Retailers new to home news delivery (HND) have called for more support from news wholesalers to help them provide the new service to customers.
Several shop owners reported launching the service from their sites to continue giving customers access to news titles during the lockdown.
Among the issues reported were increased newspaper orders not being fulfilled, and a lack of communication and advice for new starters.
“We’re now delivering about 250 newspapers a day, alongside delivering milk, bread and other items,” she said.
She explained that, with many of those customers representing new business, it’s important to not let them down when it comes to news deliveries.
“We’ve been here for 22 years, and some of them have never been in my shop, but I’ve had problems. If I ask for extra newspapers, it will be okay for a few days, but a week later we’ll be back to pre-delivery numbers.
“I’ve been going to the Spar next door to buy newspapers to make the orders up,” she said.
Vince Malone, of Tenby Post Office in Pembrokeshire, started HND in October last year, taking over six rounds from a nearby store that was closing, and had built it up to turning over £1,500 a week pre-lockdown.
The figure has now swelled to £2,500 a week since the pandemic started. “We’ve had to upscale quite significantly, and we do struggle with the wholesaler.
“We don’t want to come across as needy, but we have had problems.”
He cited problems with numbers – only five Daily Mails when he needed to deliver almost 70, as well as allocations of the Western Telegraph – as a main concern and said wholesalers should have specialist HND staff to help. “There’s a real opportunity there, but it could be lost because some newsagents are put off by the lack of support,” he said.
Menzies said HND had seen “exceptional growth in recent weeks”.
A spokesperson for the wholesaler added: “We work with customers to provide advice as well as a robust onboarding process for retailers who are looking to start offering an HND service.
“Our customer service advisors offer support by discussing the HND process with customers over the telephone, providing an overview of i-Menzies to assist with managing their account online, amending supplies as required and requesting our allocations team to update the customer’s account to ensure the HND supplies were protected.”
Find out more on our coronavirus information hub for retailers