SUPPLY CHAIN CHALLENGES
Why Is It Happening?
- Less Mill Capacity -- when demand for paper was weak (less events & programs during Covid), some paper mills went out of business, others converted to lucrative cardboard and corrugated production (since demand for boxes & cartons got stronger during Covid).
- Labor Shortages -- mill workers, truck drivers, dock operators, warehouse workers, lots of these were laid off or took early retirement during Covid. Labor disputes have shut down a number of mills, especially in Europe.
- Supply & Demand -- now that demand is back, the mills can't keep up, and workers throughout the chain are in short supply. The mills are forced to spend more for labor, and more for retrofitting machinery or purchasing new equipment. Hence the rapid increase in pricing.
What Wordsprint Is Doing About It
- Expanding Options -- we are sourcing paper from multiple vendors and mills.
- Focusing More Resources -- paper ordering used to be an hour or so per week for one employee. Now it's a daily task for 3-4 employees.
- Establishing Standing Orders -- we have these set up with multiple vendors, to take advantage of paper shipments the moment they arrive.
- Increasing Efforts -- we're sending drivers to pick up supplies, rather than waiting for commercial carriers.
- Leveraging Technology -- new state-of-the-art data append services are helping our clients target better, so they can stay on rhythm and on budget with marketing or donor relation campaigns.
What You Can Do About It
- Plan Ahead -- have a well-defined project schedule; avoid last minute requests.
- Communicate Early -- let us know the project specifications and an estimated quantity well in advance (3-4 weeks at least), so we can start sourcing the materials. Almost all the materials we purchase are requiring longer & longer lead times.
- Send Files ASAP -- whether it's print files or mailing databases, send them sooner rather than later. The quicker we receive, the more options we have to get your project into production.
- Be Flexible -- if your favorite paper isn't available, be prepared for second or third choices.
- Remember What Is Most Important -- when it comes to marketing or fund-raising, maintaining the rhythm of those touches is critical. If your favorite paper is not available, or if it's become too expensive for your budget, don't abandon the touch. Rather, adjust the scale to fit the budget to sustain the rhythm. In other words, target better, print and mail less.