Frontline Case Study

Frontline Case Study

UK magazine sales and distribution business, analyse sales data and build buyer behaviour predictive data models

Established in 1986 Frontline is one of UK’s leading magazine sales and distribution companies. With joint partnership with Haymarket Media Group BBC Worldwide / Immediate Media Company they currently have an employee strength of 230.

Representing 42% of the magazine category, their sales figure touched 309m copies of their 800 different magazines through over 55,000 retail outlets ranging from the biggest superstore to the smallest newsagent. Frontline on behalf of the PPA commissioned Onepoint to help analyse the impact of digital magazine sales on the market in the UK.

Business Drivers

As a magazine distribution company, Frontline has been exploring investing in the digital magazine marketplace, which is a newly emerging market that is quite promising:

  • Frontline was interested in assessing its role in the digital magazine distribution market.
  • To understand customer churn behaviour and how price impacts customer buying pattern.
  • To understand the typical buying pattern for digital magazines across various customer segments.
  • To conduct customer segmentation based on buying patterns.

The PPA were interested in overall impact on the UK marketplace of digital magazine sales and wanted to provide each participating publisher access to analytical reports compared with the overall industry.

The Problem

Frontline and PPA wanted Onepoint Consulting to harvest magazine sales data over a period of 12 – 18 months from Apple, Google and Zinio (3 primary e-tailers) and produce series of analytical reports per publisher. The reports analysed trend in the sales of digital magazine and how a publisher was performing (in terms of magazine sales) against an industry benchmark in the digital magazine market place.

The Solution

We designed a solution that addressed the key concerns of Security, Scalability, Performance, Usability and Accessibility. The key building blocks of the logical architecture (Figure 1) that supported such solution included:

Figure 1: The key building blocks of the logical architecture

  • Amazon S3/ Secure File Server: This building block is the data source for digital magazine sales. Weekly/ Monthly digital sales transactions are transferred to these locations by participating publishers.
  • Data Access Layer & Enrich/Transform/Store: This building block reads and process the digital magazine sales data. Multiple Talend jobs are responsible for reading sales data from the data sources, validating the data, enriching and transforming the data, and storing the data ready for reporting and analysis.
  • Transaction Data Store: This building block stores the enriched digital sales transactions and provides data for reporting and analysis.
  • Reporting Server: This building block is responsible for executing scheduled reports. Reports are designed using an Integrated Development environment, tested and deployed on the Reporting Server.
  • Report Distribution/ Report Access Layer: This building block is responsible for enabling publishers to access the reports. Reports may be either pushed to the publishers or accessed by publishers using a secure portal.

Amazon (AWS) provided infrastructure as a service. Figure 2 illustrates the AWS setup, driven by the primary requirement of data protection and security requiring magazine sales data read, processed and stored in the cloud was secure and private.

Figure 2: The AWS setup

The Outcome

The analysis of the digital magazine market was successfully completed and delivered to the clients. In addition to building a platform for storing around 70 million magazine sales transactions and nation wide sales analysis reporting, we also built Sales forecasting and Customer propensity models. This provided some useful insights during the Professional Publication Association (PPA) presentation. Some key findings were:

  • The digital magazine market place is less than 2% of the magazine market place.
  • Growth in sales has stalled compared to last year.
  • Subscriptions are performing better than Single copy.
  • Price of digital magazine had little/no impact on the sales of the digital magazine.

Case Studies Category


Retail, Publishing


Cloud computing, ETL, Data Integration


AWS, Talend, Jaspersoft


Architecture Services, System Integration Services, Software Development