San Jose, Calif. – NetSuite Inc. is making it easier for brick-and-mortar retailers to delight their Internet-savvy customers.
During this week’s SuiteWorld conference the cloud software giant released a retail apparel edition that, among other features, gives merchants and their employees the ability to track online and physical sales from a single platform, instantly locate items by store, ship out-of-stock items from another location, and use in-store hardware to access the same information their consumers are reading online.
The goal, says Branden Jenkins, NetSuite’s general manager of global retail, is to alleviate some of the pressure retailers face to provide their customers with an omni-channel experience, both from the legions of manufacturers who sell their products online and from modern consumers who expect the products they can buy online to match the products available in-store.
“Retailers have been struggling with omni-channel for years, and they’ve been approaching it by buying best-of-breed solutions… which doesn’t actually fix the problem,” Jenkins says. “If (a customer) buys something online and returns it in the store… the data follows her, and the product information’s the same across every channel.
“So having a great front-end experience is really a back-end issue,” he says. “You need to have a single view of your customer, a single view of your order, and it needs to be connected to your channels in real time.”
By delivering its omni-channel solution through a single platform, NetSuite is giving its retail customers an immediate leg up, he says.
But NetSuite aspires to be more than just a platform – the company offers what Jenkins calls “vertical specific solutions” by researching best practices in multiple industries, including retail; using them to create frameworks others can use; then further dividing them into industry-specific editions – such as retail apparel.
“We know that to provide the best experience for our customers, and for them to delight their consumers, they really need tailored solutions,” Jenkins says. “Best practices for an apparel retailer might be different from home goods, for example, or active wear. There are nuances.”
In addition to intelligent order management, which allows retailers to track online and physical sales from the same platform, NetSuite’s retail apparel edition features:
- Automated emails that are sent whenever an item purchased online is ready for pick-up from a physical;
- Instagram hashtag galleries, which automatically display Instagram images with user-defined hashtags, ensuring a perpetually trendy photo display;
- Size charts, which allow shoppers to view the sizes available for each product on a company’s website;
- Preconfigured dashboards for apparel- and accessory-specific roles such as inventory manager, store manager and warehouse manager;
- SuiteCommerce, a point-of-sale platform with the functionality of an e-commerce website.
“Basically, all the cool stuff that we get as consumers while searching the web is given to the sales associate,” Jenkins says.
SuiteCommerce also allows consumers to pay for online orders in-store, so that if, say, a customer who plans to buy a skirt decides that she also wants a matching shirt which is only available online, she can purchase both with a single transaction.
In addition to its specific, best practices-driven functionality and front-to-back design, NetSuite’s other advantage for retailers is that it remains current, Jenkins says: because all NetSuite data is stored on the cloud, retailers can rest assured they’ll never have to use outdated software, since the platform is updated company-wide twice a year.
“You get a modern platform and you can keep up with the pace of customers now,” he says. “You’re not going to have to worry about upgrading every five years.”