Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Gifts for guys in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on June 1, 2019 6:27 AM

Newsagents often tell me that sourcing gifts for guys is difficult. An approach I favour is to not make one pitch of gifts for guys. Instead, I prefer multiple, smaller, pitches. This makes it easier to range and easier for the shopper to shop. We can move the smaller ranges around easily, bring some into better focus for a promotion, thereby offering a fresher view guy gifts.

Here is one of several gifts for guys pitches we have in-store now. The products are the banner, the lure. We figured that if we need to put up a sign saying gifts for guys we have got it wrong.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · newsagency of the future

No escaping the newspaper publisher push to end seven day print

Mark Fletcher on May 31, 2019 6:35 AM

You can’t escape the the promotion of digital subscriptions and weekend only delivery from News Corp. with their now regular pitch printed next to the masthead.

It is odd selling a product for a meagre margin that actively says stop buying from here and, in fact, stop buying the physical product.

Previously, one could rip off the post-it note ad promoting deals like this. You can’t now that it is part of the newspaper itself.

It is actions like this pitch from News Corp, actions that show our shops as being expensive and irrelevant that get retail newsagents wondering if they should cut the paper before the paper cuts them.

The Australian has a similar pitch in print as well as online:

There is no upside for print newspapers. What we are seeing now is the management of their decline and, for some, demise. Publishers will make moves that serve their needs and the needs of their shareholders. Newsagents are far removed from consideration despite what any publisher rep says.

Hence, the active consideration – when do we quit newspapers in our shops?


→ 13 CommentsCategory: Media disruption · newsagency of the future

7-Eleven cashless in Australia

Mark Fletcher on May 30, 2019 4:08 PM

From the TV news last night…


→ 2 CommentsCategory: retail

Advice on how you could grow crossword sales in your newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 30, 2019 6:19 AM

Crossword sales are strong in Australia. The segment is performing well, delivering year on year growth for many newsagency businesses. It is the magazine segment that offers the best opportunity for growth based on my experience in-store and broader channel data analysis.

The crossword category is the easiest category in which to grow sales. Here are some ideas with which you can engage to achieve this.

  1. Move the entire crossword segment next to weeklies. Every time I have seen this done there is a measurable sales jump.
  2. Place crossword titles with their parent brand: Better Homes and Gardens and Australian Women’s Weekly, for example. This could be done as co-location – in addition to regular placement.
  3. Call out a crossword title as a staff member fave and note why with a small sign in front. This type of personal recommendation works well in book retailing.
  4. In front of Take 5 and That’s Life, place a plastic or acrylic pocket with A5 titles from the same brand as both titles are bought by the same shopper.
  5. Pitch a crossword or two at the counter.
  6. Pitch crosswords with jigsaws – they are often the same shopper.
  7. Consider a crossword themed front window.
  8. Consider a crossword lovers event. It could be a simple afternoon team with the idea of them meeting each other and sharing stories. Your focus could be to thank them for their love of crosswords.
  9. Trial placing your most popular two crosswords next to daily newspapers. Count how many you place so that you can measure the success.
  10. Run a loyalty program for magazines. Crossword shoppers will appreciate this and drive more whole of business shopping as a result.
  11. If you have a table where shoppers can sit for a while, consider opening a crossword and placing some pens nearby so people can engage.
  12. Shine a light on your range on social media – let locals know that your business is the local destination from crosswords.

Why do this given that you only make 25% from crossword titles? Because crossword shoppers are loyal. The better you serve them and the more you appreciate them the more return business you will achieve.


→ No CommentsCategory: crosswords · magazines · newsagency marketing · Newsagency opportunities

When a newsagent receives details of a Woolworths exclusive offer

Mark Fletcher on May 29, 2019 5:44 AM

I get that publishers need to make channel specific pitches. And, I get that supermarkets offer far more discipline that newsagents.

What I do not get is that publishers pay supermarkets for discipline while they pay our channel nothing. I am confident Woolworths is receiving a fee, in one for or another, for this six week exclusive promotion.

Space is everything to supermarkets. I have been told previously of how they monetise aisle ends, counter positions and other high traffic positions.

Imagine the discipline magazine publishers could garner from our channel if they financially respected us as they do the supermarkets. While there will be excuses, no has seriously tested this. I suspect, however, that it is too late to test it.

