RealTime IT News

NetSuite Offers E-Commerce Apps in The Cloud

On-demand enterprise resource planning (ERP)  vendor NetSuite is introducing new features to help e-commerce companies make better use of customer information by connecting their shopping carts to their back-end systems.

The vendor already sells a full suite of back-office and e-commerce applications, but is now offering deeper integration between the two systems.

In doing so, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company is hoping to capitalize on an opportunity it sees to provide small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with an all-inclusive package that will lock out other e-commerce vendors.

NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson explained that e-commerce applications are a natural extension of NetSuite's core ERP business.

"The place where you'll see NetSuite be successful is where your sales and your back-office processes are tightly linked, and there's no place where they're more tightly linked than e-commerce and ERP," he told internetnews.com.

Because the NetSuite e-commerce application is tied into inventory, customer and general ledger information, it can generate automatic up-sell and cross-sell recommendations based on what customers have purchased in the past.

Another new feature allows NetSuite customers to create products for sale which have various attributes such as size or color, with different pricing and inventory levels that are also pulled from NetSuite's back-end systems.

NetSuite also added functions allowing customers to track search behaviors of visitors to their Web sites.

This includes tracking metrics such as how many results are being returned for each query, the number of visitors who become customers and how much they purchased, as well as queries that are returning zero results.

Jeff Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies, noted that the new features help "connect the dots between the front end and the back end."

Kaplan contrasted the all-inclusive approach taken by NetSuite with Salesforce.com , which hosts AppExchange as a way of developing an ecosystem of applications that can be integrated with its Salesforce automation CRM tool.

"Their philosophy is different than Salesforce, which is more interested in partnering," he said.

One result of this approach is that e-commerce application vendors it has worked with in the past may now start viewing NetSuite as a competitor rather than as a partner.

"I'm sure [NetSuite] took that into account and decided it was still worth doing," Kaplan said.

Forrester analyst Liz Herbert noted that few vendors of on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) or ERP applications have expanded into e-commerce, and that fewer still offer both.

Oracle  is an example of one vendor that does offer a full suite, but is out of reach for most of NetSuite's customers.

"A lot of those companies are still green-field opportunities," she told internetnews.com.

She added that the NetSuite e-commerce applications would make sense for a company already running NetSuite ERP because "it can be an all-in-one solution to simplify their IT landscape."