Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Let’s talk about newspaper closures

Mark Fletcher on June 3, 2020 6:19 AM

I grabbed a moment yesterday, June 2, 2020, to shoot this 10 minute video to talk about the newspaper closures announced last week by News Corp and to consider them and other closures in the context of 2005. Take a look…

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→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption · newsagency of the future · Newspaper distribution · Newspapers

How the Space X / NASA mission boosted online sales for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on June 2, 2020 6:17 AM

Here is a video from inside the Space X rocket when the NASA astronauts explain their choice of travel companion, Tremor, a Ty Flippable.

We have Tremor in store and online and from early Sunday morning sales have been excellent. Hundreds and hundreds of Tremor sold in 48 hours. Companies ordering, 10, 15 and more in a purchase at $24.99 each. Plus, people buying other things in the transaction too, as well as people going online, not buying Tremor, and buying other items instead.

Plenty have gone online and bought Tremor for click and collect – so as to not miss out.

One store alone did more than $1,500.00 in revenue.

What has happened over the last 48 hours with Tremor is an example of the value of being online with more than 85% of purchases being from shoppers not local to the stores fulfilling – it also demonstrates the value of multiple small business retailers working together, pooling inventory for a scale few retailers can match.

Now, watch the video of how this all started Sunday morning.

Here’s one of several promotional videos released:

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→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Opportunistic retail · Optimism

Australian news outlets run spin on the story of news and tax

Mark Fletcher on June 1, 2020 8:59 PM

The AFR had a crack at Facebook today about their tax paid in Australia.

Facebook Australia was paid nearly $674 million by local advertisers using its platform in 2019, but it trimmed its income tax bill to a little under $17 million through a reselling arrangement that minimised its profits to $22.7 million.

Tax is 2.5% of Facebook revenue whereas tax is 1.76% of revenue for News Corp according to ATO data reported by Michael West: News Australia Holdings revenue over 5 years = $13.9B, taxable income = $246M, tax = zero. Source ATO corporate tax data, as reported by @MichaelWestBiz.

Yes, I get the AFR story is because of the Facebook data being just released. For me, the broader context is interesting.

Our tax system is broken. Tax systems around the world are broken. These massive companies that have the ear of politicians fail to be social responsible tax citizens.

By all means the Nine papers can report about tax paid. However, good journalism would see them report more completely and accurately.

While I am no economist, I wonder about a mechanism of capturing a small percentage of money leaving any Australian bank account. That way, businesses paying Facebook, Google, Twitter and others  for ads make the tax contribution they fail to make. Likewise, people paying News Corp. for a subscription make a small tax contribution covering what their structure facilitates them minimises.

Our economy needs tax dollars to fund healthcare, education and infrastructure. tax is another area where small business does heavy lifting.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Ethics · Social responsibility

Two regional newspapers close for good in Victoria

Mark Fletcher on June 1, 2020 7:03 AM

The Great Southern Star and Yarram Standard suspended print production in March as the coronavirus pandemic was ramping up. The publisher has now confirmed that the closure is permanent. The Age has the story.

Closure of independent local papers highlights the struggle for all media – locally-owned and multinational – as the pandemic eats away at the remaining advertising not yet lost to digital giants like Google and Facebook.

The Star, established in Leongatha in 1890, had a weekly print run of about 4300; the Standard at Yarram near the Ninety Mile Beach, about 1600.

Mr Giles said his family had been torn over the decision to close and the impact on communities.

“I understand towns are probably fearful of losing their identity,” he said. “The main people I’m concerned for are the 60-plus seniors who love their paper.”

Mr Giles said among the body blows to local papers was the leakage of revenue to social media. “I’ve been trying to tell local businesses that [Facebook CEO] Mark Zuckerberg is taking all our profits over to America.”

While I get that publishers see value in targeting Google, Facebook and other social media platforms for loss of revenue, the reality is that what has happened is the world has changed. How people engage with news has changed. We have all seen it coming for many years.

I am surprised there have not been more newspaper closures sooner.

