Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Government owned Australia Post outlets over reach, again, with Christmas catalogue

Mark Fletcher on November 30, 2018 6:17 AM

The latest catalogue distributed by Australia Post, a Christmas catalogue, sees, in my opinion, Australia Post overstep its obligations under the Act under which it operates. My concern here is their corporate stores, their government owned stores. These stores are the federal government operating a business, competing with small family run businesses.

Take a look at some of what is in this sixteen page catalogue.

How do I see this as an overstep? Australia Post is a protected brand, a monopoly. landlords give them preferential treatment, delivering a lower occupancy cost. They land people in their shops because of their monopoly over core products and services.

Here is why I think they are in breach of the act.

Section 14 of the Act requires Australia Post to provide a postal service first and foremost:

The principal function of Australia Post is to supply postal services within Australia and between Australia and places outside Australia.

Section 15 talks about permitted subsidiary functions:

A subsidiary function of Australia Post is to carry on, outside Australia, any business or activity relating to postal services.

Section 16 talks about other permitted functions:

Functions incidental businesses and activities

(1) The functions of Australia Post include the carrying on, within or outside Australia, of any business or activity that is incidental to: (a) the supplying of postal services under section 14; or (b) the carrying on of any business or activity under section 15.
(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the functions of Australia Post include the carrying on, within or outside Australia, of any business or activity that is capable of being conveniently carried on: (a) by the use of resources that are not immediately required in carrying out Australia Post’s principal or subsidiary function; or (b) in the course of: (i) supplying postal services under section 14; or (ii) carrying on any business or activity under section 15.

Successive federal governments  have permitted Australia Post to take millions of dollars in revenue from small businesses, from family businesses. The situation is getting worse. The behaviour of federal politicians in relation to Australia Post over-reach makes a mockery of the often repeated claims in support of small business.

The federal government deregulated newspaper and magazine distribution in 1999 saying that newsagents needed to get into the competitive world.  It is a pity that they have not applied the same competition rules to the business they own.

Back to the Christmas 2018 catalogue. Almost every page contains items shoppers can purchase from their local newsagency, pharmacy, toy shop, book shop and more … local family run businesses that need to market to attract shoppers for what they sell. Australia Post, on the other hand, lands people for low cost because of their monopoly and then sell what these other small businesses sell, as the add on, as the cream … dining revue from the independent small businesses.

It is time for Aussie politicians to walk the walk when it comes to small business retail.

Finally, to be clear, I have no concern with what LPOs do in that they are locally owned businesses. My concern here is the corporate stores.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Australia Post · Competition · Ethics · Social responsibility

Small Business Ombudsman payment times survey

Mark Fletcher on November 29, 2018 12:41 PM

The Small Business Ombudsman has launched a survey seeking data on payment times being experienecedc by small businesses. This survey will help develop understanding of the current payment times being experienced by small businesses.

Partial and late payments, seeking discounts to pay in 30 days, offering loans to cover extended terms, forces the business to find ways to finance the short fall in their working capital.

ASBFEO’s 2017 Payment Times and Practices Inquiry found Australian corporations paid invoices on average 26.4 days late – the worst in the world. Our more recent research, involving 1600 businesses, identified the biggest cause of dispute remains payments (44%); either the full amount not being paid (26%) or not being paid on time (18%). The ASBFEO is seeking feedback from small and family businesses on this issue.

If you run accounts in your business, this quick survey is a good way of ensuring your experiences in getting paid are represented at an important level of government.

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Newsagents set to see less public transport ticket related traffic

Mark Fletcher on November 29, 2018 6:16 AM

The announcement this week by the NSW state government that people will be able to use their credit / debit card to travel on trains is another indicator that newsagents should not rely on agency business.

Sydney commuters and tourists can now pay for their train rides by tapping on with a credit or debit card, instead of an Opal.

The NSW Government announced the system has been rolled out across the city’s entire train network, after trials on ferries and light rail.

The changes bring Sydney in line with other contactless payment methods in other international cities, such as London.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the new system would not replace Opal cards.

Government and privately owned businesses that rely on newsagents and other retailers to act as agents for collecting money are focussed on cutting costs. A retail network is expensive, despite agency fees being fractional. This move in NSW makes sense.

From a traveller perspective, not having to go to a shop to load money on a card to use on a train is a good thing. However, it increases the risk of minor card fraud.

From the transport operator perspective, it more directly connects them with their customer.

Sure, there are restrictions on card use, such as the handling of concession pricing. However, over time they will resolve this. People want fewer cards. Companies like Apple want people to replace all their cards with their phone.

Thinking more broadly on the topic of agency related business, my advice has been and continues to be that I see no upside whatsoever in agency lines for small business retailers. They are inefficient in terms of basket depth and often come with compliance requirements that can play against what is best for the long term health of the business.

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→ 7 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

RBA engage in discussion on going cashless

Mark Fletcher on November 28, 2018 5:43 AM

Further to my posts here, here and elsewhere on the cashless trend, the ABN yesterday reported on comments by the Governor of the Reserve Bank on this topic.

Regulators are pushing us into a cashless world as RBA declares ‘a turning point has been reached’
By business reporter Nassim Khadem

Cash will become a niche payment sooner than we think and cheques will be phased out, says Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe, as the Federal Government considers imposing tougher penalties on cash economy activity.

On Monday Mr Lowe told the Australian Payments Summit in Sydney that for some decades people have been speculating that we might one day go cashless, and now it could become a reality.

