Posted by Andy Lloyd, General Manager Commerce Products, NetSuite

While online retail continues to grow at a rapid pace, many of the systems needed to support it are not keeping up. In fact, ecommerce is growing faster than in-store retail, according to the U.S. Commerce Department and Internet Retailer, climbing 16% in 2012 and 17% in 2013, compared to just 4% in both those years for store sales. Add to that the growth of other sales channels –such as catalogues, wholesale distribution, and social media—and out-of-store sales becomes an impressive growth market.

Yet many retailers lack the technical infrastructure and processes to succeed at omnichannel commerce. Specifically, inventory, order and supply chain management are the top three operational challenges for retailers seeking to succeed in omnichannel commerce. The retailers most aware of their weaknesses in those areas are also the most likely to overcome them and ultimately achieve success.

Those are some of the conclusions of a recent webcast, “Inventory and Order Management: Streamlining for Supply Chain Success” with Steve Rowen, managing partner for Retail Systems Research (RSR), Jay Moltz, IT operations manager for Ibex, and Andy Lloyd, general manager of NetSuite Commerce Products at NetSuite.

Most of these order and supply chain challenges can be managed with an omnichannel commerce platform, such as NetSuite SuiteCommerce. Jay Moltz, IT operations manager for Ibex explained how SuiteCommerce enabled Ibex to achieve real-time visibility of inventory to better manage orders across its multiple channels.

Ibex uses NetSuite to schedule its inventory and move products across three channels – online, retail stores, and wholesale. The company estimates it has saved five administrative hours per day processing individual orders after moving to NetSuite. In addition, managers can see all retail inventory in real time, compared to the 24-hour lag time they experienced with its previous system. NetSuite has also helped to improve inventory forecasting and makes it easier for online customers to pick up merchandise in stores.

Retailers like Ibex need five key capabilities in their commerce platforms. Those are:

  • The ability to rapidly support innovation and offer new customer experiences, because new technologies and customer channels are coming out constantly.
  • A 360-degree view of customer behavior and habits, both to understand consumer trends and to be able to more accurately personalize products, marketing, and sales offers.
  • Intelligent order orchestration, to centrally manage orders from multiple channels and optimize inventory across channels.
  • Unlimited expansion potential, including native support for multi-site deployments, unlimited subsidiary reporting native support for multi-language, multi-currency, and multi-tax transactions, and support for multiple business models (B2C and B2B) on the same platform.
  • Support for all of the company’s application needs in one integrated platform, so that customers can have real-time visibility into data and processes throughout the company, and avoid the cost and headaches involved in maintaining fragmented systems.

These capabilities are important for ensuring that the ordering and supply chain processes are flexible enough to support future change. They can’t do that if their supply chains are mired in the 1990s.

As Rowen noted, “It’s a race to keep up with all of the ways that consumers want to shop. First it was stores, then the Web, then some retailers added catalogues, and Facebook. Today consumers shop any way they please – It’s completely changed in the last 10 years. But the problem is a lot of the progress that retailers have made is just veneer… the supply chain itself hasn’t changed.”

To view the entire webinar on demand visit: