Avoid these seven supplier academy mistakes

Let’s talk online learning.

It comes as no surprise that online learning is one of the hot topics right now. With many people searching for a new outlet for fulfilment during lockdown and the restrictions of work-related gatherings, we have seen a boom in online learning courses.

Online learning offers many benefits; the freedom and convenience to learn at your own pace, the reduced cost for both the learner and training provider, and importantly, the flexibility to learn from the comfort of your own home.

Here at S4RB we are no strangers to online learning. The purpose of the engagement features on our Affinity™ platform is to bring retailers and suppliers together as One Team. For which, one of the many features we offer is the Supplier Academy. Delivering custom online learning and assessments, designed to encourage retailers and suppliers to inform, learn and communicate in a single online portal.

As part of the team who recently launched a brand-new Supplier Academy for one of our clients, I wanted to share with you some of things I learnt along the way.

So, what are the seven mistakes to avoid when creating a Supplier Academy?

  1. Always ask questions first

Your suppliers should be at the heart of everything you do. So, why start to create Academy courses without input from your suppliers? If your content makes it easier for your suppliers to do business with you, then everybody wins.

Step back and understand the learning requirements from your team and supply base.

Ask internally:

Where do suppliers struggle the most? What questions do you spend a significant amount of time answering?

Ask your suppliers:

What parts of doing business with us do you find difficult? Where and how could we support you more?

  1. Choose your content wisely

Not every intricate part of your business needs to be an Academy course. It’s great that you have a new learning tool, and you want to use it – but the best advice is to be picky. Spend time evaluating your learning needs before you start creating a course for every process in your business.

What is the problem you’re looking to solve? If you have clear learning outcomes, with clear pain points to resolve (and it’s a wide-ranging problem that affects most suppliers) then it sounds like a good candidate for your Supplier Academy.

  1. Take your time

Don’t rush your content out – take time to produce something valuable that’s worth shouting about. The goal here is not to have the most content, but the best content. Quality over quantity. Ensure your courses are being created by your subject matter experts who will support, guide and promote understanding.

Two well-structured and carefully considered courses offer more value than the dozen rushed out by someone else in just three weeks.

But with that said, don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Balance and pragmatism is required.

  1. Variety is the spice of life

Anyone creating content must consider the learning styles of their audience.

Everyone learns differently, so the best solution is to keep mixing things up! Don’t stick to one type of content. Videos are a fantastic way to liven up a dry, wordy course. But a course with four 15-minute videos now becomes a chore to get through.

As always, balance is key.

There are vital points you must get across, but make sure you present them in interactive, immersive and varied ways, that deliver optimised learning for your audience.

  1. Clarity is key

A common problem I see in content creation, is that there are a lot of assumptions made on behalf of the audience. I like to ask myself: if I grabbed somebody off the street and sat them down in front of their computer to take this course, would they understand what is being asked of them?

Critically evaluate your language. Is the goal clear, is the message clear? Are you using a lot of internal jargon that doesn’t translate? If you’re creating content in English, is it clear enough for suppliers around the world to understand it?

Take the complexity out. A good creator communicates complex subject matters in clear, concise, and digestible ways.

  1. Don’t forget design

Don’t put all your energy into creating content and then skip over the design and formatting. Visual communication is a universal language, and your course design will shape the first overall impression of your Academy offering.

Great visual communication will help your suppliers understand and process the information you’re giving them. Rewards and gamification (like receiving badges when you complete a course) make the user experience bright and engaging.

Look and feel is an important part of the adoption of a new tool. Spend time getting this right and your Academy will flourish.

  1. Listen and learn

Don’t assume your job is done when your courses are complete and live to suppliers. The work continues! Here is where you start collecting feedback for your next round of courses.

Remember that you and your suppliers are One Team. A comment shared by a supplier who completed our most recent Academy offering, said the information shared within the courses would ‘help create better partnerships’ with the retailer in question.

Your Academy exists to give suppliers the support they need to deliver quality products for you. In return, your suppliers can help inform and enhance future content.

Click here to read more about the Academy module of Affinity and the wider benefits of supplier engagement.

Lucy McRae

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