Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Lost Herald Sun sales yesterday

Mark Fletcher on May 24, 2018 6:11 AM

The distribution newsagent did not provide the royal wedding insert for the Herald Sun yesterday. Time was wasted during the day chasing. Customers were frustrated, and bought their Herald Sun from supermarkets in the same centre who don’t have their newspaper supply meddled with by a petty minded distribution newsagent.

It is experiences like this that move one closer to quitting papers from the business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers · Ugh!

Go figure…

Mark Fletcher on May 23, 2018 7:33 PM


→ No CommentsCategory: Ugh!

Pitching the Who Royal Wedding collector’s edition

Mark Fletcher on May 23, 2018 1:23 PM

We have hit facebook with posts promoting the collector’s edition of Who tomorrow. Looking at the titles and what I know so far this will be a hit. hence the social media marketing today and the plan to pitch at the counter tomorrow.

Given the regularity of weekly magazine shopping this post and another for New Idea Royal Wedding coverage are important if we are to get additional people in.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Ideas to help you turn off, relax and get creative

Mark Fletcher on May 23, 2018 5:55 AM

Coming up with fresh ideas to move your retail business forward can be a challenge. Sometimes, retailers and retail managers experience a block, like writer’s block.

The ideas here are designed to help you clear this blockage and tap into fresh ideas for your retail business. By engaging in activities far removed from the retail business you give your brain a chance to process a challenge subconsciously.

Turn off, relax, unwind and find fresh business ideas:

  1. Turn your mobile phone off and go and see a movie from your favourite genre.
  2. Go to a music concert for a group you love. Let your hair down. Sing along at the top of your lungs.
  3. Go to a comedy show. Laugh out loud.
  4. Go for a walk in the forest. A long walk. Touch nature. Sit a while and soak it all in.
  5. Go and sit in front of water, preferably an ocean and look out to the horizon.
  6. Lie on your back at night time and look up to the stars. Think about out there and the bigger universe.
  7. Shut yourself in a dark room and put on your favourite music and sing along.
  8. Try yoga, even if you have never done it before.
  9. Try a sensory deprivation tank.
  10. Light some incense, put on some relaxing music and meditate inwardly, shutting out the world.
  11. Have a therapeutic massage.
  12. Exercise at the gym, run or swim. Work up a sweat and get lost in exercise.
  13. Read a novel from cover to cover without interruption. Choose a work of fiction you are more likely to get lost in.
  14. Do yard work, things you have been putting off for a long time.
  15. Go for a long drive, away from work and home. Get to somewhere you have never been before.
  16. Have a romantic dinner with your partner at a place where you have never been before.
  17. Cook a complex meal that you have never cooked before.
  18. Bake a cake you have never cooked before.
  19. Take an unexpected day off and treat yourself to guilty pleasures.
  20. Buy some lunch and sit outside your retail store, across the mall or across the road and eat.
  21. Write a fictional short story.

These ideas are about you getting lost in experiences which are unrelated to your business. By getting lost, ideas have a better opportunity of surfacing, solutions have a better opportunity of making their way out.

Scheduling time to nurture yourself with ideas like those noted above could help you become more productive and creating for the business.

While the activities should be enjoyable, the business stands to benefit from greater creativity and more focused mental energy.

Have fun and let the great ideas roll!


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities · Occupational Health · Optimism

You can add value anywhere

Mark Fletcher on May 22, 2018 11:59 AM

When I picked up my coffee yesterday I got a reminder that about value-add. The art on the cap is a small thing, one which made me smile because of its clever placement.

Coffee shops value-add all the time with art in the froth on open cups, small cookies with each drink or a small chocolate.

While they have margin in coffee pricing to enable them to do this, it is a differentiator and that is what most of them are going for when they do it.

In retail businesses in the newsagency channel there are plenty of value add opportunities such as free wrap, bonus deals, free delivery and more.

Adding value to the everyday items people can buy elsewhere is vital today to differentiate our businesses. It is most valuable when then shopper pauses to notice and appreciate the value add.


→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency marketing

The toys opportunity for newsagents grows

Mark Fletcher on May 22, 2018 6:56 AM

Toys R Us Australia has been put into voluntary administration. This is on the back of the closure of the US business of the same name but different ownership structure.

What I wrote here on January 20 this year is truer than ever: the Toys opportunity for newsagents is excellent this year.

Toys set to be strong in 2018 for newsagents
The toy category is set to be a strong category for newsagents in 2018 with more newsagents taking it on and with more suppliers prepared to sell to our channel than in the past.

