As we approach the end of 2021, our uncertain future seems more uncertain than it has before.  As if the emergence of new variants of COVID-19 weren’t enough, supply chain issues, labour and resource shortages and natural disasters feel like they are squeezing us from all sides.  The direct mail world is not exempt from these challenges.

As you plan your 2022 direct mail program, here are 3 things you should keep in mind;

Postage Rates

Canada Post will be applying some postage rate increases in 2022.  Here is a summary of some of the 2022 rate changes:

Postage price changes chart

You can find all of the Canada Post published price sheets here.  Please note that these are the published Canada Post rates. If you mail sufficient volumes of mail annually you may qualify for discounted rates from Canada Post. The discounted rates will increase by the same amount as the published rates. Contact your Canada Post rep to see if you qualify for discounted rates.

Paper Shortages

You may have already come across situations where the paper stock you would like to use is unavailable or the cost of the paper stock you would like to use is much more than you had bargained for.  You are not alone in that, and you can expect it to continue through 2022 if not into 2023.

There are a number of factors affecting paper stock availability right now.  Many Canadian paper mills have switched to produce corrugated to support the exploding demand created by lockdown online shopping.  There is also a pulp shortage in Canada which is adding to the issue.  There is now only one paper mill in Canada producing Kraft paper stock and with Canada producing 90% of the world’s FSC certified paper, these factors are hitting FSC paper especially hard.

Paper continues to come in from offshore, (Asia in particular), but it is not FSC stock and there have been some delays as ships are stuck waiting in ports to unload.  Paper and specialty stocks from Europe are very difficult to come by and if you can find them, their scarcity has driven up their costs substantially.

It’s important to note that paper mills and paper suppliers are now supplying based on allocation.  Essentially paper suppliers and in turn print suppliers are only allocated paper based on the amounts they used last year.  And that is only in the case that the desired stock is available.

Good Works is recommending a few strategies to help mitigate the paper issues;

  • Do not dramatically change your plans for production over what you did last year. As long as you are in the ballpark of the quantities and the stock types that you produced last year, you should be OK.
  • Try to stick with the same suppliers you used last year. Moving to a new supplier means that they do not have an allocation history for you.
  • Be early or at the very least on time. If you can get your orders in ahead of time, you will allow for wiggle room to adjust to an unexpected shortage or delay.
  • Be prepared to substitute stock should the stock you planned on using, become unavailable. Your production partners should be able to recommend workable alternatives.

Labour Shortages

Labour shortages are impacting supply chains all over the world.  There may be many reasons for the shortages, but the effect is the same; delays in delivery and increased costs.  Breakthrough infections still have the ability to shut organizations or parts of organizations down, (just ask the Ottawa Senators what that looked like in November 2021).

As vaccination continues the frequency of those breakthrough infections should continue to go drop, but there is no predicting what new variants will appear and what the effect of those variants will be.

By being early and ahead of schedule you will give yourself the flexibility to adjust and withstand a supplier shutdown or delay caused by an unanticipated labour shortage.

As we saw in later part of 2021, the stock and labour shortages have put an enormous amount of pressure on DM production suppliers.  They know how vital it is to get your mailing right and out on time and they have been moving mountains over the course of the pandemic to continue to do just that.  This holiday season, show your production suppliers your appreciation for all they have done for you over the past 20 months or so.  And give them a hand with that in 2022 by being early and flexible.