Boutique stationers ‘out-Google’ newsagents

A seismic shift has occurred in stationery that appears to have left newsagents behind – even newsagents with good stationery sales.

Understanding the shift starts with and understanding of what constitutes stationery. To many newsagents, the definition of stationery is traditional: pens, pencils, rulers, tape, pads, folders, the types of items you would have seen in a stationery department ten and twenty years ago.

To understand stationery today we need to ask shoppers what they consider to be stationery. We also need to look at what other businesses are marketing as stationery.

The shopper definition has changed. Sure, the old-school everyday items such as pens, pencils, rulers and the like are considered to be stationery. There is also a more relevant to today range, like you see in Smiggle, Kikki.k and Typo – what we typically call social stationery but what shoppers call stationery.

I am sure there are shoppers visiting a newsagency today and walking out because they are not seeing Typo or Kikki.k type products.

Do a Google search for stationery in any major city and you will see Typo, Kikki.k and even Smiggle come up in search results. These businesses that many newsagents do not consider to be direct stationery competitors are coming up in search results. They are positioning themselves as newsagent competitors.

While many newsagents have focussed on the traditional and see flat and falling sales, growth in this new segment of the stationery marketplace has been rapid. More stores have opened and they have got better in terms of ranging and pitching.

Smiggle, Typo and Kikki.k have been educating shoppers and it is paying off.

Talking to someone from a mid-size business earlier this week, the admin person responsible for stationery has permission to purchase desk supplies from Typo because it makes the staff happier. While that is only one story, it is an example of the seismic shift I am talking abut.

Where are newsagents and their traditional suppliers in this? While some are engaged, that engagement is nowhere near the scope I see from our competitions, those leading shoppers to re-think what constitutes stationery – like Typo and Kikki.k.

For us to be relevant in this new world of stationery we need a fresh offer in-store. This comes from fresh products, fresh ins-store placement, fresh out of store marketing. Most of all, it starts with us redefining for ourselves and those in our business a fresh approach to stationery.

We can do it. Some of us are. But not enough for newsagents to be top of mind for the shopper out there heading to Typo or Kikki.k for their next stationery purchase.

By Mark Fletcher www.newsagencyblog.com.au

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