“It looks like a turning point has been reached. It is now easier than it has been to conceive of a world in which banknotes are used for relatively few payments; that cash becomes a niche payment instrument,” Mr Lowe said.

Non cash payment in retail is certainly growing as all of us with shops are seeing. This is being facilitated by multiple payment options as well as new sources of finance for sending such as the buy now pay later providers.

It is important we engage with a variety of options so how we receive payment is not a barrier to getting the sale.

Whether we like it or not, cashless business is growing. Governments, especially, will like this as it better serves their revenue need.

The ABC article references a Treasury discussion paper on the digital economy. Click here to access that discussion paper.

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→ 16 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

The Correspondent – a new news model

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2018 7:28 PM

I have signed on an a founding member of The Correspondent, an ad free journalism platform. I like their approach…

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Beware EFTPOS scams in retail

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2018 6:13 AM

TV news in various cities have been reporting on an increase in EFTPOS scams in recent months. My advice: never let your terminal out of your control. This is what scammers most commonly do, ask for access to the terminal for what sounds like a legitimate reason and then they pull their stunt.

Here is one video of a news report from Western Australia…

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Tatts ignores retailers in Set For Life social media marketing

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2018 5:28 AM

This ad for Tatts appeared in the Facebook feed on my phone over the weekend. Take a look, nowhere does it pitch in-store purchase. This ad is 100% about direct purchase by the customer through the Tatts App.

Since I have the Tatts App on my phone, the ad has a button “Use App” that I can click to easily and immediately make the purchase.

This type of marketing is what I would do if I was Tatts. It is efficient and enhances the direct shopper relationship. This has to be a core focus for their business.

Purchases through the App drive shopper stickiness in ways the in-store purchase cannot. This is just one of many reasons the direct shopper is more interesting and valuable to Tatts.

Retailers cannot compete in the evolution of lottery purchases in my view. I hope I am wrong, I hope I am missing things in my assessment of what I see coming.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: Lotteries · newsagency of the future

Marketing tip: Christmas marketing ideas

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2018 7:17 AM

Every year I publish Christmas marketing ideas. This year, I have put together a small list of my favourite ideas.

  1. Pitch easy shopping. People often talk about how hard Christmas is. Be the local business that makes it easy. Tell people how you make it easy.
  2. Make the shop less about Christmas. Consider pulling back on the Christmas visual noise. Go for something simple, muted, respecting the season but making a calm statement. Consider declaring the shop a Christmas carol free zone – not because you hate carols but because you want to help customers take a break.
  3. Help people rest and recharge. Create a Christmas shopping rest and recovery zone. Offer free tea, coffee, water and something to eat. Encourage people to take a break in your shop – without any obligation for them to spend money with you.
  4. Let your customers help each other. Setup a whiteboard or sheets of butcher’s paper, yes keep it simple. Get customers to write gift suggestions under different age/gender groups. For example: Girls 18 – 25, Boys 55+. Encourage your customers to help each other through their suggestions.
  5. Make price comparison difficult. If you sell items people are likely to price compare with other businesses, package them so price comparison is not easy. Put items into a hamper as a perfect Boy 8 to 12 bundle for example. Or offer the item with pre packages services if appropriate for an item.
  6. Be community minded. Choose a local charity or community group to support through Christmas. Consider: a change collection tin at the counter; a themed Christmas window display; promotion on your social media pages; a donation to their work; a collection point for donations from customers.
  7. Facilitate sharing stories. Find space in your shop for customers to share their Christmas stories. It could be a story wall inside or in front of the shop. This initiative encourages storytelling by locals and better connects the business with the community.
  8. Leverage Christmas traffic. Encourage the Christmas shopper traffic surge in after Christmas. Give them a reason to come back. A coupon promotion or a discount voucher on receipts could be the enticement to get shoppers back in-store. Note: the Tower POS software produces discount vouchers to rules you establish.
  9. Become a gallery. Work with a school, kindergarten, community group or retirement village to bring in local art for people to come and see through Christmas. A small space commitment can drive traffic from family and friends of those with art on show.
  10. Make your shop smell like Christmas.
  11. Send cards. Send Christmas cards early in the season to suppliers, key customers and local community groups. This connects you with Christmas. Invite all team members to sign each card.
  12. Host a Christmas party. For shops nearby. You are all in the season together – let your hear down before things get crazy.
  13. Keep it fresh. Every week make significant change to your Christmas displays and promotions to keep your offer fresh.
  14. Share Christmas recipes. Each week for, say, four weeks, give customers a family Christmas recipe. This personalises Christmas in your business, creates a talking point and makes shopping with you different to your bigger competitors.
  15. Free wrapping. Sure, many retailers offer this. Make your offer better, more creative and more appreciated.
  16. Hold back. Don’t go out with everything you have for Christmas all at once. Plan the season to show off what you have as the season unfolds. This allows you multiple launches.
  17. Share a taste. Regardless if your type of business, bake a family recipe of Christmas cake, Christmas pudding or Christmas biscuits and offer tastings to shoppers on select days. This personalises the experience in your shop.
  18. Offer hampers. Package several items together and offer them as a hamper. Time-poor shoppers could appreciate you doing this work for them. We have seen this work in many different retail situations.
  19. Buy X get Y. Encourage people to spend more with a volume based deal. Pitched right, this could get customers purchasing items for several family members in order to get the price offer you have. Use your technology to manage this.

Christmas is the perfect time to plan for next year. It is the time to do everything possible to leverage bonus Christmas traffic to benefit your business through next year.

