Budhu Mal, who runs Gamlingay One Stop in the village of Gamlingay on the border of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, wondered if I knew of a software package that he could use to manage his newspapers and magazines. He wanted something he could load onto a laptop that would do all the price changes, holiday stops and starts and so on, electronically.
He hasn’t actually bought the laptop yet, so we are working with a nice blank canvas here. I know there are lots of accountancy packages out there, including some bespoke ones put together by retailers. So has anyone tackled the management of newspapers and magazines in the same way, and put it all there neatly on a spreadsheet that they wouldn’t mind sharing?
To make sure there wasn’t an off-the-shelf package readily available, I rang David Daniel, trade relations manager of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents. He also did not know of any dedicated software, but pointed out that there are whole epos systems for retailers running CTNs. “But I don’t know of any homespun software,” he says, “It could be a market niche that someone might exploit one day.”
Budhu has two suppliers: Campbell’s, which supplies The Sun and The Times, and Smith’s, which supplies the rest. He spends £250 with one and £1,200 with the other and has five newsrounds taking in Gamlingay and a couple of surrounding villages, one of which he does himself.
“Mistakes can be made on price changes, so if I could just push a button and have it happen automatically, it would help. Then if someone wants a printed invoice and I could just push another button, it would save time. I know I could buy a whole epos system but I think the cost would outweigh the benefit. I know I have to get a computer but I’m looking to kill as many birds with one stone as possible.”
I can’t promise fame or fortune, but you’ll get a good slot in the column if you can help Budhu.