Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Choice: retailers hike whitegoods prices during Covid lockdown

Mark Fletcher on June 24, 2020 10:19 AM

Choice yesterday released a report indicating that several significant retailers hiked prices during the Covid lockdown.

Between 18 and 19 March 2020, for instance, just as the national lockdown was about to come into effect, the price for a 237L vertical freezer from Winning Appliances went from $2085 to $2850, and it stayed at the higher price until early April.

It was a 37% price increase overnight. Over the six-month period we analysed, the biggest previous price jump for this freezer from Winning Appliances was 10%.

Why does this matter here? Small business retailers can share the Choice story to underscore a different between big business and small business.

0 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: Social responsibility

Zoom meeting today: discount vouchers

Mark Fletcher on June 24, 2020 8:16 AM

I’m hosting a Zoom meeting today to discuss how discount vouchers can help you bring shoppers back sooner and how single visit shoppers can be encouraged to spend more. I started using these in February 2013. They are the most effective lo9yalty tool, far better than points. Here is the notice re the meeting:

Lunchtime training: Discount Vouches.
Join us Wednesday @ 1pm for a free Zoom meeting in which we will explore thebusiness case for using discount vouchers as a competitive focussed and differentiating loyalty offer. While we offer loyalty points tools in our POS software it is discount vouchers that have a better track record for businesses serving one time only shoppers, infrequent shoppers as well as shoppers in highly competitive situations. Wednesday @ 1pm. Join us as we unpack how discount vouchers work, how to set them up and how too pitch across the counter:

https://zoom.us/j/98793306169?pwd=ZDF0QkdVbkdUajk0eHlDK3IwNWVOZz09
Meeting ID: 987 9330 6169 Password: 286811
Wednesday, June 24, 2020 @ 1pm.

0 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: marketing

Epay integrates with some newsagency software as Afterpay Touch retreats

Mark Fletcher on June 23, 2020 2:57 PM

It has been a busy four months at my newsagency software company, Tower Systems, as the software developers have worked with Epay to deliver a POS software integration with the Epay phone recharge and voucher vending platform.

I met with the folks at Epay in Sydney on March 9 to discuss the opportunity of providing newsagents with a viable alternative to the Afterpay Touch platform which had announced weeks earlier a staged withdrawal from business. What followed the March meeting was more meetings, settling of integration standards and discussions on products that could be brought to the integrated platform.

Through this, too, we worked with Afterpay Touch management to see if there was an alternative from their side as we did not want that door closed without at least trying.

With more than 1,700 newsagents as customers, Tower had much at stake in terms of customer service. It had to maintain the Touch platform while developing the Epay integration and doing this latter work to exacting standards set by Epay headquarters in Europe.

The Touch withdrawal decision and the need to integrate with Epay happened at the same time as Tower was in the final weeks of beta testing a major update to its software technology, database platform and look and feel. That project was four man years in and the release schedule had been set. So, there was much to consider and co-ordinate.

Through April and May the newsagency software integration with Epay was completed, tested and thoroughly. Then, it was handed to Epay for their testing. This was comprehensive and required work in Australia and Europe.

With the Tower Systems Epay integration approved the next step was to load the product data file from Epay. This was finalised yesterday for all newsagency software companies. That product file had to itself be tested. Hence, the announcement from Tower Systems to newsagents today about availability of the Epay integrated newsagency software.

Now the next and most important phase of work begins as the Tower support team helps 1,700+ newsagents make the move. With Afterpay Touch closing June 30 there is much to do. Time is of the essence.

Throughout this project, from March to now, Tower has been sending daily emails to its customers. These have included regularly updated information about the Epay integration. The company has also sent three print newsletters, to reach newsagents who don’t connect with emails. The company has also used its social media platforms and support calls to reach as many newsagents as possible.

The work by Tower to date has cost close to $100,000. Tower Systems is delivering access to Epay at no cost to newsagents.

Note: I own the Tower Systems software company.

6 likes

→ 2 CommentsCategory: newsagent software

It’s as if Tabcorp just realised that Covid was a thing

Mark Fletcher on June 23, 2020 6:17 AM

Tabcorp contacted retailers a week ago advising (requiring) that they, retailers, put up a Tabcorp poster about Covid and social distancing.