To be fair to magazine publishers, I am aware of newsagent exclusive deals being early returned the day of on sale, deals that subsequently sold out in less than a week. I am also aware of exclusive to newsagent floor units with a valuable gift with purchase not being put on the shop floor.

Publishers notice these things. Discipline matters to them if they are running an integrated campaign.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: magazines

News Corp closes some newspapers in Queensland

Mark Fletcher on May 28, 2019 4:28 PM

Mumbrella has this story.

News Corp has further removed itself from the regional media market, selling the remaining 50.1% stake in Community Newspaper Group to Seven West Media.

The sale comes as the publisher also closes two Quest titles in Queensland, and after last week’s announcement that it would be shuttering the print operations on a Victorian Leader title.


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption · Newspapers

Ovato needs to let newsagents cancel a magazine title, forever

Mark Fletcher on May 28, 2019 7:02 AM

Newsagents have never had the ability to permanently cancel a magazine title.

Sure, you can cancel a title. However, three months later, it could appear again, thanks to the Ovato processes. Indeed, if often does appear again at some point.

While it does not happen as much today as it used to happen, it does happen, and it should not happen.

If newsagents are to be responsible for their magazine bills, they should have control over what is supplied.

This is not a difficult question – that we have the opportunity to manage our level of indebtedness, the cost of theft, the cost of labour … indeed, all costs associated with magazines.


→ 9 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · Social responsibility

Put the current issue of Mindfood on the counter

Mark Fletcher on May 28, 2019 7:00 AM

The current issue of Mindfood magazine, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus on the cover is worth pitching at the counter. With her acclaimed, funny, insightful and searing  VEEP TV series coming to an end, this star is in the news. VEEP has done well in Australia. I think Julia being on the cover could be enough to age people who would not usually buy the title to at least consider it.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Woolworths is selling Darrell Lea products for less than the wholesale price to small business newsagents

Mark Fletcher on May 27, 2019 12:38 PM

Competing on price is impossible some days.


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition

Take care before entering into a high interest loan for your newsagency business

Mark Fletcher on May 27, 2019 6:15 AM

The easier it is to arrange finance for a business the greater the likelihood that the finance offer is not a good deal.

I saw this recently when asked for help by a newsagent who had entered into a loan with a loan business. They borrowed $60.000. They had an urgent need for $35,000 but took the higher amount following a pitch from the finance company. They expected to be able to pay it off ahead of the due date.

In the contract, which they did not read because they were in a hurry, was a condition that while they could pay it off before the due date, the full interest for the original period was payable and that, in fact, interest was paid first before principal.

The interest rate was 18%. Fees to establish the loan were 5%.

In my review of the situation, there were alternatives to solving the $35,000 problem that could have been better than the high interest cost and high cash flow impact that had a knock-on effect in the business.

While I am not an accountant or a financier, my suggestions to newsagents or any small business retailer looking at urgent funding needs are:

  • Look at alternatives.
  • Take time.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Be absolutely sure of all of the terms and conditions.
  • Borrow only what you need.
  • Never miss a payment.

There are companies promoting their services to small business retailers, offering fast and easy access to finance that is not good finance.

Buyer beware.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

The high cost of council works

Mark Fletcher on May 26, 2019 7:59 AM

I know of newsagents in Australia who are in a similar situation to this UK newsagent:


→ 1 CommentCategory: Social responsibility

Checking social media…

Mark Fletcher on May 26, 2019 7:55 AM

An interesting tweet mentioning our channel:


→ 8 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

An offer from newsagency marketing group newsXpress to help newsagents create more valuable businesses

Mark Fletcher on May 25, 2019 7:21 AM

All of us in small business retail understand the value of being unique, the importance of having those products or services no one else has. It is referred to as your USP, your Unique Selling Proposition. Businesses with a genuine USP are more successful.

Recent years have been challenging as newsagents have had to confront declines in core products, competition from online and more. A USP helps you cultivate good news.