I agree there is an issue with the tax paid by these giant offshore social media companies, and, indeed, many large businesses. They scam us raking in billions from Australians paying little in tax, making almost no economic contribution to government funded infrastructure.

There is also an issue of shop local. Advertisers have fled print to these social media platforms. I know I did ten years ago because of the more efficient ad model. Everyone on Facebook and Twitter, everyone searching Gooogle for news and clicking on a paid ad has put a brick in this wall.

News itself has fuelled the change. Whereas in the past, stories would break in print. Now, they break within seconds of happening and become fanned quickly beyond local thanks to the digital platforms.

The medium is dead. Okay, for some, the print newspaper is something they like. However, there are not enough of them to fund the infrastructure to keep print alive. All that is up for debate right now timing of to closure of print newspapers. Okay, maybe not all because analysis and investigative journalism newspapers like The Saturday Paper could exist for ages.

Yes, it is sad local papers are closing. We knew this would happen. Their closure does not need to mean an end to local news, it does not need to mean the end of a local newsagency that is part of a channel created to distribute news.

It is now up to locals who want a local voice for local news and opinion make that happen. A newspaper publisher closing does not mean the need is gone. Those calling for the need for a local newspaper should look at what they are doing and the choices they have made and can make now to support a local voice platform for 2020 and beyond.

Newsagents can play a role in this.

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→ 5 CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers · Social responsibility

What will happen with China, will it impact the supply chain?

Mark Fletcher on May 31, 2020 8:03 AM

Australian shoppers are keen for Australian made – more so now than at any time I can recall.

Suppliers of Australian made products to newsagents, and all retailers, need to ensure that their products pitch this and that they support this with in-store collateral like shelf talkers.

Since COVID hit and more so in recent weeks as tensions with China have escalated in Australia and even in the last week as democracy in Hong Kong has come under attack from Beijing, Australian shoppers and retailers are more wary of China sourced product.

Will this be a long term concern? It’s hard to say. It is, however, enough of a concern in my view that I expect some suppliers are actively working on adjustments to their supply chain so as to not be impacted by anti China sentiments.

I have been discussing the situation with several newsagents and some suppliers and feel that it is Beijing’s moves against Hong Kong that represent the most significant risk to the commercial viability of China sourced products.

Does this mean newsagents don’t want to source products from China? No. However, it does mean that it is of concern and that means it should be on the minds of suppliers.

In my view, what is happening in Hong Kong showcases suppression of long-standing, well established democracy. If Beijing continues on its current path, I expect to see the world respond. This is why I hope suppliers of products sourced from China have alternatives in development so that supply is not impacted.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Social responsibility

Pitching the newsXpress newsagency marketing group

Mark Fletcher on May 30, 2020 7:22 AM

Here’s a video I made 3 days ago, pitching newsXpress. It’s relevant in considering new traffic for your newsagency and the opportunities flowing from the unusual 2020 so far.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency management

Interesting responses to the News Corp. newspaper closures

Mark Fletcher on May 29, 2020 8:21 AM

I did several interviews yesterday about the News Corp. announcement of newspaper closures and migration to digital. A surprising theme of each was the surprise of the interviewer when I said that the movers were not unexpected.

As regulars here would know, over the counter newspaper sales have been declining year on year for around ten years. The trajectory was clear and utterly predictable. It was only a matter of time.

This is why plenty of newsagents I have spoken with in the last two days have said the move will have minimal impact.

The News Corp. decision is not a surprise.

As Steve Austin on Brisbane’s ABC’s local radio mentioned to me during the interview yesterday, the declining relevance of print newspapers to retail newsagents does factor into the name of the business. While I agree, it’s not something that must be addressed today.

No, today, the focus of every newsagent should be on traffic source, on bringing in shoppers for more sought after product categories, new categories. New traffic is vital and the News Corp. announcement reinforces that. I have been saying this here and elsewhere for years. Maybe now newsagents who have not acted will act. It’s not too late.

For example, in February, 2007 I wrote:

For their part, newsagents need to learn from the IDG approach and adjust their mission to reflect the changing marketplace. This means reducing magazine display space, cutting dead titles and moving into new product categories which drive traffic and sales.

