NetSuite partners with eBay around e-commerce opportunity

NetSuite showcased a revamped version of its e-commerce engine Thursday, which the company said would integrate back-office functionality and connect Web-based sellers with multiple channels such as eBay.

The company, which offered a preview of the additional features last month, said the product would allow customers to push products to eBay.com and eBay Stores directly from the NetSuite product catalog in several languages. Users will be able to track products through the bidding process. An automatic import feature will create both a customer record within NetSuite along with a sales order. It will also update inventory systems and customer purchase histories, allowing better business intelligence, NetSuite said.

NetSuite is best known as a competitor to companies like Salesforce.com, offering hosted customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software for mid-market enterprises. Zach Nelson, NetSuite’s CEO, said the firm has attracted about 1,500 customers with revenues under US$10 million to its e-commerce offering.

“A lot of companies treat e-commerce as an adjunct, a strange little system off to the side,” he said in a Webcast Thursday. “They go get a shopping cart (application) to do some transactions on their site. Then what they discover is, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Companies are challenged to connect e-commerce tools with back-end order management and inventory systems in real-time, Nelson said. They also often fail to integrate with customer support systems that offer the ability to cross-sell or upsell.

“Customers don’t want to get an e-mail and be told that a product is out of stock – you know they won’t be back,” he said. “If you’re processing batch entries from a standalone shopping cart, it’s going to take you days to find out what that order was.”

Max Mancini, eBay’s senior director of platform and innovation, said the online auctioneer works with a lot of small to medium-sized customers on how to grow their business, sometimes by developing tools internally and sometimes working with third parties such as NetSuite. 

“If sellers are not responsive to buyers, if their systems aren’t integrated, the buyers don’t have a great experience,” he said. “Just from a cost perspective, this helps tremendously.”

Early adopters of NetSuite’s e-commerce tools include Little Earth, a vendor of eco-clothing and accessories based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Ava DeMarco, the company’s chief executive, said had primarily started using NetSuite strictly for business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, but has recently started introducing it to its business-to-business customers as well. These include international distributors who find it difficult to place orders by phone or e-mail, she said.

“It sort of looks like they’re a consumer when they’re online except that they see their distributor pricing,” she said.

NetSuite said its updated e-commerce product would also offer hosting for multiple sites and an automated upsell manager.

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