Home' The Channel Magazine : Nov Dec 2009 Contents 50 National Newsagent Nov/Dec 2009
Of all of the newsagencies I get a
chance to visit, I find very few
embrace the back office as a source of
great cost savings.
Whether it is something as simple as
logically arranging excess stock making it
easier for staff to find, or overhauling the
entire magazine returns process to cut
down on labour costs, there is opportunity
in every shop I have seen.
Traditionally, the back office is where
most of the behind-the-scenes work is
done in a newsagency. Procedures are
handed down from old owner to new and
staff member to staff member, rarely
reviewed or changed, simply because it
works the way it is .
With recent developments in
newsagency software, many of the
traditional back office tasks can now
be completed in a fraction of the time.
Take, for example, the magazine returns
process. Many newsagents have developed
their own procedures for handling returns. I
will outline the most common steps.
1Walk around the shop, look for
magazines that are due to be returned,
take them off the shelf and put them in
theback office with magazines that have
already been taken off the shelf.
2Scan all of the returns into the back
office computer and print out a list
(or manually enter the quantities onto a
paper returns form). At the same time,
top magazines that are to go back as tops
3Log on to the distributor s website and
re-enter all of the returned magazines
onto an online form. This includes
manually looking up many magazines that
are early or late returns.
4Box all of the magazines and send
them back to the distributor(s).
Simple but time-consuming.
As anyone who has dealt with magazine
returns knows, the above is a very
simplified returns process. As simple as
it is though, let s analyse it one step at a
In Step One we have a staff member
walking the magazine aisles, looking for
magazines to be returned. While this is
physically unavoidable, there are ways we
can make this a faster and more accurate
Firstly, good magazine management
software can identify poor selling titles
when they are received into the shop and
mark them for return immediately. These
magazines will be stored in the back office
until it is time to do a return. This will
greatly reduce the workload (and time) it
takes to collect these magazines from the
Secondly, this step is done by a person,
which makes it susceptible to error. The
staff member may miss some titles,
some may be hidden behind others
and so on. Once Step Two has been
completed (scanning the magazines into
the computer), good software can report
on magazines that have been missed
but are due for return. The staff member
can then re-visit the shelves and find
the offending titles. If not found, these
missed titles can quite easily amount
to hundreds of dollars a week in
Step Two, scanning the magazines
into the back office computer, again is
unavoidable. We can, however, reduce
the number of magazines that need
to be scanned! As I mentioned above,
good management software will be
able to identify poor selling titles and
mark them for return before they hit
the shelves. By utilising this feature,
these magazines are already scanned
into the computer and are ready to be
boxed! As you can imagine, this great
technology can save hours over the
course of a month!
What if I told you that Step Three can
be avoided all together? It s true! With
advancement in magazine management
software, XchangeIT and systems at
the distributor s end, newsagents can
now simply scan all of their returns
into the computer and send the return
electronically directly to the distributor!
This eliminates all of that double entry
that many newsagents have had to do for
a long time!
Unfortunately, until the cost of robots
drop dramatically we will still have to box
and send returns back to the distributors.
We can, however, use smart software
to prove to the distributors that certain
titles never sell and have the standing
order cancelled. This has proven very
effective in many newsagencies and will
significantly reduce the number of returns
As you can see, by tweaking your
returns procedures and making use of the
smart software available you really can
reduce labour and stock holding costs!
I know many newsagents who can now
do a return in under an hour instead of
dedicating an entire day!
This is just one example of how to save
money in the back office. There are many
in the Back Office
By Garth Brennan, POS Solutions Australia
Many of the traditional back office tasks can
now be completed in a fraction of the time
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