The best way newsXpress can speak to you about USP is through what we offer you if you join newsXpress. Here are some of the newsXpress differentiators:

  • Genuinely valuable in-store visits. One of our retail experts visits your store several times a year, looking for opportunities to make your business successful. They gently offer encouragement and suggestions. Nothing they suggest is mandatory.
  • Exclusive new traffic suppliers. We have preferred suppliers in our portfolio who can help you attract new shoppers, like the Royal Australian Mint – we are the only group they work with. The success our members are achieving is wonderful.
  • New traffic strategy. We offer well researched, fact based, papers that lay out a pathway to attracting new shoppers. These papers outline the goal and simple to follow steps that can be taken to achieving the goal. Nothing is mandatory. Our research papers offer alternatives you can consider in terms of your local situation.
  • Exit strategy. We know plenty of newsagents look to the day they can leave their business. We have a structured plan they can follow to maximise the opportunity, to smooth the path to sale and retirement or whatever is next in life.
  • Engaged business building networking, not roadshows. We host regional cluster meetings to make it easy for members to work with each other and our team to create more successful businesses. We support and encourage each other.
  • Online. We offer a comprehensive, integrated and growing online strategy, through several consumer facing websites that attract shoppers our retailers may never have served otherwise. Every newsXpress member also has free access to their own local website that is completely within their control.
  • Saving money in the back office. We can help you get the best deal on insurance, eftpos fees and more. Our lease help has resulted in plenty of newsXpress members saving money on lease renewal.
  • Mental health support. Thanks to our engagement with Beyond Blue, Headspace, Men’s Shed and others, we have a structured kit of advice and support for any newsXpress member confronting mental health challenges. Our help reaches beyond the business for those keen to engage.
  • Better buying. We put this last because it is what some think should be first. We have access to supplier deals that are awesome. Yes, preferential pricing and preferential terms. While we understand that many newsagents see this as what a group should do, for us, better pricing is one piece of a large jigsaw of services we offer. It’s valuable, but not all that we do.

newsXpress offers much more than this list.

Our head office team… newsXpress has twelve full time employees working on behalf of members. Included in this team is our merchandise expertswho work with members on product ranging and buying. Following their advice is not mandatory. They can go as far as putting together suggested orders. The action you take is completely up to you.

Our leadership team… is there for you, on anymatter, offering an ear, a hug, advice or representation, on any matter. We will help as much as we are able. We see the newsXpress community as family.

Find out morePeter Francis is our National Sales Manager. He has served newsagents for decades, at John Sands and then For Arts Sake. Peter has been with newsXpress for five years. He is a loved and respected member of our team. Call Peter on 0423 298 020. Ask him any question. You can email Peter, too, on

Who makes the money? While newsXpress is privately owned, there has never been a profit distribution. Every cent has been reinvested in the business, in TV ads, flyers, technology advances, free conferences and more.

What does it cost? The monthly newsXpress membership fee is currently $375.00 (inc. GST). There is a sign on fee and a setup fee of $2,500.00, which we will waive for you.

Special offer. Contact Peter Francis for details.

This is a letter I recently sent to newsagents. I am the Managing Director of newsXpress.


→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency of the future

Gifts in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on May 24, 2019 3:09 PM

I love this display of a unique line of gifts in one of my newsagency. Shopper engagement is terrific.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

The newsagency counter

Mark Fletcher on May 24, 2019 12:04 PM

I love the different look behind the counter, facing shoppers, in one of my newsagencies right now.


→ No CommentsCategory: newsagency marketing

If you compete with the Reject Shop…

Mark Fletcher on May 24, 2019 5:52 AM

The Reject Shop appears to be in challenging times, according to a report in The Age.

The Reject Shop will part ways with its chief executive and has revealed it is heading for a full-year loss, as sales evaporate and it cuts prices amid fierce competition from supermarkets and department stores.

The discount retail chain on Thursday said it now expected to run at a loss of $1 million to $2 million this year – a downgrade from earlier guidance for a profit of $3 million to $4 million.

The ASX announcement from the business has more details:

In addition, Gross Margins have fallen as the expected benefits from Sales and Merchandise related initiatives have not landed with consumers during the half. This margin pressure has been exacerbated by the competitive pricing pressure placed on a number of key Sales Departments from both the major Supermarkets (FMCG) and the Department Stores (General Discretionary Merchandise), forcing price roll-backs across a number of key lines as the business looks to maintain its price gap in the market.

Non-product related costs including Store Wages, Occupancy Costs and Head Office Costs have been well controlled during the half, with material cash reductions on rent renewals still being delivered.

This will be good news to newsagents competing with the discount retailer. I have been tracking them this year because of their creeping into more areas in the gift, card and related categories. I thought they were doing well in the context of their type of retail.

For what it’s worth and thinking about today’s news, I think the Reject Shop is encountering challenges because of renewed focus from K-Mart, supermarkets and because the Reject Shop approach to retail is not what shoppers look for today.

