NetSuite’s e-Commerce Embrace

In an effort to expand the tool chest available for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), NetSuite (NYSE: N) today unveiled two versions of its first product specifically targeting e-commerce sites, as well as checkout support for eBay’s PayPal service.

“We’ve long focused on e-commerce-type businesses,” Craig Sullivan, NetSuite’s vice president of product management, told “Today’s is the first e-commerce-specific business solution.”

NetSuite, co-founded by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison, operates in the SaaS space, offering on-demand business software for SMBs to aid with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) and e-business.

The company competes with (NYSE: CRM) in many areas, but not so much in e-commerce, Sullivan said. With online retailers poised for much more rapid growth than their offline counterparts, NetSuite is looking to take a pole position in the e-commerce SaaS race.

The two products released today — e-Commerce Company Edition and e-Commerce+ Company Edition — bundle NetSuite’s ERP and CRM services into a hosted package geared for Web retailers.

Both the basic and premium versions are designed for companies to launch or expand their e-commerce operations beyond the template-based offerings of eBay or Yahoo stores. Vendors such as Volusion and Demandware offer applications to build e-commerce Web sites, but NetSuite said its hosted product goes beyond the bolted-on software model to manage all aspects of an e-commerce company’s operations.

“It’s a very robust offering,” Sullivan said. “It needs to be compared to the combination of products you would need to run your e-business.”

Both versions offer PayPal Express Checkout, as well as multilingual support, and accept payment in 16 currencies.

NetSuite is pitching its e-commerce software as a means to build a hosted online shopping experience similar to what Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) offers. Customers will be able to check the status of an order, track shipping and view order histories.

Both editions provide real-time inventory updates, so customers are alerted of an out-of-stock item before they get to checkout.

The principal difference between the basic version, which NetSuite offers for $999 a month, and the $1,299-per-month premium edition is in their inventory management capabilities, Sullivan said.

The basic e-Commerce Company Edition is designed for smaller merchants with concentrated inventories. e-Commerce+ is a better fit for larger outfits in which merchandise might be spread across multiple warehouses and distribution centers.

e-Commerce+ also offers some expanded shipping options, such as the ability to pull together orders from multiple distribution sources.

Notably, both products can also run as a platform for business-to-business (B2B) commerce, with capabilities like the means to manage negotiated pricing through a “log in for price” feature.

NetSuite’s software also has an eBay tie-in, enabling businesses to automatically push their listings out to eBay sites with the same inventory monitoring and other features available on the NetSuite-hosted version.

Both the basic and premium editions will be available in April.

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