• November 17, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

NetSuite Goes Deep With E-commerce

NetSuite strengthened its grip on SMB on-demand CRM today with the announcement of a series of e-commerce initiatives. They range from Web analytics to shipping and payment, add new functions to the NetSuite e-commerce engine, and give end-users a degree of functionality usually reserved for large businesses. All the new features are available immediately. According to Zach Nelson, president and CEO of NetSuite, these expansions are a natural direction for the company. "The Web has become the primary touch point for a growing number of customers. The future of CRM is the Web, and if you can't deliver a good customer experience on the Web, you're going to fail," Nelson says. NetSuite is treating e-commerce as its own vertical, despite its obvious horizontal nature, in order to provide a true end-to-end solution. "In e-commerce, we find there's lots of point competition, fragmented systems doing part of the job. But we have over 1,800 customer companies using NetSuite just for e-commerce." Perhaps the timeliest announcement is Google keyword-to-purchase tracking and optimization. This integration allows closed-loop analysis of search engine leads, both organic and paid, from initial search to final purchase. Knowledge of what search terms drive traffic to a site, and which of those result in a sale, gives a company vital intelligence when developing a marketing plan and placing bids for particular paid-search terms. Google announced free access to its Web-analytics package on Monday, so the combined possibilities are considerable. In addition, NetSuite's search analytics can be leveraged against search engines like Yahoo! and MSN. Nelson notes the potential cost savings available with the analytics functions. "Most of my customers go to Google to search for NetSuite, then click on my ad and I get charged." Search integration is a major plus for NetSuite customers, according to Liz Herbert, an analyst at Forrester Research. "By providing search engine optimization and analytics direct to their customers, NetSuite keeps them from having to sign up for separate programs with each search provider. This saves a lot of time and complexity." To address the growth of multichannel selling, NetSuite has added easy prebuilt product data exports for a number of comparison-shopping engines, including Froogle, NexTag. Shopping.com, and Shopzilla. Users can create feeds for other comparison engines as well. "This is multichannel within the Web channel," Nelson says. "Major sites sell your product, and so do you." By integrating NetSuite with these other channels, merchants maintain a full understanding of sales and channel data. In addition, sellers now have the ability to close abandoned shopping carts, allowing them better understanding of demand and letting them keep the sales opportunity alive through direct email marketing. Herbert notes the advantage to merchants: "Instead of having a big unknown, merchants can know what was in the abandoned cart so they know what drove traffic to them, and can follow up with a personalized ad pitch, possibly offering a discount on those items." Shopping online is just browsing unless there's a means of payment and delivery, so NetSuite has created integrations with FedEx, PayPal, SECPay, and UPS. With PayPal, merchants using the NetSuite engine have the built-in ability to accept payment in six major currencies, as well as credit and debit cards. The cost is determined on monthly volume, with a per-transaction fee of 1.9 to 2.9 percent plus $0.30. U.K.-based SECPay, provides additional multicurrency and credit card functions, and is a NetSuite reseller. E-commerce users can integrate their real-time inventory data with UPS and/or FedEx for generation of rates and shipping labels, with Web order data recorded for approval, fulfillment, billing, and accounting. Herbert believes the additions to NetSuite's offering make it compelling for smaller companies seeking on-demand CRM. "NetSuite is definitely the only CRM vendor with an all-in-one e-commerce engine tailored for smaller businesses. Vendors like Siebel and Salesforce are after larger businesses and aren't likely to reach out to SMBs," Herbert says. "It's a pretty attractive offer to get all of this in one package and not have to worry about further integration." Related articles: Front Office: Back to Double-Digit Growth
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