Here’s what I said in October 2019 on new traffic:

Definition: New traffic for a retail business is shoppers who are new to the businessNew traffic is traffic other than what you would receive simply by opening your doors.

Pursuing new traffic is the single most important business management activity for small business retailers today.

Why? because of the growth in online shopping, greater competition on the high street, consumer confidence challenges and growing business operational overheads. Oh, and because a more valuable business is easier to sell, when you decide to sell.

Please take a moment to think about that.

Pursuing new traffic is the single most important business management activity for you and your business.

Without wanting to sound weird or new-agey, I suggest this as a meditation point … new traffic, what it is, what it means and how you can attract it

When you approach any management or strategic activity in your business, think about what this task or activity will do to attract new shoppers.

It is not enough to do something in your shop for that is only seen by people in your shop.  What are you doing to promote this outside your shop?  … because that is where new traffic is to be found.

This is not something for your suppliers to do. It is up to you. Only you and your actions can attract new traffic.

I’d say that less than a third of  retail newsagents today are actively engaged in attracting genuine new traffic. While most will not adversely suffer in the short to medium term because of lack of engagement, they will at some point for sure. New shoppers are key to revenue, profit and upside for the business.

Pursuing new traffic is about far more than putting new products in your store. Indeed, stock is only one of several steps that are all connected in pursuing new traffic. However, stock is the start. Stocking new lines never offered in the business are the best first step to take too bring in people who do not shop with you today.

A New Traffic Strategy relies on you in actively reaching outside your four walls and deep into your catchment area, the area from which you can attract shoppers, to bring people to your business who other might not visit … to generate for you new traffic.

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→ 6 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

News Corp. announces newspaper closures and redundancies

Mark Fletcher on May 28, 2020 9:30 AM

Here is the full announcement from News Corp this morning about newspaper closures and redundancies:

The Executive Chairman of News Corp Australasia, Mr Michael Miller, today announced significant changes to News Corp Australia’s publishing portfolio.

Mr Miller said that over recent months News Corp had undertaken a comprehensive review of its regional and community newspapers. This review considered the ongoing consumer shift to reading and subscribing to news online, and the acceleration of businesses using digital advertising.

“COVID-19 has impacted the sustainability of community and regional publishing. Despite the audiences of News Corp’s digital mastheads growing more than 60 per cent as Australians turned to trusted media sources during the peak of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, print advertising spending which contributes the majority of our revenues, has accelerated its decline,” Mr Miller said.

“Consequently, to meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company. This will involve employing more digital only journalists and making investments in digital advertising and marketing solutions for our partners.”

Mr Miller said News Corp’s portfolio review highlighted that many of our print mastheads were challenged, and the double impact of COVID-19 and the tech platforms not remunerating the local publisher whose content they profit from, had, unfortunately, made them unsustainable publications.

He said the portfolio changes being implemented would mean that from Monday June 29 the bulk of News Corp’s regional and community titles would move to purely digital publishing.

“More than 375 journalists will be specifically covering regional and community news and information. They will continue to serve, and live in, their local communities with the majority in regional Queensland where we have most of our titles,” Mr Miller said.

“More than 640,000 Australians, our latest figures show, are currently subscribing to News Corp’s digital news content and subscriptions are growing at an annual rate of 24 per cent.

“Much of this growth is from local news, where subscribers have more than doubled in the past year. In regional Queensland more than 80,000 people have digital subscriptions and this number has grown by more than 40 per cent this year.

“I’m confident that these numbers will accelerate through dedicated and constant digital publishing and continuing to serve the local communities whose trust and community commitment the mastheads have developed over decades.

“Over the past 19 months News has launched 16 new digital only local mastheads. In total we will now publish 92 digital only regional and community mastheads, each offering readers rolling coverage, electronic alerts and newsletters, richer audio and video content and deeper local sport coverage and community debate.

