February 9, 2018 6:50 AM

It is only natural that people do not include anything in job applications that may hinder them getting hired when applying for a new position.

As employers we have to be vigilant in our review and research of each candidate on the shortlist for final consideration.

Here are some suggestions of steps you could take to reduce opportunities for hiring mistakes:

  1. Reject any applicant with unexplained gaps in their resume.
  2. If you have a good pool of applicants, reject friends of people who already work in the business.
  3. Ask them to bring photos from their previous retail roles showing things they have done.
  4. Contact employers for the last three years. Verify start and end dates. Again, be wary of gaps.
  5. Reject any applicant who only has traditional (old-school) newsagency experience.
  6. Ask specific questions:
    1. Do you have a police record?
    2. Have you ever been sacked? If so, why?
    3. Have you ever been put under performance management – i.e. issued a formal warning?
    4. Has a customer ever made a complaint about you? If so, what was it?
    5. Tell me two things you think could be changed in this business to improve it?
  7. If you have any doubt, don’t proceed.

Always hire with a period of probation. Use this to terminate anyone you are not complexity satisfied with.


→ No CommentsCategory: Hiring employees · Newsagency management

Get your Tattslotto tickets online!

Mark Fletcher on February 9, 2018 6:03 AM


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition · Lotteries

Are you ready for the Gotch data change next week?

Mark Fletcher on February 8, 2018 9:55 AM

It is essential that even newsagent who uses software for processing magazines into and out of their businesses takes the steps necessary as advised by their software provider.

If you don’t know want you have to do, contact your software company.

There is no short cut. This work is something you cannot avoid.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagent software

Chasing interstate newspapers

Mark Fletcher on February 8, 2018 5:17 AM

I have been copied on a series of sixteen emails from Kenny Lu, a passionate newspaper reader, to publishers seeking easier access to Melbourne newspapers when interstate. I have also had several calls from Kenny on the matter. Below I share, with his permission and at his request, one email from Kenny that best lays out his request and proposition:

Dear Kammeron, Michael, Damian, Robert, Bryce, Venetia and Mark,

Firstly Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast also North Queensland that look I don’t want the Herald Sun to withdraw from the Queensland Market because I am a regular reader as a Home Delivery Customer in Melbourne that if I go to Brisbane, Gold Coast and Noosa I still get the Herald Sun but the problem is some Newsagency on the Gold Coast and Noosa shuts early than 1.00pm I have to say and the Sunday herlad Sun don’t arrive in the Gold Coast or the SUnshine Coast on time therefore that they should come in at 10.00am in Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane I have to say then and it annoys me well I will be annoyed if the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun is no longer selling in the Queensland Market and I wanted the Herrald Sun to be sold in Queensland Markets as well as Cairns, Port Douglas and Townsville to be sold there.

I read that on the Australian Newsagency Blog there are:

Well we wanted strong sales of the Herald Sun to be sold at all Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast newsagents and therefore for Victorians are holidaying or living in Queensland can get the Herald Sun and the Sunday Herald Sun easily then but we wanted it to come in the Morning like 10.00am in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast Newsagencys.

For an example Tuesday’s Herald Sun comes on a Tuesday and no firm sales for the Newsagencys across Queensland and Yes we wanted the Sunday Herald SUn to come on a Sunday I have to say then.

Yes we wanted all Herald SUn and Sunday Herald Sun to be sold in Queensland Markets to arrive at 9.30am in the morning so Victorians can buy the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun and I wanted the paper to arrive on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast to come at 10.00am for Queensland Markets and Brisbane as well.

Also for Brisbane that we wanted the Sunday Herald Sun to be sold at all Brisbane Newsagents for Victorians living in Brisbane or are on holidays and also at Airports.

Also we wanted all Brisbane Newsagencies to sell the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun to be sold at Brisbane Newsagents on the same day so as Brisbane CBD all of them including the Sunday Herald Sun sold on a Sunday.

I do get the Herald Sun in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Noosa so far I get it at Rankins on the Mall, Benowa Gardens Newsagency, Pacific Fair Newsagency and Australia Fair only on a Sunday, Brisbane Airport Newslink at Qantas Terminal and the Terminal, Noosa Junction Newsagency and Noosa Heads Newsagency that is where I get the Herald Sun with THe Courier Mail and The Sunday Mail I get it there.

Yes we want to make it clear for Victorian visitors are in Queensland or lived in Queensland that we wanted the Herald Sun to be sold in all Queensland Newsagencies as well as Cairns, Port Douglas and Townsville because I want Queensland sells the Herald Sun and Sunday herald Sun and be arrived at 9.00am in the Morning for Victorians who wanted to read that paper.

I don’t want a demise of sales of the Herald Sun in Queensland so we wanted for Queensland to sell the Herald Sun and have more people from Victoria can get it.

