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Nestled in Port Adelaide’s town centre, across from the Town Hall, is a humble family newsagency that’s been serving the local community for over 25 years. We spoke to owner Philip Jenner to learn about the business and how it got to where it is today. Read on to hear their story.
An introduction: from a newcomer to a cornerstone of the community
Philip and his family bought the Port Mall Newsagency in 1996, alongside an adjoining lotto agency. “We joined the lotto onto the newsagency, and that was the best thing, because it just gave us much more traffic flow and helped us to build the business,” says Philip.
Port Mall Newsagency joined a business district that had been there for well over 100 years, including some newsagencies that had been around for a long time. Speaking of the area, Philip says, “We love it here. It’s an old suburb and still going through a period of renewal. But we reckon it’s the best suburb to have a business in Adelaide.”
Sporting self-designed uniforms, the newsagency has really made its mark and is now known by virtually everyone in the Port Adelaide area just from the branding.
Point of difference: putting customers first
It’s not just branding that has made Port Mall Newsagency stand out from the crowd but how they constantly put their customers first. “I think that what makes us a little bit different or why we do well in our current location is because we look after our customers so well,” says Philip. “We try and greet as many customers by name and just make sure they’re warmly welcomed. We treat them well, and they really respond.”
Port Mall Newsagency treats their relationships in much the same way, valuing everybody that comes into the store, be it customers, team members, suppliers, or the general community. “I guess the most important thing is developing those relationships with the people that you depend on for your business,” says Philip. He also believes it’s important to have a good vibe or feeling within the community, and being seen as the good guys.
“People want to be recognised and acknowledged and perhaps be attached to your business in some way so that they love coming here and they advocate your business to their friends and so forth.”
Adapting: embracing technology throughout the years
Port Mall Newsagency embraced technology in a really early stage of their journey and have used it to adapt along the way. This includes creating an online store, portmallnewsagency.com.au, which complements their bricks and mortar store, which Philip says is “to try and get those extra dollars happening while you’re not even at the work”.
As part of their technology journey, Port Mall Newsagency turned to Tyro about 10 years after opening their doors (and has been with us ever since). Speaking on the reasoning behind choosing Tyro, Philip says “it was recommended by POS Solutions and we really trust their knowledge”.
“I guess prior to Tyro, whatever the cost we’re paying that previous provider was negligible because of the smaller volume of transactions we were doing. But now, because of the high volume of transactions we do, the merchant fee has got to be right. Otherwise, it’s just too expensive. Through our newsagency marketing group, Newspower and their partnership with Tyro, the merchant fees are always the best.”
How Tyro helps better Port Mall Newsagency’s business
Philip says Tyro EFTPOS machines are very suitable for their newsagency needs. “We use one mobile machine to just move around the counter where it’s required, whereas the counter top machine is for our main newsagency counter and is helpful in that particular role because you need quick access to it”.
He adds that Tyro’s EFTPOS integration is especially helpful when it comes to lotto. “Now we integrate with our lotto system as well. So we scan a barcode from the lottery terminal into our Point of Sale, feed it directly to a Tyro EFTPOS machine and the customer just pays with their card. It’s all done in moments. So that’s really important.”
In terms of customer experience, Philip says the speed and accuracy of the Tyro EFTPOS machines all play a part. “I’ve often joked to customers, ‘this is a really good system, we can take your money real quick’. They love that.”
For the team, they don’t really notice Tyro’s Tap & Save feature as it works its magic in the background. “It just saves money when we see a monthly statement because it’ll route contactless debit transactions to the most economical way of actually processing that transaction.” He says it helps their business as they do a lot of small-value transactions.
“Our policy here is just scan the card no matter what dollar amount, because we don’t want our team members at the front trying to negotiate with the customer whether or not it meets a minimum purchase amount, even if somebody comes along and wants to buy one stamp, just scan it. It doesn’t matter. It averages out in the end.”
Philip offers a couple of reasons for maintaining a long-term relationship (of 15 years) with Tyro, including that the technology is easy to use, the privacy side guards provide customers, and the speed and reduction in keying errors of EFTPOS integration.
Before you go: some advice for those wanting to get into the newsagency business
Philip understands that starting or buying a new business is a huge risk and recommends doing lots of research before you jump in.
For the best shot at success, he first says you shouldn’t over capitalise on fixtures. “We often see new entrants over-capitalise. They’re trying to get the biggest and the best fixtures and make the shop look like a million dollars, which probably costs a million dollars. We’ve purchased lots of fixtures just to fill gaps from furnishing stores. Sometimes we’ve purchased secondhand fixtures and you wouldn’t know they were secondhand.”
When it comes to stock, Philip advises being careful not to put in the wrong products. “The best thing would be to visit as many newsagents as possible. Maybe if you feel confident, talk to existing owners, if they’re not in your area, and they’ll give you a bit of an insight into what’s working for them, but every location is different.”
“You just can’t assume that you’re going to put in exactly the same stock offering as a shop in a suburb on the other side of town, because your customers may not want those products, or they might be the wrong price for them.”
He says instead of putting in a massive range of one type of product, just put samples, such as two or three of each. That way, “you can then reorder the ones which are actually working rather than oversupplying all the wrong products.”
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