FAQs

General Distribution Questions

Why can I use only one distributor?
Since all national distributors work with the same newsstand distributors and since magazines are sold on a sale or return (SOR) basis, financial and distribution functions would be impossible to regulate if there was more than one distributor servicing the same client publisher.

Who are the wholesalers?
Newsstand wholesalers are the final link between the publisher and the retailer. They deliver issues on a timely basis, invoice and process returns and credit retailers in various cities throughout the world. Many wholesale agencies also act as the category manager for chain retailers as part of their servicing agreements.

Does Disticor send copies directly to retailers?
Disticor supplies copies on a limited basis to specialty outlets not normally serviced by newsstand wholesalers.

To how many outlets can Disticor distribute?
There are approximately 170,000 retailers in the USA and 10,000 retailers in Canada selling magazines. The number of overseas retailers varies depending on the country and the language. Disticor distributes to all these North American retailers, though obviously not all retailers carry all 4500+ titles available in the market at any given time. The average copy distribution to a given retailer is 3. If a print order distribution is 9000 copies, the publisher can estimate that the title will be available in approximately 3000 retail outlets.

Why can’t a publisher distribute what he wishes on the fist issue?
Chain retailers do not make buying decisions based on ad kits prior to a title’s first publication. Retail buyers want to see the first issue before authorizing it for display, especially if the publisher has no previous magazine track record. They also want to know how much money a publisher is willing to spend promoting copies in their stores rather than how much will be spent on a national program. Promotional dollars targeted to their stores begins with a check in hand. Since the average first time publisher cannot afford such promotions, their distribution opportunities are in the smaller, independent stores. The servicing wholesaler must manage the distribution to these outlets to ensure they are not overstocked because overstocking only results in unwanted returns. Disticor works with these wholesale agencies to create reasonable print orders. We examine the category, the region, the class of trade and finally the quality of the publication in relation to others in its category before suggesting a print quantity to the publisher.

Why do we need to change our bi-pad number when we change distributors?
National distributors are assigned different manufacturing codes (first five digits) and a block of bi-pad numbers (second five digits), which make up UPC barcodes. Wholesalers identify the correct national distributor of a publication from this UPC barcode. Since all financial/sales transactions begin and end with the UPC bi-pad barcode, it is important to charge/credit the correct national distributor of any given publication.

Why does my print order change?
Print orders change when sales are analyzed against draws. This is done to achieve efficiency (sell through) levels desired by the publisher, wholesaler, retailer or all three.

I would like to arrange my draw. Can I?
Yes. Contact your account manager.

Can we obtain draw/sales information for a particular chain?
Yes. Contact your account manager.

If my draw decreases will my sell through increase?
Decreasing the draw does not always increase a title’s sell through. Much depends on the current state of a title’s distribution. Since every title is unique, discuss this with your account manager.

How is the on sale date determined?
The on sale date posted on the wholesaler’s allotment is the first day of the business week following eleven working days form the actual ship date for the consolidator.

Should I print a “display until” date on the cover?
Printing a “display until” date helps with quarterly, semi-annual and annual frequencies providing the subsequent month only is used and that the publisher consistently meets his publishing schedule. For example, if a spring issue is on sale February 15, and the summer issue is due on sale May 17, the spring issue’s ‘display until’ date should read ‘June.’

When a title is approved for a specific chain, why won’t the wholesaler allow all stores to be added to the distribution?
Once approved, the allocation of copies is based on the demographics of a store, how that particular category of magazine is performing there, and the size of the display fixture.

Distribution Timelines

Why does it take 21 days for my magazine to get on sale nationally from the day it is shipped from the printer?
The example below illustrates the time a magazine spends at every stage of distribution:

Copies shipped from printer to consolidator: 2 days
Consolidator break up time for reshipping: 2 days
Transportation from consolidator to wholesaler: up to 7 days (includes weekend; depends on location of wholesaler)
Wholesaler distribution calendar (invoicing): 10 days (includes weekend; setting up tie line to pack individual orders; physical distribution to retail outlets)
Total # of days = 21 days

I have 25,000 copies of my magazine already printed. Can you get them out next week?
No. Distribution goals of this size take several months to set up. A marketing program designed to excite both the wholesale and retail market must be created, appointments to meet with retail buyers need to be scheduled, authorizations must be obtained, and wholesaler/retailer distributions will need to be prepared. A minimum of three months is required for this process.

Shipping Questions

Who ships the magazines to the wholesaler?
Shipping magazines to our designated wholesalers is the responsibility of the publisher. We generally arrange shipping for our clients by utilizing an on-forwarding or ‘break-up’ agent. These agents pool shipments going to the same destinations as a result tremendous cost savings are realized. Questions regarding shipping costs should be directed to your account manager.

