It’s not just toilet paper missing from grocery store shelves, paper products are scarce. Industry experts agree that we’ve never seen a shortage this big before. We are in the middle of a paper shortage – for coated and uncoated papers. This is putting more pressure on transaction printers and marketing companies. Their core job has not changed. They still have to produce and distribute custom customer communications. But now they also must navigate a scarce market to find the paper and envelopes they need.
How did we get here?
COVID-19 lockdowns led to global supply chain issues. Those issues had a significant impact on paper product availability. As we moved beyond lockdown, demand for printing paper and direct mail services increased rapidly. Demand grew faster than supply could rebound. And now, demand for paper is even greater than pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
A few key events contributed to the ongoing shortage:
- Before the COVID pandemic, several large domestic paper mills planned to alter their output. The new business was producing packaging materials. When the pandemic happened, several more followed that path.
- Mills also had supply chain issues, so they produced what they could and what people needed. Instead of paper, they started making packaging. This included cardboard, kraft paper, and other materials needed to meet online shopping demands.
- Issues continue to compound. 2021 saw raw pulp pricing increases, mill closings, and rising transportation costs. The domino effect keeps going.
The net result is that paper — especially envelopes — for customer communications is in very short supply. Prices have skyrocketed. Mills have put customers on “allocation.” Essentially, they are rationing the limited supply they have.
Even basic products have become costly. So, you can imagine the issue for individualized products. Businesses that historically leveraged custom envelopes as part of their marketing and brand identification programs feel stuck. Fortunately, there’s a path forward.
Where do we go from here?
There are steps your business can. While cursing Amazon and other on-line retailers for taking all the paper pulp is a fair first step, it won’t help you long term. What will help is reconfiguring your documents to fit a standard envelope.
Standard products are produced for paper distributor stock. Meaning they are not “produced to order.” So, while availability is still not immediate, it’s much faster. Standard products don’t have to wait for a spot in the producer’s production queue.
Enter document reengineering. This can be done via on-premises installed software or cloud-based software as a service (SaaS). These tools reformat your fully composed documents. The new document will conform to windows placements in standard, number 10, double window envelopes. The process is fast, straightforward, and easy to manage.
How does document reengineering work?
You start by sending a fully composed print file to the document reengineering software. The software will reconfigure the layout for you. Once done, recipient and return address blocks fit in standard, double window envelopes. It’s a simple, one-pass operation. And it does not change the size of the file.
The resulting print file is ready immediately. Plus, standard documents can be mechanically inserted into standard envelopes. This ensures deliverability of essential bills, statements, invoices, and other critical customer communication. Documents distribute on-time, at a reasonable cost, and with minimal complications.
Learn more about document reengineering and how it can help your business.
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