Interesting fact: UK chainstore giant WH Smith started off as a small newsagent.
Granted, this was in the late 1700s, long, LONG before the internet and tablets and digital subscriptions and illegally downloaded e-books; back when newspapers were the sole source of news, current affairs and information and the local newsagent was the sole provider of newspapers.
Oh how the times have changed. And with it, so has WH Smith; smart move, on their part.
Nowadays, not only does WH Smith function as a newsagent, it is also a bookstore, a gift store, they stock CDs and electrical items. WH Smith has an elaborate online store and their airport stores are a great place to browse while waiting for a flight.
This year, Greetings and Gifts reported that Aussie card company Wilds Cards and Gifts Group franchisors Lawrence and Sandra Boyle have announced they will retire and hand their stores over to WH Smith.
“WH Smith has confirmed it will keep every element of the business the same in regards to consumers, including the Wild name and colours”, Greetings and Gifts reports.
What will this mean for Wild Card and Gifts brand in Australia? And what about retail outlets such as newsagencies, which currently stock greeting cards and gift items? How will this affect our industry? Is WH Smith looking to change its format? It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out, to see how it all plays out.
Not only this, WH Smith recently launched its first specialty children’s store in Australia, Zoodle, in Melbourne Airport’s international terminal.
It is interesting to consider just how much WH Smith has changed since its humble beginnings over 200 years ago, in order to stay relevant. Makes one wonder, is this something newsagents should be considering too?
Yes, print is in decline, and the internet is slowly usurping print, but who says newsagents need only be known for newspapers and magazines? Newsagents have such a strong retail footprint, and such a valued place within the local community. Why not use this to your advantage, and try some new things, to shake things up a little and compete with chain stores like WH Smith.
WH Smith tries new things and dares to be different and in doing so, attracts more customers than ever before.
What will you be doing to compete with them?