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

Author: Mark Fletcher

The keywords of shoppers: who is Frida Kahlo and why does she matter to us?

Frida Kahlo is an artist from Mexico, who lived from 1907 to 1954. Her art consisted mainly of self portraits. She is considered a feminist icon, and rightly so. Interest in her has grown in recent years through careful management of licences associated with her.

We have several suppliers to our channel with Frida Kahlo products. There are cards, journals, calendar, cushions, wrap and more. These are items bought by and for, primarily, women, 25 to 50.

This is why Frida Kahlo matters. But let me add to that. through search data, we can see that every day Aussies are search Frida Kahlo online. Here is current search data:

When I am considering Licenced product for my shops, I look at search data as it is real, current and accurate. It helps me assess the interest in this licence over another licence and that can sway my purchasing.

This research into online searches also helps determine the value of buying products from multiple suppliers for a licence. This is the case with the Frida Kahlo brand. The 12,100 searches for the specific brand are interesting. Expand the consideration to all associated keywords and you have 82,700 searches a month in Australia. That makes it a commercially viable brand. Also, thanks too the search data I can access, I can see the sites people go to for their Frida Kahlo fix, and this can guide how I represent the brand in-store.

All of this speaks to the importance of data in guiding retail business decisions. It also speaks to what we have to do in considering what to sell in ur shops. Retail is different today. We have more data available for decision making. We have more options, too, thanks to more suppliers selling to us.

What people search for online is valuable as we evolve our retail businesses. It reveals more to you than you can know from those walking into or past your shop. It’s powerful data, and accessible data. It is vital that we tap into it, to understand opportunities, especially for Licenced product, like Frida Kahlo, which may have not been on our radar in the past.

Whereas previously we’d worry about the range of pens we had, the six of magazines in a category, our birthday card mix or some sub-$20 gift lines, today brand or licence driven retailers are able to broaden their appeal by sensitively tapping into respected brands that stand for something, by sourcing deeply into the brand across multiple suppliers.

It all starts with accurate search data. tap into that and you can tap into a well of new shopper traffic.

This is what the newsagency of the future needs to do – pursue growth through data.

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newsXpress marketing

In March this year newsXpress published a 50 page book, Achieving more, together.  in which it set out what newsXpress offers its member newsagents and how, specifically, newsXpress helps newsagents evolve their businesses, to find new shoppers and to run businesses that grow in value and relevance.

I wrote this book as I wanted to lay out in one place the what, why and how in relation to newsXpress and its mission of service for newsagents.

The reaction has been terrific. It’s wonderful seeing newsagents want to make their businesses more valuable.

The book was posted in March to 500 newsagents in hard copy while a soft copy version was provided to more. If you’d like a copy, please email me.

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Vic. retailers: check your Covid safe plan

The state government updated it’s Covid safe plan for businesses on July 1. While the changes are small, they will be picked up if you are site audited. And, to folks in other states, audits are a real thing. My own businesses have been audited several times.

Click here to access to latest Covid safe plan requirements.

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All eyes on the CBD

Capital city central business districts are confronting challenges in attracting shoppers. With plenty of city office workers not returning to the office, everyday shopper traffic is down. This presents a challenge for retailers.

Rather than dealing with the change and a long-term change, because that would be tough to do, some city administrators are investing to try and lure people in.

Melbourne, for example, has launched council subsidised discount parking and a state government and city council funded dining voucher that provides a rebate of up to $100.

While these types of cash related campaigns are interesting, I don’t think they will solve the issue for the issue is structural. The pandemic has shown many people an alternative they had not previously considered.

More people are working from home permanently, reducing weekday core foot traffic in the city.

meanwhile, retailers in regional Australia continue to do well.

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ACCC interest in Are Media takeover of Ovato Retail Distribution

This letter outlines what interests the ACCC in its consideration of the takeover of Ovato Retail Distribution by Are Media:

Dear interested party,

Request for submissions: Are Media Pty Limited’s proposed acquisition of Ovato Retail Distribution Pty Ltd

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking your views on the proposed acquisition of Ovato Retail Distribution Pty Ltd (ORD) by Are Media Pty Limited (Are Media) (proposed acquisition).

Are Media is the largest magazine publisher in Australia and ORD operates the largest retail distribution network for print magazines in Australia. Further details regarding the acquisition can be found at Attachment A.

