Inovocom, Office Active introduced the Rev-Up Incentive to the South African Industry in 2016.

Now in Rev-UP’s third year, we have seen another independent stationer being moved forward in their business with the Grand Prize being awarded to Vans Office Supplies. They walked away with, or should we say drove away in, a fully branded, new Nissan NP 200 Delivery Vehicle.

The runners up were Vuma Office Supplies in 2nd Place with a travel voucher from Flight Centre to the value of R50 000. And finally, the Garden Route branch of Park Avenue Stationers won a travel voucher from Flight Centre to the value of R25 000.

This year’s sponsors were Bantex, Paperlink (Mondi Rotatrim) Pilot, Rexel and Tarsus Distribution.

Tickets were awarded for meeting certain sales criteria and participating in specific supplier promotions during the course of 2019.

The Rev-Up Incentive has been revving engines locally, and now abroad. Office Friendly in the United Kingdom, a business partner to Inovocom, introduced the initiative to their local UK market. Called Van-Tastic, the principals of the campaign remained the same and Office Friendly have given away their first Electric Delivery Vehicle in October this year, and already relaunched the Van-Tastic campaign for 2020.

Inovocom continues to add benefits and advantages to its Independent Dealer Community.

Black Friday did not disappoint

Source and infographic: BankServAfrica

Black Friday and Cyber Monday continues to be a hit in South Africa with both days exceeding expectations.

“Black Friday did not disappoint. Despite the tougher economy, it seems South Africans took advantage of the day’s special deals with in-store and online transaction volumes reflecting strong year-on-year growth. Both days have certainly made their mark amongst local retailers and shoppers,” says Solly Bellingan, head of customer relations at BankservAfrica.

South Africans shopped up a storm with the total number of Black Friday transactions processed by BankservAfrica (in-store and online) at 7 077 117 in 2019 – 36% up from 2018’s 5 204 594. This translates into a total spend of R6 billion, an impressive 106% increase on 2018’s R2.9 billion.

When compared to 2018, it seems bargain hunters decided to get the best deals early with a 33% year-on-year increase in sales at midnight. The 12-hour period between 06:00 and 18:00 proved to be busiest with similar volumes being processed each hour. The the highest number of transactions processed in a 60-minute period was between 10:00 and 11:00 at a volume of 595 792.

How did Cyber Monday compare?

“3D-Secure, our online card authentication service (i.e. transactions that require a one-time pin)[2], showed steady growth this year with a 32% year-on-year increase on Black Friday and transaction volumes reaching a total of 534 828,” says Bellingan. The busiest shopping times were between 09:00 – 10:00 in 2019 compared to the earlier start in 2018 at 08:00 – 09:00.

The most expensive online transaction recorded on Black Friday was for a hospitality purchase of R 10 067 400 by an international company. The most uses by one card was 83. During peak, we processed 717 transactions while the average was 371 per minute for the day.

Cyber Monday was less active than Black Friday with a 42% growth in online transactions that reached a volume of 249 908 in 2019 (up from 176 595 in 2018). However, in both years, most of the transactions took place between 10:00 – 11:00 with the most expensive being R1 997 800 and 151 uses by one card. The highest average transactions per minute was 322 at peak and 173 per minute for the day.

“This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday data mirrors the global data of record-breaking sales – and the BankservAfrica featured figures are only a portion of the entire sales figures for both days. It will be interesting to see if these manage to outpace festive season spend this year,” ends Bellingan.

Source: Associated Press

New York City lawmakers are considering a ban on paper receipts coated with the chemical BPA and a requirement that retailers offer emailed receipts instead of paper ones.

The City Council announced last week that it will hold hearings on a package of bills aimed at cracking down on paper receipts.

“Nobody needs foot-long receipts,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat. “We will work with businesses and consumers to cut out paper receipt waste and protect the planet. Let’s not print receipts when they aren’t wanted, especially when we have technology to issue environmentally friendly alternatives.”

Most cash register receipts are coated with bisphenol A, known as BPA, or the related chemical BPS. Some studies have determined the chemicals could harm the female reproductive system at high levels.

The City Council will consider bills in the next few months to restrict the use of BPA-coated paper, to require stores to offer e-receipts, to require that receipts be printed on recyclable paper and to require businesses to recycle receipts.

By Ivan Israelstam, chief executive of Labour Law Management Consulting 

Employees facing disciplinary hearings are entitled to many rights including that of the proper opportunity to prepare for the hearing in advance. This right stems from the more basic right that accused employees have to defend themselves against the charges brought.

The employee’s right to sufficient opportunity to prepare has three facets:

• The right to sufficient time to prepare a defence: The rule of thumb is that preparation time should be at least one full working day. However, depending on the number and complexity of charges and on obstacles that may exist, this preparation period may need to be extended within reason.

• The right to fully understand the charges: Charges such as ‘dishonesty’ or ‘fraud’ are far too vague. Sufficient details are to be given to the employee to make preparation realistically possible.

• The right to documentation: The employer should provide the accused with the documents it intends to use in the hearing as well as other relevant documents requested by the employee.

In the case of Oliver vs Universiteit van Stellenbosch (Contemporary Labour Law Vol. 14 No. 9 April 2005) a forensic investigation report implicated Oliver in certain irregularities. Six days before the hearing was due to begin the employee requested documents he needed for the hearing and requested that the hearing be postponed. These requests were refused.

As a result the employee applied to the High Court for an order requiring the employer to provide the requested documentation and further particulars of the charges. The Court ruled that:

• The employee had not been given sufficient time to prepare and the university’s decision not to postpone was wrong

• It was presumptuous of the employer to decide what documents the employee would need.

• The employer had not argued that the requested documents were irrelevant, confidential or unavailable
• The charges against the employee were vague

• The employer was to provide the documents and the further particulars required by the employee.

This decision acts as a warning to employers in that:

• The employee’s right to prepare for a disciplinary hearing is sacrosanct.

• Withholding documents needlessly from the accused employee serves no useful purpose. Where the requested documents are confidential and/or irrelevant to the disciplinary charges the employer requires expert labour law advice on how to withhold such documents in a way that does not infringe the law.

• Formulating charges that are general or vague will not assist the employer’s cause, but will instead, be seen to be unfair. Formulating charges clearly, legally and in a manner useful both to the employee and to the employer is very difficult. This should not be done without the assistance of a labour law expert.

Employers are also reminded that, where the employee is allowed external legal representation at the disciplinary hearing, the employer needs to be sure that the official acting as complainant (initiator or prosecutor) and the person chairing the hearing both have the legal expertise necessary to cope with the expertise of the employee’s attorney, advocate or union official.

It’s in the bag

Follow our simple guide to help your customers choose the right school bag

Choosing a school bag is an important part of the back-to-school shopping experience. Your customers will need to consider a number of factors before they make a decision.

Type

There are many different types of school bag, and your customers will need some guidance when making a selection. Most importantly, they will need to bear their children in mind when purchasing a bag. Be sure to check with the parents whether or not the school has a set of rules regarding the type of bag that is allowed. Certain schools may not allow rolling backpacks or messenger bags, and some may have specifications with regards to style or colour. Ask your customer if the person who will be using the bag has a back problem or other medical issues. This is an important point to remember, as certain types of bags may exacerbate the issue.

Backpacks
Backpacks are essentially sacks carried on the back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders. They are spacious, durable, waterproof and are ideal for heavy items such as school books. Weight can be distributed throughout the bag, and it is easier to carry on the back than in the hand. However, backpacks can be used to carry everything a child needs all the time, leading to an overweight bag that can cause posture problems later on. Experts do recommend buying a backpack rather than a bag that’s carried or slung over one shoulder. A backpack made of canvas or nylon will be lightweight when compared to a proper suitcase. The best backpacks have a moulded frame with a padded back and adjustable straps.

A backpack should weigh less than 10% of the user’s weight. If the child weighs 40kg, then the bag should only weigh 4kg. As this equates to a few books and a lunch box, children should be encouraged to carry only essential items in their bag, making use of a locker or their desk to store other items. Bags should be repacked each day.

Messenger bags
Messenger bags are worn over one shoulder with a strap that goes across the chest, resting the bag on the lower back. They usually contain organiser pockets, ideal for storing different sized items. They are made of sturdier material than a standard tote bag, making them more durable. They are designed to carry a lot as they were originally used by mailmen and couriers. Messenger bags can be made of waterproof material. Messenger bags are a compromise between tote bags and backpacks. However, carrying all the weight on one shoulder can cause posture problems.

Wheeled bags
Wheeled bags are usually backpacks on castors, and are made from waterproof materials such as nylon. They can be up to 1,5kg heavier than a regular backpack, so it is important that you advise your customer to consider the size of the child who will be using it. It should not be too heavy for the child to pull. They are available in a range of sizes, and their capacities vary. Wheeled bags have telescopic handles, and these need to be durable as they will be used often. The bag needs to have wheels that roll smoothly and don’t stick, and whole thing should be well-balanced so it doesn’t fall over. Many wheeled backpacks have straps for carrying on the back; however, this is not recommended as these bags are heavy and can cause muscle strain.

