Thursday, 2 December 2010

Forcing the Christmas Issue

It's certainly that time of year again, the snow is piling down as the emails for this and that come flooding into the mailbox. 60% off, 70% off, one was even giving them away. You'd be forgiven for thinking that these emails were some kind of fraudulant spam, until you see the time and skill that has gone into the graphical explosions within them. There are no tell tale spelling mistakes; these then, are real businesses selling real products at 90% off the retail price...

At this point I'm going to tell you that there are no sales at Newsstand, you won't be getting anything for nuffink I'm afraid. We will excel in service levels, though, that's the way we play the game and we'll be sticking to our guns on this until the bitter end - when only George C Tibbet from Coventry still believes with us in the old adage "you get what you pay for", will we consider shutting up shop.

We find ourselves in this position because we don't align our offerings with any one magazine publisher and the exciting thing about it is that we can break the mould a little.

You could, for example, buy a subscription to a magazine as a Christmas gift for someone, or you could buy them 5 different single magazines that they've never heard of before. We have high quality magazines that are great gifts on their own, some costing well over £20 per copy as well as over 120 different categories that cater for all manner of interests. How about just sending your Gran a copy of this year's Christmas Radio Times, for instance?

I've procrastinated enough this year already, so it'll be 2011 before we create an area for the magazines that we think have that X factor, brilliant content on great subjects. In the meantime, have a look at our new cover browsing area, where we've recreated a newsagents shelf to help you skim across and close in on magazines that might interest you.

Despite all this, sometimes I wonder if we are actually going backwards. The Newsstand online site opened in 1995, way before its' time. Magazine publishers' hadn't really rolled out the subscriptions bandwagon back then and we were out there on our own for many years. If we'd been sharper business "objects" we would have capitalised on that and be sitting on the top table with Amazon.

Instead, this year we've opened a little shop to go with the website. It's in a Canterbury side street and it's completely jam packed full of every magazine you could wish to see. Whereas the Newsstand website is slick and easy - designed for maximum throughput of customers, the shop is exactly the opposite, and it's a joy. Selling a magazine takes at least 4 minutes and is utterly uneconomical, customers do well not to trip over bags and boxes (EDIT: Dear Health & Safety, this has been sorted out now...) - but when you feel like Arkwright the world can seem a wonderful place.

Come and find us, I can't tell you exactly where we are as that would spoil the fun. In any case, today's magazines have turned up - completely against expectations and the run of play - so I'll need to get stuck in with the only other person who managed to brave the 1 whole foot of snow and get into the office today.

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