Two mid-size Aussie retailers go NetSuite



news Cloud business software vendor NetSuite has revealed that two mid-level Australian retailers, Indian handcraft store Tree of Life and veterinary and pet healthcare supplier Vet-n-Pet, have deployed a broad swathe of its e-commerce and business management software in an effort to get their growing operations under control and scale for growth.

Tree of Life was founded in the early 1990’s in Sydney to sell Indian clothing and other handcrafts, and has since expanded substantially to some 54 retail stores, while Vet-n-Pet Direct sells and ships veterinary supplies and pet health care products online to customers ranging from individual pet owners to large scale commercial enterprises.

In a media release issued this week, NetSuite noted that Tree of Life’s previous IT system was “complex and under-performing” and plagued by data replication and integrity issues. The retailer was also as well as suffering from the logistical weight of having to roll out software upgrades to every retail outlet. The retailer also had no access to real-time business performance information, and had no central solution to aggregate transactions from multiple branches, time zones and suppliers.

To resolve the issues, Tree of Life deployed NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce integrated commerce solution, including point of sale, financials, CRM, e-commerce, inventory management, order management and demand planning functionality. The platform fulfils strong demand for a single commerce solution that supports multiple customer touchpoints – from in-store point-of-sale (POS) to call centres and social media, to online via desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. In addition, pre-established dashboards and templates give Tree of Life the ability to generate reports with real-time data.
Additionally, according to the vendor, NetSuite’s Order Management System (OMS) enables Tree of Life to view, analyse and fulfil transactions across webstore, brick-and-mortar and telesales, regardless of where each transation was originated from or where it will be filled. Beyond order management, NetSuite provides back-office technology such as warehouse management capabilities, including bin and lot tracking and support for the pick/pack/ship fulfilment process, support for multiple warehouse locations and the intelligence to select the appropriate warehouse based on each company’s business logic.
From a front-end perspective, Tree of Life views its online store as its most important channel and uses NetSuite SuiteCommerce to support its website. From a marketing perspective, it now relies on NetSuite’s CRM capabilities for its weekly email blasts to 100,000 customers, which are a significant driver of sales online and in-store. NetSuite SuiteCommerce’s advanced inventory management system has also significantly improved the retailer’s control over its inventory, according to NetSuite, with its automatically calculated reorder quantities and real-time visibility into sales figures and trends.
In conjunction with NetSuite SuiteCommerce, Tree of Life is also leveraging NetSuite partner Fronde for shipping, which has built its FreightOne SuiteApp on theNetSuite SuiteCloud development platform. The FreightOne SuiteApp provides Tree of Life with an expedited online estimate, packing and fulfilment solution to make the distribution process much easier for shipping throughout Australia and New Zealand. After the goods are shipped, all consignment details are retained in NetSuite allowing Tree of Life’s staff or customers to track the delivery process.
“NetSuite provides an immensely scalable cloud-based business solution that quite literally runs every single operational aspect of our business from front end to back, allowing us to focus on growing our retail footprint across Australia,” said Krishnan Borthwick, IT director of Tree of Life. “Despite our online sales growing tenfold in the last year, we have been able to easily manage this without further investment or resources – NetSuite manages this growth for us. It gives us all the information we need about sales performance and pricing to make informed decisions that help better our performance.”
“We have a highly sophisticated solution in place that powers our business and enables us to perform complex operational and analytical tasks, yet is exceptionally simple to use,” said Mr Borthwick. “In one morning, for example, I deployed NetSuite to four new Western Australian retail stores on my own, remotely from Sydney and was able to train staff in minutes. I don’t know of any other system that can do that. NetSuite has freed up my own bandwidth to work on value add projects and operations within the business, rather than just managing IT solutions.”