What makes this hilarious and frustrating is that engaged retailers did this in March, three months ago. Better still, they used federal government issued signs and followed the federal government outlined guidelines and protocols.

Now, here is Tabcorp, late to the party, telling retailers what to do and doing do in the usual heavy-handed Tabcorp approach that left retailers wondering if they would be breached it they did not do what Tabcorp did and, instead, followed the approach recommended by the federal government. While the company did eventually clarify this was not a requirement, their useless communication left people wondering for a few days.

That Tabcorp would even think they should write to retailers about this in June is nuts, stupid and time wasting for retailers. But, hey, it’s Tabcorp.

While I get there will be some petals in Tabcorp who think this post is unfair. The facts are the facts. This is an own-goal by the company, something they could have easily avoided.

It is lottery retailers who have delivered the best commercial outcomes for Tabcorp over the course of Covid. Maybe some respect and appreciation is in order, instead of their usual big stick

18 likes

→ 1 CommentCategory: Ethics · Social responsibility

News outlet trust comparison

Mark Fletcher on June 22, 2020 4:14 PM

The Reuters Institute assessed the trust Australians have in news outlets:

2 likes

→ 9 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newspapers · Social responsibility

iSubscribe experiencing a surge in magazine subscriptions

Mark Fletcher on June 22, 2020 10:59 AM

A note from iSubscribe about recent magazine subscription sales:

Even with lock down rules now easing, isubscribe is continuing to break records. We just had our strongest sales ever for Week 24 – in all territories (AU, NZ, UK). Amazing numbers that reflect the consumer appetite for magazines remains very strong.

0 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

The business planning challenge of covid for small business retailers

Mark Fletcher on June 22, 2020 6:21 AM

Business planning for small business retail has been turned on its head as a result of COVID-19. The old process is no longer relevant. Models used in the past are not relevant. Category trajectories have changed. Economic models have changed.

Not only is has data changed, the modelling / planning processes have changed.

Developing a plan for a retail business is harder and easier than ever. And, yes, I think both positions can be true in the current unique situation.

It is harder because past performance is less relevant, trajectories have sharply changed.

It is easier because it’s like we have a clean slate, because we can make of it what we will, because we can pivot – now is a perfect time to pivot.

Unfortunately, banks, Tabcorp and other organisations that ask for business plans are less likely to get it. They want the plans in the old way, following the old, and outdated, path of laying our plans and predicting outcomes. I think those old approaches are a waste of time.

For what’s next, for the immediate future, for the rest of 2020 and into 2021, I think newsagents need to be 100% focussed on these points operationally and in terms of planning:

  1. Liquidity. Cash is king. Hoard cash. Be frugal on overheads. Stock what sells and sells quickly. Drive GP%. If you have loans, reduce them as much as possible.
  2. Inventory efficiency. Quit everything that is not selling. Remove bloat from your inventory. Dead stock is dead cash, now more than ever.
  3. Awareness. Be more aware than ever before about what if happening in your area physically as well as online. Be sure you are equipped to spot trends.
  4. Test outside your border. Try new products and new geographic areas.
  5. Online. Be there. Be engaged. Focus on shoppers who will never shop your physical shop.
  6. Be ready to pivot. This is key. be nimble and ready to embrace a change that presents, even if it is temporary. Temporary opportunities can be highly profitable.

These are some of the factors I’d build into a business plan for a newsagency if I was doing one – even though they are not the points of a plan as such. Also, the plan would only speak to the next six months.

4 likes

→ 8 CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

Queensland small business grants: round 2 soon to open

Mark Fletcher on June 21, 2020 7:26 AM

The Queensland government has announced that round 2 of its small business covid grants program will open on July 1. If this goes like the last round, it will be soaked up quickly. My advice is research the requirements now, so you are ready to apply if you do qualify. It’s a race.

Here is information from their website:

Eligibility criteria
To be eligible, your business must:

  • have been subject to closure or otherwise highly impacted by current shutdown restrictions announced by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer on 23 March 2020
  • demonstrate you have experienced a minimum 30% decline since 23 March 2020, over a minimum 1-month period due to the onset and management of COVID-19
  • employ staff and have fewer than 20 employees at the time of applying for the grant (employees must be on your payroll and does not include the business owner(s))
  • have a valid Australian Business Number (ABN) active as at 23 March 2020
  • be registered for GST
  • have a Queensland headquarters
  • have an annual turnover over $75,000 for the 2018–19 or 2019–20 financial year, or you can provide financial records that show this will be met for recently started small businesses
  • have a payroll of less than $1.3 million
  • not be insolvent or have owners or directors that are an undischarged bankrupt.