Tote bags
A tote bag is a large and often unfastened bag with parallel handles that emerge from the sides of its carrying pouch. Tote bags have evolved over the years, and now there are many different types of tote bags to choose from. The original ones were made of canvas, which is highly durable, but they are now also available in cotton (which is lightweight), polypropylene (which is lightweight and easy to clean), or leather.
Customers will need to consider the size of the tote bag they want to purchase. Sports totes are ideal for children with extra-mural activities. They are often found in school changing rooms and clubhouses. They range in size from small enough to hold a change of clothes to large enough to hold sporting equipment like cricket bats and pads.
Additional pockets to store smaller items are useful too.
Customers will need to decide what they are going to use the tote bags for. They are not recommended to hold school books and things as they become heavy and are hard to carry for a long period of time without causing muscle strain.

Size

Advise your customers to purchase a bag which is big enough to hold all the things a learner will need during the school day. Multiple pouches of varying sizes are a good idea, as they will ensure that items can be stored in an organised manner.
A backpack is usually the most practical when it comes to storing many items. They are able to expand to hold more or less, depending on what is needed on the day.
Advise your customers to buy a backpack with a water bottle holder on the side. This can be a useful thing to have, as the child will be able to store their water or juice bottle outside of the bag, mitigating the possibility of spills ruining text books or work books. The same goes for a separate, waterproofed compartment to hold lunch items.
When it comes to backpacks, separate compartments will help the child to distribute weight correctly. The heaviest items should be next to the learner’s back, and books and lunch boxes should be kept firmly in place so they move around in transit.
In general, a badly-packed bag can shift your child’s centre of gravity and potentially cause back strain.
Always advise your customers not to fall into the trap of buying a big bag for the learner to “grow into”, in an effort to save money. Purchase a bag that is appropriate to the child’s size, which will prevent back strain. Oversized backpacks have none of orthopaedic benefits, due to the fact that the lumber padding will not fit in the lower curve of the back, or the top of the bag will sit too high on the child’s head, pushing their head forward. This causes back and neck strain.

Durability

One of the most important aspects of a school bag is its durability. Children can be tough on bags, overloading them, throwing them to the ground and pulling on them. Ask your customers a few questions to determine the degree of durability they will require.
For maximum durability, suggest bags made from nylon or canvas. However, if your customer plans on replacing the schoolbag every year, less durable materials such as PVC can be considered.
Bags that carry sports equipment need to be durable as they are often full of heavy items. Stitching should ideally be nylon. Double-stitch seams improve resistance to wear and tear.

Brands

Always suggest to your customer that they purchase the best brand they can afford. Industry recognised brands are usually a better quality and will last longer. Movable parts, such as zippers, wheels and straps, are also less likely to break with use. Pictures printed on the bags will also last longer on more expensive bags. Well-known brands generally undergo stringent tests and will have some kind of guarantee. Governing bodies like the SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) have given these bags a seal of approval. Certain brands will also be more appropriate for those who have back or neck problems, offering quality padding, adjustable straps and lumbar support.

Aesthetics

Although last on the list, aesthetics are also an important selling point for school bags. Make sure your customers choose a bag that is well-suited to their personality and interests. Available not only in plain colours such as black, blue or pink, many schoolbags follow current pop culture trends and have pictures of musicians or TV characters on them. It is important to choose one that the learner will actually want to have, and that they will like for a while.

Ask these questions when a child is trying on a school bag:
1. Does it fit properly?
2. Can it be packed correctly, with weight evenly distributed?
3. Is it too heavy?
4. Is the child able to lift the bag easily?

Advise your customers that when their child lifts a backpack, they should try and make sure they lift it with a straight back, bending at the knees, and that the bottom of the bag sits above their waist rather than hanging low and sitting on the hips. If the child has to lean forward whilst wearing their bag, it is probably an incorrect fit. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can cause long-term damage to the back.

Message from the Chairman: November

Another year is almost over and our industry is without doubt busy with back-to-school, which we hope will be successful for all players.

The economy is showing no signs of revival which obviously puts additional pressure on suppliers and retailers alike.
However, we have no doubt that our industry will “weather the storm” and be ready for an upturn.

