The Australian newsagency is a unique business. Each of the 4,500 newsagency businesses across Australia has a similar product mix, ownership structure and customer service ethos. Yet each is a slight variation on the others in the channel – such is the independent nature of newsagencies.
The first newsagency was opened in Australia, in the state of Victoria, in the 1800s in the middle of the gold rush. It was created by a publisher to sold a distribution problem – hence the term agent.
Up to this day, suppliers play a key role in the newsagency channel, imposing many rules on the product mix, how products are merchandised, price and even operating hours.
A typical Australian newsagency will have a broad mix of products:
Magazines. The average title range in between 1,000 and 1,500 different magazine titles. In addition to a broad range of Australian magazine titles, there are tiles from the US and UK. They are laid out on unique racking and made available for open browsing by shoppers.
Newspapers. In addition to the local daily newspaper, newsagencies also carry a broad range of foreign language newspapers plus a selection of international titles.
Greeting cards. between 800 and 1,500 different greeting card designs are offered in an average newsagency. Most are supplied by the major brands such as Hallmark and John Sands (American Greetings).
Stationery. The stationery range is broad, usually made up of between 1,500 and 5000 different items. Most are home and small office items. The typical newsagent stationery offer is based around convenience.
Lottery products. Most newsagents offer products from the local lottery company.
Transport tickets. Bus, train and tram tickets are sold in many newsagencies
Business services. Photocopy, faxing and laminating services are also offered by most newsagents.
Newspaper distribution. Around 65% of newsagents are also contracted to home deliver the daily newspapers. Through this they also distribute newspapers to supermarkets and other retailers.
The typical newsagency business is open from 6 am through to 6pm Monday through Wednesday, to 9pm Thursday and Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday. These are long hours for any retail business. Newsagents provide the service as a community focal point. This community connection is a key point of difference.
Australian newsagencies provide a unique geographic footprint which many suppliers leverage for distributing product nationally which they cannot get into the national stores. While the independent ownership has its challenges, it also presents suppliers with excellent opportunities.
The most important role for newsagents is not commercial, it is their community connection. Newsagencies are places where people gather and share stories and connect. Newsagents understand their role in the community and are happy to serve in this way. While the newsagency business model may seem out of date, it is important in the Australian retail landscape.