Only 1 application per round will be accepted from an individual ABN or a financial beneficiary of a business.

Successful applicants from round 1 of this program cannot apply for funding under round 2.

If you have submitted a round 1 application but haven’t heard back yet, you are eligible to apply for round 2.

Use the eligibility tool below to find out if your business is eligible to apply.

Read the frequently asked questions for more information regarding eligibility.

2 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency opportunities

Listen to The Money form ABC Radio as it looks at retail, newsagencies and Covid

Mark Fletcher on June 20, 2020 6:55 AM

I am grateful to the team being The Money program on ABC radio for shining a light on the impact of Covid on retail. In the 30 minute program they look at retail through an economists’s lens and then through the eyes of several small business retailers. At about 22 minutes in I talk about shopping centre challenges and small business retail more broadly into the future.

If you’d like to hear the show, here is the link: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/themoney/retail/12370682

8 likes

→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency challenges · newsagency of the future

Newsagents don’t feature in online stationery searches

Mark Fletcher on June 19, 2020 6:51 AM

There are currently 22,200 online searches in Australia every day for stationery. That is not a big number in the overall scheme of things, but it is significant. Newsagents don’t feature much in search results. Here are the top 10 as listed on a commercial search traffic analysis tool.

I have been looking at this and related data recently in my discussions with newsagents about what to sell online. While the answer to that question is different for each business, for many newsagents it starts with a consideration of selling what they stock now, what they know, online. hence, searching the positioning for stationery.

What I take away from the data I have seen is that it is a tough road for a single store to pitch stationery online unless it is in a local or hyper local pitch.

I appreciate that consideration of how to and what to and when to re online is complex and not something easily learned. But today, in June 2020, we all must as online is a key pillar of all retail businesses.

4 likes

→ 6 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

Bauer CEO on Covid and the sale of the business

Mark Fletcher on June 18, 2020 7:25 AM

Mumbrella yesterday published an interview with Brendan Hill, CEO of Bauer Media. It’s an interesting read. From the newsagency channel’s perspective:

And subscriptions have been growing amazingly through this period. And you can’t forget that because we’ve got print products, we’re an FMCG product as well, and our sales in supermarkets and newsagents have been excellent through this period as well.

I’m very bullish about the future. But then again, who knows, with COVID how long it’s going to carry on for, what long-term impacts it’s going to have. We’ve got to take it as it comes. But at the moment, there are some greenshoots out there.

The place of magazines in any retail situation is a consideration as we now see that magazines sales, overall, have snapped back. That is, the increased through March and April flattened early May and by the end of the month they were in line with the longer term trajectory – not for all titles but for the majority.

This, with flat cover prices and a mediocre margin makes magazines a category of focus for any retailer. This is the challenge retailers will watch as the new owners of Bauer complete the transaction and settle in.

2 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Media disruption

Surprise, surprise: Bauer Media to be acquired by Mercury Capital

Mark Fletcher on June 17, 2020 10:28 AM

It turns out the speculation months ago was right. Bauer media is being sold to Mercury Capital – subject to government approval.  Here is the Bauer press release:

BAUER AUSTRALIA MARKS NEW CHAPTER UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP

Sydney, 17 June, 2020: Bauer Media Group today announced the sale of its Australian publishing business to investment firm Mercury Capital, marking a new chapter for Bauer Australia after its acquisition of Pacific Magazines in April.

The binding offer from Mercury Capital involves all of Bauer Media Australia’s titles from across the Women’s Entertainment & Lifestyle; Fashion, Beauty & Health; Homes; Food; Motoring & Trader lifestyle categories. The agreement also includes those titles recently acquired by Bauer from Pacific Magazines, as well as Bauer’s New Zealand mastheads.

Veit Dengler, Bauer Media Group COO said: “We have been proud to be the custodian of these iconic titles in Australia. I am confident that under Mercury’s ownership they will continue to thrive.”

Brendon Hill, Bauer Media ANZ CEO, says: “This signals an exciting new chapter for the business. With new ownership and our bolstered portfolio, we have unparalleled opportunities to connect with more Australians than ever before and continue our strategy of digital growth and innovation.

