Australian Newsagency Blog

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

News Ltd plays favourites

Mark Fletcher
March 28th, 2008 · 23 Comments

Management at the Adelaide Advertiser, the SA arm of News Ltd, is playing favourite with newsagent software companies.  They are pushing one locally developed software system.  Even though Tower Systems (the company I own) has 120 newsagent users, Advertiser Newspapers refuses to include us in discussions on IT changes they want in their relationship with newsagents.

Earlier this week they sent advice to newsagents about data extraction.  The information they provided Tower newsagents was based on a version of our software we have not sold in eight years.  No wonder it does not work.  I am suspiicous that this was a deliberate move by Advertiser Newspapers to support their pitch to newsagents to buy the local software.

Newsagency software has changed considerably in the last five years.   Only natuional solutions will prevail – because of the critical mass software companies need for viability thanks to the cost of maintaining compliant software.   Advertiser Newspapers can’t protect theirhome grown software by favoring them.  Blocking competition is not good for newsagents.

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Category: About us · newsagent software

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mark Anonymous // Mar 28, 2008 at 1:34 PM

    One has to ask why a newspaper group might take this commercial stand.
    Is it posssible at all that the Tower system might not be the very best, despite the pride of its owner?

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  • 2 mark // Mar 28, 2008 at 2:10 PM

    You’d have to ask the folks at the Advertiser that. I don’t care what they think. Newsagents matter and 1,500 of them have chosen us – around 600 have chosen our nearest competitor.

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  • 3 Jim // Mar 28, 2008 at 3:54 PM

    I have known organisations like this that will support the little guy just because they are the little guy. Suppliers don’t like one company having too much influence over there customers. If you have nearly three times as many customers as the next best as you say, and I was in the publishers seat, I would start to push someone else as well. Who’s software or support is best is irrelevant to them. It’s all about control.

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  • 4 Mark Anonymous // Mar 28, 2008 at 5:38 PM

    The phrase “I don’t care what they think” may be the key to your problems.

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  • 5 mark // Mar 28, 2008 at 5:41 PM

    I care what newsagents think, they are my customers.

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  • 6 Derek // Mar 28, 2008 at 6:25 PM

    Every one has the the right to an opinion or a comment that is why this blog is and remains interesting, however there is always one who has an agenda or enjoys submitting at times embarrassing comments. It is either jealousy, personal or a hired “Gun” to just be a pest . Tell us a bit about yourself Anonymous Mark!!

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  • 7 Mark Anonymous // Mar 28, 2008 at 9:22 PM

    Ah Derek, you don’t want to really hear about lil’ ol’ me. One of the attractions of this blog is to read Mark’s postings about his trips to the airports of the world, pictures from places like Mount Wellington or Hong Kong, and his disclosures about the many involvements in the businesses in which he has invested, or is off-loading. Focus on the doughnut, not the hole, Derek.

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  • 8 mark // Mar 29, 2008 at 8:00 AM

    Mark Anonymous, your comments are worthless if you are not prepared to put your name to them. Mark Fletcher

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  • 9 mark // Mar 29, 2008 at 8:02 AM

    Nelson, newsXpress like Nextra, Newspower and Supanews negotiates exclusive arrangements from time to time – on commercial terms. The folks at the Adelaide Advertiser have not negotiated such a deal in this instance. It is a purely parochial move based on a distribution model they desperately want to keep in the state. Mark

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  • 10 Mark Anonymous // Mar 29, 2008 at 3:41 PM

    Playing the man again, Mark?

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  • 11 mark // Mar 29, 2008 at 3:54 PM

    Anon, How can I be playing the man if you hide behind anonymity? If you really believed what you write you’d have the guts to out yourself. Mark

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  • 12 Derek // Mar 29, 2008 at 8:09 PM

    Anonymous- Envy is not good for your health. The owner of this blog shares his business life with others at times to his detriment when blogging on contentious issues which relate to some big corporations / companies.

    Helped & encouraged many in their own business’s, I can go on.

    It is his blog, he could show or write as he pleases, your grass at home I am sure is very green with a big yellow dead piece down the middle.

    You embarrass yourself with your cowardly remarks, but as I said before this is just a personal attack on the owner of this blog by you.

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  • 13 Mark Anonymous // Mar 29, 2008 at 9:22 PM

    No other contributor on this blog is identified, why is my identity central to the discussion? Derek (who is he, for instance?) calls my comments cowardly. Few on this blog seem to want to challenge remarks: Mark just seems to want it to be one big Fletcher fan club.

