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NetSuite Sweetens E-Commerce with Social
The cloud computing business software provider looks to new partnerships to integrate friends into the shopping experience.
Posted Jul 18, 2010
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It's more fun to shop with friends. And thanks to online ratings and reviews and social networks, it's becoming easier to incorporate friends' opinions when shopping online. Cloud computing business software provider NetSuite is moving down the path of social shopping with an announcement around social media and e-commerce this month. 

"Social e-commerce, it's an emerging technology that if you can leverage it effectively, can have a big impact on your bottom line," says Mini Peiris, vice president of product management for NetSuite. Thanks to a handful of brand new partnerships and updates to the NetSuite eCommerce Cloud Platform, the vendor is broadening its reach and incorporating more elements of social media and search engine marketing into the mix of offerings. 

The new version of the platform, according to Peiris, allows partners and customers to build extensions that, in many cases, connect customers with social content, such as reviews and product testimonials from friends. "These partners came to us around e-commerce but they have a lot of good applicability around CRM," Peiris adds. 

NetSuite is calling the new components of its social shopping platform Fluid Social, which will provide users with analytics around the online stores, online marketing, search engines, and now social media. 

"There's an awful lot that e-commerce can do to help an organization be more relevant to its customers, and to sell more products and to make more customers," says Denis Pombriant, founder and principal of Beagle Research. He adds that it's something he hasn't seen a great deal of movement on from some other cloud vendors--but the idea from NetSuite seems to be on target. 

"Years ago in e-commerce the approach was here's a toolkit, good luck, do it yourself," Pombriant says. "It's interesting that NetSuite is doing it at a higher level and incorporating partners as they are. That ought to give them the ability to deliver e-commerce solutions better faster and cheaper, especially for any organization that already has the rest of the suite--ERP and CRM." 

NetSuite introduced the following new capabilities to its e-commerce platform:

Social shopping features: E-Commerce users can now embed chat, email, and Facebook functionality directly into product detail pages. This allows shoppers to proactively reach out to friends and the company if support is needed. This functionality can be tracked so that the sellers can obtain valuable insight about shoppers and potential customers. Reversely, as customers push out product pages to their social networks, the brand is exposed to new sets of potential customers. The customer, essentially, does marketing for the company.

Search engine marketing -- Partnerships through kenshoo and MyDials enable users to use data from NetSuite to create search engine marketing campaigns. More importantly, companies can access ERP information, such as inventory, to fine tune what products they want to advertise and spend more on adwords. NetSuite Ecommerce users can easily dial back or scale up based on findings in their back-office data. 

NetSuite reports that search engine marketing is the single most important e-commerce expenditure, but it's also the most opaque. The new capabilities from kenshoo and MyDials give users new views of their data. "It gives a merchants a lot of new efficiencies," Peiris notes, "Some customers have had a person spending her full time job with this task." Because the add-ons are built on SuiteCloud, the analytics are seamlessly integrated--tab style--into the NetSuite platform. 

Customizable scripts: NetSuite has also extended it, the checkout process, letting additional partners build on complicated scenarios for merchants. This means that businesses can now customize the transaction process, determining new promotions, discounts, taxations. All is this is possible with NetSuite's SuiteFlow development platform. 

Reviews: Partner company Power Reviews has built on NetSuite the ability to capture product reviews and back and forth customer dialogue on a product. "The key theme is NetSuite is allowing you as a merchant to aggregate all the different social media feeds your customers might be using to talk about you and your products," Peiris explains, "And to bring that into a single view of the customer record or product records." She adds that it then enables merchants to better slice and dice marketing and sales promotions and strategies.

Pombriant sums it up: "It's almost like going shopping with a friend, except you are doing it virtually — that's a powerful angle."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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