The ACCC’s investigation is focused on the impact on competition. In particular, we are seeking your views on:

  • The presence of alternative retail distribution networks for print magazines, and the ability for customers to switch between alternative retail distribution networks.
  • The likelihood of a price increase for retail distribution of magazines if the proposed acquisition proceeds.
  • The ability and incentive for a combined Are Media/ORD to foreclose or discriminate against competing magazine publishers seeking retail distribution services.
  • The extent that the magazine industry is in economic decline and if so, whether the industry is likely to recover in the next three years.
  • The potential expansion of existing distribution networks (for example, newspaper distribution) into the retail distribution of magazines.Further issues you may wish to address are set out in Attachment B.
    This matter is public and you can forward this letter to anybody who may be interested.

The legal test which the ACCC applies in considering the proposed acquisition is in section 50 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Section 50 prohibits acquisitions that are likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in a market.

Please provide your response by 5pm on 8 July 2021. Responses may be emailed to mergers@accc.gov.au with the title: Submission re: Are Media/ORD – attention Sophia Liu / Will Sommers. If you would like to arrange a time to discuss the matter with ACCC officers, or have any questions about this letter, please contact Sophia Liu on (03) 9290 1437 or Will Sommers on (03) 9910 9444.

The takeover presents challenges for newsagents, independent publishers and consumers. It will be interesting to see if there are submissions on these matters.

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Tabcorp announces plans to de-merge lotteries

Tabcorp this morning announced plans to de-merge the lotteries and keno business from the gaming company.

This move, which is expected to be completed mid 2022, would result in an organisation more focussed and reliant on lotteries revenue. I suspect this would see pressure on the retail network increase.

With digital sales accounting now for 32.1% of lotteries revenue, smart management would be focussed on driving digital sales as I suspect the cost to the business of digital sales is less than the cost of over the counter sales.

To any retailer who asks me I say – don’t run your business such that it is reliant on lottery revenue for survival. The less you rely on lottery revenue and lottery shopper foot traffic the brighter opportunities for your business.

The bottom lime of today’s Tabcorp announcement is continued disruption for lottery retailers.

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Reed changes Melbourne Gift Fair date, causing a clash of trade shows

Reed announced this morning that the date of the Melbourne gift fair will change.

Reed Gift Fairs Melbourne will now take place on 17-19 September 2021 and will be co-located with Life Instyle.

RX (Reed Exhibitions), organisers of Reed Gift Fairs and Life Instyle, will continue to monitor the situation closely as it evolves. Our number one priority is the health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees, industry partners and staff and we will continue to act on the expert advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and local health departments.

We fully understand and appreciate the level of planning that is required to participate in an event like ours and we will do our utmost to help all our customers, partners and attendees to prepare for the new dates.

This has frustrated Expertise Events as it competes with the date of their Sydney fair:

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.

Smart suppliers have learnt how to run their businesses such that they no longer rely on trade shows.

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Looking under the hood at the Ovato operation

Details loaded to the ASX website Friday provide an insight into Ovato, its magazine distribution operation and the outlook, more broadly, for magazines.

It’s worth reading the whole document as it presents a perspective of the Ovato business that could be different to how you see it from within your local newsagency business.

Further in the letter is this in relation to Market Hub:

Newsagents who want to comment on the proposed takeover of Ovato Retail Distribution by Are Media have until July 8 to do so. Click here for details.

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How does your newsagency compare to 2002

Check out this TV commercial from 2002. It’s interesting to see the products pitch and to consider these in the context of what you’d pitch in your business today.

On the broader matter of pitching on prices … shoppers you attract because of price are harder to keep.

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Under-award cash payment of employees without a payslip is illegal

I received a call Friday from someone saying they are working at a newsagency and being paid cash in hand, without a payslip and at a rate that is 25% lower than the award.

They were asking for help. I gave them the phone contact details for Fair Work and urged them to make immediate contact. I also gave them the link for an anonymous report.

There is no excuse for systematic, deliberate, underpayment of employees nor for payment by cash without a payslip.

As we have seen in the conveyance, fuel and hospitality spaces, the actions of a few can tarnish perceptions of a channel.

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NSW government prefers to be half-pregnant with covid ‘restrictions’

The NSW Premier has said it’s not a lock down, rather, that it’s a stay at home order, and then pleaded for common sense.

A week on, we can see how that is playing out. Not well.