The days of retail shelves being full as a sales approach are over for now. Shoppers want engagement, experiences. Give them this and sales will increase.

I visit a couple of Reject Shops regularly to watch their changes and offering experiences is not something I see.


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition · retail

Diversity in retail

Mark Fletcher on May 23, 2019 6:10 AM

Here is an article I have recently completed about diversity in retail, as a management approach to help you attract more customers to your business. I have been thinking about diversity because of an inspirational presentation I heard by Aubrey Bergauer, Executive Director of the California Symphony, in which she outlined how a commitment to diversity has helped the Symphony become more successful.

Diversity in retail.

This is not about what you may think it is about.

For years, retailers, especially small business retailers have been told do one thing right, be known for something.

They have been told that a unique selling proposition(USP) is about that one thing and getting it so right that you are known for it.

This singular focus began in an era when people often discovering a business did so by being in front of the business.

While pursuing a USP has worked for many, the world today has changed. Technology has changed us, it has changed how people find retail businesses.

Whereas in the past, there was often one major path delivering traffic to a business, today, thanks to technology, there are usually many paths, often not as obvious to us as the path of years ago.

Technology has also changed what businesses can and do offer.

Most important, technology has changed the ease of reaching customers.

Being local is not as important as it used to be.

While local small business retailers wish being local is all that matters, it is not. Often, the local community is not sufficient to serve the growth needs of a business, often because locals themselves are shopping elsewhere because doing so is easier.

Retailers need to reach more people. This means reaching beyond what has been traditional. For local retailers it means reaching beyond local. It can mean reaching beyond what you are known for.

Thanks to cool personalisation technology and targeted marketing, businesses interstate or overseas can provide a special interest product in a way that locals can love. Big businesses, especially, can leverage technology to reach local shoppers in personal and local ways.

Being local is notas important as it used to be for plenty of specialty retail businesses.

A commitment to diversity could help local retailers in this changed world.

I am not talking here about diversity in the manner in which the term is often used.

To me, diversity in small business retail is about a business, your business, being diversein the customers it pursues and diversein the ways it seeks to connect with potential new customers.

Customer diversityis about being relevant, appealing and of value to different groups of customers to those you pursue today. No, not everyone, because that does not work.

Diversity in customers is about targeting very specific, new, groups that you are certain you can satisfy.

Why do people shop with you?

Think about what brings people through your front door right now. Typically, a majority of shoppers will come through for one reason, one product or service category.

Is there another product or service category not too distant from what you focus on today that you could introduce to broaden the appeal of the business, to help you reach people who are not interested in your prime product category or service today?

This is one example of diversity … making your business appealing to a group of people who do not find your current offer appealing.

It is not about becoming a general store. Rather, it is about making thoughtful moves, based on research, to broaden the pool of people who couldwant to shop with you.

This is about you reaching more customers.

Diversity in ways of connecting with potential new customersis about how you communicate, how you connect.

Multiple touchpoints matter in this connected world.

While we all get sick of emails, text messages, social media ads and the like, they are sent for a reason, by big businesses with strong tech infrastructure to take care of this follow up.

Think about the new shopper journey in your shop today. Think about how they found you. In small business retail, word of mouth remains important as does store location. But what about other new shoppers, how can they be found?

Diversity in how, where and when you promote your business matters as does diversity in your voice.

How you reach out to an older shopper should be different to how you reach out to a young mum.

How you reach out to someone new to your core product category should be different to how you reach out to someone deeply engaged with your core category.

A more diverse pool of shoppers requires a more diverse approach to find them.

Here’s what I mean: use diverse avenues of marketing and through these use diverse marketing pitches, targeted for a more diverse pool of customers.

Marketing avenues can include social media paid and free, Google Ads, with each being thoughtfully created to pursue a specific type of shopper, one that fits a diversity goal.

Just as you expand what you offer to appeal to new consumers, you expand how you appeal to reach new customers.

Local businesses often promote local. It made sense for years. Today, specialty retailers can easily sell outside the local area, making a commitment to diversity also being about reaching beyond local as that in itself is about pursuing diversity.

It’s about more than what you are known for today.

Here is what it comes down to. What you are known for today is not enoughsince that will limit your appeal to customers interested in that. Smart and tech engaged businesses are chipping away at your core, what you are known for.

Thoughtfully, carefully, broaden the appeal of your business through what you sell and how you pitch. Pursuing a more diverse pool of customers will buttress your business, help it weather change.