“At the same time, News Corp’s major mastheads in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide – The Courier-Mail, The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun and The Advertiser – will now become more state focused with increased regional content and will partner with our regional and community local titles in their states to ensure we deliver compelling journalism to Australian consumers regardless of where they live. Subscribers wherever they live will now have access to the best of News Corp’s local, regional, state, national and international news, sport, features and columnists.”

Describing the changes being announced today, Mr Miller said: “These initiatives are significant. They will involve fundamental changes to how we operate our business but they are necessary. Together with senior executive and editorial appointments announced recently, they will enable us to be more effective in driving further success in the growth areas News Corp is excelling in such as digital advertising products, solutions and subscriptions and will embed a more collaborative way of working to maximise our sport and news coverage, hyper local digital subscriptions and the success of our all-important weekend editions.”

Today’s announcements to News Corp’s publishing portfolio will mean some job roles will change and regretfully, will lead to job losses. Mr Miller said that for those employees impacted by the changes, he wanted to thank them personally for their professionalism, dedication and contribution.

“They have provided News with invaluable years of service. Their passionate commitment to the communities in which they live and work and their role in ensuring these have been informed and served by trusted local media has been substantial,” he said.

Commercially, these portfolio changes will make News less complex for its partners to leverage and will build on the innovations it already has in place. This includes:

● News Xtend which is now Australia’s top digital marketing agency for small and medium enterprises;

● News Connect data platform which ensures businesses reach the right consumer segments wanting to pay for their products and services through its specialist ability to access two billion consumption signals from 12 million Australians;

● Australia’s number one digital publisher for news, real estate, business, sport and fantasy sport, food, fashion, health and beauty, parenting and women’s lifestyle;

● Digital powerhouse news.com.au which has increased its audience more than 30 per cent in the past two months to more than 12.2 million monthly users;

● A leader in audio and video with News’ data now showing award-winning podcast downloads of more than five million monthly and digital video views topping 100 million monthly, up 45 per cent in a year;

● Monday’s launch of BINGE entertainment streaming service which joins Foxtel and the Kayo sport streaming service as the nation’s premium subscription broadcasters;

● REA Group which is Australia’s clear leader for real estate digital services and investing in Asia and the United States, through its 20 per cent stake in Move, Inc.

In conclusion, Mr Miller said: “News Corp remains committed to Australia’s regions and communities and the initiatives we are implementing today represent a detailed, considered strategy to ensure we will better serve our journalism to Australians who live outside its major cities.

“News Corp and its employees also will retain at their creative core their passion for championing, and advocating for an ever improving Australia. As our country emerges in coming weeks from the lockdown enforced on us by the threat of COVID-19 into a ‘new normal’, we will ensure these values that separate News Corp from other media companies are even stronger than ever.”

Consequently, News Corp Australia is announcing today that:

Our major regional titles – The Hobart Mercury, NT News, Cairns Post, Townsville Bulletin, Gold Coast Bulletin, Toowoomba Chronicle and Geelong Advertiser – will continue to publish both in print and digitally.

The following regional titles will become digital only: Queensland – Mackay Daily Mercury, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Gladstone Observer, Bundaberg News Mail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News, Central and North Burnett Times, Central Queensland News, Chinchilla News, Dalby Herald. Gatton Star, Noosa News, South Burnett Times, Stanthorpe Border Post, Western Star, Western Times, Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Bowen Independent, news from the towns covered by the Atherton Tablelander, Northern Miner, Post Douglas & Mossman Gazette and Burdekin Advocate will continue to appear, as it does currently, under the regional sections of the Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin; NSW – Tweed Daily News, Ballina Advocate, Byron Shire News, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner and Lismore Northern Star; Northern Territory – The Centralian Advocate.

The bulk of titles in our community groups – NewsLocal in NSW/ACT, Leader in Melbourne, Quest in Brisbane and Messenger in Adelaide – will become digital only. Community print editions were suspended early in April because of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.