As I have mentioned before, it is in times like these that being part of an association like shop-sa is so important.
But  without a strong membership and funds it is difficult to stay relevant and provide the support needed.

The Board’s wish for 2020 therefore is to strengthen the membership base and keep working to further the interests of the industry.

For your information, please see the updated shop-sa benefit statement here.

Hans Servas
Chairman

By Andrea Chothia for The South African

MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi says the Department of Basic Education making condoms part of stationary in 2020, is fake news.

MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi said on Twitter yesterday, 13 November 2019 that the image circulating on social media, stating that the Department of Basic Education will make condoms part of learner’s stationary in 2020, is fake news.

An image of a newspaper clipping, stating that the Department of Basic Education will make condoms part of learner’s stationary in 2020 has been circulating on social media.

The image contains the Departments logo and the date and time that it was released with a Facebook like option beside it. It looked as though it was screengrabbed from Facebook and placed in a newspaper. The date and time below it read: “1 Nov at 2:51PM.”

The post that was made to look like it came directly from the Department of Basic Education read: “Due to high rate of teenage pregnancy, condoms will be part of stationary in 2020.”

Lesfui posted the image and captioned it: “Fake News, kindly ignore @EducationGP, @Steve_Mabona.”

A conversation then took place where multiple Twitter users discussed the possibilities with Lesufi.

One user said: “Condoms at schools is a good idea.” Lesufi replied saying that knowledge is power. Another user said she disagrees, as it’s just a free license to fornication.

Another user asked: “What paper is this or is it photoshop?” Lesufi replied and said he suspects it is Photoshop.

Reuben Radcliffe on Twitter said: “Problem is: Our government has done such a ridiculously poor job with education that one is no longer surprised! Just about any bad news about education seems credible! Such a shame.” Lesufi did not respond.

School placements for learners
The conversation about the image being fake news quickly faded and turned to parents questioning Lesufi about the placements of their children at certain schools.

One user said: “you came on the radio and explained the criteria for placement starting with distance, and now you place my child 17km and my other two kids are at school 3.5 km from my house, how can that be?”

Lesufi graciously responded saying: “Remember there’s a huge demand for certain schools. Kindly fill the appeal form and the team will surely look at it but it will be difficult to remove someone’s child. Let’s hear the appeal.”

Another user said: “MEC, I have not received a placement for my daughter. I have signed and submitted the objection form to the school. When can I expect the outcome?” Lesufi did not respond.

By Sandile Mchunu for IOL

The global diversified wood-fibre company said it would halt its dividend in the year to end September as profits fell 34.68%.

The group blamed the continuing trade spat between the US and China, saying that it had hit dissolving wood pulp (DWP) prices and graphic paper markets in various geographies.

Sappi said its profit fell to $211million (R3.15billion) from $323m last year.

It said that it had taken a number of steps to mitigate the effect that the current uncertain market conditions and low-dissolving wood pulp prices are having on the profitability and leverage of the group.

“These steps include tighter working capital management, the postponement and reduction in capital expenditure,” Sappi said.

“The directors have furthermore concurred with management that it would be prudent to temporarily halt dividends until such time as market conditions improve.”

Sappi said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) also eased 9.84percent to $687m from $762m while earnings per share decreased to 44cents a share from 60c the prior year.

Chief executive Steve Binnie said an initially strong start to the year was offset by weak graphic paper markets and lower DWP prices driven by the ongoing trade wars and slower economic growth in various geographies.

“Our Ebitda declined by 10percent year-on-year due to lower dissolving wood pulp prices and weak graphic paper demand. Our strategy to diversify our product portfolio into higher margin segments continues to deliver positive results,” Binnie said.

However, in the second half of the year the graphic paper segment started to benefit from a reduction in input costs, particularly paper pulp, helping to mitigate the impact of lower volumes.

Binnie said its business in North America improved in the last three months, but weak demand for domestic coated paper markets and lower DWP selling prices dimmed the profitability.

“I am pleased that we were able to generate cash of $173m in the quarter thereby ending the year with net debt at $1.50bn,” he said. “This was done by tightly managing working capital and postponing discretionary capital expenditure.”

Looking ahead, the group said that due to the current weak pricing in the DWP market and with paper markets yet to show signs of a sustained recovery in demand, they expected Ebitda in the first quarter of 2020 financial year to be below that of 2019.

“The markets we operate in are expected to continue to be challenging in the coming year, and profitability is likely to be negatively impacted as a result.

