Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Retail turnaround tips for newsagents experiencing flat sales – small business retail advice

Mark Fletcher
August 16th, 2019 · No Comments

In May 2010, I posted Retail turnaround tips for newsagents experiencing flat sales. This was a post in response to reported flat retail sales.

We are at that place today. retail sales are flat. There is plenty of bad news being reported.

Here is an updated version of that 2010 post…

If your retail sales are flat and you are doing the same things today that you have been doing for the last year it is not good enough.

Business will not come to you. You have to go out and find it – often through a series of small steps as opposed to a big bold move. You have to obsess about presenting a compelling offer to everyone walking through your door.

Price is not a point of difference.  Shoppers expect us to be expensive. That has been shown in plenty of consumer surveys. Railing against this is a challenge. We can do this for some categories and at seasons but not across the board.

Being unique differentiates. The mix requirements of our shingle make that a challenge.

Here are some tips for retailer newsagents on responding to flat sales:

  • Refresh your head. Work out what you want for your business and those who rely on it. Make a plan. Live the plan. Success is in your hands.
  • Lock the office door. Only rarely do you make retail sales from the office. The shop floor is where the action is. Play there.
  • Refresh what you sell.
  • Refresh the counter. Many newsagency counters look the same, boring, what you see in other stores. Create something different and fresh. Take everything off and rebuild the counter with the purpose of selling product on impulse. Make strategic choices. Your counter should NOT look like a newsagency counter.
  • Refresh the window. Tell a story. have fun. Cause people to stop and look.
  • Refresh the shop. Change change and change. Move departments and categories. Make the shop feel fresh to regular customers and to your team. Make strategic choices about what products go where. Use dump bins for specials. Place impulse products next to high traffic products. Once you have undertaken the big moves, create a plan for continual change each week. Change shows that the business is a, living and breathing thing. It can make the shop appealing to new visitors. Newsagents who don’ change their business reinforce that the model is a retail dinosaur.
  • Refresh the team. Let your team know than business is tough. Ask for their ideas. Take some time out of the business to relax over a meal or drink or some other social activity (mini golf, go kart racing, fishing, bushwalking) and share an adventure outside the business. Sometimes getting away like this can get creative juices flowing about changes which can be made back at the business.
  • Ask suppliers for help. If your business is slow it is likely that your suppliers are finding it slow too. Ask them for some good value deals – not the stock they can’t sell but the stock they have plenty of and which sells well.
  • Lure customers back. Look at the top selling items in your businesses. Create a strategy for getting these customers back. Create a small flyer offering a discount on something if they come back in, say, a couple of days. Do this leveraging your top traffic products.
  • Create events. Give people more reasons to visit your shop other than to specifically buy something.
  • Use social media properly. be your platform for marketing.
  • Connect with the community. Go to community clubs and offer a discount to members and a rebate back to the club for business their marketing efforts on your behalf deliver. This is easy to setup and manage. The more people you have in the community saying to their friends that they should shop with you the better.
  • Ode to you. Run a competiton to find the best poem which reflects why your business is important to the local community. Get the finalists in to read them live and get your customers to vote. Maybe the local newspaper will run the winner?
  • Crazy ideas. Think outside the norm. Nude day has been done so has the underpants idea where customers get a discount for shopping only wearing underwear.

Stop talking about it. Yes, retail is tough. Talking about will not improve your situation. Doing something is better than talk.

Change is oxygen to any retail business regardless of its current sales health. Doing nothing in tough times will make the tough times tougher for you.

Personally, I am optimistic about the future for newsagents … that is from 2010. It is true today.


Category: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Optimism

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