Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Shareable social media content driving newsagency shopper traffic

Mark Fletcher on October 25, 2020 7:14 AM

We are having terrific success with videos of artists behind products we sell. Whether shot on a phone or put through a production process like the video I share in this post, this content is referred to by marketers as shareable content. This is ideal for social media as it is a glimpse beyond the product.

Engaged suppliers are good about providing this content to retailers, to help them reach new shoppers.

This video below is for a high-end $80 metal ornament of Ariel and Flounder, from The Little Mermaid. We have this in-store and online.

I’d love to see more suppliers provide shareable content like this or in an ever more raw form that retailers can brand with their store brand.

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→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Would you sell Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler in your newsagency?

Mark Fletcher on October 24, 2020 6:22 PM

I ask because someone shared a photo of social media of it on sale in a newsagency in the ACT.

For the record, I would not sell this book in my newsagency.

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→ 8 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility

Promoting Christmas in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on October 24, 2020 7:02 AM

Further to my post yesterday about Christmas in the newsagency yesterday, here is one of the social media posts that I have created for one of the shops I wrote about. This is for my Southland business.

For those who think this is an expensive production, here is what I did. I shot the video at my Southland store a week ago on my iPhone. I loaded that to iMovie on my Mac and stripped out the background sound. I added a filter to soften the image. I then loaded that video into a platform called Promo where I added the text and music and, voilà, you have this video ready for the socials…

In case people are wondering – I have posted this to show what can be done for no cost and a small time investment, to pitch the business differently to what peso,e expect from a newsagency.

 

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I love this sign in the window at Quirkes Newsagents Cahersiveen, Ireland

Mark Fletcher on October 23, 2020 11:46 AM

Yes, I am aware it’s been going around social media from other outlets. Quirkes is where I noticed it first.

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Christmas cards in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on October 23, 2020 7:03 AM

Here are the Christmas cards that have been in place now for a couple of weeks in one of my newsagencies.

And here is part of the range in another of my stores, where space is quite limited:

I am showing them to speak to range, front of store placement and being out early.

We started with boxed cards over a month ago and comparing year on year we are more than 50% ahead. Singles have been out less time but they, too, are well ahead. It’s clear from early sales that caption 4range will be more important this year than in the past.

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Shopping centre landlords will struggle to attract newsagency tenants

Mark Fletcher on October 22, 2020 6:43 AM

Covid is demonstrating that high street newsagencies have significant benefits over shopping centre newsagencies in a pandemic. It is also helping high street newsagents be flexible in their approach to business, something that is more channeling in a shopping centre setting.

I suspect there are newsagents in shopping centres today looking for nearby high street location opportunities.

I suspect, too, there will be some who were considering a shopping centre tenancy who now consider it unlikely.

With shopping centre occupancy costs yet to reflect new market conditions, they are not appealing, especially when you consider the restrictions coded in leases as to floorspace allocation for categories outside what a landlord considers to be cor newsagency categories.

If shopping centre landlords do reset occupancy cost to reflect the new conditions, which would mean an occupancy cost decline of at least 33%, their space could be appealing for a newsagency or a newsagency related business.

It would be a bold landlord who makes that move. They are not known for wanting to be first for such changes.

The thing is, a newsagency is good for a centre, especially an evolved newsagency that is focussed on the future with a nod to the past. Such a business can be fresh, enticing and net traffic generating, not relying o=n the traffic a centre itself has.

With fashion retail looking at a tough year ahead and some other niches also challenged. the mix in shopping centres will change. That could be an ideal time for landlords to better support a traffic anchor like a newsagency. It will be interesting to see if they have what it takes to make their space commercially interesting to newsagents … because right now it is not commercially interesting.

One thing Covid has provided newsagents is options, meaning we are not as reliant on shopping centres as we used to be.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: retail leases

Magazine sales settling to 2019 levels

Mark Fletcher on October 21, 2020 6:31 AM

Looking at magazine sales in areas not in lockdown in Australia I am seeing sales volumes on track with the pre-Covid trajectory.

