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Welcome to the thoughts, news and insights of Air Business.

monday, 1 july, 2019

The Beacon: the home of Air Business

In September 2018, we moved our head office and distribution centre to a new purpose-built premises. Located in Hatfield Business Park, previously home to the Hatfield Aerodrome, we named our new building ‘The Beacon’ in honour of the Hatfield Beacon which once stood on this site, guiding trainee fighter pilots back to the old airfield during World War II.

 

Why not check out the video below for a mini tour of Air Business?

 

monday, 17 june, 2019

Our sponsored British GT4 racers off to a flying start!

This weekend will see Air Business’ sponsored GT4 racing duo Graham Johnson and Michael O’Brien take to the race track once again for Round 6 of the British GT Championship competition at Donnington Park.

This is the first year that Johnson and O’Brien have raced together in a team for Balfe Motorsport in their McLaren. Having raced with fellow amateur driver and colleague Mike Robinson for four years, this new pairing marked the start of a new era for Johnson, Managing Director of UKi Media & Events.

 

As Johnson explained, “What McLaren are doing is putting me – a wiser and older head with lots of experience – with Michael, who is unquestionably very quick, in the hope that his speed and my experience will combine to result in a great deal of success.”

 

The duo are impossible to miss in their bright yellow McLaren, sponsored by Air Business.

 

 

Johnson and O’Brien have proven they are a strong team in the initial rounds of the competition – securing multiple podium successes throughout these.

 

 

We shall be keeping our fingers crossed for them both at Donnington Park this weekend of course. You can keep up with all the live action here  as well as following all the latest news from Balfe Motorsport.

friday, 10 may, 2019

Air Business is shortlisted for PPA Industry Partner of the Year Award 2019

Recognising our unwavering loyalty to the publishing industry, the PPA has shortlisted Air Business for its 2019 Industry Partner of the Year Award.

Since being established in 1986, Air Business has been a wholehearted and loyal supporter of the publishing industry. Offering a unique and seamless end-to-end distribution and subscriptions management service to the UK’s consumer and business magazine publishing market, we are widely recognised as the ‘number one’ supplier in this field; working with over 75% of UK magazine publishers.

 

We demonstrate our passionate support of the publishing industry through our long-standing relationship with the PPA. Indeed, 2019 marked a whole decade of Air Business being a PPA Strategic Partner. Throughout this time, we have consistently sponsored the PPA in its activities to support publishers and help them thrive and grow in challenging market conditions. With the publishing world embedded strongly in our roots, we have also been one of the first signatories of the National Literacy Trust’s Vision for Literacy Business Pledge for the past three consecutive years, promoting the practice of reading within our own business and wider community in order to help tackle the UK’s rising literacy crisis.

 

As publishers grow and evolve to meet new consumer demands, we are constantly adapting our services and offerings to consistently meet their ever-changing needs. For example, some publishers are choosing to bolster their revenues through producing e-commerce products or subscription boxes. Air Business offers a strong end-to-end service proposition to help publishers manage this whole process; from front-end website hosting, to online payments, through to fulfilment and final end delivery.

 

Air Business remains confident and enthusiastic about the longevity of the publishing industry. Unlike some suppliers, we refuse to turn our back on this and, rather, are constantly investing heavily into serving our publishing clients. This recently involved investing into a brand new, purpose-built distribution centre and head office which was designed completely around our workflow and services to enhance our customer experience and high quality service level. Our subscriptions arm, Air Business Subscriptions, has also recently invested into a new state-of-the-art subscriptions management platform, Integra, as well as upgrading our advance business intelligence reporting system, Lumira. These promise to help our customers tackle new market challenges and understand their data to bolster their retention and acquisition rates.

 

Through our value-added e-commerce and telephone cancellation prevention services, Air Business Subscriptions managed to save 1,237 abandoned online shopping baskets for one customer – generating this client an ROI of over 1,000%. For the same customer, it has saved nearly 20% of telephone subscription cancellation attempts in one year.

