Things Placed in Front of, On and Instead of The Magazine Rack

A few weeks back the family and I traveled east to New England to attend a family function. It was incredibly fun seeing friends and relatives and visting the old ‘hood’ where I grew up. On Friday night, we stopped at a local Walgreens (that used to be an indy drugstore) to pick up a few things we left at home and of course, I wandered over to the magazine rack. This is what I saw:

Someone's got a merchandising issue...
Someone’s got a merchandising issue…

Did the merchandiser just give up in the middle of the job and walk away?

Walgreens Springfield MA 2

As you can see from the DVD speed table in front of the rack, there’s already a decent amount of merchandise a customer has to traverse to get to the rack. So it’s unfortunate that for whatever reason, the totes where left out.

The following week, I was finally able to spend some time checking out the new Fresh Thyme Supermarket that recently opened in town. It’s very exciting to see a new company take off and even more exciting when they decide to open on of their first stores in your own town. Even better, they carry magazines!

Well that could slow sales...
Well that could slow sales…

So it was a little disappointing to see that the retailer had decided to jam up their sales potential by hanging coupon circulars on the checkout rack. You can almost see the buyer sitting in her office scanning the POS reports and saying “Hmmm, magazines aren’t performing so well. Maybe we should…..”

Further up the street, our local Walgreens was caught up in the Source bankruptcy. For a few weeks the rack was incredibly stale. Then it was empty, and then these signs and just a little fresh product popped up:

Walgreens 1


Yesterday the pre-weekend deliveries finally started to catch up and about half of the rack was filled with fresh new product:

We're getting there....
We’re getting there….

But the other half of the rack is still filled with Skinny Pop (which is tasty). It’s on sale for $2.99 a bag.

A magazine and a bag of Skinny Pop. Less than $10 bucks and a few hours of excellent down time...
A magazine and a bag of Skinny Pop. Less than $10 bucks and a few hours of excellent down time…

In a conference call the other day a client pointed out that it is sometimes difficult for the sales people she works with to grasp the intricacies that the technical people in her company have to work with. It’s easy to say that the e-blast should be laid out just so and these fifteen links should be live and line up just there and it should all be done and ready to shoot into the ether in the next twenty-four hours.

The reality, of course, is quite different. In spite of all of the advertising about how quick and easy all the technology is, it’s not that easy.

I should have taken that moment to point out how difficult it is to re-negotiate service contracts, realign print orders, create new routes, hire new merchandisers and service new retailers. The last two pictures illustrate that point very well. It’s hard, but it can be done. And I should add that it’s being done pretty well.

On the other hand, the first two pictures illustrate some of the issues our industry continues to deal with: effective merchandising and the teaching of our retail partners.

We have to do a better job of merchandising. And we have to do a better job of educating our retailers on why the don’t want to put things in front of, on or in place of, the magazine rack.