How important are the proper bundle counts?
Once you sign off the distribution sheet indicating the bundle count we transmit the allotment. If the bundle count is different from the initial information given to us then the distribution must be completely reset by the consolidator resulting in additional costs. We strongly recommend packing copies in bundles of 25. Therefore, if a wholesaler allotment is 125 copies, five bundles can be shipped as opposed to 4.5 bundles if the bundle count is 50. The break up of a bundle is an additional expense charged by the consolidator.

Industry Terminology

What is RDA (Retail Display Allowance)?
Retail Display Allowance is an additional discount offered to retailers. This additional discount compensates the retailer for the extra costs they must incur in today’s market in order to compete. This expense is the responsibility of the publisher. It is normally 10% of the retail price. RDA is added to the wholesaler’s discount on invoices.

What is ‘reship?’
There are some wholesalers who service retailers in rural areas which cannot be serviced by their own or contract vehicles. Therefore, copies are shipped via rail, boat or air. In situations where this occurs a reship allowance is offered to assist in the cost of delivery. This is a minor expense limited to those titles available in such areas.

What is ‘sell through?’
The term ‘sell through’ or ‘sales efficiency’ is used when referring to the number of copies sold from the total distribution. If 100 copies are distributed and only 50 sell, the sell through rate is 50%. The other 50 copies are called ‘returns.’

How do we get returns back?
Copies returned to the wholesaler from retailers are scanned for credit processing. The return copies are then shredded. The UPC bi-pad scanned data is processed through a series of files, one of which produces an ‘affidavit of return’ indicating the # of copies returned by issue. This affidavit is submitted to the national distributor either electronically or via hard copy for processing and posting to a publisher’s ledger.

What is a ‘premature return?’
Premature returns refers to copies either returned from the retailer prior to the off sale date, or copies which were shipped to wholesalers and/or retailers and returned without ever having been placed on the newsstand. This can happen when:
1. A wholesaler is allocated copies in excess of the market potential
2. A retailer is placed on hold for lack of payment
3. A retailer finds the publication issue offensive
4. Errors in UPC barcodes and pricing occur

What is a print order form?
The purpose of supplying our Distribution Department with your production schedule is to ensure your issue(s) is scheduled to begin the series of stages an issue must go through in house prior to being invoiced to the wholesaler. A print order form is a checklist that starts this process and must be completed by the publisher in order to eliminate the risk of error. Items to be entered on this list include UPC bar code, retail price, off press date, etc.

What is a production schedule?
Disticor requires from its publisher clients a calendar of due dates leading up to the ready/ship date from the printer. The print order due date is the final date we can submit our newsstand order to you.

General Marketing and Promotion Questions

How can we obtain authorization for distribution to grocery, drug, convenience and bookstore chains?
Our marketing staff must present your publication to buyers or the wholesale category buyers for their signed authorization. Media kits in today’s market are almost always not acceptable. Buyers insist on seeing a finished copy of your publication before agreeing to authorize it.

Can we solicit wholesalers and/or retailers on our own?
We encourage publishers to accompany our marketing people whenever possible on sales calls. Generally buyers enjoy meeting with publishers. We do not encourage publishers to make sales call on their own. Buyers are not all alike, nor are their organizations. Without knowing the schedules, policies and personalities of those buyers being visited, publishers could find themselves doing more harm than good on behalf of their publication.

Why is our title no carried in a particular chain?
Records of buyers’ comments regarding refused publication are kept and available to be shared with you. Contact your account manager for this.

How do I plan a promotion?
The publisher must determine how much money will be set aside for promotions. Please contact your account manager in order to create a program tailored to your publication.

UPC Barcodes Questions

What is the purpose of the barcode?
All magazines on newsstand must feature a UPC barcode on the front cover. The barcode identifies the magazine throughout the distribution channel. All billing and distribution related functions are initiated from this code.

What does the barcode mean?
There are 3 sets of numbers to the code:
1. The first five digits identify the publisher to the distributor
2. The second five digits identify the magazine title
3. The remaining two digits in the upper right hand corner identify the issue of the magazine (‘01’ is January, etc)

Why do we have to change the manufacturing code when the retail price changes?
The first five digits of the bi-pad number (on the barcode) identify the national distributor when invoicing the wholesaler. However, when the wholesaler invoices the retailer, the first five digits identify the retail price. Then when a retailer scans the issue through the check out stand scanner at the time of sale, the price is picked up against the first five digits. When a price change occurs without the first five digits changing, the retailer’s scanner does not recognize this adjustment and will charge the consumer the old price. Heavy fines can result for retailers and wholesalers if this policy is not followed.

How can I obtain a UPC bi-pad number?
You must use a Disticor assigned number when utilizing our services. We will provide you with a number. Talk to your account manager about this.

Why is the ‘add on’ or ‘issue code’ so important?
Just as the first five digits identify the national distributor and the second five the magazine, the issue code identifies the issue. All titles are invoiced and distributed by the issue. Therefore the issue code is essential to the process. If two separate issues display the same code, returns could theoretically exceed the draw, contaminating distribution records, accounting records and sales records.