While there are some differences between product categories, the majority are on track for decline. Weeklies are especially vulnerable. I expect that now they are all under the one roof, there will soon be significant shake-up as the trajectory from newsagency sales, if reflected across all retail, would be unhealthy for ad prospects.

As has been the case for years, crosswords are strong as are special interest titles. Both of these categories are differentiators for the newsagents who actively engage with them.

While I hope to have the benchmark analysis completed early next week, the magazine situation is interesting because of the planned expansion into Australia Post and the ownership change of Pacific and then of Bauer.

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: magazines

Reject Shop card supply challenges

Mark Fletcher on October 21, 2020 6:24 AM

A Reject Shop in a major shopping centre has tons of empty card pockets. It seems an apparent greeting card supply chain challenge for the Reject Shop is unresolved. This would usually be good news for the newsagency nearby but they, too, face supply challenges.

On the one hand, empty pockets show which cards are popular while on the other hand, retailers can’t bank anything from an empty pocket.

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards

Amazon currently has the lowest price for UHU glue sticks

Mark Fletcher on October 20, 2020 11:02 AM

Here is their consumer price, for a 4-pack.

Here is the Spotlight price for the same product.

I could not find any newsagency online with a 4-pack and only a couple with singles, prices at double the Amazon per stick price.

Online is where people price compare. Take UHU, in Australia yesterday, there were 7,600 UHU and UHU related searches online. Our channel is nowhere to be seen in the top 100 results.

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→ 9 CommentsCategory: Stationery

Online sales workshop for small business retailers

Mark Fletcher on October 20, 2020 7:51 AM

For my POS software co. I’m hosting another workshop for retailers considering selling online. It’s today @ 12 noon Melbourne time.

This will be a free-flowing workshop, looking at what gets people to websites, what is good design, how to handle freight and the common challenges small business retailers  confront. Here are the connection details:

https://zoom.us/j/99874661583?pwd=RW5NdU9yUlhzaWZSUTdENXBBclJhQT09
Meeting ID: 998 7466 1583 Passcode: 894702

I’ve done 30 or so of these this year. Each one is different because they are driven by questions from people. If you think having a website created fort your business is on the cards, come along.

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2020 is a good year to embrace the Halloween opportunity

Mark Fletcher on October 19, 2020 6:42 AM

The circumstances of 2020 offer an opportunity to embrace Halloween in a fresh and engaging way. I am seeing excellent early sales, good value sales for the season.

Now, before you say been there done that or it won’t work in my area, it is different this year and the best growth I am seeing is in areas where the season has not been strong in the past.

While you want to sell products, this is a season with which to have some fun. Here are some practical and low cost tips for leveraging this

  1. Get people to dress in costume and offer them a discount for that on the day, October 31.
  2. Wear make-up yourselves.
  3. Run a scary sale and offload things you are struggling to sell. Create bright red bloody signs. Make it fun.
  4. Run a midnight sale or at least a dark night sale – this is another way to get people seeing your shop differently.
  5. Have free bite-size candy at the counter.
  6. Select a spooky playlist on Spotify or your in-store music platform.
  7. Run a colouring competition for kids with a prize for the best and a charity donation to encourage engagement.
  8. Print a recipe sheet and give this away.

These ideas are to get you thinking. Go on, have fun. Boo!

FYI, here is a quick and dirty, unbranded, social media image I made to promote a Halloween sale. It’s designed to get attention and, like all good social media content, be disposable.

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→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

This is not news

Mark Fletcher on October 19, 2020 6:21 AM

The front page of the Herald Sun today features 2 stories. One is the Brownlow win and the other is typical propaganda. Victorians have demonstrated extraordinary resilience over the last two and a half months of the second wave. We have crushed it and now we see restrictions eased. Rather than celebrate what Victorians have achieved and focus on that news, the News Corp take is negative, on brand for this paper these days. For a newspaper that claims We’re for you, the relentless campaign demonstrates they are not for us. It’s embarrassing to have this paper on the shelves.

