In 2017 Tower Systems switched more users from other newsagency software to its best-practice newsagency software.
Serving in excess of 1,750 newsagents in a retail channel of 3,400 newsagency businesses, Tower Systems is proud of its national base and commitment and appreciates the support of small business newsagents.
Newsagents tell us they switch to Tower Systems for:
Newsagents large and small, city and country, shopping centre and high street … they are all welcome at the Tower Systems newsagency community. We work hard to help newsagents enjoy their businesses more, every day, in many different ways.
This is our mission. Well, part of our mission … as serve a range of retail business channels with specialty software.
Is the Tower Systems software the best newsagency software? Only those with experience using different software packages can say. What we do know, however, is that we are the only newsagency software company that runs newsagency businesses. We walk in your shoes, every day.
A free management workshop for newsagents.
newsXpress invites newsagents from across Australia to free management workshops. We also offer to fund air travel for newsagents to ensure easy access to this important event.
Hear how newsagents are transforming their businesses, finding new customers, enjoying a new lease on life. We will share case studies from city and country newsagencies.
Here are the only dates in this series. Please tick your selection.
I am posting this here as I am a director of newsXpress and will be hosting each workshop.
Book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the booking form.
If you have any questions, call me – 0418 321 338.
Tower Systems is proud to be affiliated with newsXpress.
Tower Systems serves in excess of 1,700 newsagents with newsagency software. Years ago, in another place online, our CEO provides practical advice to newsagents on how to do a magazine relay to increase sales. Some months ago, that advice was updated.
Here is the post, outlining how small business newsagents today can build stronger better businesses through a magazine relay:
In the years since I published How to do a magazine relay in your newsagencyplenty has changed. In this post I provide up to date advice.
Before you start the relay, consider the amount of space you want to allocate to magazines. Do not allocate space to fit what you are sent. Allocate space to make money.
Today, magazines are best located on a wall, ideally at the rear of the shop, such that can be seen from people walking past the shop. A simple MAGAZINES sign above works well.
This back of shop placement, with magazines owning the space can work well as a traffic driver. Where I have seen this move implemented it has not increased the decline in magazine sales.
Ideally you can fit all magazines on the back wall and eliminate all aisle use of magazines.
On to the relay.
The relay you do in your business is your relay. There is no right or wrong way. What I have written here is my opinion, which may be wrong for you.
There is also no end point to a relay. What you do today will need refining next week and the week after. So, do not over think what you want to do as that would be a waste of time.
The goal of the relay has to be to disrupt magazine traffic in pursuit of an increase in sales. What I mean is: change everything, upset customers and staff, sell more magazines as people discover titles they did not know you had.
Map out the wall, determine your zones shopper: garden, food, men, women, sports etc. The categories where I use less than one pocket per title are: special interest, British weeklies, food, comics and some craft segments.
Look at the percentage of sales delivered by each magazine category and look at sales trends for the categories. Tote up broad groups. For example the percentage of sales for women’s weeklies, women’s interests, crafts & hobbies, crosswords, home & lifestyle and food & wine. If your newsagency is like mine, this grouping will account for more than 50% of your magazine sales.
NOW, THE MAGAZINE RELAY
I suggest it is done by one person, an owner, working alone.
What I do in women’s is the same for the other zones I create. I do each zone separately and try and get into the head space of the shopper of the zone – using the most popular titles to act as beacons, or signposts, for the zone.
I am careful what I place next to top selling titles. This is a prime spot, next to the popular titles. Choose wisely. Choose titles that naturally fit next to the big titles, titles shoppers are likely to browse and purchase on impulse.
If I am not sure about where to put a title I put it aside and move on.
I take extra time with special interest and hobby titles. For example, I put railways and model railroad titles near each other but I am careful to ensure that they are separated as they appeal to two shoppers and only occasionally do you see titles from both segments in the same basket.
Within the zones I look for and respect specialisation. For example, within men’s lifestyle and sports I create a clean space for the quality serious fitness titles like Coach, Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness.
REVIEW, FEEDBACK, FOLLOW UP
You’re not done when you think you are done. Track sales, listen to your team and your customers. Tweak where you feel it is necessary.
Bring new issues to the fore. Continue to be engaged in how your magazine department looks.
Continue to look at your sales data. If there is no lift be open to further change.