 

When another of our publishing customers moved its fulfilment and distribution to Air Business, it quickly experienced a 23% growth in subscription sales from its core destination market. This was the result of the drastic improvements in safe and on-time delivery of the publisher’s time-critical weekly magazine. As we do for every customer, we devised this publisher a distribution and fulfilment solution completely bespoke to their needs with the wider aim of improving existing customer satisfaction and attracting new subscribers.

 

These results are not unique for Air Business. With our strong customer-centric approach, we constantly seek to add real value to our customers’ businesses and go above and beyond that of a regular supplier. We view ourselves not just as a supplier but an extension of our customers’ teams. It is for this reason that we have been nominated as for the 2019 PPA Industry Partner of the Year Award.

 

To see the full list of categories and nominees for the PPA Awards 2019, please click here.

monday, 8 april, 2019

Behind the Scenes: Looking After Our Customers

As Head of Strategic Accounts, Mark Everitt personally looks after a large portfolio of Air Business’ publishing clients in addition to managing the rest of our Account Management team. Like all of Air Business’ dedicated Account Managers, Mark is in a constant stream of communication with his clients, working to devise and deliver them bespoke subscriptions management and distribution solutions to meet their needs.

To find out more about the life of our Account Managers, Beyond caught up with Mark in The Beacon. 

 

Tell us a little bit about your background Mark. How long have you been in the industry?

I’ve been in the magazine distribution industry for about 25 years now. I started off working for a company called Mercury International. I worked in their warehouse for two months sorting US mail before moving into their customer service department for a few years. It was there where I truly found my feet and realised where I wanted my career to go. I loved having direct contact with customers and helping them work out how to mail their magazines around the world. So, I then moved into Account Management for Mercury and subsequently DHL Global Mail, eventually looking after DHL’s key publishing clients and, all the time, expanding my knowledge on both the publishing and distribution industry as a whole. In 2012, I joined the Air Business team and still absolutely love my job to this day.

 

How do you use your experience of the publishing industry to help your clients?

Well, let me start by saying that the most important thing for me is learning about my clients’ businesses; what’s important to them and their end customers and, ultimately, how Air Business can help them achieve their aims. Having worked in this industry for a long time and having a vast portfolio of publishing clients has allowed me to develop a great knowledge base. I have seen what works well for different types of customers and, consequently, can advise on and share successful processes and best practices with other clients so that they can benefit from these too.

 

With over 25 years’ worth of industry experience, what would you say is unique about Air Business?

Firstly, I would say the range of services we offer. With our end to end service offering, we literally offer the whole package: from subscriptions management, to storage, to print and digital fulfilment, to distribution. This is something that no other competitor in our market provides.

Secondly, I would say we have a unique place and offering to publishers. With our client base being over 70% of the UK’s magazine publishers and having served publishers consistently for 32 years (across all sectors; academic, business consumer and contract), Air Business has a great team of people who know the industry, and the needs of our customers, like the back of their hand. We also have a very close relationship and strong support from the PPA as its long-standing strategic partner. There is a good reason why the vast majority of these magazine publishers use Air Business! We are wholeheartedly loyal to the industry and our services, heritage and expertise really set us apart in the market.

 

You manage a lot of clients, how do you juggle your time between them?

It can be challenging but I’ve learned how to carry the workload and I also have a great team behind me.  As my portfolio has grown, so has the Account Management team. We are all well acquainted with each other’s accounts and offer each other advice on these. This means that, when I am on holiday, for example, my customers are never left alone: they always have an Account Manager they can turn to who also knows their business. Additionally, another unique character of Air Business is our two-tier account management system whereby our Customer Relationship Group (CRG) manage many of the day-to-day dealings of our accounts so, again, there is always more than one person working with each of our customers to ensure that they are fully looked after. I think that Kevin Lamb coming on-board to manage the CRG team, as Head of Client Relations and Insights, will also prove a great benefit to enhance our customer service even further in this area. Kevin worked on the client side for over 20 years, for TI Media, so he can share his great knowledge and experience with the team.

 

We’ve spoken quite a bit about the distribution side of the business, but what do you do with Air Business Subscriptions?