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→ 11 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility

I love the pitch of this independent book shop in New York

Mark Fletcher on October 18, 2020 7:21 AM

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→ 6 CommentsCategory: Book retailing

the Lott (Tabcorp) fails their retail ‘partners’ on Twitter

Mark Fletcher on October 17, 2020 4:26 PM

I’ve taken a look at the posts on Twitter by the Lott (Tabcorp) this morning and it’s clear their focus is all about driving online sales. It starts with the banner for their Twitter space

While I get that as a business they need to promote their business, the pressure they put on small business retailers to promote the Tabcorp business, usually to the detriment of the retailer business, is considerable.

If I was a lottery retailer, I’d like to see Tabcorp more engaged with encouraging shopping in physical retail.

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→ 15 CommentsCategory: Lotteries · Social responsibility

Check the grants on offer through your local council

Mark Fletcher on October 17, 2020 7:19 AM

Plenty of local councils are offering Covid related small grants to help small businesses with a range of projects. from what I have seen they are easy to get and broad in their application.

  • One newsagent applied for a $5,000 grant to replace the carpet in their shop. It was approved and the carpet goes in next week.
  • Another newsagent applied for $10,000 to install air-conditioning. They were given $7,500 and it has been installed.
  • Another newsagent applied for $5,000 to pay for the development of a website. The website goes live next week.
  • Another newsagent applied for $10,000 for automatic doors. They were given $5,000.

Many councils around Australia are engaged with grants like these. My advice is to check with your council. If they have a Covid related grant, apply – the worst thing that can happen is that they say no.

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A fraud alert issued by epay this afternoon

Mark Fletcher on October 16, 2020 3:41 PM

The following notice was issued with this advice: We’ve again become aware of heightened fraudulent activity across our retailer base, where fraudsters are contacting sites pretending to be epay representatives (or sometimes a product vendor, the ATO or other Government Department) and requesting that they print vouchers for predominantly cash products such as VPAY, FlexePIN, Paysafe or Neosurf and to read the PIN code over the phone to them or suggesting they need to provide payment for upgrading their terminal or service with epay – other MO’s include advising retailers they’re paying more for the transactions than they should or that there had been ‘issues’ with some products and they need to print some out to verify if it have been fixed. We’ve also had instances where a retailer was convinced that epay and/or Neosurf was closing down, so they’d been tasked with retrieving all unused vouchers (by getting them to print and read the details overs the phone) so they could be deactivated – these scammers change their story often, so past scenarios are not necessarily a good indicator of future ones.

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It’s great to see the Herald Sun promoting newsagents on Twitter

Mark Fletcher on October 16, 2020 10:22 AM

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Rent relief extended for retailers in Victoria

Mark Fletcher on October 16, 2020 6:39 AM

Newsagents in Victoria need to know that the Covid rent relief measures put in place through the national cabinet earlier this year have been extended.

Click here to access the details of this scheme.

As has been the case since March this year, independent landlords are more likely to be on top of this and providing relief, often beyond what is required, without many barriers. It is the big business landlords, the major shopping centre landlord businesses, that are problematic, late and providing considerable stress for small business retailers.

While the extension of arrangements by the Victorian government are welcome, it would have been helpful for there to be penalties for landlords who stalled the process.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Retail tenancy · Social responsibility

Saturday lotto changes a bit ho hum

Mark Fletcher on October 15, 2020 5:39 PM

I’ve seen sales data from the Tabcorp states for the modified Saturday lottery game and they are flat. While the the dividing 1 prize value has gone up and ticket purchase price has gone up, sales volume was flat.

A newsagent asked me today to mention this here in case others commented. They had expected a sales bump and did not achieve it. They are wondering if they are alone.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: Lotteries

Beware scammers

Mark Fletcher on October 15, 2020 1:59 PM

Several newsagents have told me this week of calls they have received from someone saying there is an issue with phone cards or some other product from their business. They ask to be logged into the computer in the business to fix the issue.