Doing a magazine relay can be like doing one of those kid’s puzzles – you move them around and around until you have the completed image. That image can look and feel like a work of art once you are done.
While some readying this will be tempted to say why bother, we only make 25%. Get the relay right and sales will increase without any extra capital investment and with a lower retail space allocation. That is a win in my view.
If you have made it this far, thanks for reading. Magazines really are a point of difference which we need to work harder at embracing – despite the challenges of the distribution system.
I’d be happy to answer questions or discuss magazine relays with anyone: email@example.com or 0418 321 338.
Over to you…
For fifteen years, Tower Systems has published quarterly sales performance benchmark results based on accurate data from a broad cross-section of retail newsagency businesses.
This study is the most comprehensive even for the newsagency channel. Here is the latest report, for the April – June quarter of 2017 compares to 2016 on a same store basis.
The April – June quarter was tough for core products sold through the newsagency channel. In addition to the continuing decline in print media sales, this quarter’s benchmark results reveal a troubling downturn in lottery revenue as well as card revenue.
Here are the headline numbers by key product category:
These are not good headline numbers. The bottom is falling out of the historic core of the newsagency channel. This will not be news to many as it continues a trend we have seen in this benchmark study for several years.
The above percentages reflect the overall performance of the 181 newsagency businesses in this benchmark study. It includes stores from a range of banner groups as well as independents. There are large businesses and small. Some are in shopping centres while others are on then high street. The cross-section is broad.
What is concerning is the pace of decline, especially with magazines as the decline had slowed recently. Looking more closely at the data, the decline is in the volume categories. Fringe categories such as special interest titles are doing well. Indeed, some segments show terrific growth.
Newsagents need to manage the overhead cost of newspapers and magazines. Labour, space and capital investment needs to be kept in line with the gross profit contribution of these categories. Busy work relating to newspapers and magazines should be eliminated.
The decline in greeting card revenue is a surprise. The reported percentage of decline, 4%, does not read well. However, like all the above data points, it is an average from the entire data pool. There are stores experiencing decline above 20% with others reporting growth above 20%. There is a clear correlation between stores with strong gift sales and card performance – in this case card revenue is stronger.
The good news is the performance of businesses playing outside the traditional space. For example, the newsagency with $25,000 in toy revenue in the quarter, reflecting growth of 18% or the newsagency with $45,000 in gift revenue and year on year growth of 22% of the newsagency with card revenue of $47,000 and year on year growth of 22%.
There are many good news stories in the latest study results. However, the good news will be overshadowed by the performance of the majority. It is challenging, some days, to know what to do or say to cut through with newsagents who are not engaged.
Too many newsagents think growth will come from categories close to what they have done historically. For example, too many get into cheap social stationery thinking that is competitive with Kikki.K or Typo.
My experience is the best growth comes from turning away from traditional lines and traditional suppliers and going with products and price points you would never have considered for a newsagency business. I see this approach working well in the benchmark results in businesses of different sizes and in different situations.
OVERALL PERFORMANCE DATA.
It is in the overall business gross profit numbers where the differences in businesses can be seen. 62% sit in the traditional newsagency GP performance band of 28% – 30%. 7% sit below 28%. 20% sit in the GP band of 30% and 35%. 7% sit between 35% and 40%. The rest, 4%, have a GP of more than 40%.
GP is a function of what you stock and the type of shoppers you attract to the business. Buying is where it starts.
WHAT IS DRIVING THE DECLINES?
Close to 80% of the businesses in the benchmark reported a decline in traffic with the average decline set at 5%. However, just over half reported a decline in revenue. This is because plenty are selling higher priced items, usually gifts. This softens the blow of the decline in legacy products.
I think the traffic decline is being driven by a decline in interest in legacy products on which traditional newsagency businesses have relied. I have said for years it is crucial newsagents have a strategy to drive net new traffic. Relying on legacy product to sell new products is not a plan. You need to source new products and to use these to attract people to your business who would otherwise not have shopped with you.
HOW TO RESPOND TO TRAFFIC DECLINES?
Any newsagency business can be successful, regardless of location and situation. This is truer today than at any time in the past thanks to what we can see being achieved online – not only in newsagency businesses but through other retail channels.
The key to success is to not run the business as a newsagency. That’s is, to not obsess about legacy products. Focus on new traffic products. Focus on price points you would usually say would never work in your business. Buy products you think will never work. Be radical and through discover what is possible in your business.