Toys today are broader in their appeal than ever before, especially bad games, which experienced double digit growth in 2017.

While a few years ago it seemed that games were in trouble because of digital disruption, they have come into their own thanks to clever invention of new products and recasting of the appeal of some traditional products, such as Monopoly.

Taking on a local toy shop competitor is possible for newsagents. It takes knowledge, focus and commitment. This is especially true if you focus on niche, special interest, opportunities.

As a guide, toy revenue could easily be equal to 50% of your greeting card revenue. I have determined this base benchmark based on data I have seen from more than fifty newsagency businesses.

If you are not in toys, consider it. The right toy product can attract new traffic across several valuable demos.

I know from my work with newsXpress that there are suppliers who do not usually deal with newsagents who are keen to engage with groups of stores. I expect people in other groups will tell you the same. I also know of newsagents who have given over more than half their floorspace to toys, and are enjoying excellent new traffic as a result.

This opportunity is real. For sure there are challenges and complexities. However, there are people who can help you follow the opportunity for success.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency opportunities

Phil Taylor closing at the end of this month?

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2018 6:58 PM

I have been told by two sources this afternoon that card and wrap supplier Phil Taylor is closing at the end of this month. Word has got out as staff have been advised. This is sad news for them, tough, too.

There were indications of challenges when Henderson Greetings picked up the local representation of products from Paper Rose, successful publisher of ranges such as Designers Guild, Avocado, The Art Group, Mozaic, Artisan, Daisy Patch plus more.

While this is sad news, if true, for those working for Phil Taylor, it is equally challenging for other card companies as well as card retailers. We must all recalibrate our businesses when changes occur, even changes in supplier businesses not core to our operation.

Card and wrap remains a strong category for our channel with newsagency businesses accounting for close to 30% of all retail sales.  I think we can grow this percentage by being more engaged ourselves in our own businesses rather than expecting our suppliers to do everything for us.

The current trend is flat to modest, 2% – 4% – year-on-year revenue same-store growth in this category in newsagencies. While some are enjoying double-digit growth, they are balanced baby others experiencing double-digit decline, and this brings the channel average down.

Keys to growth, in my view are shop floor engagement inside and outside the card department, out of store engagement and focus on adding value to the card shopper experience.

Too often, newsagents do not engage with the category in a meaningful way. Too often they expect their card supplier(s) to do all the work. While this was okay in the past, it is not okay today.

The newsagents I see enjoying double-digit growth are deeply engaged with the category, running a card offer equal to or better than the truly specialist card retailers. Any newsagent can do this. however, it takes change in everyday operation and engagement with cards to be a destination focus of the business.

Less choice in suppliers benefits big business. This is what we must push back against. we need more Australians thinking of newsagencies first as the place to buy cards. Once way we can do this is to grow the card buying population … however, that is a topic for another time.

In the meantime, we’re thinking of the Phil Taylor family.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Competition · Greeting Cards · Newsagency challenges

Strong royal wedding interest

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2018 4:23 PM

The royal wedding is popular with many who received magazines today with wedding content having sold out. Those receiving top-up or initial supply of wedding issues Thursday (as not all newsagents received wedding issues today) will need to promote. We know from decay data that 60% – 75% of weeklies sell on a Monday. This week we need to change that and drive a bump Thursday. Achieving this requires us promoting outside the business, giving people a reason to return.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: magazines

How to attract new shoppers to your newsagency business

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2018 6:05 AM

New shopper traffic is vital to every retail business for if all you see is the same shoppers then necessary growth will not be achieved and growth is necessary with rent, wages and overheads increasing every year.

The big question is how to attract new shoppers?

There is no easy answer. In fact, it is hard work. It is also work that is not unique to our channel. All retailers have to do this work, every day.

In my own  businesses, the question we ask every day is what are we doing today to attract new shoppers to our shop. This question is not posed to distract us from maintaining what we do and remaining also focussed on the valuable core of the business.

All of this is a preamble to one example of attracting new shoppers. This is what we are doing in one of my shops right now. This shop is in a big Westfield centre. we have a big Harry Potter display;ay with products from multiple suppliers.

We chose Harry Potter because we know that Australians do hundreds of thousands of Google searches every month for Harry Potter products, information and other reasons.

So, on the lease line, facing into the mall, we established this display. Right away it was a hit. People walking across, and shopping. Here is that display, from Saturday morning:

Video: May 19, 2018.