Vet-N-Pet has adopted similar NetSuite functionality, replacing X-Cart shopping cart software, MYOB and a number of manual spreadsheets with NetSuite SuiteCommerce. As Vet-N-Pet Direct rapidly expanded, its previous piecemeal infrastructure could no longer support its growth and it turned to NetSuite’s cloud-based commerce platform. NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce platform enables Vet-N-Pet Direct to manage interactions with its B2C and B2B customers through one single commerce site, directly on the core NetSuite ERP/CRM business management application.
“Before we deployed NetSuite SuiteCommerce, we had zero visibility into our business and were essentially flying blind – NetSuite has given us the ability to think, analyse and plan like a large retailer,” said Belinda Geissler, managing director of Vet-N-Pet Direct. “The knowledge and insight it gives us on a daily basis is phenomenal. It has also saved us from having to purchase and manage expensive IT infrastructure, so I don’t need to employ an IT person – NetSuite is our IT function. It gives my team the freedom to work from home if they need to and I can add users to the system in an instant.”
Key to Vet-N-Pet Direct’s business operation is the SuiteCommerce inventory management system, which has significantly improved the company’s control over its inventory, according to the vendor, as it automatically calculates reorder quantities and how much should be kept in stock. It also allows the online retailer to plan for adequate levels of inventory with demand planning and forecasts on sales and inventory levels based on historical or manual data. Since switching to NetSuite, the retailer has gone from 3,300 SKUs in 2009 to 9,500 SKUs in 2013, and has also experienced a 50 percent increase in order volumes. Despite this growth, the efficiencies provided by SuiteCommerce have meant that Vet-N-Pet Direct has only had to add one extra staff member to manage orders.
“In our old system, the pressure on our inventory and warehousing increased whenever our SKUs did,” said Geissler. “NetSuite has enabled our inventory to remain largely static. Our entire inventory system is now smarter and more effective.”
Vet-N-Pet Direct has also significantly improved its order management since making the switch to NetSuite SuiteCommerce. “The ability to trace an order to its precise location in the supply chain in real-time has significantly improved the service we offer our customers,” said Ms Geissler. “NetSuite also gives us the ability to source courier freight estimates using a network of third-party partners to source the best shipping options. We have so much more flexibility now.”
Vet-N-Pet Direct’s marketing activities have also undergone a transformation, allowing the retailer to segment and target customers. SuiteCommerce enables it to set the right price and incentives to buy, giving the online retailer pricing rules to apply to specific customers, products and categories. Previously, it was unable to record who customers were, what they were buying and how often. As a result, the retailers’ customer satisfaction levels have elevated due to the transparency it now has from NetSuite.
“We now have game changing insights into our customers’ behaviour and we can respond accordingly,” said Ms Geissler. “These insights can now be shared with our manufacturers so we can engage in strategic co-marketing activities with them. Our professionalism, return on investment and confidence across the marketing spectrum has made a giant leap.”

News of the deployments comes as NetSuite has recently announced a number of other deployments in Australia. In late July, for example, the company revealed that a clutch of Australian manufacturers including Headland, Precision Mechatronics and BA Equipment Group had recently adopted its software as a service platform. In mid-May it was fast-growing Mexican restaurant and fast food chain Guzman y Gomez, and in March it was sustainable packaging company BioPak.

As I wrote about the Guzman y Gomez deployment:

“NetSuite is often pigeon-holded as a company targeting small to medium-businesses, as opposed to the really large customers which have traditionally in the past been the domain of rivals such as SAP and Oracle. And this is definitely what we see with the company’s recent Australian case studies — typically NetSuite is choosing to disclose customer wins involving fast-growing companies which have rapidly outgrown point solutions such as MYOB’s accounting packages and need to shift to a more comprehensive business management/financial/ERP package.

However, what I think is interesting about these kinds of deployments is that I would find it hard to believe that such companies would ever really want to switch off NetSuite once they’ve switched onto it as a smaller company. If Guzman y Gomez, for example, becomes a very large restaurant chain with hundreds or even thousands of restaurants, I wonder whether it would start looking at other software platforms for its business management software, or whether it would stay with NetSuite, which, after all, has a very comprehensive offering at this point. It would be interesting to hear from end users out there who have been at this point — and whether they feel they outgrew NetSuite at some point, or whether it kept on scaling up.

Because if you can get in early in fast-growing businesses, as NetSuite appears to be doing, and scale up with them all the way, then that’s a great place to be as a vendor, especially in Australia, which has such a huge proportion of small to medium-sized businesses.”

Image credit: NetSuite


  1. So I have to ask, what sort of data protection does Netsuite have in place being that it is a US based company?

    What is to prevent the US government Agencies rifling through the data if they want to?

  2. @Woolfe: Nothing and Nothing…..But to be honest I don’t really care that US government is looking at my purchases of Indian themed goods or animal based care products.

    Sure I’d fight for the principles of privacy over minor causes just for the sake of it, but the so pervasive nature of the surveillance WHICH HAS ALREADY OCCURRED makes me think that my privacy has been quite happy in its violation so far.

    I guess I would happily put up with it until a more egregious and personalised offense manifested itself. I think I found David Brin’s thoughts on this matter better enunciated than my own:

    • LOL, Preaching to the Converted my friend :-) I am a firm believer in Capitalism can only work correctly with full and complete disclosure. However I am also wise enough to know that no “ISM” can ever work as expected because humans are humans and no one size fits all.

      And just because you don’t think you’ve been hurt, doesn’t mean you haven’t. A prime example would be the actions of the content industry and government behind closed doors. They are attempting to prop up their high price market in Australia by bringing in Draconian laws to reduce one of the few ways for citizens to reject their controlled market environment.

      If people don’t ask the questions, then it just keeps happening. If as you suggest it was transparent for everyone then wayhay. But it clearly isn’t.

  3. @woolfe, you do realise that they still need to go through due process and dare I say it, there is more protection for those matters over there than in Australia.

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