Home' The Channel Magazine : National Newsagent July 2015 Contents 21
National Newsagent - July 2015
The main stationery supplier to the newsagency channel is GNS and,
for the first time since its inception, it has seen a decline in sales over
the past two years as newsagents face increasing competition in
the stationery sector. Under the leadership of Alex Stewart, GNS is
restructuring and expanding its horizons.
To maintain economies of scale GNS now also supplies stationers
and is a preferred wholesaler for Office Choice, which includes
newsagents and stationers.
“Where Office Choice has a private label product these may
be sourced directly from other suppliers but on the other hand
newsagents in the group would be gaining additional B2B business
and stock could ultimately come from the GNS warehouse,” Mr
National Newsagent asked GNS where the success in stationery is
expected to come.
Paul Middleton, Marketing & Digital Products Manager at GNS
NN: Who’s having success selling stationery?
PM: No-one can deny that newsagents are facing challenging
times, but the stationery industry is still a multi-billion industry—it’s
Larger stores may appear to dominate the retail landscape, but that’s
not to say you can’t compete. In our experience, most newsagents
can offer lower prices than the larger chains whilst maintaining very
What you can’t do is compete with multi-million dollar TV advertising
campaigns, so it’s important you promote your stationery range
in whatever cost-effective ways possible. The simplest of which is
to create a clean, well-organised stationery display in a prominent
position in-store and make sure your customers are aware of what
There are many proactive, entrepreneurial newsagents who continue
to look for opportunities inside and outside of their stores. Many are
choosing to generate additional business by actively engaging with
other local businesses and we encourage and support that through
our OFFICEsmart program. This provides recognisable branding,
brochures and preferential pricing on key lines that are targeted at
business customers, as well as a free ecommerce website that we’re
in the process of updating for relaunch before the end of the year.
Anyone who stays up-to-date with what is selling (either from data
from their own POS systems, or that our BDMs can provide), who can
promote and merchandise well, and have store layouts that create
interest, will be at an advantage. Once in your store, customers
will always appreciate friendly, knowledgeable staff who can assist
with product suggestions and help you by getting to know the local
demographic to ensure you continue to stock popular lines.
NN: Are there sufficient stationery sales to go around in this
increasingly digital age?
PM: As stated above, the industry is huge—there is more than
enough to go around, despite consumer trends towards digital
media. People still use pens and paper, and kids still use textas and
pencils to colour in colouring books and draw pictures. In fact, kids
LOVE stationery, as can be seen by the recent rise in popularity of
specialist retailers catering to that market.
This is probably because, unlike traditional revenue streams such as
newspapers, magazines and lotteries, stationery is one category that
cannot go digital. When people in your local community need a pen,
paper for their printer, a replacement ink cartridge, or a last minute
gift for their child’s school-mate’s birthday party outside of traditional
business hours, where can they go? You need to ensure your
newsagency is front-of-mind when your customers ask themselves
that question. You should make sure not to understate your value
as a ‘one stop shop’ to your time-poor customers, so they know you
can provide whole solutions (e.g. gift, wrapping paper, pen, ribbon
and card)—but also make sure you’re able to service those needs by
keeping those lines in-stock and fresh.
It is a digital age. The arrival of the internet was supposed to herald
the end of retail, but following a migration online, we’re now seeing a
resurgence in bricks-and-mortar retail, or ‘omni-channel’ (combining
online and offline sales), because it turns out many people like to
browse and buy online, but still prefer to pick-up in person from a
physical store—including your store! This has led to the increasingly
availability of ‘click & collect’ services from the big retailers.
There’s nothing stopping any newsagent from creating their own
website and doing the same. Or just collecting email addresses and
sending a weekly email to your customers reminding them to come
and buy their lottery ticket and have a look at your new products.
The internet is a great leveller in that respect, and your customers
might appreciate that a local business is doing this for them, rather
than a faceless corporation–do not be afraid to play the ‘friendly,
local newsagent’ card!
Search engines such as Google have specific services for local, small
businesses, which you can benefit from when anyone in your local
area searches for ‘stationery’. You do need to be online in some way,
but not all services require you to have a website.
NN: What is GNS doing to help newsagents in this ever moving
PM: GNS, like most companies started last century, is undergoing a
huge transformation to adjust to the numerous ways that business
has changed in recent years. Consumers want access to goods
closer, cheaper and quicker than ever before. As a whole, the
stationery industry, being very traditional, lags behind many others in
adjusting to this change and many business efficiencies created by
the internet are only just becoming available to us.
We are developing products and services to support newsagents,
and other businesses, that focus on our core value proposition,
which is to provide our customers fast access to a broad range
of branded stationery products at competitive prices through our
network of warehouses across Australia.
We also provide marketing tools such as brochures, catalogues
and websites, to assist our customers in on-selling those goods to
end consumers, and we are partnering with reputable third-party
organisations that are already helping us develop cutting-edge
online platforms and services.
By the end of the year, we hope to relaunch our OFFICEsmart
program, which will provide additional help to newsagents who want
to target their local business community, too.
Where do newsagents fit in with this
ever-moving stationery landscape?
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