Why The Family Printer Needs Specialized Suppliers

Article Summary:

  • Developing relationships with specialty vendors ensures you can get the high quality paper you need quickly at low prices

  • Large paper vendors are closing locations, delivering less frequently, and raising minimum orders and freight costs while focusing on large printing businesses

  • Family printers can get caught when paper suppliers change their policies

Back in the day, the big paper suppliers were easy to use. They had massive warehouses filled with every kind of paper any printer could need. It was a one-stop shop. A client would come into your print shop, and you’d call up your go-to vendor. They’d ship it out, and it would be at your door quickly so you could get the job done right away. Everyone was making money, and service was fast and easy. 

Like just about everything else, the paper industry has changed. The big paper suppliers are changing or disappearing to be replaced by several smaller, specialty vendors. While we think this is a good thing for the small printer, it takes a different approach to vendor relationships to ensure that you get the paper you need quickly to get a job done on time. Having relationships with multiple specialty vendors offers flexibility and redundancy so you aren’t caught off guard when a big company closes.

Changes In The One-Stop-Shop Paper Suppliers

Over the past couple of decades, we have noticed some big changes in the large paper vendors. The big vendors used to:

  • Have huge warehouses stocked with every kind of paper you could need

  • Deliver several times a week

  • Have multiple competitors in every major city, which forced them to compete for your business

  • Easy-to-use ordering systems

  • Small minimum orders

  • Low cost delivery

Does that sound familiar? If you were around in that era, you know that paper vendors were making plenty of money and so were printers. But now, since the computer has changed the printing industry, large paper vendors have undergone some dramatic changes. Some of this comes from a slowly shrinking demand for paper products, though it is likely less than most of us expect. Statista expects paper demand to shrink only slightly from 99 million metric tons in 2018 to 90 million metric tons in 2030. The paper market is still strong, but it is changing. 

As we observe the paper industry, and our customers report to us, we can see several trends developing among the large paper vendors. They are:

  • Keeping less paper in stock in fewer varieties

  • Delivering less frequently with longer handling times

  • Closing warehouses and pulling out of markets

  • Relying more and more on automation and complex websites

  • Shrinking their customer service staff

  • Requiring larger minimum orders with higher freight costs

  • Focusing on supplying the largest printer companies, leaving the small printer behind 

Managing Changes In The Paper Industry

We aren’t trying to sound like a prophet of doom and gloom for the paper industry. We believe that these trends will help the small printer better navigate the paper supply market and offer their customers better quality products at better prices. It only requires a different approach to finding paper suppliers.

Instead of using one large supplier for all your paper needs, the small, family printer should develop relationships with a number of specialty paper vendors focused on serving that market. These niche suppliers will offer better customer service and better industry knowledge to help you get exactly what you need. Perhaps more importantly, if you have several paper suppliers, you won’t get caught scrambling to find new sources for all your paper needs when a big supplier closes, raises minimums, or slows delivery. Even if you like your current paper vendors, it makes sense to begin developing a relationship with more so changes don’t catch you off guard. 

As a specialty carbonless paper supplier, Randolph Paper is focused on helping the small family printer succeed. We can offer you several things the big competitors can’t:

  • No minimum orders on carbonless paper

  • Fast delivery to get your print jobs done quickly

  • Easy ordering by phone or email in addition to our website

  • Proactive customer service when our people reach out to you to help solve your problems before they happen

  • Insight into the paper industry to offer the best products for your clients

In addition to our great prices, our customers love how easy it is to order from our knowledgeable staff. We make things easy. Order by phone in under a minute. Shoot off a quick email that says, “I need a few boxes of X”. Our proactive customer service means we always have an eye out for the needs of the small printer. 


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