I don’t want this crisis to happen or Victorians in Queensland won’t come and it will be hard for them so we wanted Victorians in Queensland to get the Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun.

Have they being any high and increased sales of the Herald Sun in Queensland? I get it there including Airports in Brisbane.

I being requesting what we want and Yes we would like a request for all Melbourne Newsagencies that they should sell The Daily Telegraph/Sunday Telegraph, The Courier Mail/The Sunday Mail/Gold Coast Bulletin and The Advertiser/Sunday Mail to be sold in Melbourne at all Melbourne Newsagencies for tourist and visitors can get their Newspapers also at Airports to be sold there.

I wanted this considered that we don’t want any demise of selling the Herald Sun sold in Queensland we wanted it on the same day so Victorians can get the Herald Sun like I get it in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast can you please bring this e-mail up at the meeting because we don’t want this crisis that we don’t sell the Herald Sun anymore at Newsagents in Queensland we wanted more sales of the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun to be sold at all Queensland Newsagents and more importantly they should arrive at 9.30am in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and at Airports.

I wanted all Queensland Newsagencies to continue to sell the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun at Newsagencies and come earlier like 10.00am so Victorians can get the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun there.

I supported the move and the continuation to sell the Herald Sun in Queensland Markets for Victorians getting the paper are tourists or living there.

I would like a response regarding this for News Queensland and HWT and this is serious and if I go to the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Noosa I get the Herald Sun/Sunday Herald Sun there as well as The Courier Mail/The SUnday Mail.

I love reading papers so much I enjoyed it.

I will hear from you soon.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Newspapers

This 50% off Lottoland offer feels desperate

Mark Fletcher on February 7, 2018 2:14 PM


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Lotteries

Understanding the model train enthusiast and opportunities for growth

Mark Fletcher on February 7, 2018 6:10 AM

Model train magazines continue to sell well. In some newsagencies they are among the titles achieving good year on year growth.

Model train enthusiasts are passionate about their hobby. Money is often not an b=object for feeding their passion.

Newsagencies with strong model train magazine sales have an excellent opportunity to leverage this with allied product purchases, often with good GP north of 50%.

I was fortunate last week to be at Spielwarenmesse, the international toy fair in Nuremberg/Germany, the world’s biggest toy fair. This fair is massive. The Melbourne and Sydney gift fairs , for example, would each be less than 10% of the size.

One hall of Spielwarenmesse is dedicated to model trains. I was fascinated by the range and the potential for businesses. I was looking at in relation to my work with newsX0press, researching growth category opportunities.

The most interesting part of the model train hall was watching the people there, mainly guys. They wandered around like kids in a lolly shop, in awe of what they were seeing … and, it was easy to get drawn into their passion.

Passion is important in retail. The more we can serve the passion of a cohort of shoppers the more rememberable our businesses will be. When it comes to model trains, some in our channel have the traffic already. The next step is to use this as a base for growth.

The trains hall was one small part of what what I was at Spielwarenmesse to check out.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

75% of website use guides in-store purchases

Mark Fletcher on February 6, 2018 6:18 AM

Through my work with newsXpress I see data for multiple customer-facing websites representing several international brands. One data point that is fascinating to me is the in-store shopping by people that is guided, encouraged, through using the websites.

While online sales are excellent and growing, one site did more than half a million dollars in revenue last year, in-store sales are growing as a result of sites.

With the websites detailing products available and the stores from which the products can be purchased right away with certainty. they drive shoppers to stores.

On Saturday, one store had a shopper drive almost two hours to spend over $300 on items they knew the store had thanks to one of the websites. The website found the customer and guided them to the store. This is a customer who would otherwise have not shopped in the store.

This is one of many examples off where websites drive in-store purchases.

Through data analytics I can see where online browsers come from, where they go on the site and where they leave to.  This is what gets me saying that 75% of site business flows in-stroe rather than online.

With the sites being mobile friendly and easily accessible, shoppers can check the sites out when they are out shopping,. This is a key factor.

Another shop over the weekend won a $250.00 sale late at night for collection today. 

This is another example of how websites, when fully functioning and engaged with at the local business level, can drive traffic and revenue for local shops.

Any retailer can do this with the right site and an appropriate live data feed. It’s necessary in retail today.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Does your newsagency need a phone line customers can call?

Mark Fletcher on February 5, 2018 2:00 PM

I think every business needs a phone number customers can call, a phone number answered in the business, by a human.

Do you think your newsagency needs a phone line customers can call?

I ask this as a I am aware of a newsagency that has had the phone cut off, with the owner thinking it is not such of a big deal as no one calls the business anyway.

I was shocked. I can’t imagine any retail business not having a phone number any customer can call.

What do you think?


