Nasco | Education Supplies
- Common Challenges
- The Sourcing Alliance Program
- Why Nasco?
- Procurement Process
- Getting Started
Education professionals wear a lot of hats. Sometimes too many hats. You may direct educational programming, hire and train staff, manage budgets, facilitate social activities, purchase goods and equipment… the list goes on. No matter what your specific roles and responsibilities may be, you fulfill them with the educational success of your students in mind.
Take education supplies. You’ve got teachers for a wide range of subjects… math, science, art, literacy, health, social studies, and so on. One of their responsibilities is to tell administrators what supplies they need to teach their subjects effectively. Of course, the needs of the 4th grade elementary school science class are quite different than those of the 12th grade AP Physics class. Someone in the district must take all of the education supplies requests from all of the teachers and figure out how and where to get them in an era of limited or even shrinking budgets competing with increasing costs.
Who has the time to search high and low for the numerous vendors required to fulfill the highly diverse list of education supplies your teachers need? Day in and day out you’re stuck in this cycle of madness… this vendor doesn’t have the right size canvases for the art department so you have to shop around for it, and this set of beakers is insanely expensive so you have to find it cheaper, and why is it so difficult to find a model of human lungs, and it sure would be nice if you didn’t have to place five different orders with five different vendors, and if that order doesn’t arrive on time then you’re going to have one frustrated teacher and lots of aggravated parents… pure madness. There must be a better way to get the supplies your teachers need with the discounted pricing your budget requires.
Sourcing Alliance Developed a Better Alternative for our Members
As part of Sourcing Alliance’s continued commitment to make it easy for our members to fulfill their missions efficiently and cost-effectively, Sourcing Alliance developed an Education Supplies Program that addresses these common challenges. The program provides a true one-stop-shop for education supplies, and supports program participants in enhancing both education and lifelong learning. We required our supplier to provide:
- A Wide Range of Education Materials – an assortment of products and services extending beyond traditional education supplies to enable our members to consolidate educational supply vendors.
- Favorable Pricing – consistently applied competitive discounting structure that would remain firm for a defined period of time.
- A National Distribution System – the ability to service education professionals in each of the 50 states.
- Live & Online Customer Support – a responsive and knowledgeable customer support center, available both online and in-person.
- Defined Refund Process – a formal process for distributing refunds, credits, or exchanges for defective products or inaccurately filled orders.
Why Did Sourcing Alliance Select Nasco Education?
Sourcing Alliance selected Nasco Education because of Nasco’s demonstrated industry expertise and experience in providing organizations with a broad range of education supplies at competitive prices that meet their individual needs. Nasco delivers:
- An Expansive Product Offering – carefully curated assortment of over 80,000 products in a variety of product catalogs for K-12 learning environments including art, early learning, elementary education, math, special education, science, health, and physical education supplies.
- Custom Education Kits – quality custom-made kits either for each classroom or each individual student in the classroom. Teachers may select the products they want and build a custom kit tailored to their lesson plan with the assistance of one of Nasco’s category experts. Custom kits are not limited to any one category or subject.
- Competitive Pricing – guaranteed pricing to help members save money through contract discounts ranging from 10-20% off retail and increased discounts for larger purchases.
- Purchasing Flexibility – the ability to order online and by phone, fax, mail, or email. Nasco’s ordering system includes tools to integrate with member’s purchasing systems for seamless ordering of education supplies.
- Customer Service – knowledgeable and responsive full service sales representatives and customer service support with in-house Nasco employees (not outsourced or international support) available and accessible to members six (6) days a week via a toll-free customer support line and online.
- Geographic Scalability – service to Sourcing Alliance members in all 50 states.
Why did Sourcing Alliance Develop an Education Supplies Program?
Education supplies are a significant spend item for K-12 schools, Higher Education institutions, and government entities. Sourcing Alliance members purchase education supplies on a frequent basis and requested a program that would allow them to fulfill all their education supply needs with one supplier who offers a wide variety of supplies and favorable discounted pricing.
As part of Sourcing Alliance’s continued commitment to make it easy for our members to fulfill their missions efficiently and cost-effectively, Sourcing Alliance decided to develop an Education Supplies Program. Our program specifications addressed each of the following common pain points that our members identified when purchasing education supplies:
- Broad Range of Products – inability to purchase all education supplies from a single supplier, which resulted in significant expenditure of time and resources to locate products at the best price from multiple suppliers.