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Fairfax pitching in-store digital screen

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2018 6:41 AM

Fairfax is pitching this digital screen to newsagents in Victoria.

Here is the pitch they make:

We have a 32″ LCD screen which will feature Fairfax promotional ads but also allows each store to place their own ads on the screen at no cost, excluding News Corp products and Tattersalls.

These screens can be mounted on the ceiling or on the wall, all installation expenses are covered with Fairfax. The image below is only a example.

I am keen on reducing visual noise rather than increasing it. Also, giving prime space to promote a low-margin non net new traffic generating product is of questionable value. So, not for us. However, there are others who may find the opportunity interesting … hence, this post.

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Q3 2018 newsagency performance benchmark results

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2018 6:59 AM

Core categories in trouble. New categories growing.

This newsagency sales benchmark study reflects sales results as tracked in 147 retail newsagency businesses in Australia for the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Only businesses with accurate data are included.

Each data point is the average, mean, of all data for the data point.

In assessing results at the category level, I have only included data for each category businesses trading in that category.

OVERALL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE METRICS.

  • Customer traffic. Down 3.5%
  • Overall sales. Down 3%
  • Basket depth.No change.
  • Basket dollar value.Up .5%

CORE PRODUCTS.

  • Newspapers. Unit sales. Down 11.5%.
  • Magazines. Unit sales. Down 10.5%.
  • Greeting cards. Revenue. Down 5%.
  • Stationery. Revenue. Down 12.5%
  • Lotteries. Revenue. Down 3%
  • Tobacco. Revenue. Down 15%.
  • Agency. Parcels, gift cards, betting account top-up. Down 6%.

SPECIALTY PRODUCTS.

  • Gifts. Revenue. Up 4%
  • Toys. Revenue. Up 5%.
  • Plush. Revenue. Up 7%.
  • Collectibles. Revenue. Up 5%.
  • Craft. Revenue. Up 3%.
  • Coffee. Revenue. Up 17%.

What does this mean?

It was a particularly tough quarter with all traditional, core, categories declining. Also, the gap between businesses at either end of the performance spectrum is wider than ever.

New traffic should be priority #1 in every newsagency business. By this I mean, traffic for products the business is not traditionally known for. This is hard work as it involves the whole of the business: buying, pricing, display, in-store engagement and out of store marketing … all of which needs to be done under the name of the business but in a way that keeps this connection in the background.

I think a crucial data point that would be interesting to gather and discuss internally is…

How many unfamiliar faces did we see today?

Track this as much as possible. Pursuing a goal starts with accurate base line data.

The GP challenge.

At the core of chasing new business is the need to lift the profitability of the business. A key way for doing this is making more from each item you sell. That does not necessarily mean selling everything at the highest possible price., A better approach could be to sell more items with a higher overall average GP.

If you were, for example, to decrease revenue from papers and magazines and increase revenue for gifts, you could see overall business GP grow in that the GP% of gift can be double or more than of cards.

The supplier challenge.

The mix of suppliers to the channel is changing. As a supplier learns what they could make from newsagents, they tend to seek to engage with more newsagents. This is something to be wary of as the point of difference you may have once had an as early adopter can diminish once late bloomers latch on to something.

This is a reason for change in the supply mix. While for sure there will be everyday core lines, the reality is that change for at least a third, especially in gift, is important.

Final words.

It is easy to wallow and roll around in the challenges and negativity. That will not fix anything in your newsagency business. That is 100% ion you. Take a step, no matter how small, every day, toward a brighter future. Do something, anything, that moves you beyond the current trajectory if you are unhappy with the current trajectory. Wallowing, complaining … they are not beneficial steps and usually serve to make things worse.

Own your situation and own your obligation to improve it. Do this and there are many in the channel who will help.

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

Public discussion about newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2018 7:45 PM

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This is a true story of new traffic and sales growth in newsagency businesses

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2018 6:13 AM

It happened last week and this week in newsXpress businesses across Australia. This exclusive range just about sold out in ten days, eight weeks before payment is due.

Let me show you a photo of the products. Then, I will explain what newsXpress did to make this a success for local shops and outline why any retailer in any location could have this success.

These products are called Ty Slides. Ty Inc. in the US decided to release them to Australia. Ty Warner, the founder of the company, loves small business and since newsXpress is their best Australian retail channel, we were given exclusivity.

We launched the opportunity to members in May, explaining what we would do to support the launch, to make it a success. Some newsXpress members ordered one pack for around $500.00 wile plenty ordered two and three packs.

The stock arrived in store at the start of November. We sprung into action with a terrific social media campaign.

newsXpress members started selling out of all stock within 24 hours. More than half all sales were online, with all online orders going to shoppers whop were not local to the supplying business.

Some newsXpress members reported more than $1,000.00 in online sales in a day.

Today, fourteen days since launch, many of our stores are close to selling out. They have banked the takings, eight weeks before they have to pay for the stock.

This is what a good marketing group does … it sources terrific product, educates business owners and staff as to context, drives shoppers to the shop our online and helps turn the sock into cash well ahead of the bill being due.

Best of all, a good marketing group helps you find new shoppers.

A good marketing group can only do this with an integrated and proven web and social media platforms.

This is a valuable differentiation for newsXpress.

The Ty Slide stampede for stock also brought people who purchased plenty of other Ty product from our awesome local newsXpress shop connected website.