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  • 14 mark // Mar 30, 2008 at 9:45 AM

    Anonymous Mark,

    Most other commenters here use a valid email address. Yours is fake.

    If I was after a big fan club as you say, I’d block your comments and any critical of me. I’d post fake comments myself. Oh, and I would not be public about mistakes.

    There are 3,439 blog posts here and 2,649 comments. They speak for themselves, warts and all.

    I don’t know what gave you the chip against me, whether you’re a competitor, someone who does not like success or someone who is just jealous.

    Out yourself and lets have a public debate about the matters of concern to you.

    Mark Fletcher

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  • 15 Mark Anonymous // Mar 30, 2008 at 1:11 PM

    You sound like Derryn.

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  • 16 Mark Anonymous // Mar 30, 2008 at 1:22 PM

    Apparently my comments now emerge from the ‘worthless’ category, with my valid e-mail address now attached:
    mark.anonymous@hotmail.com – anyone is welcome to contact me.
    I certainly do not envy you, old boy. I often question your logic and viewpoint, and you seem to get unreasonably angry about that. As they say in ‘The Godfather’: it’s not personal, it’s business.

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  • 17 mark // Mar 30, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    Anon Mark, first up, the email address you have published here is different to the fake one you have been using for your comments until now. I am not angry, just confused why you attack in a personal and nonconstructive way. Out yourself so we can have a public debate. Mark

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  • 18 Mark Anonymous // Mar 30, 2008 at 9:54 PM

    My friends call me Mark; you may too.

    I am 61, happily married for 40 years, and am a semi-retired investor.
    I ran newsagencies of my own for many years, as well as other retail and wholesale businesses. These days I am silent partner in a number of newsagencies in Victoria, leaving the day-to-day yakka to the principals. It is a young person’s game, but I am well aware of the personalities and the ins-and-outs.

    Being a silent partner means remaining silently anonymous. I again ask you to respect that. You now have an e-mail address for me, but I am not inviting a private discourse.
    It astounds me that you are so desperate to discover my identity; you do not require that of any other person who exchanges viewpoints on this blog.

    But, to tell you more, I live in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. I have a holiday property on the Mornington Peninsula, and I run a beef cattle farm on a commercial basis about 90 minutes from Melbourne. I still take a keen interest in newsagencies – and have concern that these independent businesses leave themselves so vulnerable by failing to organise into a united trade body. They give themselves no leverage.

    I was one of the first to embrace computerisation in the 1970s. I am a firm believer that merchandising means putting goods in the danger of being sold. It is common sense.
    I made my money by being a practical businessman, with a keen eye on costs. I believe that some of today’s newsagents could not negotiate their way out of a paper (or plastic) bag. They are just so compliant with everything that is thrown at them.
    Don’t be a pussy cat in business, otherwise the dogs will get you!

    The retail businesses gave me many opportunities. I found that it was relatively easy to negotiate concessions and extras from suppliers simply for the sake of asking. Most of today’s newsagents just cop it, not-too-sweet. The concessions, the payments what we called ‘co-op’, and extras could easily equate the net profit from the main game, annually.

    I have dabbled in the online industry and helped local publishers. It attracts show-ponies, but there are few who have the backbone to act beyond the fluffery of post-it notes and where spinning merchandisers should be placed in a store. Merchandising means you have been a dynamic architect: design the store to produce the maximum return.

    Business angels need to do more than post photos from their overseas trips, and talk of what is happening in the airport Captain’s Lounge, to be relevant to suburbabn newsagents.

    I believe that much commercial success comes from real involvement in the local community. That means traditional family values, community service through groups like Rotary and Lions, church, and polite and neat approach to customers. I see little about that in this blog. If a newsagency is in trouble and doing it hard, I would recommend that the proprietors start their review with a ‘back to basics’ approach. These principles never failed me.

    You have accused me of envy. I am certainly not envious or jealous of you. Never met you, have no desire to do so. I have already achieved my successes, and my family members are successfully carving their own fortunes. If I am to be judged by my net worth, I am entitled to say that I know my onions. If I am to judged by my comments on this blog, why do you persist with the myth that are not constructive? The comments are made on the basis of my lifetime’s business successes.

    Oh (which seems to be an over-used rhetorical device on this blog), I almost forgot, my life is a happy contented one. I am proud of my achievements and hard work.

    Now … you seem to have a focus on a “public debate” with me. About what?
    If you want a starting point, pick five comments of mine that you believe have been non-constructive. I’ll expand on them, and tell you how they have worked positively for me in business.

    I do believe I have been fair with my time with you in detailing my background. As I say I am confused that you require this of me, but no others. My only conclusion can be that you desperately want to find some flaw in my career so you can attack me personally.
    Not every idea you present is the best possible optio, Markn. Those of us, who pioneered the track earlier, often have common-sense answers beyond the need for lightweight flim-flam and fluff.

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  • 19 Jarryd Moore // Mar 31, 2008 at 12:17 AM

    Mark A,

    Im not sure how long you’ve been out of the game … but community involvement, such as that which you detail, doesn’t have the pulling power it used to.

    Im in a regional town and even here groups such as Lions, Rotary and churches attract little attention. I can say this from experience being involved (indirectly) in the work of two of these groups – their power to command attention is little to none.

    And can I ask what you mean by a united trade body? Do you mean industry-wide or industry-subgroups such as marketing groups/franchises? If you are refering to industry-wide solutions then they don’t work. We’ve seen that time and time again. The industry is seeing better commercial trading terms being negotiated through a number of marketing groups – most are still young but are nonetheless proving they are the future of the industry very quickly.

    I agree (and I think most here would), newsagents are too compliant (with the wrong things and not with the right things) – thats small business in general.

    The “back-to-basics” and “common-sense” approach may have been enough in the past – but retail is a more demanding market than it has ever been. These concepts aren’t enough anymore. Thats not to say they aren’t important to an extent, but they aren’t enough to make a business successful or stand out from the crowd.

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  • 20 mark // Mar 31, 2008 at 6:39 AM

    Anon Mark. You’re a game player. That is evidence by your changing email address. You can say all you like here. You have a ‘thing’ against me that that’s fine. I am not the issue here – this place is about newsagents and newsagencies.

    You entered this thread with claims about News Ltd in SA. Your comments reflected ignorance on the subject yet provided a platform for a personal kick. So be it. Your essay today puts me no closer to understanding or believing you.

    mark Fletcher

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  • 21 Sunny // Mar 31, 2008 at 8:28 AM

    Thanks. Mark A.

    The “back-to-basics” and “common-sense” approach works well for my shop.

    Last Friday, my delivery car broken down in the earlier morning, a nearby newsagent kindly provided his spare car, and 2 or 3 customers in nearby coffee shops offers a help to move the paper. Some even told me that they can provide a backup car if needed.

    I am grad to serve all my neighboorhood customers, and they give us a hand whenever we needed. Sometimes, they pick up my son from school with their children. Some parents took my child to Soccer games for last 2 years along their children. Some customers brought home made cookies and pastry to us. Many customers understood the problems we experienced with home delivery, and always encourage us and take easy with our mistakes.

    Jarrdy is right that the “back-to-basics” and “common-sense” approach may have been enough in the past. While it is still a foundation of our bussiness, we need to do more.

    Many of these kind customers (who gave us help without any questions) didn’t buy bread from us. They came with bread purchased from other shops and buy paper and milk from us.

    What we considered was why the customers didn’t buy from us.

    Some customers are price sensitive, some need best of best. Some need more varities than we offered.

    We worked with a local bakery provide nice quality bread, worked with Butter cup and Tip top for more varities and sometimes, a joint promotion, and worked with one of the best bakery in Sydney on the weekend.

    As a result, our bread sales increase 4 times over 3 years. and customers are happy with the fresh, the choice, and the brands.

    To complain why customers didn’t buy from us is wasting our time. To research and provide what they like is the solutions.

    I always dream for a national group to get national promtions with Tip Top and Buttercups, so that is something Jarrdys is right.

    Cheers,

    Sunny

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  • 22 John Fitzpatrick // Mar 31, 2008 at 5:20 PM

    Mark, You would be interested to know that the “local” software company you refer too, is NOT compliant with ANPL’s requested file structure, they will also need to produce an update for their users.

    Maybe it’s time the software coy’s have a telephone “hookup” with ANPL and sort out exactly what is required, the purpose and a common update timeline is adopted by all.

    Regards John Fitzpatrick
    north Haven Newsagency

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  • 23 mark // Mar 31, 2008 at 6:48 PM

    John, a hookup makes sense. It’s the approach News Ltd takes in all other states. The folks at the Advertiser have run their own race for several years. Mark

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