May 21, 2012
At the NetSuite SuiteWorld event recently [Disclosure: NetSuite funded my travel and accommodation to attend] the company announced SuiteCommerce an end-to-end solution that ties back end ERP functionality with customer facing e-commerce solutions that are optimized across any endpoint – desktop, mobile, tablet etc. It’s a compelling proposition and one which continues the theme of tying together similar services to provide a complete solution for a particular use case. Before discussing my thoughts on the offering, a quick introduction. SuiteCommerce itself consists of several differng offerings:
- SuiteCommerce Experience – The SuiteCommerce Experience is the page serving and development framework that enables companies to deliver rich user experiences, regardless of touchpoint
- SuiteCommerce Services –The SuiteCommerce Platform includes a new group of services called SuiteCommerce Services that expose NetSuite’s back-end commerce functionality and data as services to the SuiteCommerce Experience and any other commerce front-end application
- NetSuite Commerce Platform –The NetSuite Commerce Platform provides the core native business processing capabilities to run commerce operations
So in effect it is an aggregation of front end delivery, back end enablement and a flexible platform fabric running between the two. The bringing together of customer facing and backend functionalities is important as it opens up for a number of functional possibilities – want to tie customer history to purchasing options? This is the way to do it. Want to allow a host of end point devices to talk to the core business software? You need integration to power it. As Denis Pombriant pointed out in his post;
The Internet of things will be much bigger than the Internet of people and the Internet of things will be a major acquisition portal for business and consumers as well as a major user of automated commerce technologies. Commerce solutions that make it easier for people to buy and receive products through efficient channels is a great first step.
I’ve long talked of the value that organizations can leverage by using one system that ties together disparate parts of the business. SuiteCommerce is a good example of this and importantly ties ERP, often thought of as the central system for a business, to what is actually the systems of note – customer interactions and the buying experience. In his keynote, NetSuite Zach Nelson told the audience that NetSuite is the fifth largest E-Commerce system on the web – that is, only four other organizations (among them e-commerce monsters Amazon and Ebay) have interactions with higher numbers of e-commerce transactions. That being the case, by closing the loop between customer and core systems – NetSuite is uniquely placed to provide a higher value offering to e-tailers. The other e-commerce sites can’t do it because, outside of integrations, they don’t have visibility over the financial aspects of the system. The other financial providers meanwhile haven’t provided compelling e-commerce solutions and hence also have to rely on integrations with the e-commerce providers. NetSuite is betting that large e-tail operations will prefer a suite solution rather than bolting together separate best of breed solutions.
Of course it’s not quite as simple as that. In order for SuiteCommerce to succeed, the e-commerce solutions needs to be as flexible as the best e-commerce solutions in the marketplace. That’s a difficult ask for a company that is primarily focused on back-end systems. While there is no denying that NetSuite is a robust ERP solution – one only needs to look at their user experience to see that they’re not an organization that is laser focused on UI or UX – both aspects that are critical once the customer has to interact with the system.
It is also going to be interesting to see how NetSuite handles the challenges of scaling hi throughput e-commerce needs. SuiteCommerce is currently being trialed by around ten NetSuite customers and Nelson told us that they’re limiting its rollout to only 100 customers this year. That’s something of a worry as it suggests that either NetSuite is worried about scale impacts of adding more users, or else that the solution isn’t actually yet ready for prime time.
At the event I spoke with Peter Maccauley from Kitchenware Direct, a kitchenware e-tailer from Australia. They told me that SuiteCommerce absolutely solves a pain point that they have and that they’re keen to sign up to it as soon as possible – the risk for NetSuite is that retailers like Maccauley get sick of waiting for a less rapid roll out and go looking elsewhere for solutions. At the moment they’re unlikely to find anything as compelling as SuiteCommerce – the challenge for NetSuite now is to ensure that customers have access to it as soon as possible.