Call newsXpress National Sales Manager Peter Francis on 0423 298 020 or email him on peter@newsxpress.com.au

  • See how our multi-layered web strategy delivers new traffic revenue to engaged newsXpress members.
  • Explore our strategic planning that offers options outside the traditional newsagency channel.
  • Hear how low cost shop floor changes are driving deeper and more valuable baskets.

We have one goal: to help you make your businesses more valuable (to you) and enjoyable (for you) to run.

PS. There will be some reading this who will say these products will never sell in their shop. The thing is, today, with online, you cannot say that as online customers are not local. We have solid evidence that proves that.

PPS. I joined newsXpress in 2005. Prior to that my newsagency was with nextra for some years and Newspower for some years. Joining newsXpress gave me genuinely fresh opportunities that I was glad to access back then. I own three newsagencies today, walking in your shoes.

Footnote: I am Managing Director of newsXpress Pty Ltd.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · Newsagency marketing group · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Optimism

All ready for Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Mark Fletcher on November 21, 2018 6:59 PM

With all the hype in the US, anyone in the online sales space in Australia needs to engage with Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

We did last year and say an extraordinary uplift in sales, making the discounting well worth it.

Across a range of website as well as in-store we are all set, ready to make the most of the opportunity. What is interesting this year is that we have been asked about deals by several shoppers who are planning their spend. This is terrific.

I get that some will be frustrated with this as us following an American sales occasion. regardless, it is profitable if done right … even is small local shops.

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The steep decline in magazine browsing impacts newsagency foot traffic

Mark Fletcher on November 21, 2018 6:11 AM

For many years, newsagents would complain about shoppers who stood and sat in the magazine aisles reading magazines. We are not a library posters were common as were requests for shoppers to buy a magazine or leave. back in those days, it was common for newsagents to have 1,200+ titles in their range.

Today, there are plenty of retailers in our channel who would welcome readers, wanting to have someone, anyone, in the shop rather than no one. While I found some browsers years ago frustrating, never did I put up the library sign, never did I ask people to leave.

Magazine browsing has declined significantly. Typically, on a Saturday afternoon ten years ago we would have at least ten people at a time browsing magazines, reading articles, comparing recipes and generally immersing themselves in the medium. Today, we rarely have a browser on a Saturday.

Magazine shoppers today more often choose their title and purchase. There spend less time considering other titles, less time immersed in the medium in-store.

This shift, this significant shift, is reflective of the change in how, where and when people consume content that was, ten or so years ago, primarily available in magazines.

The newsagents who wanted to stop browsers have got their wish. And, I wonder how they feel about it.

I would love to have access to data on browsing numbers today compared to ten years ago, from a good cross-section of newsagency businesses and by day of week. Real data, not anecdotal, hard evidence. I think it would bring into focus the impact not only of disruption to print but also the disruption to our old channel brought on by convenience and other outlets also offering access to print product.

The knock-on effect for us of the decline is browsing is the loss of the opportunity to convert the magazine browser into a purchaser of some other products.

Thinking back to the usual Saturday, there are, I am sure, people who don’t visit a newsagency at all today because they no longer browse magazines. This is a traffic challenge our channel has to confront.

While we focus on declining magazine sales, there is this decline in browsing that is a big issue in my view as many retailers have not offered a browsing / lingering alternative.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines · Media disruption · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

News Corp. campaign seeks to cut newsagent shop traffic

Mark Fletcher on November 20, 2018 5:26 AM

The ad placed in a perfect position on the front page of the  Herald Sun yesterday pitched a campaign aimed at cutting the daily visit to the newsagent, or any other retailer, to buy the newspaper. It pitched a $1 a day home delivery, an offer that must be loss making for the company. An offer that makes buying the newspaper at retail look expensive.

There was a time these pitches were done with a stuck on ad, which we could remove. No more.

Here is the pitch from page 12 of the newspaper. $1 a day for six months. That sounds like a deal too good to pass up since for the cost of four week day over the counter purchases you get seven days home delivered.

Newsagents need to be aware of this latest pitch from News Corp. They should factor it into consideration abut the future role of newspapers in their businesses. News is making its focus clear, it is investing in home delivery as the loss leader, making it more appealing than over the counter.

Take note.

As a news consumer…

The thing is though, home delivery has to be managed by the customer. If they are away they have to deal with that,. If the paper does not come, they have to deal with that. If the paper is in the wrong place, they have to deal with that. If the paper is late, they have to deal with that.

The world today, when it comes to accessing news, comment and analysis, is spoilt with convenience. On our phones and tablets we have easy access to multiple news platforms, subscription and free. Why sign up for something with out of date content, that is hard to navigate, that results in trash and that often represents only one view of the world? The price tells us that there is not much faith in the content and convenience offer within the company.

The core issue for newspapers, in my opinion, is the medium. The print medium for news is out of date, inefficient, bad for the environment and cumbersome. We have moved,. I certainly have moved on. The only time I engage with a print newspaper now is at a coffee shop when waiting for my coffee and even then its is rare.

The pay walls don’t get me subscribing. Occasionally, there is a Media story in The Australian behind a pay wall that I want to read, but I will not sing up to a subscription to access them, because doing so gives me access to so much trash.

I subscribe to support good journalism. As I wrote almost two years ago, I have subscribed to The Washing Post, The New York Times and The Age. I have also supported several digital news platforms.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

White magazine closes, but were they they were hounded out of business?

Mark Fletcher on November 19, 2018 5:50 AM

The marriage magazine White is closing. Media reports claim they were hounded out of business because of their decision to not include same sex couples in their pages. Click here to read their farewell blog post and see a video they made explaining themselves.

