May 14, 2013, 5:33 PM

Williams-Sonoma launches stores and e-commerce in Australia

The home goods retailer opens stores and e-commerce sites for each of its four brands.

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Williams-Sonoma Inc. simultaneously launched e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar stores in Australia earlier this month. Four e-retail sites for four of the home goods retailers’ brands—Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma—launched May 2. Williams-Sonoma also opened four matching bricks-and-mortar stores in Bondi Junction, a suburb of Sydney. The stores are the retailer’s first company-owned and operated stores outside the United States.

The e-commerce sites are built and operated on NetSuite Inc.’s e-commerce platform, SuiteCommerce. The stores, too, though an integration at point-of-sale terminals, allow Williams-Sonoma to incorporate store sales data into the NetSuite software, as does an integration at call centers, all of which combined provides the retailer from day one with a “fully omnichannel operation,” said Williams-Sonoma chief information officer John Strain this morning at the NetSuite SuiteWorld conference in San Jose, CA.

“We wanted to go out with everything,” Strain said.

It took Williams-Sonoma about 10 months to prepare the retail stores for opening. It took three months to get the e-commerce sites ready to go—significantly faster than Williams-Sonoma could develop the sites themselves. Strain estimated it would have taken the retailer three years to develop what it wanted on the platform it uses for operations in the United States; Williams-Sonoma built and maintains that platform in-house.

He said he felt the web-based NetSuite platform offers features that are as good, and sometimes better, than what Williams-Sonoma developed on its own. He also said building on the vendor’s platform mitigated some of the risk the retailer otherwise would have had to shoulder if it tried to develop the systems itself.

The technology to gather the point-of-sale data inside store comes from Retail Anywhere, which NetSuite bought in January. The retailer’s call center for the Australian market also incorporates NetSuite’s customer relationship management technology. Having all these pieces flow through the NetSuite platform means Williams-Sonoma will be able to have one customer record for each customer no matter which channel a customer uses to shop with the retailer, said Zach Nelson, NetSuite’s CEO. “The system recognizes the customer no matter where they interact with you,” he said.

Williams-Sonoma is No. 22 in the 2013 edition of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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