I work a lot on the subscription side of the business too although I really struggle to see the distribution and subscription arms as two separate entities as I feel there is a very good synergy between them. Working in subscriptions, since joining Air Business, has increased my knowledge of the overall end to end service, including the subscription management and digital fulfilment side of the magazine industry. So I can also help my clients with decisions they’re making on the subscriptions front.  Again, it’s all about creating a consultative relationship with my customers rather than just being a supplier. I’d like to think that my clients feel that they can call me about anything and ask for advice, whether it be distribution or subscriptions related.

 

How are you settling into the brand new building The Beacon?

Well, the nature of my role does mean that I’m not permanently based at The Beacon as I’m often out on the road meeting clients or at Air Business Subscriptions in Haywards Heath. However, when I am here, it’s a great place to work and a very motivated environment; everyone has felt it’s been an incredibly positive move. The Beacon has got a contemporary yet corporate feel – it reflects how we’ve felt for years – we mean business! I am really excited about the increased capacity and efficiency opportunities the new Head Office provides and I can’t wait to welcome my clients to our new home and show them around.

 

Finally, what would you say are the most rewarding parts of your job?

Definitely the client relationships.  For me, it’s all about getting to know my clients, building a genuine relationship with them and knowing that they trust me. Ultimately, their trust is my real reward. I do take things personally and want to do the absolute best for my clients and ensure they are completely happy with the Air Business service. For that I of course have to have trust in the Air Business service as, if I didn’t I wouldn’t use it personally which would mean I couldn’t sit in front of my clients, representing the company, and look them in the eye.  Many of them I have known for years (they will know who they are when they read this!) and I really do value all my relationships with each one of them.”

tuesday, 19 february, 2019

Air Business remains committed to tackling the UK’s Literacy Crisis

Air Business, the UK’s market-leader in global mail, fulfilment, distribution and subscription management continues its commitment to help drive up UK literacy levels for another year by signing the National Literacy Forum’s Vision for Literacy Business Pledge 2019.

Based on a survey, carried out by the National Literacy Trust in December 2018, the more books a child owns, the more likely they are to do well at school and be happy with their lives. However, The National Literacy Trust found that 9% of children say that they don’t own or have a book of their own at home. This statistic means that 1 in 11 children and young people in the UK miss the benefits of having their own books.

 

Air Business has been distributing books to children aged 0 – 5, on behalf of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library UK, since 2010 and demonstrated its commitment to the charity’s mission by enrolling its eligible employees too. Since partnering with Air Business, the number of books distributed in the UK by the charity has gone from 2,500 to 30,000 and Air Business has sent out over one million books for the Imagination Library. Currently, Air Business is working with its parent company, An Post, to help Dolly’s Imagination Library launch in Ireland so that children there can benefit from the books too.

 

By signing the Vision for Literacy Business Pledge, Air Business promises to encourage its employees to take part in internal fundraising and spread greater awareness of the campaign amongst the UK publishing market.

 

 

Adam Sherman, Air Business Group Managing Director, comments:

 

We are excited to be signing the National Literacy Forum’s Vision for Literacy Business Pledge for the third year running and understand the importance of raising awareness of the crisis. Air Business as a Group has served the publishing industry for over 45 years and like our clients, we are passionate about people engaging with the written word.”

monday, 4 february, 2019

Cracking the art of e-commerce: Stephensons Online Ltd

Imagine. One minute you are sitting in your front room selling your late grandmother’s old personal belongings on eBay. A few years later, you are running a multi-million pound e-commerce business, selling to consumers in almost every country in the world. Sounds hard to believe perhaps? Maybe. However, this is exactly the story of Barry and Katy Tong, owners of Stephensons Online LTD.

 

The couple set up their Stephensons Online eBay account at the beginning of 2011 after wanting a meaningful way to pass on their grandmother’s things. During this process, Barry and Katy realised the huge revenue potential of online selling. After all their grandmother’s items had sold, the couple began re-selling items from car boot sales and, later, wholesalers on eBay. Just six months after setting out, Stephensons Online LTD became a sole trader. After launching on Amazon UK, the company then set up SolRetail. As a third party e-commerce platform management company, SolRetail works directly with health and beauty brands; looking after everything from their marketing to order fulfilment, stock management to customer service.

 

Working closely with the company as its UK and international distribution supplier, Air Business has built a strong relationship with Managing Director Barry, Katy and their now 16-strong team.