This is why diversity matters. It is why you have to make your business appealing to more people and why you have to be more diverse in how you try and find them.

Now, an action plan.

Write down your target customer today. Describe them in a concise way.

Now, think about another customer you could target, a different customer you would like to reach but do not reach today. Think about what you need to do in terms of inventory, shop layout, online engagement and other changes to reach this new customer.

Write down how you promote your business today. Now, think about other ways you could promote your business and other voices, styles, tones you could use to appeal to people you do not appeal to today.

New products, new services, pitched through new voices in new mediums, this is how to attract a more diverse customer pool to your business.

Diversity in retail is simple really. It is about expanding your reach through thoughtful planned actions to reach a more diverse group of customers.

The alternative is to keep doing what you have been doing. That will maintain your current business trajectory.

Mark Fletcher is the owner of Tower Systems, newsXpress and several niche retail businesses.


NSW / ACT / TAS: Nathan Morrison. 0417 568 148.
QLD / NT: Justin Randall. 0434 365 789.
VIC / SA / WA: Tim Batt. 0401 833 917.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · retail

Online lottery revenue growth continues for Tabcorp

Mark Fletcher on May 22, 2019 6:22 AM

This, in case you missed the half year results announced by Tabcorp two months ago:


→ 1 CommentCategory: Lotteries

Business outlook for Ovato (Gotch)

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2019 5:11 AM

Click here to access an investor presentation fro Ovato, released yesterday. Ovato shares were halted from trading pending the announcement of a share entitlement offer.

As you can see from the half year report and their share price over the last year, it has been a tough time:

Here is a page from the investor presentation that may interest newsagents – not the magazine forecast:

With magazine sales declining, cover prices at five (and more) year ago prices and with GP fixed at 25%, this category is problematic for newsagents.

No wonder….


→ 2 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · newsagency of the future

Hey News Corp. this is not news, this is not journalism, no, this is political interference

Mark Fletcher on May 21, 2019 12:01 AM

I would not have put this newspaper out for sale. A politician with their face in what could be the crosshairs of a gun? In Australia?


→ 10 CommentsCategory: Ethics

Apple pitches digital against print

Mark Fletcher on May 20, 2019 6:11 AM

This is the Apple ad playing in a US shopping mall.

This is what shoppers see on phones and iPads in a nearby Apple store:


→ No CommentsCategory: Media disruption

The City of San Francisco bans cashless stores

Mark Fletcher on May 19, 2019 6:43 AM

San Francisco last week moved to ban cashless stores. This is a big news story receiving plenty of coverage, like this from CBS:

San Francisco is about to require brick-and-mortar stores to take cash as payment, joining Philadelphia and New Jersey in banning an increasingly popular store policy of snubbing cash. Critics say refusing cash payments harms low-income people and the homeless, who are less likely to have access to credit cards.

And this TV news report:


→ No CommentsCategory: retail

Is Julia Gillard endorsing News Corp’s Leader newspapers?

Mark Fletcher on May 18, 2019 2:21 PM

This subscription pitch for Leader newspapers on the Herald Sun website feels deceptive to me. It implies an endorsement from Julia Gillard by prostrating the photo as part of a news story, when it is an ad.

It is also poor form coming from a company that daily sought to tear her from the Prime Ministership.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Ethics · Newspapers

If you have Grumpy Cat product…

Mark Fletcher on May 18, 2019 5:45 AM

Grumpy Cat has died. This cat that spawned a worldwide business has lead a celebratory life. Grumpy Cat achieved terrific success in Australia.

If you have Grumpy Cat products, pitch them where they will be seen. Do it respectfully. Interest will be strong I suspect.

If you don’t have Grumpy Cat products but ant to acknowledge the cat’s passing, the image I have included with this post is the official announcement that was shared on social media. Consider sharing this.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

Vale Bob Hawke

Mark Fletcher on May 17, 2019 5:24 AM

Today is a good day to place newspapers with Bob Hawke on the cover at the counter. You will sell more for sure. Today’s paper will be bought by plenty who would otherwise not buy a paper – if you make it easy for them.

Regardless of your politics, it is hard to not wish for a leader like Hawke, he preferred consensus, has a commitment to social justice, did not tolerate racism and steered in great reforms, like universal health care and a significant increase in education engagement.


All the pics are from Twitter.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newspapers