Is training the weakest link in your supply chain?

Posted on Apr 23, 2015

Learning strategies

Providing customers with what they want to buy, when they want it and how they want to buy it has always been the challenge facing retailers and suppliers.

But with shopping habits changing more rapidly than ever before some big name retailers are using elearning to help support learning and development (L&D) in their supply chain.

A new priority

The food and consumer goods industry in the UK is huge. In 2014, it was worth £174.5 billion and is predicted to grow to £203.0bn by 2019. Of every retail pound spent by British consumers, 54.5p goes on groceries.

At the pinnacle of the grocery industry are the big supermarkets. They’re household names, investing large sums each year in training their workforce. But they're supported by an army of suppliers, and research suggests L&D in the supply chain should be more of a priority.

The 2014 Trading Relationships Survey carried out by IGD - a research organisation for the consumer goods industry – looked at L&D for the first time. The survey revealed that keeping up to date with market trends and the changing needs of customers are considered important for the future by 1 in 4 suppliers but a large number have either no formal process for identifying staff learning needs, or rely on on-the-job training only. The senior executives in retailing and supply who took part in the survey thought L&D should be viewed as an opportunity to help suppliers develop ‘best class’ attributes and enhance their capabilities.

The IGD said:

"So often the key to competitive advantage is people.  Skilled, well qualified people form the heart of a successful organisation. Successful companies take time to ensure that staff have the right skills and competencies. People perform better when they truly understand the purpose of what they’re doing."

Elearning for suppliers

The call to arms is clear; suppliers need to pay more attention to staff training if they want to stay ahead. But some retailers believe they also have a big role to play in helping to support training in the supply chain. In certain cases, retailers are using elearning as a flexible, engaging and cost-effective way to deliver relevant training to a wide range of businesses within the supply chain on crucial issues such as pricing and promotions and code compliance. By using an external cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS), which is accessible over the internet, they have managed to get around the problem of delivering elearning to hundreds of supply businesses without the need to provide access to their own internal LMS.

The retailers investing in supply chain elearning recognise that is in their best interests to have well-trained suppliers who understand the challenges and responsibilities of the modern marketplace and are equipped to meet the ever-changing needs of customers. It also sends a clear message about the value put on building strong relationships in the supply chain.

If you would like to find out how elearning for your suppliers could help your company, we’re happy to talk.

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