 

We sat down with Barry to talk about his rapid business growth, managing consumer expectations and how he is finding working with Air Business.

 

The story of your business growth is very impressive. What would you say has been the major factor in determining your success?

Persistence! We started off as eBay sellers, selling my grandmother’s old belongings. After we’d sold her things, we started selling our own unwanted items on eBay. We sold anything that people would normally put into a skip and get rid of! We then moved into re-selling items we bought from car boot sales and eventually went on to sell for brands. We’ve never taken out a loan; we’ve simply regurgitated the money we’ve earned at each step of the process back into the business to purchase new stock and drive more sales. In the first month, we turned over £1,000. We doubled this in our second month and, after repeating the process of selling and re-investing, were turning over £150,000 by 2012 and £750,000 by 2013. Our current turnover is £3.5million with the next goal now £10million.

 

Tell us a bit more about how your business operates and how you work with brands.

We work with about 65 brands across the world. These range from new start-ups to high street brands, predominantly health and beauty labels.

 

Firstly, we manage the online selling platforms on behalf of other brands. So, if you owned a brand and wanted help in managing the selling of this on platforms like eBay and Amazon then we are the people you would come to. We run everything for these, from sales and marketing right through to finance, all from our UK office.

 

Secondly, we also provide the full platform management for brands we have created ourselves or become investors in. For example, we fully manage the online platform sales of the Natural Birthing Company, which we have been a shareholder of since 2016, and which is also sold in 400 Boots stores across the UK. Dear Barber is another brand we are investors in, sold in 35 countries worldwide and, again, fully managed by ourselves. We have our own brands too. We launched our new men’s brand, Raw Supremo, and we also have some female brands coming out next year. We’re really driving the brand side of our business as well as managing the brands of others.

 

You have a diverse range of clients. How do you manage the expectations of your B2B clients and also those of the end consumer?

First of all, we are not just a retailer or a wholesaler but a business partner to all the brands we work with. We act as an extension of their team; providing them with business support and resources to drive their sales and brand awareness forward. Every brand we work with is different so we provide each one with unique direction and advice. Regardless of the differences between our B2B customers though, the key expectations of the end consumers remain constant. Their priority is quality and timed delivery; getting everything that they want delivered, to their door, exactly when they expect this.

 

Speaking of deliveries, Air Business handles your domestic and international deliveries on a variety of services. How have you found working with us?

Well I’ll start by saying that one of the greatest things is Air Business’ personal touch. We have used different suppliers in the past and my experience was often feeling that we were ‘just a number ’. But this isn’t the case with Air Business. You do all you can within your parameters to assist us in getting the best price and the best delivery to fit each brand we sell, in order to meet needs of the end-customers.

 

Through Air Business, we’ve been able to choose specific delivery options for each of the brands we manage. When we have a delivery that we need to get to a particularly challenging corner of the world or if a certain brand requires a service for their consumers that we don’t offer already then we can ring our Account Managers, Harry and Tim, at Air Business and they’ll come in, sit down and discuss things through with us to come up with the best solutions.

 

Do you find delivery options to be an important factor in influencing the end-consumer’s decision to complete an online purchase?

Most definitely – especially in the US and UK where consumers seem to want things within an hour! But consumers in different parts of the world have different expectations. So, again, it’s about matching the delivery service to the requirements of each specific group of consumers to ensure that they are getting what they expect. Air Business is therefore the ideal distribution partner for us, offering multiple options from economy solutions right up to the fully tracked service.

 

How did you find the integration of Air Business’ web shipping portal, ProShipper, with your online platforms?

Really good. A team from Air Business came in to us to conduct the training and implementation programme. They took care of everything and were always there, along every step of the way, to support us. It was basically a flawless process for us – we didn’t have to get involved with it, which I liked!

 

Have you experienced a reduction in customer service enquiries since partnering with us?

Yes, certainly. Firstly, the number of return orders we receive has reduced. Secondly, since working with Air Business, we have seen our customer interactions concerning issues like non-deliveries and late deliveries decrease with every month that goes by. We sit down and scrutinise these figures with the Air Business team on a three-monthly basis and then make plans to create even further future improvements so that we are constantly moving forward.