Do not agree to this. It is a scam.

Verify the identify of anyone asking to log into your computer. This is easy to do. Ask for their phone number and say you will call them back. Most will drop off at this point.

Please, tell everyone working in your business. The cost if the scammer getting through could be tens of thousands of dollars.

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Discussing POS software for newsagents

Mark Fletcher on October 15, 2020 6:16 AM

I’m grateful for the opportunity last week to talk with Nathan from my newsagency software company, Tower Systems, about newsagency software and the role it is playing in the evolution of newsagency businesses.

Here is the 31 minute video of the discussion from last week, which looks at some of the software functions as well as newsagency software connected websites newsagents are using to sell online.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagent software

JobKeeper encourages businesses to keep poor performing employees

Mark Fletcher on October 14, 2020 6:41 AM

A retailer contacted me yesterday with this scenario: three of their casuals are poor performers, too often unwilling to work, making many mistakes at work and disinterested in engaging with shoppers despite encouragement to do so.

The retailer would like to replace them with new employees, three of the many who have dropped their resumes off, keen for a job.

The challenge for the business is JobKeeper. Getting rid of the three poor performers would see the business lose JobKeeper for them and not have access to JobKeeper for three new hires.

The owner has spoken with Fairwork and the answers there are not black and white.

I suggested they performance manage the three dud employees, putting them through a documented process to seek improvement or to at least provide a documented and lawful pathway for their exit from the business.

That employees are able to be paid JobKeeper regardless off whether they actually work is a flaw in the system that needs addressing.

The additional workload and stress on small business retailers because of JobKeeper is an unintendended consequence for sure, but disappointing.

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→ 5 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility

Banks closing branches, removing ATMs, hurting small business retail in Australia

Mark Fletcher on October 13, 2020 6:42 AM

Under the cover of Covid, banks are closing branches in Australia and removing ATMs in a shrinking of banking access. There is no consultation with customers, just an announcement or a sign on a front door.

Local bank branch closures are adding considerable cost to small business retailers in Australia.

While many bank branches closed under the first Covid lockdown back in March, plenty of these have since subsequently closed permanently.

In one of my own retail situations, in suburban Melbourne, our local bank branch, which is in walking distance, is closing. We face a 10 minute car drive, which means a roster change to deal with takings banking and disruption if we encounter a change shortage.

The closure of local bank branches makes going cashless more appealing to retailers. Maybe this is what the banks want. The retail network is expensive to maintain in terms of real estate and labour I guess.

While the closure of bank branches in March made sense, the continued closure after that lockdown ended was the first indication that banks were reconsidering their retail engagement.

Adding to the considerable number of bank branches that have closed in Australia, the closure of ATMs is impacting the shopper experience as well as the business owner experience. In another part of suburban Melbourne, one busy shopping street has seen five ATMs ripped out by banks.

Again, in my own experience, a local ATM at which we banked cheques, which are still a thing, has been removed, necessitating a drive as opposed to what was a short walk.

I get that all businesses are reassessing the infrastructure that is appropriate in a Covid and post-Covid (if it ever happens) world and that it makes sense that banks do this too. However, banks provide key services to Australians and local small businesses. They have a social responsibility to maintain these services. The extent of local bank branch closures in Australia will impact small businesses.

Again, in our own situation, for one of our shops, we are opening an account with a bank we have previously not dealt with as they have a branch a few minutes walk away and that is appealing compared to having to drive. It’s not ideal, but it is better than adding to our labour cost.

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→ 8 CommentsCategory: Social responsibility · Ugh!

I like this mask sign

Mark Fletcher on October 12, 2020 9:48 PM

As a retailer in the stage 4 Melbourne area, the debate about masks is intense and frustrating. This mask sign that I saw on social media today made me smile.

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Disappointing to see supermarkets put ahead of newsagents

Mark Fletcher on October 12, 2020 9:40 PM

As shown in this tweet to 36,000 followers:

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