The NSW Chief health Officer today told people in NSW that retail was a problem setting for them:

While NSW and their federal friends have been quick in the past to criticise the stronger and more restrictive lockdowns in Victoria, history has shown that they work.

Retailers are told in NSW by the government to be open and that staff can cross Covid borders to get to and from work, but now they say the retail setting is problematic.

Hmm…

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Newsagents: support those who support you

SEN, the company that publishes the AFL record, is the publisher that most consistently promotes and recommends our channel. If you see their tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram posts, give them a like. better still, comment appreciation for their support of newsagents.

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Melbourne AGHA gift fair cancelled

I’ve been advised by several suppliers today that the AGHA Melbourne gift fair scheduled to start later this month has been cancelled.

This from Giftguide online:

“Following a survey of all exhibitors and the ongoing uncertainty of random border closures and lockdowns by various state governments, the board of AGHA has made the very difficult decision to cancel the AGHA Melbourne Gift Fair to have been held at the MCEC 31 July 31 to 4 August 2021,” AGHA CEO Wayne Castle and president Michelle Lawson said in a joint statement.

The upcoming Melbourne Gift Fair was a sell-out and there was great excitement by everyone at the prospect of face-to-face meetings once again, they said.

“While there was a possibility that the gift fair could proceed, or potentially be postponed to September or October, the uncertainty of the ongoing spread of Covid-19 together with a strong reluctance by all participants to travel meant this was not viable or supported by the exhibitors and visitors.”

Castle and Lawson add that while this is very disappointing news, they are looking ahead to the 2022 AGHA Sydney Gift Fair, which has already garnered a great deal of interest.

“We look forward to the industry meeting again at the AGHA Sydney Gift Fair at Sydney Olympic Park in February 2022.”

Giftguide has contacted Reed Gift Fairs but there has been no comment so far on their Melbourne event.

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It’s important to obsess about product images for websites

Product images are critical on websites. Not only do them help sell products but they also help sell the business.

Lazy product images pitch the business as lazy. Unprofessional product images pitch the business as unprofessional.

Obsess about product images and expect better commercial outcomes.

Here is a bad product image.

Here is the same image, looking much better.

To get from the first to the second image took around 25 seconds using a background removing tool. While the second image is not perfect, it is much better and will be more commercially successful than the first image.

This is on my mind today as I have spent some time reviewing several e-commerce websites for newsagency businesses. The easy, low hanging fruit, opportunity too improve each website I have looked at is fixing the images: removing backgrounds and sliding in a gentle colour to help the product shine.

There are plenty of easily accessible background removing tools out there.

A small amount of time invested in the images on your business website will result in better engagement and, hopefully, more sales. Certainly, the Google algorithms will notice the improved images.

You control the images you show on your website. This is why it is important that you invest time ensuring they are the best they can be.

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IPS closure not unexpected

IPS announced today it is closing in September.

IPS Closure Announcement

Hello Retailer,

Australian Community Media continues to review its manufacturing operations around Australia. In recent times they have exited print plants in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. On June 25 our largest print plant in Western Sydney (North Richmond) was closed.

With this closure, IPS has been forced to review the viability of its ongoing business. Following this review IPS has made the difficult decision to cease operations.

IPS will cease operations on the 28th of September 2021, but will continue to work  to finalise the closure up until December 2021.

IPS would like to thank you for the service you’ve provided over many years. If you would like to discuss further please feel free to contact us.

Regards,

IPS

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Were newsagents obligated to sell the Herald Sun yesterday at $2.00?

There Herald Sun newspaper had the wrong price on the cover, as I noted here yesterday.

Reps from the publisher advised newsagents to keep track of sales at $2.00 and that they would credit the newsagents.

Please be aware the incorrect cover price of $2 was printed on the Herald Sun today, Wednesday 30th June 2021.

The correct cover price is $2.20, and this is what should scan when using the barcode.

If customers insist on paying the printed cover price today of $2 it should be honoured.

To avoid being out of pocket, please advise us via email to newsagents@news.com.au the route number and number of customers that paid the reduced price for the Herald Sun and we will apply a credit to your account.

Please call us on 1800 639 700 if you have any other queries.

I have three comments about this:

  • Poor communication channels meant that plenty of retail only newsagents did not get that ‘memo’.
  • Some distribution newsagents made up their own rules when advising retail newsagents.
  • The publisher advice is not supported by consumer law. Nor is it supported by the voluntary Code of Practice for Computerised Checkout Systems in Supermarkets.