“We have increased flexibility to diversify revenue streams and grow and innovate across our multi-platform offerings. Additionally, we are well placed to invest in the key drivers of future success – high-quality content and digital development which is good for us, our audiences, clients and the Australian industry as a whole.”

Bauer’s expanded portfolio of 43 brands now reaches six in ten Australian women each month; more than 6.5 million women each month across magazines, websites, video, social, customer review sites, podcasts and experiences; a print readership of 6.8 million per year and social connections of more than 30.5 million.

“Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we have seen significant growth in subscriptions and digital audiences across our food, home, youth and fashion brands, demonstrating that Australians still love and read our brands. We have seen great vision, success and growth under Bauer Media Group ownership and now look forward to working alongside Mercury Capital to build on this growth under a new brand in the future,”Hill says.

The sale is subject to regulatory approval with the transaction expected to be complete in mid-July and the new brand to be announced in the coming months.

ENDS

The question will be: what does this mean? The folks at Bauer will say it is business as usual. I get that. However, it is never business as usual after any acquisition. Businesses are sold for a reason just as they are bought for a reason. Change is inevitable.

While I have no inside knowledge, looking at sales, ad revenue challenges, print media challenges and other factors, I expect we will see changes to the title mix, editorial focus and distribution arrangements.

Mercury Capital is a private equity business. Their objective is to get a return on their investment. Their actions with the business will depend on the timeframe over which they want to achieve the desired return. I say that as cost cutting focusses on shorter term return whereas investing in the actual products is riskier and would take longer to achieve a return.

Even though the reported purchase price of $50M (or less) is bargain basement, driving a return in this market (Covid or not) presents challenges.

Regardless of what Mercury does with the business, Australia’s largest magazine publisher has more disruption ahead and that will ensure disruption for all of us involved in magazine distribution and sales.

Whereas years ago, magazines were a core traffic driver for newsagency businesses, today the category is nice to have but not core. Many newsagents have transitioned focus to other more commercially valuable product categories.

25% gross profit is low for businesses confronted by annual rent and labour cost rises. 25% gross profit for products with suppressed retail prices makes magazines even less appealing. I think this is a reason we are seeing major retailers less interested in the category.

Let’s see what happens. Change, however, is inevitable.

15 likes

→ 3 CommentsCategory: magazines · Media disruption · Newsagency challenges

Zoom meeting for newsagents and others connected with the newsagency channel

Mark Fletcher on June 17, 2020 6:51 AM

I’ve organised another Zoom meeting for any and all newsagents. Today @ 1pm.

Here is the link:
https://zoom.us/j/99992587886?pwd=aUczeFc2OStsOFpLdVd6RnM4N3NhUT09
Meeting ID: 999 9258 7886 Password: 285763

This is an opportunity to take with colleagues about business, how it’s going, challenges ahead, what the rest of 2020 might look like and more.

0 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future

Can newsagents sell $500.00 gifts? Yes!

Mark Fletcher on June 16, 2020 3:58 PM

Oh, no, that not a newsagent line. Any supplier rep saying that is clueless about what could sell in a newsagency.

More and more newsagents are playing outside of what has been traditional for the channel. Suppliers need to stop editing what they pitch to retailers in the newsagency channel.

This photo is one of the displays in one of my newsagencies. It represents two artist made higher end ceramic ranges that would look at home in any boutique gift or homewares shop … just as they look at home in my shop.

Now more than ever, with suppliers challenged at hw they reach retailers and especially possible new accounts, they need to be open to what could be possible rather than managing to a low bar they have set for themselves.

6 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future · Newsagent suppliers · Ugh!

Behind the counter refresh in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on June 16, 2020 3:49 PM

With games so popular still, we have refreshed behind the counter to show a small part of what we sell. These have been selected as they are easily purchased on impulse.

Games and jigsaws are product categories doing well in this coming out of lockdown world – both in-store as well as online. Watching the shifts in category engagement is fascinating.

3 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: Geekery · Gifts

Crikey: Why the ACCC needs to step in and stop News Corp’s regional closures

Mark Fletcher on June 16, 2020 5:49 AM

Eric Beecher, Chairman of Crikey’s publisher, Private Media, makes an excellent argument on ACCC engagement re the News Corp closures of 100+ local newspapers:

Why the ACCC needs to step in and stop News Corp’s regional closures
When the journalists at News Corp saw reports that Lachlan Murdoch had acquired a new family home in Los Angeles for $218 million last December, they might have felt a sense of career security that comes from working for a highly profitable company with an overtly prosperous controlling shareholder.