They make it clear the title is not advertising driven. That leaves the decision to be either due to non viability of the title or them not wanting to deal with agitation for representation of all marriages.

In the video, one of the publishers talks about the marriage equality postal vote and their decision to not engage in it at the time:

we just didn’t want to enter into that conversation that wasn’t a loving conversation

I think that statement is problematic for them as it is a judgement from someone who says all they want to do is focus on loving.

The publishers have a right to publish the kind of magazine they want to publish.

Consumers have a right to purchase the kinds of magazines they want to read.

In a free market, magazines come and go because times change and the interest of people fades.

It is unfortunate the publishers and some news outlets are running the narrative that the title is closing because of actions by the LGBTQ community. I say unfortunate as it gives a platform for doing what they say was done to them, attacking unfairly.

In their farewell blog them make this point:

We hope that one day soon our society can learn to accept people’s differences and different points of view and love each other no matter what.

Australian society does accept differences. Towns and cities show this, every ay. Maybe not perfectly, but we show it. That fewer people bought their title because of their decision has nothing to do with expressing love for each other.

I like White, it was a good title. However, since Australia, and the parliament, decided that love is love, any title in the marriage space needs to embrace it to be relevant to today. Relevance is key to commercial success.

It could be that White is closing because it has not kept up with the times, because they refused to publish about all weddings. Regardless, it comes down to the commercial viability of the title.

Blaming others for the consequences of decisions you have made is poor form. That some media outlets have added to this false narrative and added their own agenda is poor editorial management.

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Celebrating Mickey Mouse’s birthday

Mark Fletcher on November 18, 2018 7:38 AM

I am grateful for the opportunity to visit an extraordinary display of Mickey Mouse memorabilia last month in Hong Kong as part of the 90th birthday celebrations. On show at this wonderful licence event were pages or original sketches of the character and a video paying of the first film. Mickey Mouse continues to be a commercially valuable licence for retailers focussed on licenced product. The Hallmark Mickey cards work a treat as to the collectibles, art pieces and gift lines. This licence is valuable across generations.

Happy Birthday Mickey Mouse!

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Selling off the Christmas tree

Mark Fletcher on November 17, 2018 7:04 AM

Sales of ornaments off the Christmas tree have been terrific already this season. Shoppers love that they can see the ornaments as they wold look. They also comment on the colour theming we have pursued through our product purchases for this year.

We happily let people take ornaments off the tree for purchase. The more interaction with it the better in our view. Alternatively, we have stock available off the tree for purchase over the counter.

Located on the lease line, the tree works well at attracting shoppers to the business and it driving shopper engagement in-store.

We don’t have any Christmas decorations in-store that are not for purchase.

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How women’s magazines lost their X-factor

Mark Fletcher on November 16, 2018 1:24 PM

“While magazines worked for many years, technology has advanced women’s media into a form where it’s much more convenient to consume it through websites, podcasts, and social media.” Leigh Campbell, former Cosmopolitan beauty editor.

In an ABC published opinion piece, When sex doesn’t sell: How women’s magazines lost their X-factor. Jessica Martin takes a good look at Women’s Magazines, their past, today and the future.

This is a terrific article, well worth the read.

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How to grow your social media audience

Mark Fletcher on November 16, 2018 5:59 AM

Asking people to like your Facebook page or other social media outlets is not the way to grow your audience in my view.

Indeed, asking people reflects a fail.

Content matters.

Provide people content they enjoy, get value from, find entertaining and / or interesting … and the likes will come naturally.

It is as simple as that.

An audience of at least 500 people is valuable. growing this by 2% at least every week sees it evolve to become even more valuable.

Content matters.

Don’t chase sales. Don’t be pushy.

Be fun.

Be informative.

Be useful.

Be yourself.

Get it right and people will follow you.

A good Facebook page can be the most valuable local marketing platform to reach possible new shopper traffic available to any small retail business.

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Coles opens smaller format suburban store

Mark Fletcher on November 15, 2018 5:43 AM

Coles has opened a smaller format store in Melbourne’s Surry Hills. Click here to see the report in The Age from yesterday.

I am sure we will see more smaller format models emerge from supermarkets. It makes sense, especially in the ready to cook and ready to heat and eat space, where there is terrific growth. This follows similar models in the US and Europe.

What is interesting to me is that we are not seeing in Australia the UK model of local c-store formats from supermarkets. In towns across the UK you have, often, several supermarkets represented in small format retail focussed on ready to cook and ready to heat and eat as well as newsagency lines like lotteries, magazines, newspapers and a category I will call easy (last minute) gifts.

If we did see this UK model emerge here, the challenge to traditional newsagency businesses would be more considerable than the new Coles opening in Surry Hills.

Of course, what Coles has just launched is not a destination for the company. It is another step in their exploration of new format ‘supermarkets’. I am sure we will see more change, in this store and allied formats from the company.

Small format is important as more retailers explore cash-less counter-less retail, like the Amazon Go model in the US. The nature of that advance in retail is such that small format is important given the cost of tech and the nature of the products being sold.

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Fairfax effectively pulls distribution of The Age out of South Australia

Mark Fletcher on November 14, 2018 7:25 AM

Fairfax yesterday announced to South Australian newsagents that shortly the company will cease distributing The Age on the day of publication. Instead, South Australia will receive The Age the day after publication. Here is the Fairfax announcement:

This decision is not a shock. It is also not the first time an Australian publisher has done this.

