Australian newsagents are embracing retail diversity

David Hogan, General Manager, Ovato Retail Distribution Australia

The newsagent holds a special place in Australian hearts. Whether picking up the paper on a Saturday morning, buying a ticket for that night’s Lotto jackpot or browsing the magazines, we’ve all spent plenty of time visiting our local newsagents over the years.

The times have a changed however, and newsagents haven’t been immune from the digital age.

Newspaper and magazine sales have declined in physical sales, and people don’t read them in the same numbers that they used to, although they are still large categories for newsagents. This puts your local newsagent in a bit of a bind, as for years the bread and butter of such a place was to sell the traditional categories of newspapers, magazines, Lotto, stationery and tobacco.

So, what’s a newsagent to do in these challenging circumstances? The answer is to evolve.

Do the evolution

While there has been a downward trend in the sale of the newsagent’s traditional staple sales goods – magazines, newspapers and even cigarettes – they all continue to generate sales and remain a vital part of newsagent’s operations. This decline has encouraged many newsagents to explore other operating models, and to find a niche that would continue to appeal to modern customer needs and buying patterns.

For many newsagents, this involved identifying products that satisfied customer demand for convenience and simplicity - something that all customers crave. It’s worth considering how customer buying decisions are evolving thanks to busy lifestyles and hyper-connectivity. Additionally, Nielsen data on customer retail habits highlights the importance of offline channels to provide need-based options that meet an immediate requirement – which is why smaller stores now account for 70 per cent of shopping trips, well placed to tap into shoppers’ demand for convenience.

As a result of these insights, many newsagents have decided that instead of sticking to selling magazines and newspapers, a gradual shift towards offering other goods in place of traditional sale materials is the best way to satisfy changing customer demand.

One-stop-shop

The newsagent has become a cross between a convenience store and a gift store, with more and more newsagents making the switch to a broader product offering that covers a range of non-traditional items.

Games, toys, books, duct tape, batteries, gardening equipment, and gifts such as candles and diffusers. All of these are a much more common sight in newsagents today, and although they might appear to be an eclectic collection of disparate products, they all satisfy the needs of customers who don’t want to visit three shops when they can visit a single location. Today’s customer wants their retail experience to be simple and efficient, particularly for bricks-and-mortar stores, where 73 per cent visit with a specific purchase decision in mind. With a diverse offering in the one store, newsagents are making it easy for people to get what they need locally.

Consider this. You wake up in the morning having forgotten Mother’s Day. You race around the corner to the local newsagent and get a card, some wrapping paper and a present for Mum. You’re back home before you know it, gift and card secured, and Mum’s none the wiser and better yet, thrilled at her new diffuser with vanilla scented oil.

The newsagent is filling a void in the market, offering a variety of merchandise to customers that makes their lives a little easier, in much the same ways that the corner shop of old did previously. This is particularly important for customers in regional or rural areas that don’t necessarily have the same access to fast online delivery or large-scale department stores – but do have a local newsagent down the road, where they can pick up household necessities, gifts or toys and books for their kids.

Positivity and progress

Just because newsagents are starting to diversify, they’re not getting out of the newspaper and magazine game altogether. Afterall, 6.5 million Australians read print newspapers, including almost 4.6 million who read the weekday issues. That’s on top of the 15.2 million Australians who read magazines. Those are chunky numbers, and they can’t be ignored t.

Newsagents will continue to offer traditional newsagent items to the public, but they won’t be relying as heavily on them as they have in the past. An increasing retail presence will allow newsagents to cushion the blow of declining magazine and newspaper sales and give them the agility to approach the future with clarity, purpose and optimism.

Contact us to find out how we can help you diversify your newsagency products.