“DWP pricing, in particular, will have a significant impact on earnings as this segment is a major contributor to our profits and cash flow generation.

“We have responded by reducing our capital expenditure both this past year and the next, and other than the 110 000 ton expansion of Saiccor which is currently under way, we have not committed capital to any material project,” Binnie said.

The future looks bright for Naspers

Naspers Limited has announced its results for the six months ended 30 September 2019.

Group highlights for the period:

  • Revenues increased 20% to US$10.2bn (HY19: US$9.1bn).
  • Trading profit grew 9% to US$1.9bn (HY19: US$1.8bn).
  • Core headline earnings grew 10% to US$1.7bn (HY19: US$1.5bn).
  • Successful listing of Naspers’s international internet assets on Euronext Amsterdam as Prosus: creating Europe’s largest listed consumer internet company by asset value; giving global internet investors direct access to an attractive portfolio of international consumer internet businesses; unlocking ~US$10bn of value for shareholders.
  • Prosus has a secondary listing on the JSE and is ~74% owned by Naspers, with a free float of ~26%.
  • Effectively 100% of revenues and profits now coming from online businesses.
  • Continued to drive growth in ecommerce: overall ecommerce revenues increased 27% to US$2.1bn; core Classifieds and Payments and Fintech segments profitable; and  Food Delivery segment grew orders 110% and revenues by 69%.
  • Continued to invest in longer term growth:
    Payments and Fintech: invested US$66m in Wibmo (India) and US$45m in Red Dot Payments (Asia);
    Classifieds: US$56m cash and equity with Carousell (South-east Asia); and
    after the end of the period, Prosus announced an offer to acquire Just Eat, a leading, global Food Delivery business.
  • Continued to back future growth prospects with Ventures investments in Meesho (US$80m) and Brainly (US$25m).
  • Realised a gain of US$599m, following the exchange of our 42.53% interest in MakeMyTrip Limited for a 5.6% effective interest in Ctrip.
  • Strong balance sheet with net cash of US$5.9bn to pursue growth.

“We executed well during the first six months of the year, growing revenue 20% to US$10.2bn, and trading profit 9% to US$1.9bn,” says Basil Sgourdos, group chief financial officer.

“We end the period with a strong net cash position of US$5.9bn, which positions us well to pursue further growth.”

Back to school necessities

Write it

Pens
The most common pen used at schools are ballpoint pens that contain black or blue ink. Ballpoint pens dispense ink by channelling it down a plastic reservoir over a small, hard ball which is free to roll on contact with paper. The ink dries almost immediately on contact with paper and is not prone to smudging or leaking, which makes it perfect for use in a school setting. These pens have the advantage of being reliable and affordable. They also last longer than other types of pens.
Retractable pens have a spring-loaded ink cartridge which retracts and extends outside a protective housing. This protects the inside of pencil bags and pockets by ensuring the nib does touch fabric and leak ink onto it. 

Pencils
Pencils are one of the most-used stationery items, especially in the lower grades. Most commonly available as a graphite core in a casing of wood, they are a classroom staple. Some pencils have an eraser attached to the top.
Pencils have an alpha-numerical grading. The H stands for hardness, while the B stands for blackness. The number refers to the degree of softness or hardness. For school use, HB pencils are recommended and are the writing instruments of choice for children up to Grade 4. This is because work can easily be erased and redone, such as when learning to write.
Pencils are now available in a synthetic resin which resists splintering, breaking and chewing, as well as those made from recycled materials. 
Another type of pencil is the clutch pencil, or mechanical pencils. They are usually made of plastic and contain graphite that can be moved forward down a barrel. T are those that hold the lead and push it forward during use, and those that hold the lead in place and are moved forward with a top or side button, or twist or shake mechanism. The clutch pencil can hold thicker leads (2mm to 5,6mm) while some pencils offer several mechanisms that fit into the same cylinder housing to offer a range of thicknesses (0,3mm to 0,7mm) within one shaft. 
Clutch pencils are useful because they do not require sharpening and they offer a constant line thickness. They are often used by older children in subjects that involve draughtsmanship.

Note it

Exam pads

Exam pads are used all around the world by students and teaches alike. It is available in a standard format of ruled A4 paper with a red margin down the left-hand side, and two regulation punch holes. Generally, exam pads have 80 or 100 pages. They have a soft-cover from and a slightly stiffer back of cardboard, so students are easily able to take notes on the move.