I urge you to ask yourself daily, what have I done today to reach a new shopper, someone who does not know we exist? This is what successful businesses in the benchmark study are doing and doing well.
DOES THE NEWSAGENCY CHANNEL HAVE A FUTURE?
I ask this every quarter. My answer remains – Yes! Absolutely. If you are prepared to shrug off what has been traditional for a newsagency business, stop hoarding, embrace change and embrace social media – you can have a bright future. The transformation from traditional to the new world must be urgent and dramatic.
AGENCY IS OVER.
My opinion remains – there is no upside in any agency parts of the business. People saying they are proud to be called a newsagent are entitled to their view. History will show that era is behind us.
I am optimistic for my own newsagency businesses and for the businesses of many newsagents. Indeed, I have opened a new outlet the last few months. It does not look or feel like a newsagency. The numbers are terrific.
WHY I DO THIS STUDY
My interest in the study is as a newsagent and as a supplier to the channel through Tower Systems and through newsXpress. I want the channel to grow for selfish reasons and because it has been my life since 1981. I am invested.
I am often asked for benchmark goals newsagents ought to aim for. Here are some benchmarks I have developed in my work with newsXpress and through Tower Systems:
Footnote: I founded Tower Systems in 1981. That company now serves in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers with its newsagency software. In 2005, I joined newsXpress. That newsagency marketing group now serves 243 retail businesses with a traffic and revenue growth strategy.
Tower Systems is thrilled its cloud based Back to School software facility booklist is winning plenty of business for small business newsagents in the 2017 back to school season.
Developed in close associate with small business newsagents, the booklist software has been a great and practical help this season.
From this project it is clear there is no one approach to managing school book list sales. We have sought to address the most common needs to provide a cost effective solution for our customers.
Built from the ground up, this facility provides a comprehensive solution to newsagents. The cost is $795.00 (inc. GST) a year.
Using the site you can:
In addition to the per year fee there would be a small card processing fee, on a cost recovery basis, for payments made online.
This software from Tower Systems is another example of the evolving tech platforms that can be used to help small business retailers to broaden the reach and appeal of their businesses, finding new shoppers and efficiently transacting new sales – all on a subscription basis.
We are grateful to the community of newsagents who have guided us on this project.
Tower Systems has been engaged in a secret project for small business newsagents in Australia that has passed proof of concept.
Of all retail channels in Australia the newsagency channel is anticipating the most significant changes in 2017. The anticipation of change and the opportunity of new advances make 2017 a year of opportunity for newsagents.
Serving in excess of 1,750 newsagents as customers using its best practice newsagency software, Tower Systems has the largest single grouping of tech based newsagents in the world, making this community a perfect fit for the project.
The project is well advanced with many newsagents already engaged and banking valuable results. The advantage for newsagents who partner with Tower Systems is measurable and valuable.
This project is one of several being run by Tower Systems for its large community of users. It is another way the company reinvests for the benefit of its customers.
We are grateful to our small business newsagent customers for their support and encouragement. This new project is thanks to them.
We are having a terrific run up to Christmas in the newsagency software space with more newsagents switching from other software to our software. While this is not unusual, it is this time of the year as retailers are busy with the most important retail season of the year.
What is different this year is the facilities unique to our software that help engaged retailers leverage Christmas opportunities. We have embedded in our software tools and facilities that specifically help retailers make the most of extra Christmas traffic. The help leverages the traffic way beyond the busy Christmas season.
But software tools are one thing, important but only one thing. Our real help comes through advice and business guidance on leveraging the tools for genuine benefit for the the business for the longer term.
As long-term retailers ourselves in major shopping centres and high street situations we know how to make the software sing. This is where we can really help. Whether it is new traffic, strategic change or dealing with new suppliers, our newsagency a=software and retail business management experience combine to deliver to retailers benefits beyond what one might usually expect from a software company.
We are grateful to the newsagents who are in our community and welcome with open arms those who have recently joined us from other software. Hello, welcome and thank you for being part of what we are doing here.
Strap in and let’s get down to work…
We are thrilled with the response to the school booklist management software we released for newsagents to use. Newsagents are loving the cloud based software, the subscription model and the evolution of the software since release.
Our new web based school booklist facility is now available live.