This supermarket code sets out procedures employees in a store must follow in the event of incorrectly priced items. In one example, if an item scans at a higher price than the price listed on the shelf, the customer is entitled to receive the item free (assuming the look-up number is correct). I wonder if this happened.

What the newspaper publisher could / should have said is follow your in-store policy as it is this policy that should lay out how you handle an incorrectly priced item.

In my stores, the price of any item that arrives in store with the price permanently printed or marked on it is the price. That is is the price we sell the item for. So, in our situation, all Herald Suns sold yesterday were sold at $2.00.

Consumer law is governed by the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).  This requires prices to be clear and correct, so that they do not mislead consumers. Pricing must not leave consumers with a false impression as regards pricing.

It was wrong of the publisher to expect retail newsagents to deal with their publishing mistake. I think a smarter move would have been to be very public about the mistake and promote it as a deal for the day. I suspect there would have been a sales jump as a result, and considerably less stress for newsagents. yesterday was a missed opportunity.

This may seem like a small issue. All it would take is for one customer to make it big. They could make it even bigger by comparing how a newsagent would handle this versus a supermarket.

To me, the issue reflects out of date practices in our channel, practices that root us in how things were done too many years ago. We need to grow up.

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New newsagency sales benchmark study launched

I have emailed newsagents this morning to start data collection for benchmark study comparing the first six months of 2021 with 2019. As I explain, I have selected 2019 to compare to because 2020 was an odd (good and bad) year for most.

I have chosen six months because of the opportunity to look at performance over a longer period. Based on early data I have seen from several stores, the results should be interesting, and useful.

First half 2021 NEWSAGENCY SALES BENCHMARK STUDY.
I am collating data for a new benchmark study, looking at sales covering January through June 2021 versus January through June 2019.

Why compare to 2019? Because … 2020 was an odd year. To really understand where your business is at today, we need to compare to two years ago, a more stable trading period.

How to participate.

  1. Please run a Monthly Sales Comparison Report for 01/01/2021 – 30/06/2021 compared to 01/01/2019 – 30/06/2019.
  2. Tick the category box. IMPORTANT.
  3. Tick to exclude home delivery and sub agent data.
  4. DO NOT tick the supplier box.
  5. Preview the report on the screen. Save as a PDF.
  6. Email these reports direct to me at mark@towersystems.com.au.
  7. Read the report yourself and see what it shows you about your business.

I will email the results to all participating newsagents and publish the results on the Australian Newsagency Blog as a service for all newsagents.

I own and run three newsagencies. Over the years I have had three others. I own newsXpress, the newsagency marketing group.

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Melbourne gift fair to be cancelled / moved

I’ve been told by a supplier to our channel this morning that the Melbourne gift fair that is due to start later this month will be cancelled, or, possibly, moved.

Given that access to Victoria will still be limited by the end of the month, the move, if true, makes sense.

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The Chief Health Officer of the Northern Territory has declared that newsagents are not essential

Update: 12:30 30062021. They reversed the decision.

In a move that is out off step with every other state / territory jurisdiction in Australia that has dealt with lockdowns during Covid, the NT Government, through their Chief Health Officer, has declared that newsagents are non-essential. ALNA sent out an email late today with the news.

At the NT government website they say all retail, except for supermarkets, is to be open:

People are only permitted to leave home for the following five reasons. Masks must be worn at all times when leaving  home:

  1. To receive health care or attend medical appointments. Including to get the COVID-19 vaccine

  2. To undertake shopping and get necessary goods and services. Supermarkets will stay open, so there is no need to stock up on groceries.

  3. To exercise for up to one hour a day within 5km of your home and only with members of your household or one other person.

  4. To undertake essential work. If you can work from home – you must work from home.

  5. In case of an emergency or if there is family violence or to provide essential care to a loved one or dependent.

This is an odd move, one that is challenging many small business NT retailers.

I wonder what the folks at the NT News think about this since newsagents play a an important role in disseminating the news they publish.

Newsagents in other states and territories have shown themselves to be responsible and safe retailers, providing an appreciated community service keeping people up to date with news and helping them connect, which is vital for mental health.

From my work with my POS software company, farm supply businesses, produce businesses, whole foods businesses, pet shops, pool maintenance shops, bike shops have all been considered essential. So, the decision by the NT government to only permit supermarkets to be open is odd.

