Helping newsagents improve their retail businesses

Tower Systems has offered a business performance assessment and growth service for years. We assess sales and other data from the client using our Point of Sale software requesting the FREE service and provide feedback.  The first step of feedback in an email assessing the business data.

Here is an example of one email we recently sent one of our newsagent customers following an assessment of their sales data for two trading periods a year apart:

While traffic is down 2% and sales down 7%, there is some good news from your work restructuring the business.  I think you need to move faster on arrest declines in some areas and embracing change in other areas. The data suggests this ought to be urgent for you.
To me, traffic cores for a business like yours and with the product mix you are are: magazines, lottery, pens, cardboard, cards and gifts.  You’re good in two of these – truly stellar in one – and weak in the others.
  1. CARDS.
    1. You have 7% if your cards listed as unknown – this means you’re not bringing them into the software correctly.  This needs to be sorted to provide you with more accurate data.
    2. You need to check your stock weight of Kat Kards. Their sales are performing lower than Hallmark for you so I’d question whether you are getting a good return. If you have more than $6,000 in stock you’re not getting the return you need.
    3. With card sales up 7%, Hallmark 11%, you’re heading in the right direction. I suspect that card sales are being helped by your excellent work with Gifts.
  2. CONFECTIONERY.
    1. With sales down 36% and Darrell Lea accounting for most of this you need to look carefully at your handling of DL product. Is it in the right location? Is the display fresh? It is actively promoted? If you’re doing the right things it may be time to move on and develop another confectionery story. Dropping $300 a week in sales is a problem requiring urgent attention.
  3. GIFTS
    1. This is the stand out success of you and your team. Well done. 94% increase in sales to now $2,600 a week is amazing.
    2. The decisions you are making are clearly working. The data shows you have nailed plush.
    3. The challenge is to maintain the categories you are successful in right now and expand into new areas. This is best done by creating a destination story, preferably with items people will purchase several times in a year and with an accompanying card.
  4. INK
    1. Your sales are down 23% and this is against trend. What are you doing to arrest this?  Do you know why sales are down? I’d talk to your team and see what they think.
    2. Sales of ink ought to be up close to 10% based on the national average.
  5. LOTTO
    1. With your sales up 13% year on year you are playing ahead of the trend. This is excellent.
    2. What are you doing to add value to the lotto shopper experience.
    3. What are you doing to grab extra revenue from lotto shoppers – at the counter, in the sale and as the leave -do you have a shopper exit strategy?
  6. MAGAZINES
    1. Overall your sales are down 8% with women’s weeklies down 18%. This is a trend you need to obsess about arresting since they account for 26.82% of your sales. Where are weeklies? Are they being respected – prime location,co-location?
    2. Children’s magazine are up 30%, a great result. Is this possibly helped by your amazing plush sales?
    3. Men’s Lifestyle magazine sales are down 43% and adult magazines are down 39%. Is there something going on this men and your shop? Have team members noticed a decline in male shoppers? That’s the feeling I get from looking at your data.
    4. Something is knocking your magazine sales around and I am wondering if this is a reason for your overall traffic decline. Magazines are currently vitally important to driving traffic for newsagencies.
  7. NEWSPAPERS
    1. Sales are down 15%, considerably ahead of the national trend. See the notes above for magazines as they apply. It’s as if people have found somewhere else to get what they want.
  8. STATIONERY
    1. A 12% decline in sales is not good news on first glance. However, the data shows that 72% of the decline is in copy paper. I am guessing that you made a decision here and if so then your overall stationery numbers are okay and ahead of overall business performance.
    2. Cardboard is the other category with a decline. What’s up here? Your sales should not be down 30% yet they are. Were you out of stock? Or, is there a new competitor in town?
    3. Pen sales are vital to your overall stationery position with the category accounting for 20.04% of sales.  Pen sales need to be healthy and they should be growing. Your sales are down in line with your traffic decline. I think you need to take a careful look at your pen range, location and merchandising.
While your data has some great news, your performance report also reveals some challenges.
Here’s what I’d do: check what I have said against what you know about the business, develop a short (next 2 weeks) and medium (next three months) action plan and set about making some changes.
We can’t stand sill, now more than ever.  The value we as business owners will derive from our businesses will more likely be the profit we make each week rather than what we sell the business for.
I hope the comments are helpful. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

We share this here to show how far from offering traditional help desk services we stray in pursuit of delivering exceptional customer service.

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