Sneak Peek for Wholesale Distributors: NetSuite 2021 Release 1 Enables Greater Warehouse Management for Higher Productivity

Gavin Davidson, Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution Industry Lead

February 5, 2021

Better demand planning is critical to ensuring the resilient supply chains required now, which McKinsey terms “just in time and just in case.” The consultancy says lessons from past recessions and downturns show that high-performing distributors cut costs, lean on temporary workers(opens in new tab) and sometimes increase variable costs such as renting over buying. They work to manage cash, prioritize working capital and accounts payable and receivable, and look to diversify their revenue streams.

New functionality in NetSuite 2021 Release 1 aims to give wholesale distributors the added visibility and insight they need to recover and/or grow. This includes increased accuracy and speed for inventory and warehouse management processes, out-of-the-box metrics to measure progress and spot problems, and functionality to simplify invoicing and payment processes that ensure cash flow.

Automated Inventory Management

  • The new NetSuite Pack Station provides a simple touchscreen interface to boost packing accuracy and speed. Packers scan a pick carton, sales order or select from a list of staged orders, and can easily verify each item in the packing process and identify items with the same shipping routes. This makes it easier to accurately pack multiple cartons at the same time and reduce shipping costs and time to ship. Integration with weight scales allow packers to scan weights directly from scales, to avoid errors from manual entry.


  • Added warehouse management system (WMS) functionality provides the ability to automatically create picking waves and organize by delivery times, delivery address, shipment numbers and more. Wave creation activities can be scheduled for off-peak hours so that the system isn’t taxed during busy periods. Other enhancements focus on tally scans, cart put-away, bulk picking and automatic label printing and support of additional mobile status changes.
  • New robust allocation functionality allows for allocation of orders by channel as well as against a blanket PO and by FEFO (first expiry, first out) rules. Inventory can easily be reserved ahead of a new sales order. Users can track it all with the enhanced dashboard for order management that includes, among many other metrics, a new fill rate metric to gauge order fulfillment time.

Autonomous Supply Planning

  • New functionality automates supply planning by allowing the planner to designate criteria to repeat the planning process at a specific interval. The planner can also schedule a refresh of the planning repository and launch supply plans in off-hours to ensure the resource intensive jobs occur then.  Planning repository data and the planning results data is now provided via Saved Search so the supply planner can perform ad-hoc analysis and share planning results. This lends a better view into the master production schedule of items that they must produce.
  • new date-based view in the Planning Workbench allows the planner to sort item and location based on time. Planners can set threshold levels for late demand for the item and location by date, which trigger color-coded alerts directly in the Planning Workbench.
  • The supply chain snapshot now displays allocated quantities, blanket PO schedules and inbound shipment information to create better simulations of future demand and supply.

Smart Financials and Operational Automation

  • What can be a highly manual and time-consuming process, NetSuite now can centralize invoicing and billing across multiple subsidiaries for which items are ordered under a single PO. This includes processing returns and paying vendors.
  • SuiteApprovals now includes email alerts so users can review and approve or deny invoices with a single click.

Ready for the release? Find out more

Any customer that has gone through previous NetSuite refreshes knows that no blog post can do justice to all of the new functions and capabilities in NetSuite 2021 Release 1.

For a more complete picture of what new features are in this release, be sure to read the release notes(opens in new tab). And if you’re new to the release process, learn more about that in SuiteAnswers(opens in new tab).

Most importantly, don’t forget to request access to your Release Preview(opens in new tab) test account. Nothing substitutes for getting to test how all the new features will work with your data, workflows and customizations.

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