Why do I need to complete the UPC film order form?
There is information required that only the publisher can supply. The publisher is ultimately responsible for ensuring the correct UPC code is printed on the issue. Disticor works with a fill producer in an order taking capacity only.

How long will it take to receive the barcode film?
Barcodes are emailed directly to the publisher. Disticor requires the publisher to provide 48 hours notice for barcode orders.

What is the usual size of the barcode?
The magnification factor (which determines the size of the barcode) is the space you have reserved for your barcode. If the space is 2” x 1.5” you will fill in 100%. If the space is 1 10/16” x 1” you will fill in 80%. You cannot use less than 80%.

What is the difference between magazine and book numbers?
The magazine UPC code is designed to scan by issue. That is why there is an issue code. The book ISBN number (International Sales Book Number) is a worldwide registration identifier for the book title. It must be obtained from a government agency.

Can I print both a UPC barcode and an ISBN number?
Credits charged off to separate departments (i.e.: magazines to the magazine department and books to the book department). A major bookstore chain in the US has moved to paying on scan. In order to do so they must be able to scan the issue code on magazines. If an ISBN is also present and it is scanned rather than the UPC code, the information relating to the sale will not be posted to the issue and the sale will not be recorded. There will therefore be no payment. On reconciliation day, the sales are posted, the net sale recorded, and the actual returns will not equal the draw. The difference will be posted as ‘shrink.’ Shrink is the responsibility of the publisher.

Can I print the barcode on the back of the cover?
No. It is the responsibility of the publisher to make sure the barcode is printed on the front cover. If an error occurs, each issue must be labeled with the correct code. This can be very expensive. We often catch the error prior to shipping and can then reship copies into our warehouse for labeling. The cost of doing this is less than if an outside house (i.e. wholesaler or shipper) is used. Regardless, all costs are charged back to the publisher.

Locating Copies

How many copies are being distributed to various wholesalers?
Disticor Publisher clients can find this out by logging on and visiting our Data Centre on this website.

Where can I find my publication?
Wholesalers will provide a publisher with the list of retailers displaying a particular magazine via subscribers to Magnet. Ask your account manager about this.

Why is my magazine not on the check out next to the top sellers?
Publications available at check out displays are the top performers in their respective categories. Their sales volume is considerably higher than titles found on the mainline display units. Their sales provide the additional revenue required to service and maintain these positions.

Why is a certain wholesaler no longer drawing copies of my magazine?
When this occurs it is almost always due to low sales. Wholesalers are commission based. They earn money only on copies sold. The physical movement of product increases with lower sales because of the return factor, thereby increasing a wholesaler’s expenses. If a title is not performing then it is reasonable to expect it will be discontinued.

Overseas Distribution Questions

Can Disticor distribute copies outside of North America?
Yes. It takes 2-3 months to obtain overseas orders.

What are the costs involved?
The costs depend on the desired country and the distributor in that country. In almost all situations, the expense incurred is only slightly higher than in North America due to shipping costs.

How long does it take for my magazine to go on sale overseas?
This depends on the country and distributor utilized. In the UK, allow 10 days for ocean freight and another 5 days for processing and distribution to retailers.

Accounting

How does the GST affect a US publisher shipping into Canada?
Publishers need not get involved in the processing of GST at all. Since Disticor is the Importer of Record, all GST due on shipments into Canada is charged to us, paid by us and then claimed back from the Canadian government by us. When shipping to Canada the publisher must simply indicate that Disticor is the Importer of Record on customs forms. Not listing us as such slows down the processing for customs clearance.

When will I receive my payment?
Contact Paula Sullivan in Accounting (paulab@disticor.com) for information on your payment schedule.

What are the shipping and handling costs?
Direct to retail distributors who service the bookstore market on a national scale apply shipping and handling fees based on weight to cover packing and delivery expenses. These costs are passed on to our Publisher Clients.

What is a wholesaler MCB on my ledger?
MCB refers to a miscellaneous chargeback that could consist of unusual items such as UPC labeling expenses, etc. All items are documented and referenced by number should a publisher need to inquire about such a charge.

Systems/Technology/Data Centre Questions

What is so special about Disticor’s systems?
Disticor’s custom designed accounting and sales reporting system is second to none in the industry. We use Lotus Notes GroupWare with over 80 different in-house designed databases assisting us to run and manage our field force and internal administration. A PC based internal office network allows quick integration of new software developments. Disticor has always been and is determined to remain on the cutting edge of all industry technology.EY and IBM/Lotus Notes have recognized Disticor for their efforts in this area and the company has been nominated for the highest award given out at the Canadian Information Productivity Awards, the Information Innovator of the Year.

What do I do if I forget my password to the Data Centre?
Contact Denise Boswell (dboswell@disticor.com)