- Pricing – securing a consistently applied discount structure that remains firm for a defined period of time.
- One-Size-Fits-All Solutions – difficulty in creating custom education bundles based on the unique supply needs of the classroom.
- Shipping Terms – suppliers not shipping products on a timely basis and applying inconsistent shipping rates.
- Customer Service – technical and customer support centers that were unresponsive and not knowledgeable.
- Refunds/Credits/Exchanges – challenges securing refunds, credits, or exchanges for defective products or inaccurately filled orders.
- Product Availability & Reliable Delivery – inconsistent order fill rates, which resulted in delayed shipping of orders, reorders, backorders, or partially filled orders.
Sourcing Alliance sought a publicly procured, competitively solicited contract that met our stringent program requirements for education supplies.
Keystone Purchasing Network (KPN) conducted an extensive procurement process for education supplies and awarded the contract to Nasco. Keystone Purchasing Network and Sourcing Alliance joined forces to make KPN’s contract award available to Sourcing Alliance members.
Why did the Keystone Purchasing Network Conduct an RFP for Education Supplies?
Keystone Purchasing Network is a program of the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (CSIU) based in the heart of Central Pennsylvania. The CSIU is a regional education service agency whose mission is to provide quality education services that help students learn, support teachers in bringing best practices into the classroom, and offer valuable services to school districts. Serving 17 school districts, 3 career and technical centers, 36,945 public and nonpublic students, and 3,905 district instructional, administrative, and support staff in its primary service area alone, KPN determined that it needed to offer its members a broader range of education supplies that would support them in enhancing education and lifelong learning.
KPN developed a detailed set of education supplies requirements to meet the needs of its diverse membership, developed an invitation for bid (“IFB”), and issued the IFB nationwide in its search for the optimal supplier. KPN’s evaluation focused on identifying the supplier who could offer KPN’s members high-quality education supplies with discounted pricing and the highest levels of customer service and satisfaction.
What was the Procurement Process that Keystone Purchasing Network Followed?
KPN followed best practices for bidding and procurement, executing its procurement process in accordance with applicable public sector procurement laws and even higher standards established by national public sector procurement professional associations. KPN’s approach was impartial, competitive, and transparent. KPN’s IFB included clear specifications. The IFB was not only posted in required legal advertisements, but also distributed via email, websites, associations, and social media. The bidding process was competitive and required all supplier bids to be sealed and delivered on time to the contracting agency.
Vendor proposals were received, opened, and read in a public meeting as required by law. The bid evaluation criteria were detailed in the IFB, and heavily weighted (i) a national distribution system, (ii) the ability to deliver a wide range of education products, (iii) live and online customer support, (iv) favorable pricing discounts guaranteed for the term of the contract, and (v) a defined process for processing full refunds, credits or exchanges for defective-on-arrival merchandise.
KPN awarded its education supplies contract to Nasco as the lowest responsive and responsible responder.
Why did Keystone Purchasing Network select Nasco as its vendor?
KPN selected Nasco as its educational supply vendor because of Nasco’s demonstrated industry expertise and experience in providing organizations with a broad range of education supplies at competitive prices that meet their individual needs with a supportive and responsive sales and customer support team. KPN determined that Nasco’s team and catalog of education products met and exceeded the IFB requirements. Nasco:
- Delivers an expansive product offering, including over 80,000 products in a variety of product catalogs.
- Offers guaranteed, competitive pricing to help members save money through defined contract discounts with additional savings available for larger purchases.
- Provides the ability for members to easily order products, online or off.
- Offers quality custom-made kits either for each classroom or each individual student in the classroom. Members have the ability to select the products they want and build a custom kit tailored to their lesson plan.
- Has knowledgeable and responsive full service sales representatives and customer service support with in-house Nasco employees (not outsourced or international support).
- Is available and accessible to members six (6) days a week via a toll-free customer support line.
- Enables customers to integrate their purchasing system with Nasco’s ordering system for seamless ordering of education supplies.
Keystone Purchasing Network partnered with Sourcing Alliance to make this contract award available to Sourcing Alliance members nationwide.
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