Exercise books
Exercise books are similar to exam pads in that they contain sheets of lined, ruled paper. However, instead of punch holes the pages are stapled together in the form of a book. Exercise books can be soft-cover or hard-cover, and are available in standard sizes of A4 and A5 in 72 pages (or more). Special exercises books also exist for specific subjects like mathematics and accounting. These contain grid or graph paper.

Photocopy paper
Modern classrooms often require each child to print in a ream of white paper for the printer or photocopier. Inkjet and laser printers use cut sheet paper, ranging in size from A5 (148mm x 210mm) up to A0 (841mm x 1 189mm) in speciality printers. Variations are offered in thickness, smoothness or a combination thereof. 
A standard ream of paper has 500 sheets.

Poster board
Ideal for classroom projects, especially in the lower grades, poster board is large, brightly coloured and slightly heavier than standard paper. It makes excellent project posters and is ideal for arts and crafts.

Colour it

Pencil crayons
Pencil crayons are a classroom staple. They consist of narrow, pigmented cores surrounded by a wooden cylindrical case. They are available in a wide range of colours and their pigment cores can be wax- or oil-based. The barrel of a pencil crayon can be round, hexagonal or even twist-up. Standard varieties come in packs of 12s and 24s, but they are also available in comprehensive art packs of 100 or more colours. 

Felt-tip pens
These pens, colloquially known as kokis, have a porous tip of fibrous material and are available in a wide variety of colours. The smallest, finest-tipped markers are used for writing on paper, while medium-tip markers are often used by children for colouring and drawing. The larger markers are used for writing on boxes or files. Highlighters also fall into the felt-tip pen category. These pens contain fluorescent inks that can be used to mark up other text. They are available in a wide variety of colours, with the most popular being blue, green, pink and yellow.

Gel pens
A gel pen uses ink in which the pigment is suspended in a water-based gel. This makes the ink thick and opaque, allowing it to show up clearly on dark surfaces. Gel ink does not bleed through most papers. However, these pens are prone to smudge more, due to the ink being wetter. They also skip occasionally, as the ball is less evenly coated with ink, and they are more likely to leak. Gel pens use more ink than other types of pens, and therefore require frequent refills or replacements.  Because gel pens come in a wide range of colours, including metallic and pastel shades, they are well suited to art or colouring project. They are not ideal for everyday writing in the classroom setting. 

Wax crayons and oil pastels
Affordable and available in a vast array of colours, wax crayons are a favourite among school children. Crayons are made primarily of white clay called kaolin, wax or fatty acids, and dyes. They are harder than oil pastels because they contain more fillers. They can be sharpened and they do not smudge as easily. Wax crayons are available in boxes of different quantities, and cover all the colours of the rainbow. 
Oil pastels differ from wax crayons by the amount of pure wax they contain. The higher the wax content, the greasier and less chalky the oil pastel will be. Modern oil pastels are made with pigment dissolved in fossil wax. Shelf life is improved with the addition of non-drying oil, such as mineral oil. High quality oil pastels contain large amounts of wax. They are available in a wide array of colours. They are not ideal for younger school children as they are very messy and smudge and break easily.

Organise it

Erasers
Erasers are another back-to-school essential for those that use pencil regularly. Vinyl (or plastic) erasers are the hardest type of erasers. They are ideal as an all-purpose eraser. They erase almost everything and are found in most pencil bags. However, their toughness means that they tear all types of paper very easily. Vinyl’s durability and flexibility result in minimal crumbling. These erasers often come in white and can be found in a variety of shapes. 
Other types of erasers, such as kneaded erasers, might be required by children who take art classes. The erasers found on the end of pencils are often pink in colour, and are used to remove graphite pencil on paper. It does this by shedding itself as it lifts the pencil marks. They are usually made from synthetic rubber. Suggest this type of eraser to customers who need to remove standard pencil marks. If used over-aggressively or on a lightweight paper, such as tracing paper, this type of eraser will cause tears. 

Correction fluid
Correction fluid (or white-out) is an opaque, liquid product that is designed to cover mistakes made while writing in pen, typing or photocopying markings on paper.  Typically, it is applied to paper using a brush but it can be purchased in the form of a tape. This becomes a back-to-school essential in the higher grades where pen is used. It is the neater option for correcting mistakes.

Sharpeners
Sharpeners on back-to-school lists are generally the hand-held variety. Sharpeners feature either a single opening for standard pencils or a double opening for larger art pencils, with a blade to shave the wood surrounding the lead to sharpen the point. Many sharpeners come fitted into a case which collects the shavings. They are available in an array of sizes, shapes and colours. Most pencil sharpeners have a blade attached to the body with a screw, which can be tightened, loosened or replaced.