The community titles to be digital-only news services are:

Melbourne Leader titles – Stonnington, Mornington Peninsula, Knox, Whitehorse, Monash, Northern, Whittlesea, Maroondah, Moorabbin, Mordialloc Chelsea, Moreland, Lilydale and Yarra Valley, Frankston, Bayside, Caulfield Port Phillip, Cranbourne, Greater Dandenong, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Wyndham;

NewsLocal in NSW and ACT – Fairfield Advance, Penrith Press, Macarthur Chronicle, Blacktown Advocate, Canterbury Bankstown Express, Central Coast Express, Hills Shire Times, Hornsby Advocate, Liverpool Leader, Manly Daily, Northern District Times, Parramatta Advertiser, Inner West Courier, Southern Courier, Illawarra Star, Wagga Wagga News, St George Shire Standard, Canberra Star, Newcastle News, Blue Mountains News, Central Sydney, South Coast News;

Quest in Queensland – Albert and Logan News, Caboolture Herald, Westside News, Pine Rivers Press, Redcliffe and Bayside Herald, South-West News, Wynnum Herald, North Lakes Times, Redlands Community News, Springfield News;

Messenger in SA – Messenger South Plus; Messenger East Plus, Messenger North, Messenger West, Messenger City, Adelaide Hills and Upper Spencer Gulf.

Three Sydney community titles, Wentworth Courier, Mosman Daily and North Shore Times, which are distributed in the city’s most affluent suburbs, will resume print editions.

Some small print newspapers will cease publication, but the local journalism coverage of their area will continue, feeding into the digital masthead for their regional community. The regional titles to cease publication are: Queensland – Buderim Chronicle, Caloundra Weekly, Capricorn Coast Mirror, Coolum News, Nambour Weekly, Ipswich Advertiser, Kawana/Maroochy Weekly, Gold Coast Sun, Hervey Bay Independent, Maryborough Herald, Balonne Beacon, Surat Basin News, Herbert River Express, Innisfail Advocate, Central Telegraph; NSW – Coastal Views, Northern Rivers Echo, Richmond River Express Examiner; Tasmania – Tasmanian Country; Specialist – Big Rigs, Rural Weekly, Seniors

Additionally, we will streamline our community titles and will publish local stories under their regional or city-based masthead. The community titles which will cease publication are: Leader titles in Victoria – Manningham, Preston, Diamond Valley, Heidelberg, Sunbury Macedon, Progress and Northcote; NewsLocal in NSW – Rouse Hill Times; Quest in Queensland – Northside Chronicle/Bayside Star, North-West News, South-East Advertiser, Southern Star, Bribie Weekly; and South Australia – Messenger Coast Plus.

This is massive news that will lead to seismic change not only in news coverage but in news distribution in Australia.

I feel for those directly impacted, the journalists, production people, distribution people and more. I feel, too, poor retailers who will be shaken by the permanent loss of a local paper that helped define their business.

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→ 12 CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

Reports News Corp. moving to digital only for some newspaper titles, cutting 100s of employees

Mark Fletcher on May 27, 2020 9:56 PM

Amanda Meade at Guardian Australia is reporting that News Corp is set to put hundreds of people out of work as it cuts jobs as part of structural change moving to digital only publishing of some local and regional newspapers.

News Corp Australia is poised to cut hundreds of jobs as it moves towards digital-only publishing for many of its local and regional papers and more copy sharing among its metropolitan mastheads the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun.

The executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, Michael Miller, has hinted the company is on the brink of upheaval, saying last week it was evolving from “a network of news­papers” to “Australia’s leading journalism network”.

The job cuts Miller has warned are “inevitable” after the collapse of the advertising market during the pandemic are expected to hit the publisher’s local and regional newspaper staff as well as the major mastheads as soon as this week.

Sources say the cuts could be as high as 30% of staff across the company and many will be force redundancies, rather than voluntary.

This move, if accurately reported, will send shockwaves through the Australian publishing industry. Hundreds of people losing their livelihoods is dreadful for them, their families and the broader community. It will also impact retailers of the newspapers closed. However, smart retailers will have seen this coming.

While a tough move, it is inevitable with print circulation down and online not delivering ad revenue to match what publishing companies had become used to achieving through their print platforms.