Now, for those who look for any reason to nit-pick: I am not saying this is a destination idea. Nor am I saying you must do this. Nor am I saying that this display is all you do. Nor am I saying this will work everywhere.

This Harry Potter display is an example of an approach, an approach that is working in my business and plenty ours, an approach whereby we leverage a popular brand to attract new shoppers.

Some brand, character and licence focussed ideas work better than others. The key is trying new things, every few weeks. Constant motion is a core message here. Acting based on real and current data about what people are looking for is also key.

I am fortunate to have access to search data thanks to a commercial service I pay to access.

Now, some will wonder – what does Harry Potter have to do with being a newsagency business. Nothing really, but that does not matter. The channel the business identifies with is not as relevant today to what we choose to sell compared to a new years ago.

The new traffic attracted is valuable as these shoppers browse the business and purchase in addition to the category that attracted them to the shop.

The model of acting to attract new shoppers is the key message here. In the newsagency channel especially I see it as mission critical.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Optimism

Turning a newsagency shop into a home

Mark Fletcher on May 20, 2018 8:11 AM

Check out this story about how a couple in the UK converted an old newsagent shop into a low-energy home.


→ 1 CommentCategory: newsagency of the future

A Twitter wedding

Mark Fletcher on May 19, 2018 1:50 PM

Twitter is leveraging the royal wedding to show off its platform not only for serving individual tweets but bringing together coverage for what is an international event. What they will be doing later today shows how far this platform has come and, through this, challenge the relevance of newspapers for reporting news, which is usually old news.

The image is in a pitch I received from Twitter by e mail as well as in my Twitter feed.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption

A Theft Policy is key to reducing the impact of theft in any retail business

Mark Fletcher on May 19, 2018 7:17 AM

Issue this Theft Policy in your business, have all team members sign it and place it is a place where team members can see it every day. Doing this establishes your commitment on the issue as well as your policy and practices related to the issue. Following through on the policy is key for without discipline in this area the cost of theft in your business will be higher than it should be.


  1. Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.
  2. If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.
  3. We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.
  4. From time to time we have the business under surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.
  5. New employees may be asked to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment. Undertaking the police check will be at our discretion.
  6. Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.
  7. Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.
  8. Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by labour laws.
  9. Employees are not permitted to remove inventory, including unsold, topped, magazines, unsold cards or damaged stock from the store without permission.
  10. Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.
  11. Employees are not permitted to complete sales to themselves, family members or friends.
  12. Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.



→ 52 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Management tip · Newsagency management · theft

UK newspaper circulation results reflect the challenge for the print medium for news

Mark Fletcher on May 18, 2018 6:53 AM

The latest UK newspaper circulation results released by the Audit Bureau and detailed by the Press Gazette reflect challenges for the news print medium we see in Australia. Over the counter sales continue to decline, as does newspaper shopper foot traffic.

Newsagents have to run their businesses to not rely on newspaper traffic. By all means sell papers and promote them when relevant, but do not rely on them at the core of your business. Those days are gone. Newspapers as not a viable, anticipated, daily purchase.

Regulars here will not read this as new information. Indeed, it has been the trend for more than ten years. Early adopters have businesses that have no reliance whatsoever on newspapers, as it should be.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption

Excellent in-store royal wedding engagement

Mark Fletcher on May 18, 2018 6:12 AM

Here are images from four different newsXpress stores, showing how they are engaging with the royal wedding. I like the displays as they reflect a diverse range of engagement without being in your face about buying this or that. They fit with the idea of experimental retail, which is important today.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future

LayBy a thing of the past in many newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on May 17, 2018 4:58 AM

AfterPay took fashion retail by storm a few years ago. Their initial focus was online and then moved to in-store. last year, they took over Touch, bringing them into the focus of newsagency businesses and others.

ZipPay and Oxipay have joined the fray and are providing terrific over the counter LayBy alternatives. I say terrific because the customer takes the goods immediately. This reduces storage costs, eliminates the possibility of in-store damage and frees capital for you. It also means you are not subject to tight LayBy refund regulations.

The risk is that the type of funding for these buy now pay later programs sits in a grey area, an area that I expect will eventually become regulated. For now, however, POS software integrated buy now pay later makes it easy for you to offer the service an pitch something that may be more commercially valuable to you than LayBy.

In one of the websites with which I am involved, we started offering Oxipay late last year. In a few short months it was accounting for 14% of revenue and led to a net increase in purchases, capturing sales that would have otherwise been lost as the purchasers did not have the available funds at that time.

