Small business newsagents have no control over the range of magazines they receive. Nor do they have control over the volume of magazines they receive.
An average newsagency sells 55% of all magazines received. 45% of what is sent to the business fails to sell and is either returned for resale or dumped.
Unsold magazines are handled in two ways:
- Some newsagents are given permission to rip covers off unsold magazines with the covers returned to the magazine distributor for a credit with the rest of the magazine being disposed on however the newsagents choose.
- Other newsagents have to return all unsold magazines, at their cost.
There is also a mix between the above two points where a newsagent may return covers of some titles and full copies of other titles.
In supermarkets, my understanding is they do not return unsold product. They get to trash it locally.
The amount of paper water must be considerable. Yet no one appears to care about this.
That magazine titles continue to be sent to small business newsagents in a volume that is often far greater than would ever sell is a financial and operational overhead on newsagents. It disadvantages us because of what we have to do to process returns. Since our competitors are not confronted with the same costs it gives them an advantage over us.
Shame on those in a position of power who have refused to act on this.
The big issue here is the waste of paper, labour and fuel on the 45% of magazines printed that do not sell.
What a waste to the environment and a waste of small business newsagent resources.
Despite lots of talk, little has changed in terms of the magazine supply model. Sales data provided by newsagents is not used to drive a more efficient and more fair supply model.
While the model for supermarkets evolves and serves those big businesses, small business newsagents are stuck with a model that is out of date and environmentally unfriendly.
What newsagents want is for supply to more closely match sales. It is a simple request. Those setting supply have the data. Yet too often they ignore it – probably for reasons that serve their ad model. Plus, supply is too often a manual process when it should be automated and 100% data driven.
I think our best chance of addressing the continues oversupply and cutting the 45% failure rate to 10% or less is to target Greens senators. We need to educate them about the wastage of paper, labour and fuel in the magazine returns process. We need their engagement politically to force the matter to be addressed.
If nothing is done, more newsagents will get out of magazines.
For the record, click here to see changes I proposed to the magazine supply model, changes that would benefit Australian publishers.