Australian Newsagency Blog

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

One for the independents

Mark Fletcher
April 24th, 2006 · No Comments

Sue Dunlevy, writing in the Daily Telegraph (Apr. 21) complains about the amount of time one has to spend in the queue at supermarkets to get service compared to the “corner shop”. Dunlevy poses a valid question:

CAN someone please explain to me why we can play movies in our cars, send emails from McDonald’s and take photos with our phones, but we can’t get rid of the supermarket queue?

At newsagencies, service is faster. Sure there might be a queue, but I bet it moves much faster than at a supermarket. As Dunlevy points out in her article, you’re more likely to see the owner manning a register in the busy time at a corner shop (and a newsagency). At Coles and Safeway in the busy time you’ll find managers a long way from the check out counter. Newsagents are often at their counter.

Supermarkets are built around check out queues. Look at their configuration. It’s about regimentation, control. Newsagents offer a more flexible and customer friendly shopping experience. It’s this regimentation which bigger companies like. Look at Vodafone, they have Coles on 16% commission and newsagents on 5% commission yet newsagents provide better service. Apple did a deal offering music download recharge for iTunes exclusively through Coles while newsagents could have provided better service.

Dunlevy goes to the edge with her criticism:

It’s worse than a pap smear and more stressful than a visit to the dentist – but you have to endure it at least once a week to feed your family.

The alternative is to find a local shopping centre with good newsagent, greengrocer, butcher and small supermarket. You’ll get local (faster) service, access to greater range and less stress from the slow moving queues at Coles and Safeway.

Over the last ten years newsagents have innovated and brought new products and services to their counters, they have embraced technology to improve the accuracy and speed of transactions. They have enhanced customer flexibility. If they can do this at the small business end and still usher customers through quickly them why not supermarkets?

Dunlevy’s article is encouraging reading from a small business perspective. Good on the Daily Telegraph for giving space to this issue.

And while we’re on queues I can’t let the topic pass without observing that Australia Post is as bad as ever. The line snakes through the government owned outlets with either side of the line appropriately littered with impulse purchase items (which have nothing to do with postage).

Dunlevy ends her piece suggesting it would be good if consumers took action and abandoned their full trolleys. While that may be impractical, a good start wold be to buy newspapers, magazines, greeting cards at newsagents. The price is the same, the range far better and the service faster and more enjoyable. A dollar spent on a newspaper, magazine or card at a newsagency is, I suggest, more efficient for the economy than a dollar spent at Coles or Safeway.

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Category: Newsagency challenges

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