The news distributor John Menzies Wholesale is to roll out a £550,000 magazine and newspaper allocation system which, it claims, could significantly increase sales.
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The system, which John Menzies says will pay for itself in two years, is designed to reduce the number of unsold magazines that are returned by newsagents each week.
Dubbed the next generation allocation system, it will allow John Menzies to send more copies of each magazine to the shops that are most likely to sell them.
John Menzies' existing software allows it to predict how many copies of each publication each newsagent is likely to sell, based on historical sales records. The wholesaler categorises each newsagent into alphabetical bands, according to the number of copies of each publication it sells.
However, the new system will also allow John Menzies to take publishers' advertising campaigns, special offers and the type of reader that the publisher is hoping to attract into account.
"A publisher will be able to say there is a promotion happening. I want all the customers in band A to receive two extra copies and all the customers in band B to have four extra copies," said IT director Frank Coyle.
John Menzies has developed the system in-house using the Magic rapid applications language.
The system, which runs on the group's Sun Sparc stations, is undergoing trials at depots in Paisley, Norwich, Carlisle, Doncaster, Edinburgh and London. It will be rolled out nation-wide in January 2001.