Can Analytics Save Your Morning Paper?

The Decline of Print Publishing

With our advance into the digital age, it seemed that printed publications, especially newspapers and magazines, were inevitably going to go the way of the Dodo.

We’ve seen publications all over the world cease their print editions, from the Independent and New Day (which closed after just 9 days) in the UK, to the Jakarta Globe and The Strait Times in Singapore.  Now just this month, we’ve seen the release of the final print edition of the iconic NME magazine.

It would appear that our transition from all things paper-based to consumption-by-screen is almost complete, with everything from post-it notes to your favourite novel now available digitally.

The Transition to Digital Media

There’s no arguing that companies need to facilitate digital consumption.  Consumers demand choice, so as in all industries dealing with the “last mile” of the customer experience, goods and services must be made available through multi-channel delivery.

The vast majority of publications have already made good headway in this area.  Even for the examples of print edition closures given earlier, all of them still remain as digital-only publications, where the challenges are at least different, if not quite as difficult to overcome.

But does this really mean that we have seen the last of our morning papers, or is there still a glimmer of hope for this centuries-old medium?

There Will Always Be a Place for Print (In Our Hearts…)

Printed publications still offer us an experience that cannot be duplicated with digital.  There is still a tactile appeal for the medium that lends weight to it as a more premium product.

Consider that “new book smell” for example, the crisp rustle of a freshly printed newspaper or the excitement of anticipating this month’s delivery of a glossy magazine.  These things cannot be replaced with a digital experience and there is clearly still a demand from consumers for these tactile products.

Despite the decline of many a printed publication in recent years, given that there is still an appeal for this premium medium, is it possible to buck the trend and use analytics to create a more profitable print business?

What Does Success Look Like?

We recently worked with the owner of several prominent UK newspapers to develop a modernised predictive analytics solution specifically for their print business, designed to help them gain additional profitability through increased forecast accuracy and process optimisation.

This intelligent solution was engineered to account for a huge number of variables that could affect demand, such as the time of year, location of the retailer, day of the week, season and political situation, as well as one-off events and promotions.  

By using over 3 ½ years of past sales figures to ensure the most extensive analysis possible, the company are now able to easily perform forecast manipulation and final allocation analysis, in addition to having the power to do end-of-day processing over multiple selections of various publications.

So, what did this mean for their operations?

Forecasting Operations

  • Using the powerful in-memory computing power of SAP HANA to measure analytics in real-time, the time taken to produce a forecast was reduced from 5 hours to just 10 minutes – a full 30x faster.  This enabled the company to run advanced “what-if” scenarios, ensuring that they could flexibly scale production to meet varying demands.
  • Thanks to the increased number of granular variables taken into account, forecast accuracy has also been improved by 12-18%.

Returns & Wastage

  • The improved accuracy of forecasting has led to a decline in return volumes of 8-10% per retailer in the first month alone.
  • This reduction in the volume of returns also means that an estimated 4,000 tonnes of paper will be saved in the first 12 months, amounting to a significant reduction in environmental impact.

High Rate of Internal Adoption

  • The solutions’ friendly, easy-to-use interface has helped to increase the internal adoption rates, leading to further efficiencies from large reductions in errors and manual interventions.
  • As the Sales Team are now working with far more accurate data, they are able to meet their ‘Stock Out’ targets, helping to increase employee satisfaction and productivity.

The adoption of this bespoke forecasting solution has led to an immediate improvement in both operational efficiency and financial stability, enabling the company to continue providing premium print publications – profitably – to their loyal audiences in the UK and worldwide.

If you’d like to know more, contact us directly to discuss how analytics can help to improve your business.