Paper Shortage: Tips to Smoothly Complete Your Next Print Project
A survey done by The U.S. Census Bureau shows that 40% of all businesses are battling pandemic-related supply chain issues. Many of these issues involve securing raw materials from suppliers. For commercial printers like Colortech Creative Solutions, the logistical challenge is maintaining a steady supply of paper. To help clients understand the paper shortage, here’s a look at what’s causing the problem and tips to combat its effects.
What is causing the paper shortage issues?
From what our paper supply reps are telling us…
- Backed up shipping ports/logistics.
- The pandemic has caused a feast or famine availability need.
- The closure of North American paper mills and others converting to board stock to gain traction within the packaging industry.
- Printers running lean and decreasing their inventory, relying on the paper merchants to warehouse and deliver paper “just in time” for their needs.
These are a few of the factors that printers around the world are struggling with.
7 Tips for Handling the Paper Crunch
1. Be flexible
When you’re ready to create a print campaign, try to remain flexible. In the past, customers could request a certain grade of paper, and without trouble, commercial printers could deliver 99% of the time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now.
2. Plan ahead
Be in close communication with your print supplier. If your company does regular print campaigns, like a holiday mailer or quarterly reports, get these projects in the works as soon as possible. Planning ahead is always suggested, but supply shortages are more important than ever. Also, please give us additional lead time on your commercial printing projects. This allows us time to find the paper that will work for you.
3. Pad your timeline
As you plan ahead, it’s a good idea to add extra time to your timeline. For example, shorter deadlines may require sacrifices such as different paper stocks. Longer deadlines give printers more opportunities to secure paper, aid in design, and get the project through the shop.
4. Understand that pricing changes quickly
Because the availability of paper is so volatile, pricing changes frequently. To illustrate, it’s not unusual to see paper pricing guaranteed for only a 24-hour period. Your estimate could change if it takes your team more than a few days to discuss project plans.
5. Be willing to adjust sheet sizing
In some cases, we may suggest a different size for a finished project. Why does size matter? Changing the size of a project might give printers the ability to maximize a sheet of paper or utilize a different stock that comes in different sheet sizes. Your project will be completed, but this will impact the price of the paper and the manufacturing cost.
6. Consider smaller runs to fill gaps
If you have a large project coming up, it may be possible to break the quantity into smaller batches. You could print a few thousand postcards, for example, to meet immediate needs. You can then plan to print a much larger quantity weeks later. Doing so will give printers time to secure large quantities of paper.
7. Communication is key
Keeping everyone on the same page with thorough communication will make vendors and clients more understanding of the situation. We have reached out to all our paper suppliers directly, asking that they let us know when they receive shipments. This helps them to notify us when the paper comes in.
Supply chain issues have created a global paper shortage, but with flexibility and proper planning, clients can still create stunning, effective print campaigns. The Colortech Creative Solutions team is more than happy to provide suggestions and guidance to make sure your project exceeds expectations.