Last week Retail Newsagent Editor, Chris Gamm reported his delight that magazine publishers are starting to acknowledge that the supermarket distribution model isn’t delivering a financial payback.

Chris says; “I have been saying for years the industry can’t keep pumping money into supermarkets. The surprise is that publishers finally agree. They see independents as the future, the report said, and recognise the need to be tactical. It is time to return to the entrepreneurial zeal of independent retailers who love selling magazines.”

I talked to Portsmouth based retailer, Graham Hales about what can be done by publishers to encourage independent to re-energise their interest in magazines. Graham has worked in his family store since he was a child more than 50 years ago and remembers when stocking magazines gave his the shop a unique point of difference.

Graham says; “The retail environment that existed before the big expansion of supermarkets in the 1980’s isn’t going to return. If magazine publishers want to focus more on the independent channel they will need to change how work with retailers.”

After having a long discussion about the challenges and opportunities here is our menu of actions that publishers may wish to consider:

  1. Segment independent magazine retailers effectively, and fairly.
  2. Offer ‘on loan’ fixtures to enable retailers to grow magazine space, with assistance of store space specialist for planning.
  3. Make a ‘contract promise’ for future supply guarantee to retailers.
  4. Extended credit terms on all titles other than weeklies.
  5. Improved promotional support beyond the current wholesaler lead offer.
  6. Provide long-term store relationship focused on sales (and profit) improvement.
  7. Promote independent magazine retailers as the place to buy magazines.
  8. Develop and promote a best practice guide to selling magazines.

There has been a 30-year journey that has brought magazine publishers to this realisation. There are no quick answers to resolve the difficulty that Chris highlights. But as with any change it just takes a first step to start it happening.

Let us know your thoughts on the issue in the comments section below.