More changes will come following the Nine takeover of Fairfax and more changes will come after those changes.

Print media continues to confront significant disruption – advertising continues to fall and print circulation continues to fall.

We need to run our businesses attracting shoppers who are not newspaper shoppers.

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People love quirky social media content

Mark Fletcher on November 14, 2018 5:52 AM

This video promoting jigsaws has been a hit. I created it, using a video service I pay to access, as a disposable promotion of jigsaws. I say disposable because that is how we need to see social media content – content to throw up and not think about it as we move on to the next post.

Looking back, though, this jigsaw post got good engagement in a couple of places with people commenting about liking the batteries comment.

I like the jigsaw category in that it fits with the crossword magazine category, is family friendly and lends itself to show floor engagement.

What I have done here is easy. Anyone could do it for little or no cost. The point of my post is that this category is ripe for social media promotion, interest is on the increase.

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Brilliant result for The New Daily

Mark Fletcher on November 13, 2018 5:55 PM

The New Daily has reported an excellent result, five years since launch. Founder, Bruce Guthrie, looks back on the five years is a terrific piece those interested in media and, in particular, news media…

Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian actually editorialised against us in those first few hours, saying we shouldn’t be allowed to launch at all. One particularly corrosive columnist tried to kickstart a letter-writing campaign to have us shut down. Apparently it was OK for American billionaires to own media, but not the members of Australian not-for-profit superannuation funds.

Then a high-profile Fairfax columnist pretty much wrote us off on day two. Another one was at it just last week. Some things never change.

We’d expected the attacks, so our editorial staff of a dozen or so just ploughed on. By the end of that first month we had attracted 157,000 unique visitors to the site and we were pretty chuffed. Now we get more than that in a single day and have 2.3 million unique visitors a month.

We also had 30,000 subscribers by the end of that first month. They’d signed up for our five-mornings-a-week newsletter because, they told us repeatedly, Australia needed more news outlets that were, well, new and Australian.

Five years on, we have close to half-a-million subscribers who receive our updates twice a day Monday to Friday and once a day on weekends. We also publish regular newsletters on property, travel and health. Taken together, we send out close to a million emails a day and six million a week. Subscription is free and open to all.

Further on in the piece is this:

In its past two monthly measures of Australian news sites, Nielsen has estimated The New Daily’s digital audience as bigger than that of The Australian.

Kudos to the people at The New Daily. Their role in news coverage in Australia is brave, needed and appreciated.

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Beware employee classifications

Mark Fletcher on November 13, 2018 6:17 AM

What a business pays employees is determined first by the classification of the role for it is the classification that sets the level on the pay table. It is vital that business owners understand classifications and manage people according to their classification. Employers who do not pay to classifications open themselves to challenge through FairWork processes for back pay.

Click here to get to the the Fair Work for the classifications for the General Retail Award

Here is a copy of some of the classifications information from the Fair Work website for the General Retail Award. Please take particular note of what is in Retail Level 3 and the note about opening and closing. This is important:

Schedule B—Classifications

B.1 Retail Employee Level 1

B.1.1 An employee performing one or more of the following functions at a retail establishment:

  • the receiving and preparation for sale and or display of goods in or about any shop;
  • the pre-packing or packing, weighing, assembling, pricing or preparing of goods or provisions or produce for sale;
  • the display, shelf filling, replenishing or any other method of exposure or presentation for sale of goods;
  • the sale or hire of goods by any means;
  • the receiving, arranging or making payment by any means;
  • the recording by any means of a sale or sales;
  • the wrapping or packing of goods for despatch and the despatch of goods;
  • the delivery of goods;
  • window dressing and merchandising;
  • loss prevention;
  • demonstration of goods for sale;
  • the provision of information, advice and assistance to customers;
  • the receipt, preparation, packing of goods for repair or replacement and the minor repair of goods;
  • all directly employed persons engaged in retail stores in cleaning, store greeting, security, lift attending, store cafeterias and food services;
  • Clerical Assistants functions Level 1; or
  • work which is incidental to or in connection with any of the above.

B.1.2 Retail Employees will undertake duties as directed within the limits of their competence, skills and training including incidental cleaning. The cleaning of toilets is not incidental cleaning except in the case of a take away food establishment.

B.1.3 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee Level 1 are:

  • Shop Assistant,
  • Clerical Assistant,
  • Check-out Operator,
  • Store Worker,
  • Reserve Stock Hand,
  • Driver,
  • Boot/Shoe Repairer (Not Qualified),
  • Window Dresser (Not Qualified),
  • LPO,
  • Photographic Employee,
  • Store Greeter,
  • Assembler,
  • Ticket Writer (Not Qualified),
  • Trolley Collector,
  • Video Hire Worker,
  • Telephone Order Salesperson,
  • Door-to-door Salesperson, or Retail Outdoor Salesperson, and,
  • Demonstrator and/or Merchandiser not elsewhere classified (including a Demonstrator and/or Merchandiser who is not a direct employee of the retailer).

B.1.4 Clerical Assistant means an employee accountable for clerical and office tasks as directed within the skill levels set out.

B.1.5 Employees at this level may include the initial recruit who may have limited relevant experience. Initially work is performed under close direction using established practices, procedures and instructions.

B.1.6 Such employees perform routine clerical and office functions requiring an understanding of clear, straightforward rules or procedures and may be required to operate certain office equipment. Problems can usually be solved by reference to established practices, procedures and instructions.

