Employee apps for suppliers, sales partners and vendors

No matter what industry you are in, your employee mobile app can serve as a way not only to communicate to your own employees, but your suppliers and vendors as well. Its a great way to promote your brand, fostering engagement and advocacy for your company, and also as a way to promote the goods and services you sell every day. Let's examine just how employee apps for suppliers, sales partners and vendors can be both impactful and useful.

Here's a few example of how different verticals can use their employee mobile app and extend it to engage their suppliers and partners:

  • If you’re a retailer, you can use it as a channel to push your retail mission, values and invite two-way participation and feedback from your supplier and vendor base. They'll be able to serve you and your customer better with products and services that meet your core consumer profile.
  • If you’re a manufacturer, maybe it's a way to educate your retail partners on the latest products so that their store associates are knowledgeable and know how to cross-sell and up-sell items in a retail environment.
  • If you’re an NFL football franchise, it’s using the employee app to get your vendors, partners and suppliers to give you products and services designed for your team, it's theme and most importantly caters to the fan.

We recently launched an app for a multi-billion dollar consumer apparel manufacturer, VF Corporation. VF Corporation is an American worldwide apparel and footwear company founded in 1899, and its more than 30 iconic brands include Lee Jeans, Jansport, Eastpak, Timberland, Smartwool and The North Face. Smartwool recently debuted its new Smartwool Insider app, an innovative mobile app for sales associates, field service representatives and retailer partners. The Smartwool Insider Program is designed to strengthen the brand’s personal relationships with wholesale retail associates via a mobile native app that features engaging Insider specific content and program exclusive rewards.

“Our Insider app showcases products and culture in order to better connect with retail associates,” said Dane Howell, Smartwool vice president of US Wholesale Sales and Marketing. “We know that one associate can make a huge impact. Insiders boost brand awareness, support wholesale partners and drive demand and sell-through—they are critical to success and we knew we could connect in a better, more meaningful way with them.”

The Smartwool Insider app takes an education-through-entertainment approach. It informs gear-savvy, information-hungry sales associates with regularly refreshed videos, product insights, and news stories. It provides a rewards-based, intimate learning experience and the ability to communicate directly with Smartwool employees, participate in challenges and contests. The more an associate interacts with the app, the more exclusive Smartwool Insider gear he or she will earn.

(See more, including a quick video on Smartwool's Insider App here.)

The ways to promote communications on an employee mobile app to suppliers, sales partners and vendors are unlimited, and there are also ways to use this channel to offset marketing costs by monetizing the efforts or using the perceived value to negotiate better rates on goods and services. That creates a funding channel for your employee app and that….is golden. Think of it as a way to digitally target employees, allowing your suppliers and vendors to educate , inspire and promote (as well as reward with coupons or discounts). What this does is essentially create a digital super-highway between you and your suppliers so that things like reporting can increase faster and the relationship you have with your partners can grow rapidly. If it creates efficiency in the process, most suppliers will be willing to put their skin in the game.

So what do you push inside of your employee app for suppliers? Chances are you already have an arsenal of content in your employee app that you shoot and create every day. Using digital content from existing intranet channels and social streams is a great way to foster engagement via your employee mobile app. Take the old school print and use the mobile app with an augmented reality function to encourage scanning and discovery via product reviews, videos, feedback and much more.

Also, invite others to the party. What I mean is, it’s not a bad idea to seed data from third party vendors and also other departments inside your organization—maybe you have an eCommerce division that takes yours bricks to clicks? Involve them in the strategy so that their online efforts align well with employee app communications and overall brand marketing. Consider employee app platforms like hubEngage that get you started quick, with as few or as many engagement tactics as you like, scales to virtually any size, and most importantly creates a smarter employee app over time as it learns and processes user behavior, location and purchases via advanced internal communication algorithms.

Using your employee app for suppliers, sales partners and vendors can help delivers on whatever your brand promise is, increasing customer satisfaction and brand advocacy/loyalty.


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