January 10, 2013, 12:51 PM

NetSuite buys Retail Anywhere for point-of-sale technology

The deal is designed to expand NetSuite’s cross-channel retailing services.

Lead Photo

Branden Jenkins

NetSuite Inc., a provider of Internet-based e-commerce and business operations software, is shoring up its position in cross-channel retailing technology with the announcement today that it has bought Retail Anywhere. Retail Anywhere designs its “cloud,” or Internet-based point-of-sale software, to run on conventional in-store terminals as well as on such mobile devices as iPhone smartphones, iPad tablet computers and iPod Touch handhelds. NetSuite did not say what it is paying for Retail Anywhere.

A year ago, Retail Anywhere launched a cloud-based point-of-sale software application to run on NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce technology platform, making NetSuite’s back-end financial management software the system of record for sales processed in clients’ stores. For retailers also using NetSuite for their e-commerce sites, this has provided them with a single database for managing sales and customer data across multiple selling channels, says Andy Lloyd, general manager of commerce products at NetSuite. He says the system is designed, for example, to let retailers as well as their customers see real-time updates of available inventory as sales are processed in any retail channel, and to provide retailers with information on how customers shop across channels to support cross-channel marketing and merchandising campaigns.

“By adding an in-store solution to SuiteCommerce, NetSuite is enabling merchants to meet their customers’ demands for cross-channel shopping integration,” Lloyd says. “NetSuite Retail Anywhere further extends the reach of NetSuite’s full platform of business capabilities to the showroom floor, where most retail business still takes place today.” NetSuite introduced SuiteCommerce in May 2012 as an upgraded e-commerce platform  offering more options in web design and easier connections to software plug-ins from other vendors.

Retail Anywhere, based in Paso Robles, CA, will operate as a subsidiary of San Mateo, CA-based NetSuite. Branden Jenkins, CEO of Retail Anywhere, a veteran of retail software development, joins NetSuite as general manager, eTail/Retail Products.

Retail Anywhere says it has thousands of clients. NetSuite claims more than 12,000. NetSuite has seven clients listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and 16 in the Second 500 Guide.

After the two companies started working closely together a year ago, they realized that merging the companies would enable them to provide a more effective technology platform, Jenkins says. “We quickly gained about 27 new customers, but about halfway through the year we found the relationship between the two companies needed to be stronger,” he says.

Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research, says NetSuite and Retail Anywhere are in a good position to serve a growing market need. “Of course they’ll have some integration work to do and some holes to fill, but it’s a strong step into the retail market. It’s an excellent opportunity for them in the mid-market, at a minimum.”

Lloyd and Jenkins say they expect to serve a broad scope of retailers. They say they’re targeting retail chains ranging from a few to hundreds of stores. But Lloyd notes that one large multichannel retailer with more than $1 billion in total annual sales is planning to roll out later this year the combined NetSuite and Retail Anywhere systems across several hundred stores as well as online. He declines to name the retailer, but notes that the project is expected to take about six months to implement. “They initially wanted do this within 18 months, but we said we could do it in six,” Lloyd says.

Other smaller retailers who already use technology from both NetSuite and Retail Anywhere say it has helped make it easier and faster to manage multichannel operations. Melissa Tomaszewski, who works as a technology systems consultant to bicycle and parts retailer Transition BMX, which operates one physical store along with its e-commerce site, says the retailer started using technology from both vendors last July. “The new set-up allows us to run one database for both retail channels, and the nice thing is that means we have real-time inventory availability on our web site,” says Tomaszewski, whose husband, Bernie Tomaszewski, owns Edmonton, Alberta-based Transition BMX. “If you buy something in our store and it’s the last item, it automatically becomes not available online. We used to have to do a lot of maintenance to keep our web site up to date.” The change has led to fewer customers contacting the retailer's call center to inquire about products, she adds.

The Noerr Programs Corp., a company that operates Christmas and Easter season photo events at more than 200 locations across the United States, started testing Retail Anywhere for its on-site point-of-sale terminals during last year’s Eastern season, then rolled out the software for more than 200 locations during the Christmas season, says Michael Wood, director of operations for Noerr Programs. Because of the integration with Noerr’s NetSuite accounting software, Noerr was able to complete the updating of its busy Christmas season sales faster and more accurately than in the past, he says.

Both Tomaszewski and Wood say they expect NetSuite’s acquisition of Retail Anywhere to provide a more useful multichannel technology system as the companies work to better integrate their applications. For example, Wood notes that he expects it will be easier to quickly and accurately process e-mailed coupons that customers print out and present when checking out in a store, because a clerk will be able to scan or type in the coupon code directly into the Retail Anywhere software without having to open a separate NetSuite application.

Tomaszewski adds that tighter integration between Retail Anywhere and NetSuite will make it possible for a store clerk to receive merchandise delivered from distributors and update inventory records directly into the Retail Anywhere POS software without having to separately log into the NetSuite system. “By doing that faster we can spend more time helping customers,” she says.

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