Bringing this in-store, into a newsagency, has not been without its challenges given the mix of products available and the rules some financiers have in place for what they will fund. However, work has been done to serve the needs of the financiers and ensure retail businesses like newsagents lies have access to buy now pay later.

Retail is changing in the payments space. Reducing friction is the name of the game. Offering a service like Oxipay is key is reducing friction.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities

Specialty magazine retail challenged

Mark Fletcher on May 16, 2018 1:40 PM

I got back to Magnetix in Wellington today, the specialty magazine business I have written about here before. It is similar to MagNation, the magazine specialty business that started in Auckland and headed to Australia years ago. While Magnetix maintains an excellent range of magazine titles, it does not feel as broad as a year ago.

If my time there today is anything to go off, coffee is the main traffic driver, it inhabits the front third of the business and is primarily what you see from the street.

That we do not have more of these businesses indicates there is not a large enough demand. However, if more newsagencies close and supermarkets focus on the top 100 titles, I can see magazine range being a traffic driver – as long as it co-exists with a high margin category. This is where coffee is a good fit. In fact, beyond the excellent margin, it works with magazines in other ways too.

I say a higher margin category is key because off the continuing poor margin from magazines.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: magazines · newsagency of the future

Fun is key to royal wedding engagement in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 16, 2018 6:12 AM

We are finding our shoppers love some irreverent engagement with the upcoming royal wedding.

We are doing this in several ways, including tactical product placement, which we then leverage on social media.

Across the business, we have multiple categories of products we are engaging with. This helps broaden the demographic appeal, which works with this particular wedding. In fact, the appeal of the wedding is broader than any I have seen in my years in the channel. This is terrific for us as it helps us connect way beyond the traditional.

It is wonderful seeing how others are connecting with the opportunity. I have seen one newsagency pitch a high tea, another a cocktail party, another a kids party. All these ideas are wonderful as they show each business engaging practically and in a fun way with the event. from what I have read about the event the couple are playing it less traditionally. This is what works best in store too.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

It is time for Gotch to change its management of AFL and NRL

Mark Fletcher on May 15, 2018 5:53 AM

Newsagents this week received more AFL and NRL trading card stock when plenty of their initial allocation remains unsold in newsagency businesses.

Gotch has the sales data to know what remains unsold. Their allocations people and/ or processes appear to have ignored this evidence prior to proceeding to supply m0re stock.

I have heard from several newsagents who shared exampled of blatant oversupply. The costs of this oversupply include the costs of labour, space and freight – as the cards need to be returned, at the cost of the newsagent.

That we are having to raise this in 2018 is extraordinary. 

I suspect oversupply of AFL and NRL cards is not an issue for the retailers supplied by Gotch that compete with newsagents. If my suspicion is right, newsagents are commercially disadvantaged by the Gotch treatment. It makes them less competitive.

Gotch has the data to facilitate fair and accurate supply decisions. Any inventory drop after the initial supply should only be on the basis of sales. This is easy enough to do for any company that has an even half decent IT system in place.

Disadvantaging small business retailers like newsagents as happens with the current AFL / NRL card supply model needs to stop. Newsagents will stop it by quitting magazines, as some have already.

To be clear: I have seen data from newsagents showing there is no justification whatsoever in supply and sales data for AFL / NRL trading cards yet where Gotch has sent new, unneeded, stock. This is Gotch doing exactly what they have said countless times they will not do. I thin it is deliberate, wilful.

Other magazine publishers should take note. If you see retail outlets pull out of magazines, it is because of behaviour such as I have outlined here. You will be impacted by oversupply situations like this. beyond cutting magazine space or getting out of magazines altogether, newsagents will also early return to mitigate cash flow challenges that flow from oversupply.

Magazine publishers should agitate Gotch on this issue. Their commercial relationship will be more influential with Gotch than newsagent agitation has been. Gotch needs to understand the financial impact on their business of oversupply to newsagents.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Magazine oversupply · Social responsibility

What I learned visiting the Amazon Go store in Seattle

Mark Fletcher on May 14, 2018 5:59 AM

I am grateful to have visited the ground-breaking Amazon Go store in Seattle twice this year. This is an extraordinary shop, built by an extraordinary business.

  • No sales counter.
  • No cash or credit cards processed in-store.
  • Choose what you want, and leave.

In this video I explain what I saw and try for context for small business retailers in our part of the world. While I shot this for customers of my POS software company, it is relevant to newsagents and their suppliers.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · marketing tip · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future

Newsagency management tip: What’s next?