Once you have had a look around, if you want to proceed and use Booklist in your business, please sign up for a year access and you are good to go.
Built from the ground up, this facility will provide all we outlined in our earlier email. The cost will be $795.00 (inc. GST) a year.
Using the site you will be able to:
In addition to the per year fee there would be a small card processing fee, on a cost recovery basis, for payments made online.
Our advice is comprehensive and was released to newsagents, after thorough testing, in time for the News announcement to newsagents.
Providing newsagents with step by step advice on how to easily handle supplier marketing initiatives is what Tower Systems does across its various vertical marketplaces.
This is another example of the value of the Tower AdvantageTM in action for the small business newsagents we serve.
The magazine sales results in the Q1 2016 Newsagency Sales Benchmark Study published by Tower Systems ten days ago have been shown to be accurate Landin-line with the audit results subsequently released.
Our benchmark project has been running for many years and the results are used y small business newsagents and newsagent suppliers.
Similar benchmark principles are used by retailers in other retail channels in which Tower Systems serves as our POS software facilitates benchmark same store performance comparison.
Through our training and support services we help retailers to engage in the most important analysis they can undertake, comparing their performance on a same store basis on a year on year scale. We supplement this with the ability for like for like retailers to easily compare business performance, to assess how they are trading compared to similar businesses. This is at the heart of our channel level retail sales performance benchmark studies.
in addition to channel specific indicators, the benchmark study looks at KPIs that are useful and of interest to any retailer. For example take a look at this from the newsagency sales benchmark study published almost two weeks ago:
Too many newsagents are drifting, waiting for something to happen rather than forcing change in their businesses.
Every retailer wants to know about traffic, revenue, basket depth, basket value and loyalty. We make it easy to report on these as well as other KPIs such as stock turn, return on investment, return on floor space and return on shelf space.
Today, Tower Systems is helping newsagents handle changes flowing from the closure of the Network Services magazine distribution business.
All newsagents covered by the Tower AdvantageTM software support service have access to everything necessary for free. Only the newsagents who opted to not be covered by support have a fee to pay. However, that fee is waived if they take up support.
Tower has made the change easy to navigate, saving many hours that might otherwise have been spend getting the necessary data work done.
No software change is necessary. The fee relates to a data conversion utility written o save man-hours.
On the Tower help desk today and all this week we are triaging calls to ensure the additional work for newsagents is not impacting work for all other retailers.
Today, we launch a new option acquiring newsagency software, a pay as you go model.
The time is right given changes in the channel with newsagents sourcing new products, pursuing new traffic and leveraging higher GP. Thanks to our work with gift, homewares and other specialty retail channels, Tower Systems can help you transform your business.
$220.00 a month is all it costs to access the Tower newsagency software package. The $220 is paid by credit card. Stop paying if you want to stop using the software.
We make this offer now as we think some software companies are considering quitting the newsagency channel. You can see this through their lack of engagement with newsagency specific development, non-attendance at trade shows like the Sydney and Melbourne Gift Fairs and lack of engagement in the structural changes in the channel.
Developing software and backing it with good support for newsagents is expensive. A software company with less than 500 customers will struggle to keep up.
1,755 newsagents use our software – our closest competitor has 600.
We have experience switching from POS Solutions, Computerlink and AccessPOS to Tower.
Pay as you go customers have access to weekly online training workshops, 130+ professional training videos, software updates, our friendly help desk, our after hours support team, our theft check service and our business performance assessment service … for no extra charge.
If you have current hardware, the only up-front cost is for installation and training. This new pricing option saves capital, it eliminates the need for a lease or bank financing.
You will see from the simple agreement that you can turn it off at any time and not pay a cent more. You are in control.
Talk to one of our experts today:
Come and see the software and meet our team at our user meetings – details enclosed.
THE TOWER NEWSAGENCY SOFTWARE
For $220.00 a month you can use our newsagency software covering:
SUPPORT AND TRAINING.
Included in the low monthly fee is access to the extraordinary Tower AdvantageTM service:
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT HELP.
Tower Systems is there when you need, helping with advice, insights and guidance as much or as little as you want. These services include at no extra cost:
The time is right to make this offer as only Tower Systems has the capacity, commitment and vision to help newsagents leverage best-practice technology in a valuable and unifying way. Let us help you.
