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NetSuite acquires Retail Anywhere, touts revised e-commerce technology

A BMX bicycle dealer talks about Retail Anywhere, a point-of-sale company acquired today by CRM vendor NetSuite to update its e-commerce technology.

From bicycles to helmets and wheels to brakes, Transition BMX probably has everything a rider might need.

And being way up in the northern reaches of Edmonton, Alberta, hasn't posed a problem for the store: E-commerce represents as much as 25% of its business. But what did cause headaches for a while was the process of aligning in-store and online customer information and product inventories.

Until last year, Transition BMX had separate systems to keep track of store and Web transactions, and it was "a lot of extra work," said Melissa Tomaszewski, who works as a consultant for the owner, her husband, Bernie Tomaszewski. "We were running completely different customer databases," she said. "We were replicating inventory in the other system, doing the same thing multiple times. It does cause problems if you don't update everything."

Transition BMX needed e-commerce technology that would combine customer, sales and financial information, Tomaszewski said. So, last July the bike store started using Retail Anywhere POS [point of sale] for NetSuite. The package included a mashup of products from Retail Anywhere, a Paso Robles, Calif.-based POS software company; and NetSuite, the San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of Software as a Service-based CRM, enterprise resource planning and financial software suites.

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The NetSuite-Retail Anywhere package pushed Transition BMX into third gear, she said, because it provides up-to-the-minute information on in-store and Web sales, performs analytics, keeps track of all inventory, and gives a full view of brick-and-mortar and e-commerce customers.

After partnering last year -- just about when Transition BMX purchased the combined product -- NetSuite announced today that it has purchased Retail Anywhere. NetSuite wouldn't disclose the amount of the sale. The Retail Anywhere POS for NetSuite product will continue to sell as it has, except it will now be called NetSuite Retail Anywhere.

Integrating Retail Anywhere with NetSuite's cloud computing platform gives businesses a full view of each customer across all retail channels, while providing inventory and financial  information, said Retail Anywhere CEO Branden Jenkins, who will have a new role with NetSuite as a general manager of retail products.

Customer channels include the physical POS for stores, contact centers, social media, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, websites, and applications on laptops and mobile devices. It allows retailers to simultaneously work in the cloud and on the sales floor, Jenkins said.

Combining POS from Retail Anywhere with NetSuite's fuller product makes sense for small retailers, but not large ones, according to Gene Alvarez, an analyst who specializes in e-commerce technology for IT research Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn.

"A retailer usually buys everything from one vendor," Alvarez said. "If you're a new organization, and need point of sale and everything NetSuite offers, that's fine. But for a large, established one, some of that value goes away because you won't need all of NetSuite's package. If you already have a lot of those things, you don't need to upgrade."

That's a challenge that prevents retailers from fully immersing in e-commerce, Alvarez said. A retailer with 1,000 stores isn't looking to take on more technology that handles CRM, sales, financial and other business functions, he said. "Cracking point of sale and connecting stores has been a challenge for the retailers. It’s not a signal of something new," he said.

But Transition BMX has only one store; it needed to unify its processes. After looking at a few vendors, it stopped at the NetSuite-Retail Anywhere suite. Implementing it was a time-consuming process, Tomaszewski said. "We had to do a fair bit of work in preparing for NetSuite. It's a big system and we had to make sure our retail systems were speaking properly to it."

Up and running, it's become simple enough for the store clerk who runs the "till" -- or cash register -- to scan items for sale or review customer information, Tomaszewski said. Transition BMX also now has a bridge between e-commerce and physical sales, she said. Once a customer buys an item online, that transaction can also be viewed as an in-store purchase, merging views of inventory, she said.

"We're a specialty store, so we carry lots of stuff," Tomaszewski said. "We may not carry a large volume of stuff, but we offer a lot of stuff. So we need a real-time inventory."

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