Smart newsagents already have businesses that do not rely on the regular newspaper shopper for survival. Plenty of us are attracting shoppers for other products, non traditional agency products.

These changes, if they happen along the lines of the Guardian report, will not be the end of it.

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New online workshop: What could you do online that you can’t do in your shop.

Mark Fletcher on May 27, 2020 6:44 AM

While this session will explore any topic of interest, I’ll will start with a discussion about left-field online ideas that could expand your reach.

Too often retailers think about online within the context ofnwhat they do every day.

Since these evening sessions attract people who cannot make it during the day, I’m happy for the session to stray off topic including what coming out of lockdown looks like.

Time: May 28, 2020 07:00 PM Melbourne time.
https://zoom.us/j/91620418663?pwd=WHZGUFlDWkd1MWVrVkF2ZUxYTk5tdz09
Meeting ID: 916 2041 8663 Password: 923459

Anyone is welcome to participate. No need to register. No cost.

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Is News Corp. using Airtasker to check up on Chemist Warehouse?

Mark Fletcher on May 26, 2020 7:01 AM

Check out this ad from Airstaker:

Here is a listing of similar ads:

I heard of the same listing on Airtasker being run interstate too.

Someone is keen to know how newspapers are being displayed in unnamed pharmacies. Chemist Warehouse is the only pharmacy group selling newspapers as far as I am aware. It’s a new relationship between News Corp. and Chemist warehouse, which I wrote about here.

Whoever Andrew V, the poster of the task, is, they must have put plenty of tasks on the gig economy platform as they have 1,749 reviews.

If this is News Corp., is this a new model for checking non retailers? Also, is there an issue with the Chemist Warehouse relationship when it comes to newspaper placement in-store.

It’s low-ball pricing: $12 to go to the pharmacy, buy a paper, take photos and answer questions about what you saw. The offered $12 includes the cost of the paper.

A merchandiser visit to a store for as little as 15 minutes costs between $35 and $50 from what I am told by companies using such services. The $10 for labour offered by this Airtasker poster is low-ball by this measure.

I guess a question is, are any suppliers taking a similar approach with checking on other retailers, like newsagents.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newspapers · Social responsibility

Naracoorte News: what an uplifting story by ABC’s Landline

Mark Fletcher on May 25, 2020 1:04 PM

Click here to see this terrific story by the ABC, from their Landline TV program. It’s a new newspaper for Naracoorte in South Australia – launched as a result of the closure of the local paper by a much bigger publisher.

I urge everyone here to watch this story.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newspapers

The outlook for in-store reps in newsagencies and other indie retail businesses

Mark Fletcher on May 25, 2020 6:43 AM

There is no doubt that small business retailers have adjusted to the new normal of ordering online and participating in meetings through Zoom and the like.

While back in March this felt unusual, now, it feels normal. That is what retailers say. They like the more efficient approach to business.

I think you will see most (but not all) retailers preference suppliers who make doing business in this new remote world easy. They will like tech solutions that help them easily see what they can buy and to place orders. They are adept at using apps and websites.

They like visual and they like easy. This means websites with good images and videos.

I have seen some suppliers already offering smart tech platforms and facilitating a smooth tech connection between their businesses and retailers. Not enough, though.

Now, more than ever, you should be investing in smart technology so that you can sell more efficiently (and faster) to indie retailers – because on the other side (most) retailers will not switch back to welcoming all reps since they have adjusted rosters and themselves spending more time working in their businesses.

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Website development for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on May 24, 2020 2:38 PM

It’s terrific seeing more newsagents going online. My POS software company has a separate web development team that develops sites for newsagents and other retailers. Click here for more information.

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Government economic stimulus fail?

Mark Fletcher on May 23, 2020 10:16 AM

In March, the Prime Minister and Treasurer announced a $130B stimulus to the economy. They said the money was needed and they devised JobKeeper as the delivery platform.

Yesterday, the Treasurer said that employer data mistakes meant the spend would be $60B less.

The problem with the narrative from the government is that employers did not get to provide the government any data until weeks after their $130B announcement.

The timing of itself uncovers the government in a lie.