NOTE: Here is our response to any competitor who comments that this offer sounds desperate: – it would if it was coming from a company with 500 or fewer customers that is not growing. Tower Systems is strong and growing. We serve 1,755 newsagency businesses. We are making the offer because we have the capacity to and because we have a vision for a bright future.
 All existing purchase options remain available for newsagents installing our software.
Here is a video we shot to give voice to the results of the Australian small business newsagency sales benchmark study we have just completed:
The leadership team of Tower Systems has been working behind the scenes since late 2015 on changes made public today to newsagents about the imminent closure of a major magazine distributor. Our work and consultation with supplier stakeholders has been around processes to facilitate a smooth transition so that newsagents are not negatively impacted.
We are grateful to the trust shown us by the suppliers to include us in the confidential discussions.
Newsagents using the Tower Systems software can rest assured in the knowledge that we are well briefed, prepared and engaged.
Tower Systems is working with several regional newspaper publishers to ease the introduction of price changes through their retail network. As our newsagency software is the industry standard we work with these publishers as we do with other suppliers to help newsagents handle newspaper cover price changes with ease.
We are grateful to the publishers who share price change information long in advance so we can develop appropriate messaging to make the change simple.
Tower Systems has invited its newsagency software customers to provide sales data for the September quarter to participate in a comprehensive sales benchmark study on behalf of the entire newsagency channel.
This is another small business service from the company – helping newsagents navigate and enjoy change.
It has been a busy two months for small business newsagents as they navigate major IT changes driven by several of their key suppliers.
Tower Systems has been at the forefront of providing assistance by working with suppliers in advance of the release of their changes, ensuring supplier communication reflects the Tower best practice approach for newsagents using our newsagency software.
Back in our offices we have been providing front line support, taking hundreds of calls to ensure newsagents are able to deal with the supplier driven changes simply and with the best possible outcome.
All of this work has been done at no cost as part of our service to this small business channel.
The most complex of changes relate to structural changes in newspaper subscriptions as well as changes as to how data flows to and form newsagents.
Tower Systems has been helping newsagents embrace the Ladbrokes opportunity in-store with support for facilitating a technology solution for selling recharge of Ladbrokes accounts.
While we do not have a commercial relationship with Ladbrokes or Blueshyft, the platform through which the Ladbrokes service is offered, we have been active in helping newsagents embrace the opportunity and undertake appropriate tracking through their Tower newsagency software.
Tower Systems actively supports newsagents across a range of new business growth opportunities.
What makes the newsagency software from Tower Systems the best? Here is our answer:
This is one of our own newsagencies. It is a valuable point of difference.
We have owned and operated newsagencies since February 1996. This has provided us with a live testing ground for innovation not only for newsagents but all retailers.
A software company walking in the shoes of its customers is better resourced to serve those customers than any other software company.
Today, more than 1,900 newsagents use our software. We think this is three times any other.
Tower Systems has invited its newsagency software customers to provide sales data for the June quarter to participate in a comprehensive sales benchmark study on behalf of the entire newsagency channel.
This is another small business service from the company – helping newsagents navigate and enjoy change.
Tower Systems has been helping newsagents using its newsagency software deal with the new bundled over the counter offers from News Corp.
Our support has included an email to all customers, comprehensive freely available advice on our Knowledge Base, one on one phone calls and individual business email engagement.
Thanks to early warning ages ago from News Corp. about the promotion we were able to fully prepare ourselves and our customer base of close to 2,000 newsagents.
This is the Tower AdvantageTM in action.
Tower Systems CEO Mark Fletcher supports small business newsagents for equitable magazine supply. In this latest video he explains the comprehensive data available through the Tower software, data magazine distributors ignore.
Policing of age-restricted products has increased this year with considerable undercover detection action in several states.
Retailers using our smart POS software benefit from being able to tag products as having an age restriction. This results in a pop-up requiring an age check prior to proceeding to process the sale.
Our age-check is a procedural intervention on which retailers can rely to reduce under-age selling mistakes by employees. It is also evidence they can provide to authorities to indicate that the business has processes to stop under-age selling.
Easily setup, the age-check facility in our software is another way business owners can establish processes and facilities through which their business can be professionally managed in their absence.
POS software can do more for small business retailers than they may think. Good POS software, like that from Tower Systems, goes deep into the business, away from the sales counter, helping in many ways.
Help with leveraging shopper loyalty.