→ 8 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

The New York Times offers augmented reality experience

Mark Fletcher on February 5, 2018 5:39 AM

The New York Times has launched an augmented reality offer. They explain the benefits:

Integrating augmented reality into our work expands New York Times journalism in a few important ways.

First, by using your smartphone as a “window,” we are extending stories beyond the inches of a screen, by digitally adding objects into your space at real scale. And those objects — a border wall or a work of art — can have provocative explanatory value, because you can get close to them.

This technology also allows us to explore the evolving nature of how we share ideas and tell stories. Next week, The Times will debut AR in an article about the Winter Olympics. Just like with the honor box, your phone will allow you to see the athletes three-dimensionally, from different angles. This is all part of our effort to lean toward the future of storytelling. We invite our readers to come along.

This is a smart move as it leverages handheld technology to enhance the news engagement experience. Innovation like this is vital for publishers for the future.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

Moving newspapers to the wall of the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on February 5, 2018 5:34 AM

I like this wall hanging newspaper unit that I saw in retail last week.

While it would struggle with the Saturday weight and quantity of The Age or SMH, it could certainly work on weekdays and in lower volume sales stores.

I like the stand as it reduces the floorspace needed for newspapers and floorspace is a considerable cost of low-margin newspapers. Reducing floorspace overhead is valuable action we can take.

Years ago, many of us had the boat anchor newspaper stand front and centre, in prime position at the entrance to the business. Many of those have gone because the floorspace costs can no longer be justified, in this time of year on year sales declines.

Placing newspapers on the wall, maybe the back wall, good be a way of financially justifying stocking newspapers for a while yet.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newspapers

VM TIP: displaying mugs

Mark Fletcher on February 4, 2018 6:51 AM

If you sell mugs, consider placing them like in this photo, with one mug sitting on an angle in another mug. This is a common approach in bigger businesses where they have research the best approach to pitching mugs to browsers.

Oh, and if you do not currently stock mugs, consider it as they are in the top ten gift items purchased.

If your business is a destination for birthday cards, it should be a destination for gifts.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · visual merchandising

Using rope to pitch pens

Mark Fletcher on February 3, 2018 12:05 PM

The window display at the Faber Castell flagship store in Frankfurt pitches premium pens using rope:


→ No CommentsCategory: Stationery

Displaying papers and magazines in Germany

Mark Fletcher on February 3, 2018 5:15 AM

While in Germany earlier this week for the stationery fair in Frankfurt and the Toy Fair in Nuremberg, I got to se some retail.

Here is the newspaper / magazine display in a local supermarket outside Frankfurt. I like the integration of papers with magazines.

Here is a high street news / tobacco / lottery / convenience business with their key news and magazine offering out the front of the shop.


→ No CommentsCategory: retail

Ten reasons why Australians should buy cards at their local newsagency and not the supermarket

Mark Fletcher on February 2, 2018 5:22 AM

Next time you want to buy a card , shop your local newsagency first.

Whether looking for a card for birthday, sympathy, thank you, new home, bon voyage or just because, your local newsagency will be better for you than anywhere else.

Here are my ten reasons why shopping for cards at your local newsagency is better than shopping at the supermarket, or elsewhere for that matter.

  1. Range. Newsagents have a better range of cards than supermarkets. More cards. Better quality. More options for you to consider. Brands you can trust. For occasions often not covered by supermarkets.
  2. Quality. Newsagents have better quality cards. Some supermarkets have cheap cards, which they charge too much for. Like anything in a supermarket, stock gets picked over. I think cards in a newsagency are cleaner, neater.
  3. Help. When you want advice on selection, newsagencies have staff who can and will help, willingly. This is fantastic for people who are not sure of what to buy.
  4. Comfort. No trolleys pushing you or people trying to get past doing their weekly shop. The local newsagency is more relaxed. Take your time. Choose the card that says what you want to say.
  5. Price. Newsagencies have cards covering a broader price range. You can shop the range depending on the occasion. You have more choice.
  6. Service. If you cannot find an envelope, need a pen to write on the card or some other help, the service is there in a newsagency. It is less likely to be there in a supermarket.
  7. Loyalty. Your local newsagency is more likely to offer rewards for your loyalty. Sure, supermarkets may give you points, but what are they worth? Who knows!
  8. Community support. Your local family run newsagency is more likely to invest more support back into the local community than a supermarket.
  9. Guy friendly. The local newsagency is a more guy friendly shopping destination than a supermarket.
  10. It’s good business. Your local newsagency will be a small business, a family business. The money you spend there will have a more direct economic impact than if you spend it with a national supermarket change. Spend to make that difference I say.

Local Aussie newsagencies have excellent ranges of cards, backed by wonderful, knowledgable, personal service.

Next time you want / need to buy a card for someone you care for, go to a newsagency first. Oh, and let them know that you deliberately did this instead of shopping at a supermarket.

Thank you.


→ 16 CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards