What You Need to Know About Paper Shortages

print and mail outsourcing

Mitigating Inconsistent Paper Availability and Delays

Like many products since the start of the pandemic, paper is sometimes harder to come by and takes longer to arrive. Paper shortages and delays may last into 2023, so it’s prudent that billers and other organizations sending paper-based customer communications take action to mitigate the impact.

At Nordis, we’ve taken steps to ensure reliable paper supplies for our clients. We’ve boosted our usual inventory of envelopes and paper rolls for our high-speed printers. We work with enterprise-level suppliers that have assured us that they will be able to meet our ongoing needs.

What’s driving the paper shortage?

There are supply chain constraints, pushing up prices and extending delivery times, sometimes by months.

Pandemic-related labor shortages at mills are combining with reduced production capacity for some paper products. Manufacturers have shifted to higher-demand items such as cardboard boxes to handle all those Amazon Prime orders. Shipping and trucking bottlenecks are making matters worse. These supply chain disruptions are conspiring to drive paper shortages and higher prices now, into 2022 and possibly longer.

Prices for wood pulp, the raw material for making paper, have jumped 50% since this time last year, according to the Producer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Paper prices have increased 14% over the same period.

Key steps for billers

It’s critical for companies to prevent communications interruptions. At stake are maintaining revenues and cashflow, providing a good customer experience and remaining in compliance with pertinent laws and regulations. It’s especially important to ensure consistency for bills and other timely correspondence with due dates, expiration dates, and those subject to regulations that require delivery within a certain timeframe.

Billers need to evaluate their communications programs with a fresh eye, given these challenging business conditions. Some areas to consider in light of the paper shortage that may also drive cost savings include:

  1. Reconsider reliance on pre-printed stock.

Many clients have moved to our roll-fed high-speed color inkjet printers. But some continue to utilize pre-printed individual sheets with their logos and other custom information. Those paper sheets may be in shorter supply or take longer to produce, so companies sticking with this option need to build in more time for any orders and monitor existing inventory closely.

Clients also can migrate to using our plain white paper stock and standard window envelopes. Not only is our supply of plain white paper solid, but our high-speed printers offer other benefits, including dynamic variable color for about the same cost as black-and-white laser printing. Contact your client success manager if you are interested in updating your Expresso configuration and eliminate the need for pre-printed stock.

  1. Overhaul communications flows.

We are working with clients who are interested in assessing their schedules and communications flows. We can help with revising printing and mailing timelines and paper options, for both transactional communications and any marketing, seasonal or annual correspondence.

  1. Maximize the paper you use.

Is it possible to do more double-sided (duplex) printing?  Expresso and our production centers support a mix of simplex (one-sided) and duplex (two-sided) printing in the same mailing package.  Also consider doing away with preprinted inserts (e.g., buckslips) and replacing them with on-statement messaging using Expresso’s built-in content editor and data-driven business rules.

You can add more documents/pages to existing mailing packages using Expresso’s document association feature. For example, add the annual privacy policy to an existing billing statement or add the HOA budget to the maintenance fee mailer.  A #10 envelope can accommodate up to five sheets of paper without impacting postage provided the package still weighs less than 3.5 ounces.

  1. Get serious about digital adoption

Billers need to make a concerted push for digital adoption. Digital communications deliver important biller benefits, including eliminating postage and paper costs, circumventing any paper supply issues and often speeding up payments.

For some customers, it’s a better experience, too, for growing numbers of consumers who want digital options. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 50% of consumers say they now prefer digital billing methods, according to 2020 ACI Speedpay research.

Our Expresso® customer communications management software is designed for omnichannel document development and distribution, including email, text and digital wallet in addition to print/mail. With Expresso, you can cater to all customer preferences while making it easy for consumers to opt-in to digital.

Contact us today for help in addressing any concerns.