Updated: 06:31 30062021

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Tabcorp decides against an increase remuneration for small business lottery retailers

In a blow for small retail businesses confronting annual increases in rent of at least 5%, in wages of 3% or more and in other operating costs of between 5% and 10%, Tabcorp has decided to not increase the commission paid to its lottery retailers. Here is a letter sent to retailers. Happy end of financial year folks.

While they thank parties for their submissions, the letter shows that it was all wasted effort by all who made submissions, just as it is for most who object to new outlets being approved near them. Tabcorp is great at telling retailers who much they care and great and doing very little to put the words into action in my opinion.

Tabcorp shareholders have every reason to be happy. Small business retailers will keep working, for less in real terms, because some do not see an alternative and because some see the commission as icing on the cake for whet else they dip in their business.

The lowest paid is the lottery food chain are locked in to be paid less in retail terms.

What frustrates me is that this giant of a company punitively controls so much of what the agent retail businesses can achieve – in such a way as to hinder good and fair retail management.

28 June 2021

Dear Retailer

Subject: Commission Review Determination

As a proud operator of lotteries across Australia, Tabcorp recognises and appreciates the critical role retailers have played and will continue to play in the future, in the success of the Tabcorp Lotteries business.

As you are aware, in Victoria, Tatts is required to formally review the commission for retailers no less than three times during the period of the Victorian Public Lottery Licence. Although this is not a requirement across all jurisdictions, Golden Casket has elected to extend this review to include all of the jurisdictions in which we operate. After an extensive consultation process, we have now concluded this review.

As part of the current commission review and consultation process Golden Casket has:

  • considered all of the factors listed in our letter to retailers in November 2020;
  • actively engaged with Industry Associations that hold a current collective bargaining authorisation under section 88 (1A) and (1) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 in accordance with 3.3 of Schedule 4; and
  • invited retailers not associated with the Industry Associations to make individual submissions.We would like to thank ALNA and NLNA for their detailed submissions and subsequent engagement, as well as thank those retailers that are not members of ALNA or NLNA, for taking the time to provide us with their submissions.Following our extensive review and consultation process, Golden Casket advises that no changes are proposed for the maximum commission rates and the current commission rates will be retained.

1. Rational for retention of current commission rates

As you are aware, the current commission rates were adjusted on 19 August 2019 as part of the Omni- Channel Remuneration Program. Golden Caskets analysis demonstrates that these commission rates reasonably reward retailers for their role as a stakeholder in the conduct of Public Lotteries in Queensland.

Total commissions paid to Golden Casket retailers collectively have increased and are projected to continue growing. Through the successful management of the lotteries portfolio, coupled with the implementation of the Omni-Channel Remuneration Program, Golden Casket has delivered to retailers a steady increase in commissions, above the CPI during the term of the Current Licence, noting fluctuations related to jackpot activity.

2. Benefits delivered to retailers as a result of the commission review

Although Golden Casket does not support an increase in commission rates at this time, we will continue to regularly evaluate and seek to improve the net remuneration paid to retailers via competitive rate and fee structures. We will also continue our investment in product and marketing initiatives that drive growth and sales for retailers.

The Omni-Channel Remuneration Program which commenced on 19 August 2019 with enhanced remuneration arrangements for retailers, has delivered over $21M in FY20 in additional income to retailers, with a further $8.9M invested by Tabcorp in the DigiPOS buyback program.

Outside of the formal review process established by the government, Golden Casket regularly reviews methods to help reduce the costs for retailers and will continue to do so. We consider that this dynamic regular review process, which considers relevant and current factors, delivers better outcomes than simply operating a system with prescribed fixed / regular commission adjustments.

Golden Casket also has a strong pipeline of planned initiatives which are focussed on delivering ongoing benefits to retailers and building a stronger retail network. Such initiatives include:

  • exploring ways to drive new foot traffic for lotteries retailers;
  • training programs for our retailers;
  • the provision of retailer syndicates via The Lott Website and app;
  • terminal enhancements to bring the retail and digital experiences closer together; and
  • The Lott rebranding program that will see a single master channel Omni-Channel brand across boththe digital and retail networks.

3. Golden Casket future approach to remuneration of retailers

Given the maximum commission rates were increased in 2019 as part of the Omni-Channel Program launch, Golden Casket advises that the maximum commission rates will remain at the current levels.

