Best Practice Series: K-12 Marketplaces

We all love to shop on Amazon, right? It’s a fast, easy (sometimes TOO easy) marketplace, and they always have what we want. Stuff gets delivered same-day or next-day. We’re happy.

School districts are starting to discover a new world of customized marketplaces, as well. These online catalogs, that connect purchasing with district-wide contracts, make the daunting task of managing spend almost inviting.

Best practice: Create a K-12 marketplace to optimize teacher and staff purchasing.

Marketplaces are:

1. Built to be simple, just like any retail website.

2. Allowing districts to customize an online portal to make it easy for all employees to shop district contracts.

3. Extremely beneficial for low-dollar and high-volume supplies (educational, office, technology, MRO, custodial) and supplemental curriculum.

4. Reducing or eliminating the need for staff to shop at retail stores, while reducing district employee reimbursements.

5. Saving districts 10% to 40% on any given item.

Imagine your employees happily shopping across multiple catalogs and getting the best prices on every item they’re looking for on one platform. Traditional ERP/account system tools are costly due to myriad licensing requirements. In addition, typical ERPs do not provide a friendly user interface.

What about accountability?

If you have a purchasing department, you know how tedious it is to manage exceptions; exceptions that inevitably cause the district to spend way more than necessary on needed supplies. The marketplace solution takes that stress away by making it easy for the finance team to evaluate on-contract vs. off-contract performance; and ensuring that savings identified in the RFP/contract negotiation process are realized at the bottom line.

Can you imagine a world where staff actually have FUN shopping and ordering supplies? And the process is so efficient and effective that your finance team gets to go home on time every day? And your district saves significant resources that can be re-allocated back to the classrooms? Well, that world can become a reality with a marketplace.

** Look for a future Best Practice Series article on how to electronically bring marketplace invoices directly back into your ERP. **

About the Author: Tom Jackson

I love problem-solving. Seeing the joy when clients save hundreds of thousands of dollars that they can now use to fix a budget gap or invest in the classroom is what gets me out of bed every morning. I also love working from home with my steady assistant, Milo the dog.
By Published On: February 15th, 2022Categories: K-121.7 min read

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