5 Ways for Heads of School to Save Money on School Supplies

March 2018

Keith Cincotta

Director of School Services

Towards late November through December, schools around the world are getting together their annual orders for US-based materials and begin sending them on to their School Supply partners in the US.

Around that time is also when Heads of School frequently look at the process (and expense!) of annual orders and wonder what they can do to save time and money. 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.

Here are a few tips that experience has taught us can help any school save money and time.


1. Do an inventory

It sounds basic but by giving teachers and other staff a structure and some time to document what they already have you will save plenty of time and money on redundant materials (how much construction paper is in the elementary supply room right now?)

2. Set some deadlines

Start this process well before your Winter break. Give staff some deadlines that allow them the opportunity to fully consider their needs and options and your principals and business office time to check, approve, compile and submit their orders. It is a fact of life that the earlier orders are submitted to vendors the more likely you are to receive complete and on time orders.

3. Define a list of vendors and ask your teachers to stick with it

Limiting the number of vendors you place orders with will help streamline the process, ensure better discounts and cut down on cancelled and back ordered items. We know the English teachers are tempted by those $2 novels being sold on Amazon by a reseller but in the long run sticking to the most reputable and experienced vendors pays off.

4. Buy commodity and bulk supplies

Copier paper? Paper towels? Toilet paper? Most schools have local suppliers for these consumable bulk items but if you’re shipping a container from the US and have the storage space you can cut down on the burden to your business office and save money by buying consumable and commodity materials in bulk.

5. Mitigate your back-order shipping

Consolidated shipping is the best way to save money when bringing in school supplies from the US. Shipping everything you need in one ocean container saves a considerable amount compared to shipping many smaller air shipments. However, there are inevitably some items each year that do not arrive in time to be included in the container. Think hard about whether you need those items before giving the go ahead to have it shipped by air or courier like DHL, UPS or FedEx. Those courier and air shipments add up quickly.

ISS is here to answer questions and help you with your School Supply needs. We’ve shipped to hundreds of countries all over the world and our staff’s experience can help you get your supplies on time and for as inexpensively as possible.


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