Staplers
The most popular back-to-school staplers are the small, pocket-size variety that fit easily into a school bag. Many feature a handy built-in staple remover.  They can staple up to 12 sheets of paper at a time. To avoid jams, only the recommended staple type and size for the model in question. Do not staple above the stated sheet capacity; instead, consider a bigger model, such as a standard desktop stapler. These can fasten up to 20 sheets at a time, but they will be bulkier and 
Staplers come in a variety of shapes and colours.

Punches
A punch is ideal for binding presentations in a file or folder and allows for organisation and filing in a classroom setting. Generally speaking, school children will only require a two-hole punch. These are used for two-ringed files. Other important aspects of a punch are its sheet capacity, size and ease of use. 

Pencil cases
A pencil case (or pencil box) is a back-to-school essential. Used to store all manner of stationery, such as pencils, sharpeners, pens, glue sticks, erasers, scissors and rulers, pencil cases can be made from a variety of materials such as plastic, wood, cotton, leather or metal. Pencil bags are usually soft and have a zipper. 
Some pencil cases, known as space cases, have a hard and rigid shell which protects the items inside. These often have separate compartments to store different items.
Brightly coloured or decorated pencil cases are popular with schoolchildren, and they are available in a wide range of sizes.
 

Calendars
Calendars are an important classroom tool. Desk pad calendars are great for teachers and staff rooms, offering easy viewing and plenty of room for writing. Desk pad calendars are ideal for this are large and sit on the user’s desk, for easy note-taking. They generally provide a full month in view and offer plenty of space on each day for users to schedule appointments or jot down information. After the month has ended, the user can tear away the desk calendar’s current page to reveal the next month’s page. Desk pad calendars are easy to use and tend to be inexpensive as well.
Wall calendars are also good for classrooms as they hang from a hook that is placed on any wall or flat surface. They are often full of inspirational pictures and messages and are large enough to be seen by everyone and be decorative at the same time. 

Diaries

Academic diaries are aimed at people who attend school or university. They often contain information pages relevant to students, such as semester or term dates. These diaries are often ring-bound and come in an extraordinary variety of styles, sizes and colours, including A4 or A5. A5 is more popular among students who have to carry their bags around with them. They are available in a week-to-view or day-to-page layout. Academic diaries in different parts of the year may run for a period of 12 calendar months, rather than a straight year. For example, American students would use an academic diary running from August of one year to the August of another.  

Measure it

Rulers
Desk rulers are used to rule straight lines, measure length or act as a guide for cutting with a blade. Standard school rulers are 30cm in length and are made from wood, plastic or metal. Smaller sizes, such as 15cm and 20cm, are also available. Measuring marks are painted onto the surface of the ruler, usually in centimetres and millimetres on one side and inches on the other.
If being used for a specialised functionrulers can also have a raised centre piece with which to hold it in place. Rulers come in many different colours and may have designs or pictures on them. Some rulers even have cut-out shapes which form templates, while are transparent so the user can see what they are doing through them.
Modern rulers are shatterproof meaning they don’t splinter and fragment when broken. This is for safety reasons. 

Maths sets
Math sets form an important part of the school curriculum’s stationery requirements. Standard sets usually include a self-centring compass, 9cm pencil, 30cm folding rule, a mechanical pencil, a metal sharpener, an eraser, protractor and two set squares. Nine- and 15-piece technical drawing sets provide the bespoke tools required for specialise subjects in the higher grades.

Calculators
Calculators are required by school children as they advance from primary to secondary levels of schooling. They help to solve simple or complex mathematical calculations. Modern, ergonomic designs have angled screens and soft rubber buttons for easy input. They come in a variety of colours and run on batteries. Scientific calculators are required by high school children for maths, science and chemistry. Containing an entire screen, instead of just a display for a row of numbers, scientific calculators are capable of displaying multiple calculations at once. They can be used to calculate sophisticated conversions and statistics. Variable data is held in the calculator’s memory, and can be retrieved at a later date.

