Posted by Ranga Bodla, Wholesale Distribution Industry Lead at NetSuite
Fish and other animals took millions of years to evolve into their present state. That Pet Place, a leading supplier of live fish and aquarium supplies, as well other pet products and live animals ranging from finches to ferrets and canaries to chameleons, couldn’t afford to take that long.
The Lancaster, Pa.-based company has evolved from its beginnings in 1973 as a small aquarium and pet shop to become a multichannel retailer with a 110,000-square-foot superstore, a thriving ecommerce website and a busy call center. For more than 40 years, That Pet Place (www.thatpetplace.com) has advanced from over-the-counter sales to mail order catalogs to an informational website to online selling.
That Pet Place’s implementation of NetSuite is its latest evolutionary step—one that strengthens its position to compete amid Darwinian dynamics such as customers empowered with mobile devices and social media, and larger national-chain rivals such as Petco and PetSmart.
Before NetSuite, That Pet Place used a Systemax PCS application for ERP and its website. The system, however, lacked the robust accounting and financial reporting capabilities the company needed. The complex ecommerce system required skilled IT professionals to manage and update content, resulting in higher costs and delays, while the company suffered limitations in its CRM capabilities.
“We had to do a lot of work outside the system just to manage financials,” said Rick Amour, That Pet Place COO. “We wanted to find a vendor that we knew would be around and could be entrusted with our data. NetSuite was a great fit.”
Selected over Microsoft Dynamics AX, Salesforce and JDA Ecometry, NetSuite has given That Pet Place a single, unified cloud solution with the robust accounting and reporting capabilities it needed, as well as integrated CRM, ecommerce and inventory management that’s proving essential to managing 20,000 SKUs, about 10,000 of which are fish and other live animals.
With NetSuite, That Pet Place has improved order processing efficiency by 30 percent and reduced inventory carrying costs 10 percent, also extending its environment with a demand planning solution from NetSuite partner Valogix and a warehouse management system from partner eBizNET. On the financials side, the company has new reporting flexibility into sales by channel, by product and more.
"NetSuite financials and reporting have made our lives so much easier,” Amour said. “The ability to make adjustments as the business changes has been very powerful and helpful to us."
NetSuite CRM gives That Pet Place a single view of customer activity across the website, physical store and call center, with segmentable data that the company uses for aggressive email marketing. CRM is also an integral component as the company expands into B2B sales to universities, government agencies, museums and other institutions.
“CRM is very important to us,” Amour said. “We really needed a solution that would provide a lot of functionality in enabling us to identify opportunities and manage customer relationships better with a focus on delivering high-quality customer service.”
Meanwhile, That Pet Place implemented NetSuite SuiteCommerce for its ecommerce storefront and has moved the content management work to back-office staff instead of the IT professionals that needed to manage the more complex Systemax website previously in place.
“We’ve had a big advantage in cost savings by moving ecommerce content management from IT to back-office staff because NetSuite is so easy to use,” Amour said. “We’ve repurposed IT staff from maintaining internal systems to innovating with customizations to add features and functions across departments.”