Business management software company NetSuite has been quietly expanding its presence in Australia and we talk to the company's APAC managing director about the secret to succesful ecommerce and what's in store for the company in 2013.
Supratim Adhikari: So Mark, how are things going for NetSuite in the Asia Pacific region and what’s on the agenda this year?
Mark Troselj: The best place to start would be to see what we are doing at a corporate level and we recently acquired a company called Retail Anywhere and the deal really ties into delivering on our core value – helping our customers transact.
We are a cloud ERP company and the best way we can help our customers is to give them the tools to do business. If you look at the Netsuite as a single platform we are focussed on providing a solution that allows a business to take control and effectively manage all the software and IT management tasks.
So this year we want to continue along that path and we have rolled out our Ecommerce solutions, we have Retail Anywhere and when you put this together you get an ERP platform that is seamless.
SA: What are you hearing form your clients in Australia?
MT: What we are hearing a lot from our existing customers that many of them are looking for deeper and broader functionality and as they try to expand their businesses across different verticals. As Netsuite we are being pulled into areas that haven’t traditionally been our core focus.
SA: Given your experience in the Australian retail sector, are our traditional retailers coming to grips with ecommerce, or is it still an uphill battle?
MT: The bricks and mortars guys are getting the message but it’s a slow process, however, the new breed of entrepreneurs and retailers are now increasingly starting on the net and then building up.
There are a number of advantages in that because when you use cloud applications you can scale up quickly, there’s quick deployment and they are cost effective.
The guys struggling are the bricks and mortars retailer because they are coming the wrong way. They know they need to get online but unless they have something that is in high demand or is unique to them then they have a lot of competition. No matter what they sell there’s a competitor out there and part of their target market is quite happy to purely buy things online.
What that does is that it steals from their existing bricks and mortar business and they can’t leverage their existing brand on the internet. So, these are the guys that are struggling and the problem is that if they get online wrong they are going to damage their brand.
SA: So it’s about giving local customers compelling local alternatives and a quality experience.
MT: Absolutely, most Australians will buy online from local retailers and you know why? Because if you buy something online and you know that in case of a problem the head office is somewhere you can get to, then that’s a compelling scenario. Customers also feel much more comfortable when they know that there is a robust compliance regulatory regime that governs how the retailers operate. I personally would be happy to pay a reasonable premium to buy a product in Australia.
When it comes to customer experience it’s important to provide customers with a feel that they have a large catalogue to peruse and compare prices and functionality. Essentially, you need to recreate the traditional buying experience online. This is a complex problem but if you don’t then you will lose customers.
SA: How does technology help retailers make this transition?
MT: It is a difficult transition and how we help retailers is that we provide them with in-build ecommerce engine within the Netsuite platform. Ecommerce isn’t about having a website or putting an ad on yellow pages, which is what a website is. Comprehensive ERP systems ensure that the core engine covers the financials, the CRM, the services and delivery. So it doesn’t matter what front end you put on it the end.
Ecommerce isn’t about a website it’s about transaction and the ability to build repeatable transactions and give people accurate information in real time. For example one of our Australian customers Kitchenware Direct has 10 different websites running on Netsuite all controlled by one backend application. So if you have stock across multiple websites or stores the application notifies you the second a unit is sold and how much stock you have left. The real time element is a huge plus for retailers.
SA: This, I imagine, also translates to better growth options for a retailer, especially when it comes to expanding its global presence.
MT: If you think about ecommerce as an end-to-end business transaction then expansion into new territories requires quick deployment and quickly testing the ability to work with multiple languages and multiple currencies in real time. With Netsuite we provide a solution that configures to the new territory and you don’t need to deploy a whole bunch of IT personnel or infrastructure.
Could you imagine building a ecommerce platform to sell in a place like Cambodia or Indonesia from the ground-up? It’s pointless and you only have to look at someone like Groupon which was able to expand across 30 countries in a matter of months. Retailers face complex problems but technology is providing them an avenue to concentrate on strategy and not worry about creating, deploying and worrying about their platform. We take a bit part of that rollout headache away and the business only needs to figure out what to sell to who and how.