Stick it

Glue
One key back-to-school item is a glue stick: they’re a classroom staple throughout the world.
They have a number of advantages. They are non-toxic and non-acidic, which means they can be safely used by children and do not yellow over time. They are considered a low bonding adhesive, and are used on various types of paper, such as cardboard, foam board and poster board.  The adhesive in a glue stick dries clear, and is used for applications like labelling, art projects and scrapbooking. Glue sticks are generally made from a range of similar ingredients, although the exact proportions are particular to the manufacturer. This results in the varying quality of each brand. Most ingredients found in glue sticks are fairly safe and act as thickeners, binders and smoothers.
Acrylic polymer is the ingredient which helps the glue stick to dry quickly. It gives the adhesive strength. It is non-toxic and non-explosive, and remains colourless. 
Polyethylene glycol is a binder. It aids lubrication and prevents the adhesive from drying out. 
Sodium stearate is one of the primary ingredients in glue sticks and is responsible for the opaque white colour. 
Glue sticks are easy to use, don’t make a mess, are non-toxic and acid free. For this reason they are ideal for classroom use, especially in lower grades. Craft glue is a white or clear liquid adhesive that is slightly stronger than a glue stick. It is ideal for use in art class or for poster board projects, and can be used on paper, wood, fabric, foam and some types of plastic. Look for craft glue that is non-toxic and quick-drying glue.

Sticky tape 

Also known as adhesive tape or sellotape, this is a clear type of tape with an adhesive coating at the back to make it tacky. Sticky tape is a type of pressure-sensitive tape, meaning that it is sticky without any heat or solvent for activation and adheres with the application of light pressure. Sticky tape is available in a range of different size rolls, as well as in different widths. For use in the classroom, sticky tape on a dispenser is a good idea. The dispenser not only provides protection for the tape, but also has a slightly sharp edge on which the tape can be cut. Some types of sticky tape have perforations for easy tearing.

Carry it 

There are many different types of school bag, and your customers will need some guidance when making a selection. Most importantly, they will need to bear their children in mind when purchasing a bag. Be sure to check with the parents whether or not the school has a set of rules regarding the type of bag that is allowed.  Certain schools may not allow rolling backpacks or messenger bags, and some may have specifications with regards to style or colour. Ask your customer if the person who will be using the bag has a back problem or other medical issues. This is an important point to remember, as certain types of bags may exacerbate the issue.

Backpacks
Backpacks are essentially sacks carried on the back and secured with two straps that go over the shoulders. They are spacious, durable, waterproof and are ideal for heavy items such as school books. Weight can be distributed throughout the bag, and it is easier to carry on the back than in the hand. However, backpacks can be used to carry everything a child needs all the time, leading to an overweight bag that can cause posture problems later on. Experts do recommend buying a backpack rather than a bag that’s carried or slung over one shoulder. A backpack made of canvas or nylon will be lightweight when compared to a proper suitcase. The best backpacks have a moulded frame with a padded back and adjustable straps.

Messenger bags
Messenger bags are worn over one shoulder with a strap that goes across the chest, resting the bag on the lower back. They usually contain organiser pockets, ideal for storing different sized items. They are made of sturdier material than a standard tote bag, making them more durable. They are designed to carry a lot as they were originally used by mailmen and couriers. Messenger bags can be made of waterproof material. Messenger bags are a compromise between tote bags and backpacks. However, carrying all the weight on one shoulder can cause posture problems.

Wheeled bags
Wheeled bags are usually backpacks on castors, and are made from waterproof materials such as nylon. They can be up to 1,5kg heavier than a regular backpack, so it is important that you advise your customer to consider the size of the child who will be using it. It should not be too heavy for the child to pull. They are available in a range of sizes, and their capacities vary. Wheeled bags have telescopic handles, and these need to be durable as they will be used often. The bag needs to have wheels that roll smoothly and don’t stick, and whole thing should be well-balanced so it doesn’t fall over. Many wheeled backpacks have straps for carrying on the back; however, this is not recommended as these bags are heavy and can cause muscle strain. 

Tote bags
A tote bag is a large and often unfastened bag with parallel handles that emerge from the sides of its carrying pouch. Tote bags have evolved over the years, and now there are many different types of tote bags to choose from. The original ones were made of canvas, which is highly durable, but they are now also available in cotton (which is lightweight), polypropylene (which is lightweight and easy to clean), or leather.
Customers will need to consider the size of the tote bag they want to purchase. Sports totes are ideal for children with extra-mural activities. They are often found in school changing rooms and clubhouses. They range in size from small enough to hold a change of clothes to large enough to hold sporting equipment like cricket bats and pads.
Additional pockets to store smaller items are useful too.
Customers will need to decide what they are going to use the tote bags for. They are not recommended to hold school books and things as they become heavy and are hard to carry for a long period of time without causing muscle strain. 

 

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