When they said the economy needed a $130B stimulus I believed them. I think that need remains.

The government should use other setting for JobKeeper or other platforms to feed the remaining $60B into the economy. History has shown that mo new in the hands of those with immediate need flows fastest and best.

Now, to those saying it’s borrowed money, I agree. Franking credits are borrowed mooney too, $6B a year. The economic need justifies the spending of the $60B JobKeeper shortfall this year.

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→ 41 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility

Talking about retail shopper loyalty options

Mark Fletcher on May 23, 2020 7:18 AM

Here is a video of the shopper loyalty workshop that I hosted a few days ago:

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Good call Reed Gift Fairs

Mark Fletcher on May 22, 2020 1:19 PM

This announcement is from Reed Gift Fairs re their planned August Fair in Melbourne.

Reed Gift Fairs would like to express our concern for everyone impacted by coronavirus.

Reed Gift Fairs recognises that it is imperative for businesses, including ourselves and many of our customers and stakeholders, to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances. Therefore, after close consultation with our stakeholders and in order to provide the retail community the time to prepare, we are pleased to announce that
Reed Gift Fairs Melbourne will now take place from 9th – 12th October 2020.

In a further show of unity and to provide the safest, easiest and most rewarding experience for our community, Reed Gift Fairs Melbourne will co-locate with Life Instyle Melbourne at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Southbank for the first time.

The Reed Gift Fairs team understands and appreciates the level of planning that is required to participate in an event like ours. We will do our utmost to help our customers, partners and attendees to prepare for safe and successful participation on the new dates.

Our number one priority is the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors, industry partners and staff. As such, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and remain guided by the expert advice of the public health authorities.

We wish to thank everyone for their patience and support during this challenging time. As a strong, united and resilient community, we will come together again in October to reignite retail.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Social responsibility

Talking about going online

Mark Fletcher on May 22, 2020 7:52 AM

Here is a video of the session from Wednesday where we discussion how, when and why to take your retail business online.

Here is a video of the session on the same topic, from last night.

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

Should we be concerned about the Federal Court ruling relating to casual workers?

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2020 10:02 PM

Note: I’m not a lawyer.

My take is that this issue has a way to go to play out. The case was about a specific situation. While some are talking it to say it sets a precedent, there others saying it does not.

I suspect the politicians will ultimately settle, clarify, the matter. There are many big business interests that will want this, which will focus the minds of the legislators in Canberra. I am sure the lobbying is well under way.

In the meantime, casual employees should be managed as needed by the business with shifts changing as the business needs change. Variation to the roster to serve the business needs is key.

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Tonight: a free online workshop for newsagents on how, when and why to take your business online

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2020 7:01 AM

Tonight, May 21, at 7pm, I am hosting another free online workshop for newsagents on how and why to take your Newsagency online. I have scheduled this additional session in response to requests.

This is not a marketing event. I’ll offer practical advice newsagents can use regardless of current in use. We will explore as much as you want about changes in and opportunities for retail newsagency businesses. This will be an interactive session.

We will explore what to sell online, how to sell online, why it matters and go under the hood and look at what people are looking for right now.

Topic: How to take your newsagency online
Time: May 21, 2020 7PM Melbourne time.
https://zoom.us/j/92611394787?pwd=elMrZCtpTXVpZy9wcEVKWFpOVTl4Zz09
Meeting ID: 926 1139 4787 Password: 847135

Anyone is welcome to attend.

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Bauer looking at other outlets?

Mark Fletcher on May 20, 2020 7:14 PM

A report at B&T has Bauer CEO talking about magazine retail and distribution:

On what’s next, Hill said from a publishing perspective, Bauer will continue to look at where it distributes and where new opportunities lie both in retail and digital edition distribution.

It will be interesting to see what this actually means.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: magazines

How seriously are you embracing Australian made?

Mark Fletcher on May 20, 2020 6:18 AM

Australian made is having a moment in the sunshine. Right now, people are seeking out Australian made products.

