Supplier Fest 2020

In March, Covid-19 sent us all home to work remotely. Like many businesses, our supply chains were put to the test and we were made to appreciate more than ever the great relationships we have with our suppliers.

Last week we had our annual ‘Supplier Fest’, where we get to celebrate our key suppliers. Back in March I didn’t think we would be doing this remotely and this year more than any other, it has become more important to recognise our suppliers.

What is Supplier Fest?

Supplier Fest is a day where we invite some of our key suppliers to come and talk to us about a topic that we want to learn more about. This can be anything from operations and process, to future planning and innovation.

Why do we do it?

Quite simply, it is an opportunity to celebrate our suppliers, after all, we wouldn’t be here without them!  We learn and hear insights directly from our suppliers whilst giving the wider team a chance to get to know them better, particularly if they don’t have the opportunity to interact with them on a daily basis.

“It’s just a really good opportunity to learn from the companies and see what they are doing” - Jennifer, operations development scheme specialist

How did we do it this year?

Previously, we’ve invited our suppliers to our offices and held the presentations in person.

Now with Coronavirus in the mix, a virtual day was the only safe solution. But, how would we ensure that everyone is engaged and really build those genuine relationships with our suppliers?

Our solution: keep the presentations as interactive as possible. We made the most of in-presentation polls, the chat function in Google hangout, videos, multiple presenters and a poll for asking questions, where we voted on what we wanted to hear about the most.  

Artie signing-in to Supplier Fest 2020

We scheduled a full day of presentations and topics that the wider team voluntarily signed up for. This meant that our team attended sessions that could work around their schedules and in areas they wanted to learn more about.

One of the biggest benefits of being remote was that we were able to get a wide range of suppliers from across the globe in the US, Spain, France and the UK.- something that would’ve been more of a challenge in-person.

“The session was so insightful, thank you for organising!” - Leanne; Product Designer

Who came and what did we learn about?

Six of our key suppliers came to talk to us about what’s important to them and topics we wanted to learn about. On the day, we used an e-poll to submit questions during the presentation so we can really hear from our suppliers directly.

The Q&A set up also worked really well, much better than the classic silences and 4 people suddenly speaking at once! - Alice

We began the day with TRGT , a marketing supplier that has always been fully remote. Who better to come talk to us about working remotely!

They gave us some really great insight, hints and tips on working remotely (I know I’ll definitely be putting some of these into practise).

Data is key at Tails and Tableau and Snowflake took us through data visualisation, data sharing and the data marketplace. We began with the history of data visualisation and were taken on a journey to the future of where data is going.

We then had C&D (our dry and wet food manufacturer) and Yodel (one of our couriers), share with us their actions on sustainability, social and environmental issues, and building resilience. All of which are key areas for us as we contend with Brexit and Covid-19.

Finally, Juice & Jam spoke about face to face marketing, and how to reintroduce it safely and responsibly post-lockdown.

“Great getting their perspectives of how they see their industry evolving, really interesting.” - Lorna; Lead Data Scientist

We had over 150 team members sign-up to different talks throughout the day. The benefit of holding this virtually meant that you could dial in to just one or two talks that you were really interested in hearing about.

What does the next supplier fest look like?

I would love to have Supplier Fest in person again however,  this year's event showed that holding it remotely meant that more people than ever could attend. We might even look to utilise a hybrid model where we can have some people virtual and some people in person. Being able to record the sessions also allowed those that couldn’t make it to not miss out.

It was a great day, celebrating our suppliers and learning from them. I’m looking forward to next year's event. Thank you to all of our suppliers for coming.