B.1.7 Employees at this level are responsible and accountable for their own work within established routines, methods and procedures and the less experienced employee’s work may be subject to checking at all stages. The more experienced employee may be required to give assistance to less experienced employees in the same classification.

B.1.8 Indicative typical duties and skills at this level may include:

  • reception/switchboard, e.g. directing telephone callers to appropriate staff, issuing and receiving standard forms, relaying internal information and initial greeting of visitors;
  • maintenance of basic records;
  • filing, collating, photocopying etc;
  • handling or distributing mail including messenger service;
  • recording, matching, checking and batching of accounts, invoices, orders, store requisitions etc; or
  • the operation of keyboard and other allied equipment in order to achieve competency as prescribed in Level 2.

B.2 Retail Employee Level 2

B.2.1 An employee performing work at a retail establishment at a higher skill level than a Retail Employee Level 1.

B.2.2 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee Level 2 include:

  • Forklift Operator,
  • Ride on Equipment Operator.

B.3 Retail Employee Level 3

B.3.1 An employee performing work at a retail establishment at a higher level than a Retail Employee Level 2.

B.3.2 Indicative of the tasks which might be required at this level are the following:

  • Supervisory assistance to a designated section manager or team leader,
  • Opening and closing of premises and associated security,
  • Security of cash, or
  • Fitting of surgical corset.

B.3.3 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee 3 include:

  • Machine operators,
  • 2IC to Dept Manager,
  • Senior Salesperson,
  • Corsetiere,
  • Driver Selling Stock,
  • Cook (Not Qualified) in a cafeteria,
  • Senior LPO, including an armed LPO,
  • LPO Supervisor,
  • Designated second-in-charge of a section (i.e. senior sales assistant),
  • Designated second-in-charge to a service supervisor, or
  • Person employed alone, with responsibilities for the security and general running of a shop.

B.4 Retail Employee Level 4

B.4.1 An employee performing work at a retail establishment at a higher level than a Retail Employee Level 3.

B.4.2 Indicative of the tasks which might be required at this level are the following:

  • Management of a defined section/department,
  • Supervision of up to 4 sales staff (including self),
  • Stock control,
  • Buying/ordering requiring the exercise of discretion as to price, quantity, quality etc.,
  • An employee who is required to utilise the skills of a trades qualification for the majority of the time in a week, or
  • Clerical functions Level 2.

B.4.3 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee 4 include:

  • An Assistant, Deputy, or 2IC Shop Manager of a shop without Departments,
  • An employee who is required to utilise the skills of a trades qualified person for the majority of the time in a week. This includes: Butcher, Baker, Pastry Cook, Florist,
  • An employee who has completed an appropriate trades course or holds an appropriate Certificate III and is required to use their qualifications in the course of their work,
  • A Qualified Auto Parts and Accessories Salesperson,
  • A Window Dresser (Cert III or equivalent experience),
  • A Boot/Shoe Repairer (Cert III),
  • A Shiftwork Supervisor,
  • Section/Department manager with up to 2 employees (including self),
  • Service Supervisor of up to 15 employees,
  • Nightfill Supervisor/Leader,

B.4.5 Indicative typical duties and skills at this level may include:

  • Reception/switchboard duties as in Level 1 and in addition responding to enquiries as appropriate, consistent with the acquired knowledge of the organisation’s operations and services, and/or where presentation and use of interpersonal skills are a key aspect of the position.
  • Operation of computerised radio/telephone equipment, micro personal computer, printing devices attached to personal computer, dictaphone equipment, typewriter.
  • Word processing, e.g. the use of a word processing software package to create, format, edit, correct, print and save text documents, e.g. standard correspondence and business documents.
  • Stenographer/person solely employed to take shorthand and to transcribe by means of appropriate keyboard equipment.
  • Copy typing and audio typing.
  • Maintenance of records and/or journals including initial processing and recording relating to the following:

(i) reconciliation of accounts to balance;

(ii) incoming/outgoing cheques;

(iii) invoices;

(iv) debit/credit items;

(v) payroll data;

(vi) petty cash Imprest System;

(vii) letters etc.

  • Computer application involving use of a software package which may include one or more of the following functions:

(i) create new files and records;

(ii) spreadsheet/worksheet;

(iii) graphics;

(iv) accounting/payroll file;

(v) following standard procedures and using existing models/fields of information.

  • Arrange routine travel bookings and itineraries, make appointments.
  • Provide general advice and information on the organisation’s products and services, e.g. front counter/telephone.

B.5 Retail Employee Level 5

B.5.1 An employee performing work in or in connection with a retail establishment at a higher level than a Retail Employee Level 4.

B.5.2 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee 5 include:

  • A tradesperson in charge of other tradespersons within a section or department,
  • Service Supervisor (more than 15 employees).

B.6 Retail Employee Level 6

B.6.1 An employee performing work in or in connection with a retail establishment at a higher level than a Retail Employee Level 5.

B.6.2 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee 6 include:

  • Section/Department manager with 5 or more employees (including self),
  • Manager/Duty Manager in a shop without Departments/Sections (may be under direction of person not exclusively involved in shop management),

[B.6.2 varied by TRANSIT – HYPERLINK .http://www.fwc.gov.au/awardsandorders/html/PR992724.htm. PR992724 ppc 29Jan10]

  • Assistant or Deputy or 2IC Shop Manager of a shop with Departments/Sections,
  • Clerical Officer Level 3.

B.6.3 Clerical Officer Level 3 characteristics:

  • Employees at this level have achieved a standard to be able to perform specialised or non-routine tasks or features of the work. Employees require only general guidance or direction and there is scope for the exercise of limited initiative, discretion and judgment in carrying out their assigned duties.
  • Such employees may be required to give assistance and/or guidance (including guidance in relation to quality of work and which may require some allocation of duties) to employees in Levels 1 and 2 and would be able to train such employees by means of personal instruction and demonstration.

B.6.4 Indicative typical duties and skills at this level may include:

  • Prepare cash payment summaries, banking report and bank statements; calculate and maintain wage and salary records; follow credit referral procedures; apply purchasing and inventory control requirements; post journals to ledger.
  • Provide specialised advice and information on the organisation’s products and services; respond to client/public/supplier problems within own functional area utilising a high degree of interpersonal skills.
  • *Apply one or more computer software packages developed for a micro personal computer or a central computer resource to either/or:

(i) create new files and records;

(ii) maintain computer based records management systems;

(iii) identify and extract information from internal and external sources;

(iv) use of advanced word processing/keyboard functions.

  • Arrange travel bookings and itineraries; make appointments; screen telephone calls; respond to invitations; organise internal meetings on behalf of executive(s); establish and maintain reference lists/personal contact systems for executive(s).
  • Application of specialist terminology/processes in professional offices.

*NOTE: These typical duties/skills may be either at Level 3 or Level 4 dependent upon the characteristics of that particular Level.

B.7 Retail Employee Level 7

B.7.1 An employee performing work in or in connection with a retail establishment at a higher level than a Retail Employee Level 6.

B.7.2 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee Level 7 include:

  • Visual Merchandiser (diploma),
  • Clerical Officer Level 4.

B.7.3 Clerical Officer Level 4 characteristics:

  • Employees at this level will have achieved a level of organisation or industry specific knowledge sufficient for them to give advice and/or information to the organisation and clients in relation to specific areas of their responsibility. They would require only limited guidance or direction and would normally report to more senior staff as required. Whilst not a pre-requisite, a principal feature of this level is supervision of employees in lower levels in terms of responsibility for the allocation of duties, co-ordinating work flow, checking progress, quality of work and resolving problems.
  • They exercise initiative, discretion and judgment at times in the performance of their duties.
  • They are able to train employees in Clerical Levels 1–3 by personal instruction and demonstration.

B.7.4 Indicative typical duties and skills at this level may include:

  • Secretarial/Executive support services which may include the following: maintain executive diary; attend executive/organisational meetings and take minutes; establish and/or maintain current working and personal filing systems for executive; answer executive correspondence from verbal or handwritten instructions.
  • Able to prepare financial/tax schedules, calculate costings and/or wage and salary requirements; complete personnel/payroll data for authorisation; reconciliation of accounts to balance.
  • Advise on/provide information on one or more of the following:

(i) employment conditions

(ii) workers compensation procedures and regulations

(iii) superannuation entitlements, procedures and regulations

  • *Apply one or more computer software packages, developed for a micro personal computer or a central computer resource to either/or:

(i) create new files and records;

(ii) maintain computer based management systems;

(iii) identify and extract information from internal and external sources;

(iv) use of advanced word processing/keyboard functions.

*NOTE: These typical duties/skills may be either at Level 3 or Level 4 dependent upon the characteristics of that particular Level.

B.8 Retail Employee Level 8

B.8.1 An employee performing work in or in connection with a retail establishment at a higher level than a Retail Employee Level 7.

B.8.2 A person with a Diploma qualification.

B.8.3 Indicative job titles which are usually within the definition of a Retail Employee 8 include:

[B.8.3 varied by TRANSIT – HYPERLINK .http://www.fwc.gov.au/awardsandorders/html/PR992724.htm. PR992724 ppc 29Jan10]

  • A Shop Manager of a shop with Departments/Sections, or
  • Clerical Officer Level 5.

B.8.4 Clerical Officer Level 5 characteristics:

  • Employees at this level are subject to broad guidance or direction and would report to more senior staff as required.
  • Such employees will typically have worked or studied in a relevant field and will have achieved a standard of relevant and/or specialist knowledge and experience sufficient to enable them to advise on a range of activities and features and contribute, as required, to the determination of objectives, within the relevant field(s) of their expertise.
  • They are responsible and accountable for their own work and may have delegated responsibility for the work under their control or supervision, in terms of, among other things, scheduling workloads, resolving operations problems, monitoring the quality of work produced as well as counselling staff for performance as well as work related matters.
  • They would also be able to train and to supervise employees in lower levels by means of personal instruction and demonstration. They would also be able to assist in the delivery of training courses. They often exercise initiative, discretion and judgment in the performance of their duties.
  • The possession of relevant post secondary qualifications may be appropriate but not essential.

B.8.5 Indicative typical duties and skills at this level may include:

  • Apply knowledge of organisation’s objectives, performance, projected areas of growth, product trends and general industry conditions.
  • Application of computer software packages within either a micropersonal computer or a central computer resource including the integration of complex word processing/desktop publishing, text and data documents.
  • Provide reports for management in any or all of the following areas:

(i) account/financial

(ii) staffing

(iii) legislative requirements

(iv) other company activities.

Administer individual executive salary packages, travel expenses, allowances and company transport; administer salary and payroll requirements of the organisation.

A newsagent has told me recently that I should not write about this here as staff members could read it. I disagree. This is important information to share. My goal is to help newsagents ensure they meet their obligations, and avoid penalty.

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