NetSuite expands e-commerce tools for SMBs

NetSuite Inc. has announced expanded functionalities for the e-commerce engine of its hosted business management suite, including new payment options, search engine optimization and integration with Internet shopping comparison engines.

Based in San Mateo, Calif., NetSuite targets the SMB market with a hosted application, accessible through a Web browser, that integrates functionalities around accounting, e-commerce and customer relationship management (CRM).

Baruch Goldwasser, a senior product manager with NetSuite, said their second generation of e-commerce tools revolve around getting more people to a Web site, letting people transact from anywhere, and giving site owners information to measure the effectiveness of a campaign.

“It’s a little additional help,” said Goldwasser.

He said a lot has been done around search engine optimization, using tools like meta tags and image tags to ensure NetSuite’s dynamic Web pages rank higher in engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

“We’ve changed it around so all the information is published out to the search engine, so when it crawls your site it gets ranked very highly,” said Goldwasser.

Product feeds also go directly into comparison-shopping engines like, which allow shoppers to compare similar products from various e-stores, and charge the retailer for each click-through.

NetSuite lets the retailer evaluate which sites and search words are generating the most revenue, and direct their marketing dollars accordingly.

Other enhancements include shopping cart abandonment reporting, and integration with PayPal for payment in different currencies.

By combining e-commerce with CRM and accounting, Goldwasser said NetSuite lets users track a customer across silos, and ensures that people across the organization, from sales to shipping and support, have the same information.

“None (of our competitors) cross the line between accounting, CRM and e-commerce,” said Goldwasser.

Sheryl Kingstone, program manager for the Yankee Group’s customer-centric strategies decision service, agreed NetSuite’s integrated approach is fairly unique in the market.

“It really does cover a lot of the potential pain points around integration,” said Kingstone.“You don’t want your e-commerce site to be a silo. You want it integrated with the rest of your business.”

She said the integration makes it hard to compare NetSuite to other competitors.

On the e-commerce side, she said other options might be a large suite like ATG, software as a service templates, or something custom-built using a Microsoft stack.

Toronto’s Casa Life, a furniture retailer specializing in the condo market, with a retail operation in Liberty Village as well as a Web store, has used NetSuite for three years and was a beta tester of the new e-commerce tools. Casa Life partner Robert Whitfield said he liked the integration.

“All the other engines out there are partial,” said Whitfield.

Whitfield said they’re not into e-commerce in a big way yet, since furniture is still a touch-and-feel business. But he said the site has been very successful in bringing people into the store.

Currently, he said Casa Life disabled the shopping comparison engine because it generated more traffic then they could handle. Also, since some of their products are manufactured in China, duties on shipping some items to the U.S. complicate things.

He must decide which items in their catalogue to list through the engines. “When we turned it on in beta, the next morning I had 140 e-mails. The response was incredible,” said Whitfield. “I don’t think we were quite prepared for it. I can see the power of [that tool].”

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