This week Netsuite rocked into town for Suite Connect, their first UK user conference in London.
The aim of Netsuite is innovative disruption to the finance, CRM and ERP sector and that’s not just in their product either. Netsuite kicked their UK excursion off by firing a broadside at Sage with a full page London Underground inspired ad taken out in the FT.
Netsuite are gunning for Sage customers in the UK, claiming 500 have already jumped ship, there are even rumours that Netsuite CEO Zach Nelson could base himself in Europe to drive their business forward.
The ad was unashamedly endorsed by Zach, who explains that too many companies are still trapped into the cycle of buying software, upgrading software, customising software with reports and tweaks to further their business and then becoming version locked – upgrading as the business grows and the need for new features often breaks the customisations. Zach preaches cloud computing and that’s what Netsuite is.
Zach goes much further though, warning of “fake cloud” computing where all that really happens is that the same software is delivered over the net instead of sitting on your server. That doesn’t solve any of the problems of traditional software. He pointed out that when you come to the end of Sage Line 50, it can be as disruptive to your business to switch lines to Sage Line 100 or Line 200 as it would be to simply switch to using Netsuite.
Whilst we’re on the subject of Sage, calling their versions “lines” is especially naughty as Sage dropped the word “Line” from their product titles years ago, but it made for a purposefully controversial ad campaign eliciting the response on Twitter from Sage CEO Stephen Kelly, “Please mind the gap between rumours & reality”.
What will Netsuite do for you?
There are three main tenets of Netsuite, future proofing, omni-channel and product services.
Netsuite tell us to pick the right cloud (meaning them) and the right architecture and that will give you the agility that you need in the future. Netsuite, as you’d expect, have a host of third parties with add ons to customise their solution and when Netsuite push their twice yearly updates out everything carries on working. Plus all the third party add ons function seamlessly within the Netsuite dashboard so that everything is in one place.
Nowadays retailers have customers coming at them from all sides. Some will show up at a retail outlet with your POS till system, others will hit you with a phone call which could be for sales or pre/post sales support, or even a mail in order from your catalogue or print advertising. Then there’s the web, but today that’s not even a browser based experience, it could be PC/Laptop or just as easily mobile on iPhone or Android, or it could be an iStore or Google Play purchase or an in-game purchase or your mobile app, not to mention different venues on the web such as marketplaces and social media contacts.
The thing is customers want you to recognise them and don’t want to phone you having made a purchase on eBay and ringing your number from your website just to be bounced around to your “eBay team” to solve their issue. They want you to have tracking at your finger tips, be able to process a return or give product advice then and there no matter how they approach you.
This is key to the Netsuite solution, you need a single customer record in your back end systems which joins everything together and is available to everyone that works within your business. For instance something as simple as a customer ringing in with a change of address or name change needs to be reflected throughout your entire business no matter how many locations you may have.
Ideally this would be an Apple like experience, you can walk into an Apple store and they recognise you regardless which Apple device you’re using. That’s because they’re all connected in Apple’s systems. Apple have an advantage that they forced you to register your iPhone, iPad, Mac and that old iPod you still have somewhere in the house. It also doesn’t matter to Apple if you walk into a store in your home town, London or New York, it’s still a connected experience and they still know who you are.
As a retailer imagine how great it would be if you had the same information for that the customer that purchased a pair of shoes on your website last year.
This is what Netsuite can do for you. Whilst as a small but growing business you may have been fine with an accounting package, a separate CRM package and another system for dealing with your suppliers, workflow for manufacturing orders and yet another system for managing your employees. But, as soon as you start to outgrow your discrete solutions, you then need to find new software packages and worse yet figure out how to integrate them all and make them work together (that’s the horrible customisation part!).
With Netsuite you could have customer support in the Philippines, manufacturing in the far East and multiple physical sales outlets in the UK and EU, not to mention online sales venues but you would still have all of your data for every customer (and employee and supplier) as a single customer record accessible by everyone that needs it at their fingertips. Any update, updates everyone and all interactions be it a sale, refund, support call or product enquiry is logged and instantly available next time the customer connects regardless of which method they choose to contact you.
To find out more about Netsuite and what they can do for your business, visit their website or give them a call on 01628 774400. Later this week we’ll have some customer case studies to show how it can work for real life UK retailers.