Distribution of free-to-pick-up print

Self Select Distribution (SSD) is an independent specialist company, based in Horwich, Bolton. SSD distributes free printed publication into the UK’s leading supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s and Co-op.  Its clients include many of our internal titles as well as our contract print clients, but they also cater for many other independent publishers and businesses.  

SSD offers distribution across the UK, and has a number of regional warehouses that take delivery of bulk copies from printers like us.  Often, when printing from one of the Reach Printing Services’ sites, delivery to these hubs can be shared, depending on the individual requirements, and this potentially reduces costs. They then store bulk copies until distribution is required.  

The distribution teams use hand-held PDAs, which provide real-time data alongside digital photographs for a complete Proof of Delivery (POD).  They are also recognised as an approved ABC distributor, ensuring publishers can claim copies against their relevant certificates. Publishers can utilise the option of part-paid and part-free distribution by combining distribution into traditional paid channels with free copies into supermarkets.

These printed free copies are picked up by shoppers visiting the supermarket from branded free displays, normally located behind tills or near the door.  Consumers choose how, when and what they actually pick up, hence the business name ‘Self Select Distribution’. Every copy is taken by conscious choice, which results in good levels of response to advertisers.

Copies are fully managed by SSD, and a detailed pick-up report by store is provided to the customer, ensuring that wastage is minimised, and supply can be amended to meet demand.  This means that clients can monitor response on a week-by-week basis and react to uptake, and also to changing market conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and competitor activity. Supermarkets have proven to be a stable and consistent route to market for hundreds of publishers during the pandemic.

We spoke to Andy Barker, Sales & Marketing Director for SSD…

How many printed products were picked up in SSD display stands across the UK in 2019?

Over 35 million copies were picked up across the UK via our retail store network.

What types of printed free products can be distributed?

We distribute a wide range of different titles, including traditional weekly newspapers, glossy lifestyle magazines, travel and holiday brochures, council communications and information, education prospectuses, business magazines, sports publications, local advertisers, and a whole load more across 16 categories.

How has the need for distribution of free publications grown, and why do you think that is?

Free newspapers and magazines have grown significantly as publishers adapt strategies to capture a changing readership that is now able to readily access free news, feature and content on phones and tablets. People happily engage with free publications but expect a quality title.

Is the service only available to publishers, or can other businesses distribute with SSD? 

We can offer our service to promote a wide range of businesses who want to target on a hyperlocal, local, regional or national basis. We offer distribution packages from one store for one week, to thousands across the UK every month.

Why is the SSD distribution model a good option for marketeers? 

Store brands, like Sainsbury’s and Tesco, are well respected businesses that instantly add credibility by association for new publication launches and established free titles. During the COVID pandemic, publishers have diverted copies into our store network from other routes, as we offer a dependable, professional and flexible service.  We are able to target a wide variety of different socio-economic groups and various ethnic shoppers, as each store has a unique mix of customers depending on its location.

What is the advantage of distributing into a supermarket?

We offer a highly flexible structure, which can change and evolve to meet the needs of the publisher’s strategy and budget over the months of the year. The key element is that conscious choice of a target consumer taking a copy of a specific publication because they are actively interested. Our distribution options can easily be blended with door-to-door, hand distribution and paid sale copies to offer a complete solution.

How can your customers target consumers?

We have a large historical database for a wide variety of different kinds of titles, so we can quickly suggest a range of stores that match the type of free publication and the target audience. We also have detailed consumer shopper profiles from the store groups, which help us build campaigns to specific briefs from publishers and advertising agencies.

If you are interested in finding out more about our print services alongside SSD distribution, please contact us here.


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