Golden Casket will continue to regularly monitor the performance of its retailers including the level of commission paid to retailers and consider whether the commission reasonably rewards retailers for their role in the conduct of Public Lotteries. The implementation of the Omni-Channel Remuneration Program outside of the Schedule 4 requirements demonstrates Golden Caskets absolute commitment to this approach.

Conclusion

Golden Casket is committed to working in partnership with lotteries retailers, industry associations and the government on other programs that can assist retailers in maintaining relevance of their businesses into the future.

Thanks again for your participation and engagement with the Commission Review process and for your ongoing support. Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact your Business Development Manager.

Yours sincerely,

Antony

Antony Moore
General Manager Lotteries Retail

This letter reflects the challenges of being an agent, of relying on the entity in control to care for you beyond lip-service.

I suspect Fair Work would have decided differently if they were involved and looked at lottery agents as employees.

UPDATE (10:49am): Here’s part of ALNA’s response emailed just now:

What is ALNA’s position on the determination outcome?
Overall, ALNA is very disappointed with the outcomes for our retailers from the CRM process that were communicated today, we hoped and believed Tabcorp would be able to positively respond to our recommendations and deliver a range of improved solutions for retailers. Given the current circumstances, we feel it misses an important opportunity to address key issues and to deliver timely and meaningful solutions for the challenges facing retailers right now, and the broader Tabcorp business, that we had highlighted in our submission, with solution focused recommendations to this CRM process.

By not providing a baseline increase in commissions to retailers in this second review in the CRM which is affordable and already offset by ticket price increases, we believe Tabcorp will not meet its Lottery Licence and CRM obligations to retailers, as it has now been nearly 10 years since the retailer’s baseline commission safety net was increased. As a result, ALNA will be raising our concerns over the outcomes and recommendations from this review with the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, as we did previously after Tabcorp’s response to the 2018 Commission Review Mechanism process.

While we acknowledge that since the last CRM, and our subsequent representations to Government, which ultimately resulted in the new Remuneration Program being launched, the majority of retailers have earned additional commissions and these have been very beneficial, they are not guaranteed like a baseline increase is and so they do not provide the safety net that retailers desperately need and that we have justifiably raised in this CRM process. They are ‘at risk’ commissions offset by a rise in fees and ticket prices and conditional on performance measures to discount these.

Our requests in the latter part of these negotiations were calibrated, to be reasonable, measured and affordable for Tabcorp in the economic circumstances, asking that they pass through a portion of the ‘at risk’ component of commissions in the remuneration program and asking that they reconsider their approach to available Omni-channel digital commissions and to improve these.

Furthermore, the opportunity this CRM review provided to adopt recommendations aimed at shifting retailers’ perception of the remuneration program from somewhat punitive and migratory to win-win rewarding and incentivising, should not have been overlooked. We believe this is critical for franchisees ongoing success with their franchisor.

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Newsagents in Belgium to add banking services

Banks in Belgium are moving away from their traditional branch network, just as we are seeing in Australia. Newsagency businesses in Belgium are set to offer traditional bank branch based services, according to a report in The Brussels Times:

Belgian banking will soon be done at the newsagent

Thursday, 24 June 2021

As traditional banks move away from brick and mortar stores, a new solution is looking to ensure that customers can still do their banking needs in newsagents across Belgium.

The new project, launched by BNP Paribas subsidiary Nickel, would make it possible to open an account, deposit or withdraw money in newsagents in Belgium.
According to the company, around 1,400 outlets and 300,000 potential customers are expected when the plan launches in 2022.

The company has agreed with the Belgian press retailers’ federations to offer banking operations in bookshops. Such a concept already exists in France and has 2.1 million customers.

Independent newsagents welcomed this additional service at a time when their traditional business is declining, Belga reports.

Plenty of Australian newsagents had and have experience running a bank, building society or credit union branch in-store. Usually, it has been good business. But, here in Australia, the financial institutions have been retreating from this agency model.

Licenced Post Offices, often in newsagency businesses, offer banking services.

While the move in Belgium is interesting. I am not sure Australian banks would make that move. They appear to be less interested in any form of face to face contact than ever before. When I asked my own bank about how we are supposed to handle over the counter deposits, the manager said get your customers to pay by card. They didn’t smile or flinch. They meant it.

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