No longer. Over the past few weeks, News Corp has announced the closure  of 125 regional newspapers, the elimination of a quarter of Australia’s print dailies, the shuttering of most of this country’s suburban newspapers, and the retrenchment of hundreds of staff across its city newspapers.

The decision to decimate a large slice of Australia’s regional and suburban journalism wasn’t made in rural hamlets like Chinchilla or Caboolture, or suburbs like Parramatta or Preston, where local news coverage will either disappear or be scaled right back.

It was announced from corporate head office in Sydney, where the company website proclaims its pride in “our heritage of connecting communities to the stories that matter … we are the voice of everyday people, a champion for the battlers of Australia”.

That spin was also embedded in the company’s announcement of its 125 newspaper closures.

“Let me be clear from the outset: News Corp is not turning its back on Australia’s regions and communities,” wrote executive chairman Michael Miller in the company mouthpiece The Australian. “Nothing could be further from the truth: we remain their greatest advocate — they are what makes our country great.”

The script for Miller’s ritual commitment to altruistic public service journalism was initiated decades ago in Sir Keith Murdoch’s will. Dated January 21 1948, it laid out his expectation that his son Rupert “should continue to express ideals of newspaper and broadcasting activities in the service of others and these ideals should be pursued with deep interest”.

Those grand ideals sit in stark contrast to the announced closure last month of those (mainly free) newspapers which will be replaced by vastly scaled-down, paywalled websites employing hundreds’ fewer journalists across regional and suburban Australia.

If public interest journalism was just another product, especially in regions and suburbs where there is only one publisher of a “product” that is central to a democratic informed society, it could be argued that acting purely commercially — as News Corp has done — is entirely appropriate in a free marketplace.

But not all products are equal. If the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the corporate regulator, really believes what it says about news journalism — that it’s a “public good, important for democracy” — why hasn’t it intervened in the culling of Australian community journalism at the hands of News Corp, a $10.3 billion foreign-owned media company?

Why hasn’t it stepped in, as it did recently when major shareholders News Corp and Nine Entertainment announced the closure of Australian Associated Press, the country’s only wire service? In that case, the ACCC launched an inquiry that effectively put the owners on notice that it wouldn’t countenance AAP being shut down if there was a legitimate buyer. As there was.

With a few weeks to go before their closure, it isn’t too late for the ACCC to repeat that intervention and launch an investigation to determine whether there are genuine buyers for at least some of the newspapers being shuttered by News Corp.

This strangulation of Australian local news is laced with sadness and irony. It sees the arc of a media journey — beginning with Rupert Murdoch’s inheritance of the now-defunct Adelaide News from his father’s estate in 1952 — reach its denouement in the uncertain hands of his son, Lachlan.

Without swift regulatory intervention, that journey will end up a long way from the “ideals of newspaper and broadcasting activities in the service of others” that Keith Murdoch optimistically predetermined for his own son.

4 likes

→ 4 CommentsCategory: Media disruption

Zoom meeting for newsagents: Wednesday @ 1pm

Mark Fletcher on June 15, 2020 1:19 PM

I’ve organised another Zoom meeting for any and all newsagents. Wednesday this week @ 1pm.

Here is the link:
https://zoom.us/j/99992587886?pwd=aUczeFc2OStsOFpLdVd6RnM4N3NhUT09
Meeting ID: 999 9258 7886 Password: 285763

This is an opportunity to take with colleagues about business, how it’s going, challenges ahead, what the rest of 2020 might look like and more.

2 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

Newsagency of the future – online

Mark Fletcher on June 15, 2020 7:03 AM

I am grateful that many newsagents are using the web development services of my newsagency software company to create online stores. Here are four that have just launched:

  1. www.onebaby.com.au – newsXpress Numurkah
  2. www.chitchatgifts.com.au – newsXpress Chit Chat
  3. www.parkesnewsandgifts.com.au – newsXpress Parkes
  4. www.newsxpressinverloch.com.au – newsXpress Inverloch

Many more are well on their way.

