Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Addressing the magazine theft problem

Mark Fletcher
August 27th, 2010 · 8 Comments

Magazine theft is costing newsagents between 3% and 5% of total magazine sales.  Publishers and magazine distributors accept no responsibility even though they control the range and volume or magazine stock we receive.  Worse, still, most newsagents do not take basic steps to understand the problem.

Newsagents need to ask themselves if they really have a handle on the cost of theft relating to magazines.  My experience is that few newsagents actually do – they ignore tools available to them to understand the financial cost of magazine related theft.

Think about it, magazines are one of the most tightly controlled parts of our business.   We know exactly what we receive, what we sell and what we return.

Using the Magazine Discrepancy Report (actually called the Magazine Issue Performance Report) in the Tower Systems newsagency software, newsagents are able to immediately see discrepancies between supply and sale and return numbers.  This discrepancy reflects either customer theft or employee theft.

The report is produced as part of the returns process.  Once magazine returns are scanned, the report indicates the difference between what is being returned and what should be returns based on supply and sales data.

Here you have a report which documents exactly what has been stolen by staff and customers yet all too often newsagents ignore the opportunity in the report.

We ought to hunt down every single title which the discrepancy report says is missing.  But we don’t.  We are either too lazy, too ignorant or too scared to look at the Discrepancy Report and face the reality that we have been stolen from by employees or customers.

The first lesson of good theft management in a newsagency is to understand the problem.  The Discrepancy Report helps newsagents do this in the context of magazines – without any extra work involved.  Just by doing what you need to do each day you are tracking theft.

I was talking with a newsagent late last week about magazine theft and once we dug into his data we saw that magazine theft was costing 3% of magazine revenue.  In this particular instance, two thirds of the magazine theft was employee theft. Kaching … yes that is cash bleeding from the business which can now be avoided.

I am sure that other newsagency software programs have similar reports on magazine theft.  If they don’t then shame on them.  My call to newsagents with this blog post is to USE YOUR SOFTWARE, track magazine theft every week, act on the results and take a zero tolerance approach to any discrepancy between the magazine returns you scan and what you expected to scan.

Remember, it is your money.

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Category: magazine distribution · magazines · newsagent software

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brett // Aug 27, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    The copy may also still be with the subbie, or under the counter as a putaway, but yes you are right … its OK to look at that report, painful at first but you will soon learn how to track them down.

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  • 2 Shayne // Aug 27, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    We used to ignore this report as was taught to us by the precious owners. Upon joining newsXpress we received some excellent training and advice on how to properly use the report from our Business Development Managers. We are now very meticulous with each mag return we do, and this saves us $$$ every month.

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  • 3 Shayne // Aug 27, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Typo, whilst the previous owners may have been a little precious, I did mean to type previous!

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  • 4 Mark // Aug 27, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Brett, if it is a putaway it will not come up on the report as they are tightly managed.

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  • 5 Hz // Aug 27, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    The Putaways management report under Tasks is invaluable too, used in conjunction with the discrepancy report.I let my latger subs know each week which return week we are up to so they have a chance to scour their shelves and get their credits, very few problems. Tower is great for this aspect.

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  • 6 Keith // Aug 28, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Since I started using this report a couple of years ago I have seen a decline in the discrepancy. We achieved that by paying attention to the titles which were being stolen. I encourage newsagents to use this.

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  • 7 kellie // Aug 28, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    MOSTOF MY MAGS SEEM TO BE GOOD MY PROBLEM SEEMS TO BE WITH THE WEEKLYS NEW IDEA, W DAY, EACH WEEK THERE IS DISCREPANCY NEVER SEEM TO KNOW WHERE THEY GO

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  • 8 David // Aug 29, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    I caught a staff member stealing last year thanks to this report. Took me a while to nail him but the report told me that I had a problem. Every newsagent should use it and act on it.

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