Mark Fletcher on May 13, 2018 7:08 AM

Mother’s Day is a big day in the seasonal calendar for any newsagency business. There was a time you could get through this season and rest until mid year or even Father’s Day. Not any more.

It is vital you have a new traffic generating pitch up from tomorrow, Monday. It has to be something you promote inside and outside your store, to bring in new shoppers and have regulars returning sooner.

Valleys between seasons need to be smoothed with substantial change in the business, which is backed with extensive out of store activity.

If you are in a newsagency marketing group or a franchise group they should have already pitched ideas to you for post-Mother’s day activity. My suggestion is you follow their advice – hopefully, you have done that and are ready for tomorrow.

Resting between seasons is not an option in newsagency retail today. 


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · marketing tip · Newsagency management · Newsagency marketing group · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

Meghan and Harry

Mark Fletcher on May 13, 2018 6:56 AM

Yes, these two on the cover of anything helps drive sales. It is an easy pitch, especially at the counter where I have seen it purchased on impulse. In one case yesterday, for Mother’s Day. We have a few weeks of mega-opportunity here. We need to all make the most of it with magazine titles and other gift opportunities.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Pitching Autumn recipes

Mark Fletcher on May 13, 2018 6:52 AM

Here is how we are pitching the Better Homes & Gardens Autumn Family Feasts in the centre of the magazine department on the impulse unit you can see in the photo. we also have it with food titles. However, this location is designed to grab impulse purchases.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Pitching the alternate newspaper distribution union model

Mark Fletcher on May 12, 2018 6:43 AM

Check out this as in the NT News, which I saw when I was in Darwin recently.

It is not a new pitch. I first saw something similar years ago. I am surprised, however, ad the full page pitch – and the price. It is high by overseas standards.

Here are the details of the offer.

With print ad revenue collapsing and print production and distribution costs, publishers will only support print for so long. Hence, the need to develop alternate distribution channels.

There is nothing new here. However, there will be newsagents who are shocked when their capital city daily newspaper ceases daily production. Plans for business success in that situation should be well advanced and reflect cited in the business model today.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

The competitive neutrality inquiry into the ABC and SBS is a small business fail for the government

Mark Fletcher on May 11, 2018 5:55 AM

For years, newsagents have called for an inquiry into the competitive neutrality of the government owned Australian Post retail businesses. I wrote about it here in 2005.

One argument is that Australia Post leverages its essential service status to gain access to advantageous tenancy arrangements that are not accessible to newsagents and other small businesses that compete with them. Another argument is that Australia Post leverages its protected monopoly status in leveraging supplier deals.

Australia Post, through its corporate stores directly competes with small business newsagents.

Successive governments have demonstrated no interest into an inquiry.

Fast forward to 2018. The ABC runs a report critical of government economic policy and is hassled by News Corp and wham! we have a competitive neutrality inquiry into the ABC.

The politicians and big business put themselves ahead of the needs of small business retailers like newsagents.

The Australia Post and ABC matters are related in that they are about competitive neutrality.

I say that Australia Post does more economic damage to small business newsagents and other retailers than the ABC digital strategy does to News Corp. and other media companies.

The politicians show their hand by moving quickly on the ABC inquiry and ignoring calls on the Australia Post matter. Big business is their friend. We are not – despite the nonsense they peddle at election time.

My view is underscored by the $30 million given to Foxtel recently without any business case being made and without any requirement on transparency re its use. Oh, and the elimination of TV broadcast licences because of the cost of digital transformation for TV networks. If only we had a government that cared about small business to the same extent.

We in small business need politicians who are as focussed and energised for us and those we serve as those in Canberra who do the bidding of big business. No, actually, we need politicians who serve the whole country rather than so many we have today who serve their mates ahead of the vast majority of Australians. Shame on us, we get those we vote for.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Competition · Ethics · Social responsibility

Tatts pitching the $12M Powerball for online purchase

Mark Fletcher on May 10, 2018 11:00 AM

This came up on my phone just now. Clicking on it takes me to an App purchase. There is no pitch about in-store.

In the App, here are three update screens, each with information of interest to retailers:

The migration of over the counter lottery purchases to mobile and online is the largest single threat to lottery shopper traffic to lottery retail businesses. Nothing can stop this migration. What retailers can do is work on attracting shoppers for other product categories, while, at the same time, pushing back on capital expenditure demanded by their lottery supplier for in-store changes of doubtful commercial value.

The m migration of lottery purchases to online and mobile does not need to mean the end of a business.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Competition · Lotteries