My reason for sharing these here is to demonstrate the different approaches being taken by entrepreneurial newsagents to define their businesses online.

4 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future

Pitching Aussie made R U OK? supporting cards from Henderson Greetings

Mark Fletcher on June 14, 2020 6:40 AM

With Australian made more impotent than ever right now and with mental health in the spotlight, promoting this awesome new range is timely.

5 likes

→ 3 CommentsCategory: Greeting Cards · Social responsibility

NLNA seeks ACCC authorisation re Tabcorp

Mark Fletcher on June 13, 2020 9:07 AM

NLNA, the wannabe start-up association has applied to the ACCC for authorisation to represent newsagents with Tabcorp. NLNA has one member, VANA. VANA is already authorised by the ACCC. I don’t see any need for the requested authorisation. Also, with VANA and NLNA being primarily commercially focussed organisations, hiring commission-only sales people to sell their products and services, in my opinion, granting authorisation would negatively impact the integrity of authorisation.

3 likes

→ 13 CommentsCategory: Newsagent representation

Small business retail social media advice: stories can cast the narrative of your business

Mark Fletcher on June 12, 2020 7:38 AM

We have been sharing stories on social media for our newsagency, stories that provide context for greeting cards beyond the transactional, stories like this one Fromm 2 days ago – it had 170 likes / loves in less than a day:

Storytime. The twenty-something guy had been standing looking at cards for ten minutes. He seemed lost. “Hey, mate, you need a hand?” I said, without wanting to intrude. “Yeah”, he said with a sadness uncommon for a young guy looking for a card. “What are you looking for?”, I was careful in my approach. “My best mate’s dad died suddenly”, he paused. “He’s angry and wrecked” he paused again. “I, I want to tell him I’m here for him. I figured a card could be good,” he looked back at the range. “But, they’re too flowery.” He was right, the sympathy cards he was looking at were too flowery. After a while, we found a blank card with a dog on it, because his mate likes dogs. We worked out some words that got across what he wanted to say without being flowery.
Some days in retail we get to help in ways that will stay with us for years.

And then there is this one:

Storytime. Joe is 89 years old. He lives in a nursing home. When he moved there, he was limited as to what he could bring. The old shoebox with the collection of cards he’d received was the first thing he chose.
In that box are cards from his time as a local community Aussie rules coach. Parents and players had written cards over the years and Joe had kept them. “Each card is a memory”, he says with a smile, looking through his collection.
The oldest card Joe has is from 40 years ago from a player grateful for Joe’s help. Here it is so many years on, making Joe’s day.
Greeting cards hold the most wonderful memories.
And this one:
Storytime. Ethan’s school assignment asked that he write about his earliest memory. “That’s easy,” he said, “it was the first letter I ever got. It was a birthday card from grandma. I was 4 and she posted me a birthday card with a tiger on it and it came in the mail. That’s the first memory I have. I still have card, and the envelope. Mum got them framed for me.”
The card created in Ethan an interest in mail and letters more specifically. Now, 6 years on, every couple of weeks Ethan will write to a relative in the hope of receiving a response in the mail. And it all started with that birthday card, which remains his first memory.
Cards give us memories and stories long after they are received.
And this one:
Storytime. “Sorry, it’s just a card, no money for a gift this year.” That’s how Chris signed off the card to Jules, her friend of more than 20 years, since they were in high school together. Swapping birthday gifts with a card and a note were a tradition. Since they lived on opposite sides of the country, they’d usually include a note with the card and gift each year.
Jules wrote back: “your card and note mean the world to me, every year. While I may have, possibly but please don’t judge me, re-gifted the odd gift from you, I have kept every card, every single card from you. I have 23. They the story of us. They are a perfect gift. Thank you.”
The card we send today can provide heart-warming memories for many years to come.

Social media provides us an opportunity to share the narrative of our business. Newsagents are well placed to have wonderful stories they can share.

My advice to newsagents is to take a break from the shop local or look at this new product we have type of post and tell stories, set your narrative, use words to tell people more about your business and more about you.

Oh, and to answer an expected question for comment about using text and not images? Most social media posts use images. Going with text content could be more easily noticed. Certainly that is my experience in using posts like this over recent weeks.

I think it is good use of social media to sometimes not try and sell anything but, rather, to show more of the emotion at the heart of the business.