 

wednesday, 23 january, 2019

New Beginnings for Johnson’s GT4 career

Until now our Air Business’ sponsored GT4 racing team was made up of the duo Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson from UKI Media and Events. But Graham Johnson has now teamed up with McLaren for the 2019 season and will be helping mentor one of McLaren’s young professional development drivers, 24 year old Michael O’Brien. Working with McLaren, Graham and Michael will race as a new team with Balfe Motorsport in this year’s British GT4 competition.

“What McLaren are doing,” Graham explains, “is putting me – a wiser and older head with lots of experience – with Michael, who is unquestionably very quick, in the hope that his speed and my experience will combine to result in a great deal of success.”

 

Having raced with fellow amateur driver Mike Robinson for four years, Graham explains the challenges this new pairing is set to bring. “Michael is 5ft 7 and I’m 6ft 2. At 6ft, my old teammate Mike was almost the same height as me so we just sat in the same position in the car. However, with Michael being much shorter, we may have to make some interesting compromises to get comfortable! I’ve never shared a car with anyone other than Mike so it will be a really new experience for me racing with somebody different who has been professionally appointed by McLaren and who is in his second season of professional motor racing. As a non-professional, I spend most of the off-season out of the car and Mike Robinson was the exactly the same. But I’ll now be racing alongside somebody who basically lives in the car – that will be interesting!”

 

And aside from the team itself, the racing car will have a fresh new twist too! “The new McLaren is luminous so they’ll be no hiding for us this season! And we’ve got a number of upgrades coming too, so we’re hoping the car will be as competitive as ever.”

 

Although this year’s season does not kick off until late April, Graham has already ramped up his training regime. “I am trying to do some cardio in the gym every day now. As a middle-aged driver, weight is the enemy. If you’re something like 15-20kg heavier than your teammate then you will, by definition, lose around 3 or 4 sevenths of a second per lap. Michael is probably about 30kg lighter than me which is a huge difference so I will have to be very disciplined in keeping the weight off!”

 

Air Business is proud to be sponsoring the new pair as they take on the new season and will be backing them at every step of their journey. Make sure you follow our social media for all the latest news and pictures of their brand new luminous McLaren!

thursday, 17 january, 2019

PPA selects Air Business as Strategic Partner for the 10th consecutive year

Air Business, the UK’s market-leader in global mail, fulfilment, distribution and subscription management confirms its loyalty to the UK publishing industry as it is selected as Strategic Partner of the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) for the 10th consecutive year.

The renewal of this long-standing partnership with the PPA demonstrates Air Business’ unwavering loyalty to the publishing industry and shows it is keeping the publishing sector at its core.

 

Air Business has proactively invested in the growth of the publishing sector by evolving their subscription service model and investing in new technologies, as well as investing in a new Head Office and main distribution centre in Hatfield to enable long-term support of their clients.

 

The 10th year of the partnership will see Air Business as key Strategic Partner of the PPA Festival and PPA Awards, which this year undergo exciting changes to their content and format, affirming its support and dedication to the growth of this sector. Air Business will once again be supporting the New Talent Awards in March and the Independent Publisher Awards in November.

 

Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA, commented:

 

“I am delighted to be entering into our 10th year with Adam Sherman and his team at Air Business, their role as Strategic Partner is extremely valued. Over the past nine years of our partnership, they have demonstrated great passion for the industry and are always proactively investing in and supporting the growth of the publishing sector. As publishers seek to grow their presence in new sectors, Air Business has ensured they meet their evolving needs.”

 

Adam Sherman, Air Business’ Group Managing Director, adds:

 

“A lot has changed in publishing since we first became Strategic Partner in 2010 and we are excited to be supporting publishers as they move into new markets and of course we are thrilled to be continuing our strong partnership with Barry and his team at the PPA. Over the past year the Group has created some very positive changes including moving our Head Office and main distribution centre to Hatfield and continuing to invest in and develop our subscriptions service model and systems. What has not changed is our passion and loyalty for the publishing industry, which stays at the heart of everything we do at Air Business.”

