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Because Old School Retail is Dead - NetSuite Acquires Retail Anywhere

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Because Old School Retail is Dead - NetSuite Acquires Retail Anywhere

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Short version

NetSuite’s acquisition of Point of Sale (POS) vendor Retail Anywhere creates a powerful offering that allows retail businesses to compete in the face of a challenging environment.

Long version

NetSuite recently acquired Retail Anywhere, a provider of multi-channel retail management solutions designed to improve the retail customer experience. Given the amount I talk about how traditional businesses are soon to be disrupted, you’d be excused for thinking that I’d be dubious about this deal. Not so.

Retail is an interesting beast – traditional retail is immensely challenged by the rise of online behemoths such as Amazon, along with the increasing preference from consumers (bizarre as it may seem) to buy from known brands at big-box outlets. In the midst of this dual challenge, how can traditional retails hope to compete? Quite simply, they do so by delivering highly integrated solutions to their customers – both back-end and front-end. Vertically integrating manufacturing, the physical retail presence itself and deep relationships with end users online allows retails to really deliver upon the promise of “relationship-based retail”.

This is reinforced by the Deloitte 2012 Annual Holiday Survey, which found that consumers who engage with retailers through multiple customer touch points are likely to spend 71 percent more than those who only engage through the traditional brick-and-mortar channel. Retail Anywhere has a long pedigree of delivering solutions of both a software and hardware nature. The software was buitl upon the NetSuite platform, making this a natural fit. As for the hardware part of the business – that is going to be dropped – indicative of NetSuite’s belief about where the future lies for retail.

That’s why this deal makes so much sense – the acquisition builds on last year’s announcement of NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce platform, and creates a deeply integrated cloud business suite for retailers. It’s the next deliverable in the “Commerce as a Service” model that CEO Zach Nelson promised us at SuiteWorld last year. NetSuite contends, and I agree, that it fulfills a strong demand among retailers for a single commerce solution that supports the multiple customer touch points a retail business needs to succeed – from physical points of sale (POS) at brick-and-mortar stores or other locations to call centers, social media and B2B, B2C, and eCommerce. It also works nicely with NetSuite’s manufacturing offerings, giving those physical product retailers who have completely vertically integrated their businesses the ability to base all of their solutions within one suite of products.

So what does this deal mean from a functional perspective? Customers of the combined NetSuite/Retail Anywhere products can deliver:

  • An enhanced in-store experience. By unifying the online and in-store customer experience, customers can leverage data from across a business to provide the insight necessary for delivering personalized service, building customer loyalty and increasing revenue
  • Supporting, enabling the latest POS technology
  • Extending sales and service with mobile POS
  • Obtain a single view of customer orders, preferences, issues, and contact and payment information
  • Gain real-time visibility and analytics
  • Use real-time inventory management
  • Deliver a dynamic web storefront
  • Run real-time order management
  • Deliver dynamic customer support

That’s a long list of functionality, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating – a new breed of vertically integrated businesses are looking for these kind of combined solutions – I’ve spent time with some NetSuite customers taking advantage of this sort of solution – in many different industries – TCHO in the FMCG area, Ibex in the apparel/fashion sector, Kitchen Direct in the e-commerce arena – all these customer point to the value that an integrated solution brings to their business as a key enabler of agility and hence competitiveness.

(Disclosure – NetSuite is a sometimes client and they have previously comped my T&E to attend their global customer events).

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