In my recent experience, these text and other text posts have worked a treat.

11 likes

→ 4 CommentsCategory: Management tip · marketing tip · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities · Newspaper marketing · Social Media

Newsagents talk about business

Mark Fletcher on June 11, 2020 11:03 AM

Here is a video of the Zoom meeting with newsagents yesterday. While a few actively engaged, it was a terrific and informative discussion. I’ll schedule another for next week. Everyone has their own experience and the more of these we hear the more informed our perspective.

9 likes

→ 1 CommentCategory: Newsagency challenges · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

News Corp. moves on Queensland newspaper distribution

Mark Fletcher on June 11, 2020 6:46 AM

News Corp. kicked off in Queensland this week the first steps of its playbook for changing the newspaper distribution model.

Round one reads like consultation. While I am sure News Corp. bods will ask questions and look like they are listening, the company will do what the company wants regardless of what newsagents say.

I expect you will see wholesaler/distributor businesses given big territories in which they then supply the delivery agents, who may be newsagents or may not.

For those with long memories, this is News Corp. announced then delayed T2020 strategy playing out.

1 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: Newspaper distribution · newspaper home delivery · Newspapers

Online business discussion for newsagents today @ 1pm

Mark Fletcher on June 10, 2020 6:49 AM

I have scheduled a Zoom meeting for newsagents who would like to talk about options for the future of their business.

I’ve called it: If you think closing your newsagency is the only option.However, it will be about more than that.

I have called it a discussion because that is what it is. Let’s talk about business, how it’s going, what the short and medium term futures look like, and more.

No judgement. No demand of just do this or that. Let’s talk and see what flows from that.

Here are the access details. I use the latest Zoom paid platform so it is secure.

Wednesday, June 10 @ 1pm Melbourne time. I went with this time so people could do it when having a lunch break and so people in WA could more easily join if they wished.

https://zoom.us/j/95246563546?pwd=LzlLV2x3WXBmMlNSVFhhcGQ3elBwQT09

Meeting ID: 952 4656 3546 Password: 362002

Plenty of people like to put about their opinions about the channel and its future. My goal with the session is to offer something practical.

Note: I will have the May 2020 vs May 2019 and vs. April 2020 benchmark rules 0- in case trends in the results could be useful in considering various pathways forward.

Anyone is welcome to participate, including suppliers. I don’t want to apply any restrictions.

Years ago, I’d talk about the Newsagency of the Future because back then there was a channel. Today, it is different. Retail newsagency business experiences are different in the city versus the country, shopping malls versus the high street. So many with a newsagency shingle trend way outside what that shingle used to be.

This is why I say to any newsagent I speak with that their future is for them to pursue and make … because there is no channel move, no channel opportunity any more.

Anyone pitching too suppliers that they can get newsagents moving as one are wrong. There is no evidence of it. For sure there is hope, but that hope has been there for many years.

Sure there are parts of the channel where newsagents act in similar ways. However, not the whole or even half of business and not nationally as one.

That’s why talking about the future becomes personal

Getting newsagents together to talk about this can be good in that we can all learn from each other, and that is a hope I have for this session.

4 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

What are newsagents looking for in suppliers right now?

Mark Fletcher on June 9, 2020 6:17 AM

There are three key attributes newsagents are looking for is suppliers right now. I say this based on many conversations over the last few weeks with newsagents, including plenty of independent operators, as well as with suppliers who have generously shared newsagent feedback.

  1. Agility.
  2. Supply certainty.
  3. Australian made.

Suppliers ticking all three boxes are doing better than those that do not.

Agility is about responding to marketplace needs – consumer and retailer needs – in a timely and appropriate manner. Some suppliers have done this well, making decisions quick time to help local retailers, like newsagents, better serve in rapidly changing situations.

Supply certainty is in part about actually having what is needed when it is needed and in part about clear communication about supply. Suppliers who lean into their situation and communicate openly and respectfully win kudos while suppliers who respond only after others have highlight their challenges suffer.

Australian made, where possible for a product category is important right now and, I suspect well into 2021. While not possible for all product categories, especially where brands are overseas based, Australian made is possible for more than many retailers currently think of.

While many retailers are looking for attributes beyond the three I have listed here, these are the top 3 by far. They matter. I know of examples where suppliers engaging on all three or two of the three are doing well.

4 likes

→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities