Supply Chain Delays: What We Know and Can Do
In 2021 we experienced challenges never seen before caused by the pandemic and shutdowns around the world that caused major supply chain issues. The reality is that these issues continue to affect businesses nationwide, and direct mail is still feeling the pull of the supply chain constraints. The One & All team is providing continued service and support during this time, and what we, together, can do to prepare.
- Envelope manufacturers and print companies have been put on an allocation order system, limiting how much they can order and how much they can keep in inventory. In some cases vendors are requiring that we place orders six or more months in advance
Adhesives and paper
- Raw materials like adhesives and Polypropylene glue are in short supply, resulting in a steady increase in the cost of specialty paper products. And as the closure of several large paper mills nationally has made us more reliant on supply from Asia, shipping costs from foreign supply have also increased significantly skyrocketed, causing the frequency of shipments from foreign mills to decrease significantly
- To add to the paper shortage woes, the U.S. Postal Service is increasing costs and announcing a slowdown in mail delivery standards
- Nationwide paper and raw material shortages persist and paper manufacturers continue to operate at only 50% capacity
Any one of these scenarios on a good day would cause disruptions for direct mail; all together they are having crippling effects. One & All has not been immune to these issues. The good news is we can use the current hurdles as an opportunity to look at strategies and activations that keep your direct mail efforts from feeling the severity of the supply chain disruption.
Here’s what we’re doing to combat these issues:
Persistence and communication
- We are leveraging our strong, long-standing relationships with our vendors to ensure we get all of our jobs done and released on-time
- Scheduling our work within our vendors workflows to ensure they have the capacity to complete our jobs when we submit them
- Transparency with YOU, our trusted partners, around potential delays
Focus and Creativity
One & All has been working diligently in partnership with our vast vendor pool to minimize the impact these scenarios are having but being prepared moving forward will be key. Cost increases and mail delays are expected to continue for the remainder of this year.
It is important to plan early, as vendors are requesting print quantities and POs weeks to months in advance to try and secure paper and press time. Be ready and confident for the year ahead and avoid last-minute changes by being open to alternative options:
- Changing from labels to gift tags or from a magnet to a window cling is an opportunity to test new ideas and keep the mail moving
- Avoiding specialty or premium stocks and sizes are ways to secure the materials needed
- Consider using a standard size envelopes and form sizes, such as 8-½ x 11 or 8-½ x 14, #10 or 4 x 8 for envelopes
Flexibility in Mail Dates
Being flexible to mailing date changes and alternate channel mix options will be crucial navigating the months ahead.
Looking Beyond Mail
Direct mail is effective, but it’s not the only direct marketing option. Connected TV and email represent great opportunities for hitting some of the same audience profiles in a granular, measurable fashion.
While you might already use email as part of your program, consider revisiting your existing strategy to increase frequency or add an additional campaign as an alternative to direct mail. Another option is social media and digital media advertising. These target audiences in real time at a more reasonable cost. Enlisting these channels now may illuminate a new optimal channel for your messages, even when the paper supply stabilizes.
Reallocation of Media Budget
Digital media offers immediate opportunities to reach your audiences quickly and easily. There are several options to consider for budget reallocation, and to evaluate the best option for your organization, the process begins by identifying what portion of the budget is impacted. A deep dive into your specific market and organization with your Client Strategy & Success team, Media Planner and Digital Strategist will reveal the appropriate path for reallocation of digital media investment.
If your organization is a member of a cooperative database (such as Wiland or Apogee), there are opportunities to still engage with the prospective donor names rented from these partners in the digital space, even if physical mail may not be an option. We can work with you to facilitate targeting these highly qualified prospects digitally to maximize return.
We are here to talk about these and many more options to help you strategically counter the supply chain disruptions and make the most of your budget. In these uncertain times, it is important to be fast, nimble and move quickly on alternative, new options.
Talk to your Client Strategy & Success lead about what we can do today to prepare for tomorrow. Additionally, our Print Production team is available for any supply chain-related questions you may have.