We can grow sales by promoting Australian made products. I have seen this first-hand in-store and even online. If you lead with the Australian made opportunity it can be easier to win a purchase of that ahead of similar non Australian made.

There are social media groups, local and national, dedicated to promoting businesses that support Australian made.

I think this is an opportunity for newsagents. It’s hard work though, much harder than buying in cheap China product and marking that up by 150%.

The Australian made shopper is more loyal in my experience.

If you want to engage with promoting Australian made, it starts with making sure you know the source of what you sell. This means asking suppliers and listening carefully to their answers.

You could test it out for yourself, focus on one supplier and even one line that you know is designed and 100% made in Australia. Promote it through that prism and cause shopper engagement. Use social media to explain your story, the research you did. Build trust.

If shoppers engage, respond well and spend, that could be the encouragement you need.

Australian made matters more today as a result of COVID-19 than it did before. It’s an opportunity for engaged retailers.

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Media disruption, TikTok and newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on May 19, 2020 9:13 PM

This story at Axios earlier today is an example of how mainstream media is being disrupted. TikTok, pilloried as a fad site gets more corporate legitimacy and consumer traffic daily.

I first took a look at TikTok over a year ago. It’s a fascinating platform that some businesses are using effectively. More important than business use is that the platform itself creates businesses. For some it is a live and rapidly evolving start-up incubator.

How does this relate to newsagents? Well, our businesses are rooted in history. Our future is ahead of is, in the world from which TikTok and others have come.

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Evening free online workshop: How, why and when to take your newsagency online

Mark Fletcher on May 19, 2020 11:37 AM

Thursday May 21, at 7pm, I am hosting another free online workshop for newsagents on how and why to take your Newsagency online. I have scheduled this additional session in response to requests.

This is not a marketing event. I’ll offer practical advice newsagents can use regardless of current in use. We will explore as much as you want about changes in and opportunities for retail newsagency businesses. This will be an interactive session.

We will explore what to sell online, how to sell online, why it matters and go under the hood and look at what people are looking for right now.

Topic: How to take your newsagency online
Time: May 21, 2020 7PM Melbourne time.
https://zoom.us/j/92611394787?pwd=elMrZCtpTXVpZy9wcEVKWFpOVTl4Zz09
Meeting ID: 926 1139 4787 Password: 847135

Anyone is welcome to attend.

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The fundamental changes in high street retail due to COVID-19

Mark Fletcher on May 19, 2020 6:42 AM

COVID-19 likes crowds, it likes people who don’t know each other to be physically close, not intimate, just close enough for the coronavirus to jump person to person.

Proximity is toxic and will remain so until there is a vaccine, if there is ever a vaccine.

Shops cannot be crowded, and if shops cannot be crowded, there is a risk more shoppers spend more money online.

This is why having an online strategy is critical. But it must be multi-faceted: delivery, click and collect, curbside pickup and curated for faster shopping. These options and more are critical for the new retail in this COVID world.

Online businesses need to be managed separately, with their own performance goals. They need to be focussed on reaching ne new shoppers for the parent business.

Proximity being toxic is also why having clear and well managed in-store strategies, too. Making shopping safe and to be seen to be safe is critical to encourage trust among shoppers and would-be shoppers.

It would be easy to say physical shopping is done and shopping has migrated to online. That is what many ‘experts’ are saying in articles. I don’t agree. I think local high street retail is in good shape where retailers have what people want, offer safe shopping experiences and are community connected.

Both needs are critical – online and refreshed in-store. It’s easy to think that the majors will win this. For sure, there will be media stories about this because the majors have PR offices placing stories. The reality is that innovation is as present in small business high street shops. Many of them have embraced online and recast their in-store experiences.

The retailers doing to best, in my view, are those that have embraced the new models in ways that feel natural, that feel more than short-term. These retailers have evolved their businesses with nuance.

So, while there is plenty of noise about things getting back to normal, they are not and cannot. The new normal, for the foreseeable future, is shops being structured for safe shopping and these businesses also offering a separate online presence to reach shoppers outside of the usual reach of the business.

Opportunities abound for engaged, data-driven, retailers.

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