School Supply Tips and Trends

An interview with Keith Cincotta, ISS Director of School Services

Orignially published in the January 2020 Edition of NewsLinks

The new calendar year is a busy time for the ISS School Supply team, with hundreds of orders from schools around the world. Keith Cincotta, ISS Director of School Services, offers some insights about trends, and what’s new this year.

What has changed since last year’s school supply season?

Furniture purchasing has moved almost fully to flexible and adaptive products. When we purchase for a new school building or a retrofit of an existing building, we are seeing almost 100% of furniture inquiries focusing on furniture adaptability and flexibility. Tables on casters that can be moved easily and in shapes that can be combined and fit together for different size groups. We’re seeing an increase in soft seating and stand up desks, and fewer requests for teacher desks. Essentially anything that can support an active, creative, collaborative and inquiry-based learning space are high on our order lists. The days of rows of desks with attached seats seem to be truly over.

Are there any other items that are popular?

Coding robots have reached a new level of popularity this year. The price point has come down and they are more flexible than ever. iRobot’s Root Robot, for example, is magnetic so it can be used on a white board hanging on the wall or flat on the ground. It features three different levels which allows students to advance from drag and drop coding all the way to completely text-based coding. We tried one out in the Princeton office and had a ball learning how to use it! The price of flat-screen display units has also come way down over the last few years. Combined with technologies like Apple TV or Google Chromecast, the typical classroom set up is moving from projectors to flat panel displays which allow students to display their devices quickly and easily.

What’s the best time to send in a new order? Is there a schedule schools should follow?

Business managers and other school leadership know that the key to maximizing your supply budget and ensuring on time delivery is to start early and be as organized as possible. Our reps work with their schools carefully to determine the best deadlines for their needs.

For example, a school who wants their shipment to arrive on or near August 1, we will consider shipping time to the destination, time needed for customs clearance and delivery, as well as the time it will take for materials to go from ordered to delivered to our warehouse. Our reps advise their schools and work closely with them throughout the process.

Can you share a “pro” ordering tip?

Maximize your cargo space. If your school is shipping a container work with your rep to be sure it is as full as possible. Containers are shipped at a set rate whether they are full to bursting or only have a few boxes in them. With that in mind, think about the consumables you use each year and what items would make sense to fill your container. Paper towels, toilet paper, copier paper and even bulk food items are some things we’ve used to fully pack containers for clients over the years.

Bonus Tip: Consider your ISS School Supply Rep part of your team and reach out with questions or to ask for help with any problems you run into. As a non-profit organization, our mission is to serve international schools and our reps all get great satisfaction out of making a difference for their schools.

At ISS, we’ve worked with international schools for more than 40 years on school supply and our current team of representatives and warehouse staff have hundreds of years of collective experience, with a significant track record of savings. Contact us today to learn how our team can help your school save time and money on your supply order.

Why is it better to use your service vs directly ordering from an online catalog or some other method?

The ISS School Supply Team reps know the right vendor for the products schools need. They will find the best price and the best availability from vendors we have history and experience working with. The value of consolidated shipping remains an unparalleled cost-saving feature for schools ordering from different countries. Our reps, warehouse, and shipping partners are experts at purchasing, documenting, shipping and working with customs officials all over the world. Business offices also appreciate how we consolidate invoicing so that schools pay one consolidated and detailed invoice to ISS instead of dozens or even hundreds of different vendor invoices individually.

The ISS School Supply team supports the sourcing, procurement and worldwide transport of school supply items ranging from technology and digital equipment to furniture to general classrooms supplies, covering the wide spectrum of the resources international school educators and students need to succeed every day in their classrooms and other learning spaces, while stretching budget dollars farther. Get in touch to find how we can help streamline your purchasing, save money, and equip your school with hassle-free and happily-delivered resources.

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