 

thursday, 13 december, 2018

Air Business introduces its new Customer Experience Director

Air Business, the UK’s market-leader in global mail, fulfilment, distribution and subscription management, has appointed Lenka Booker as its new Customer Experience Director to ensure customers remain at the heart of all processes and future planning.

Air Business introduces its new Customer Experience Director

As part of this brand new role for the company, Lenka will be responsible for directing Air Business’ Client Relationship Group and Data Bureau departments as well as all the internal processes and customer touchpoints within the business. Lenka will thoroughly review and oversee the implementation of improvements and changes to Air Business’ service chain to ensure that its customers receive the best experience possible. Lenka will report directly into the Group’s Managing Director, Adam Sherman, with close support from Philip Ions, the Group Finance Director.

 

Through managing the move of Air Business’ Head Office and main distribution centre earlier this year, Lenka acquired an extensive knowledge of the company’s processes and customer touchpoints, designing its new building around these. Having worked at Air Business for a total of 10 years, Lenka also has first-hand experience of working in the company’s Customer Relationship Group department; serving and liaising with its customers on a daily basis at the beginning of her career. From her previous experience of setting up the company’s Marketing department and serving as its Head of Marketing and Strategic Planning, Lenka’s customer-centric focus also made her the ideal candidate for the role.

 

To support Lenka, Kevin Lamb has been appointed to the other new role of Head of Client Relations and Insights where he will be responsible for heading up Air Business’ Client Relationship Group. Kevin joined the company in 2016, with over 25 years’ worth of experience working in a variety of production, subscription and postal distribution roles at TI Media. As a regular member of various PPA industry groups over the years, Kevin has an extensive knowledge of the UK publishing market.

 

Alongside Kevin, Lenka will also be supported by Air Business’ Data Bureau Manager, Sarah Melton. As a long-standing member of Air Business, Sarah has over 10 years’ worth of experience in leading its Data Bureau department; devising and implementing bespoke data management solutions for the company’s clients.

 

Lenka Booker, Customer Experience Director, comments:

“As the publishing landscape continues to change and evolve I want to ensure that there is a perfect synergy between Air Business and the future needs of our customers so we continue to deliver to the very highest standards. I am really looking forward to meeting our customers to discuss their challenges and requirements.”

 

Adam Sherman, Group Managing Director, comments:

“Throughout her career at Air Business, Lenka has consistently demonstrated her strong ability to deliver results.  Lenka has played an instrumental part in the company’s brand and strategic direction to date. I believe she will bring great experience and a customer-centric insight to this new role, which is intrinsically about keeping the customer at the forefront of everything we do.”

wednesday, 28 november, 2018

Air Business wins international magazine distribution deal for Immediate Media Co

Air Business, the global distribution, fulfilment and subscriptions management company, has won the contract to provide international distribution for Immediate Media Co’s market-leading special interest magazine titles.

Radio Times, Top Gear and BBC Good Food are among the 37 of Immediate’s titles being sent worldwide. Following a comprehensive process of selection, Immediate concluded that Air Business is the best partner for handling its international distribution.

 

The first magazine distribution went live just over a week after the contract was awarded. This was followed by the seamless transfer of all Immediate’s titles to Air Business from its previous suppliers in under one month.

 

Air Business devised a bespoke operational process for each of Immediate’s individual titles to meet stringent service level agreements. Radio Times, for example, required a swift turnaround process in order to reach expatriate markets in countries such as France and Switzerland on time. Air Business’ tailored solution has enabled the magazine to be collected from its printers, fulfilled and mailed within a short nine-hour window.

 

Helen Ward, Subscriptions Director for Immediate, comments:

 

“Our transition to Air Business was noticeably smooth and we are very pleased with the service. We are incredibly proud of our magazine portfolio so are delighted to be able to get our titles to our subscribers not just on time but actually ahead of their expectations. I look forward to developing our partnership with Air Business into the future.”

 

Adam Sherman, Air Business Group Managing Director, comments:

 

“By working closely with Immediate and using our innovative processes and routing systems we have been able to deliver instant improvements for the publisher. The timescales were certainly challenging, but a robust transition plan and detailed data testing meant that everything has gone very smoothly.”

 

ENDS