Easy Comps - Web Present

Building a NetSuite Ecommerce Website with Keystone Data

Keystone Data produce high-performance, Ecommerce websites that integrate with a NetSuite system to provide an Ecommerce Platform without compromise. As an extension of Site Builder, Keystone Data can provide a complete, omnichannel experience that promotes directly accounting for online systems in one unified system. We believe Ecommerce should be seamless, and it’s time to support your customer’s interaction with NetSuite’s Order Management, Sales, Accounting and CRM capabilities.

Our design process and development experience allow us to offer clients advanced and bespoke website front-ends that are designed to be fit for purpose from the get go.

While our process is forever evolving, we utilise the following proven formula for supplying beautiful, high-performance websites:

Step 1 – The Creative Brief

The Creative Brief could be defined by either our experienced designer at Keystone Data, or supplied by our client with the consultation of their own designer. This stage is about getting to know your company, its personality and how you’d like to convey that through the website. Added to that, we like to explore elements of other websites that you may wish to incorporate or any must have features.

The Creative Brief may include:

  • The logos and branding concepts for the project.
  • Examples of websites to specify features for the website.
  • Examples of design elements or websites with a look or feel the client wishes to incorporate into the website.
  • Notes relating to the target market/demographic for the website

Step 2 – Website Design and Specification

At Keystone Data we like to make sure we are making the best possible website for our client, and a big part of that is working cohesively with the client to produce extensive designs and detailed specifications. We believe that in drawing up great plans, the customer can start to visualise what can be achieved and explore the functionality to aim for proactively, rather than in hindsight.

Design

The Website Design stage utilises the design parameters established in the Creative Brief to create a rich mock-up of each key page within the website.

The outcome of this phase is the creation of a Photoshop Design for each key page within the website. Images are often the easiest way to convey ideas and the client can evaluate at an early stage the websites potential appearance.

The Designs will form a key part of the documentation, which can be referred to as a specification of website features, as well as the look and feel.

During this stage Keystone Data present ideas to the client, collaborate on any potential changes and ensure the designs are signed off ready for development.

Specification

At Keystone Data, we ensure the Specification is thorough and accessible for the client to make sure the build is developed to exacting standards. In the specification stage we annotate the website designs to explore how the website will function.

The specification will be provided as a rich document detailing how the underlying NetSuite products, categories and website content will be displayed on the website and edited in NetSuite.

Step 3 – Website Development

The Website Development stage involves Keystone Data using modern technologies to build the website itself. Using our own bespoke Ecommerce platform, we are able to ensure that the website is built with NetSuite in mind; offering a platform that far exceeds the possibilities available when integrating with an external Ecommerce system.

Step 4 – Initial Website testing

During this phase Keystone Data will set up example products within NetSuite’s Inventory and website content, so as the website closely matches the initial designs. This allows us to mimic the functionality defined in the specification and test the processes in preparation for our clients to begin managing the backend.

At this stage we like to present the functionality of the website to our client and ensure the build is surpassing expectations.

Step 5 – Website Refinement and Population of Data

Within the Website Refinement stage, the client will begin to populate the website with their own data and complete the website testing under tutelage from Keystone Data. We have produced extensive guides and documentation that adds to NetSuite’s own support to ensure the system is accessible and manageable.

With an open line of communication, our clients can feedback to us on any issues or discuss any future developments.

Step 6 – Website Go Live Pre-Testing

Going live with a web store can be a daunting undertaking. At Keystone Data, we test the build at every stage to promote reliability but prepare the client for Go Live with a Test Plan prepared for all eventualities.

Testing isn’t just limited to the frontend however, with the full order system tested in NetSuite too.

Keystone Data work to provide the best possible solutions for all our clients, and so while this process gives an insight into what you could expect when building a website with us, our exhaustive approach to NetSuite means that may just be the start.

The process above focuses on the front-end implementation of an Ecommerce website with an existing NetSuite system, however at Keystone Data we specialise in NetSuite implementations that coincide with delivery of an Ecommerce platform too. For more information, please don’t hesitate in contacting Keystone Data today.

 

monte-blanc-icon-netsuite

Preview: SuiteCommerce Advanced Monte Blanc Release

NetSuite is looking to hit new heights with development of Monte Blanc, their upcoming release of SuiteCommerce. With a targeted release of early Q1, NetSuite is looking to up user experience and deliver greater operational efficiencies. New features are expected to include: improved support for SuiteCommerce InStore (NetSuite’s Sales Associate Interface to support Omnichannel Retail), enhanced B2B capabilities, detailed performance analysis, and increased marketing functionality.

Here are our highlights from the mountain of new features:

 

New Payment Options

SuitePayments will be offering some more modern alternatives to debit and credit cards in the fairly immediate future. With different methods growing in popularity, NetSuite is looking to respond with the ability to set up support for: e-wallets, mobile wallets, direct debits, vouchers and real-time bank transfers.

Multi-Channel “My Account” Experience

NetSuite wants to be the true unified, multi-channel solution; and so Monte Blanc will look to supply a “My Account” experience that delivers peerless visibility. A customer will have the ability to see online, in-store or employee-added purchases, along with information pertinent to each individual channel sale.

Store Locator

It’s hard for a retailer to forego the ability to help their customers find them. Luckily it looks like the ability to guide people to your retail is on the horizon. As is to be expected, the Store Locator will provide the standard search functionality on postcode or address.

Google Tags made simpler

The new Google Tag Manager will make implementation of dynamic tags for marketing and analytics much easier than the current hardcoded ones. Especially when combined with out-of-the-box support for Google AdWords, Google Universal Analytics, Bing Ads and Optimizely.

Diagnosing bottlenecks

Maybe a little later than Q1, but in the near term, it will be possible to speed up your website’s performance with the Application Performance Sensor (APM). The APM will add a tool to the dashboard that can help the user to pinpoint the root causes of performance issues ready to be addressed.

All these features, coupled with shareable wishlists, product comparisons and password protected sites and pricing, should help define SuiteCommerce Advanced as a truly modern platform.

Further information can be found on the NetSuite Website or if you want to talk through your Ecommerce options don’t hesitate in contacting Keystone Data today.

netsuite-accounting-3

Vertical market sub-listing

One of our clients wanted to be able to record vertical markets in a hierarchy. For example Retail with sub lists of hardware shops, supermarkets, specialist shops etc

The vertical market field provided as standard in Netsuite does not directly support this and we considered the option of a coding system to provide it.

For example:
20 any retail
21 hardware shops
22 supermarkets
23 specialist shops

But we thought this could get rather cumbersome and would require a lot of consideration to ensure the coding system supported the sort of vertical markets likely to be wanted.

Another option considered was to implement a bespoke solution with a custom field but we always prefer to avoid bespoke or customisation when possible,

We then realised that the free official bundle ‘enhanced sales center’ includes a field ‘industry’ and that this supports sub listing.

The further advantage of using this field is that the ‘vertical market’ field can now be used for other important characteristic about customers that is not recorded in any other standard field.

vertical markets sub-list

Complexity of Ecommerce in relation to Magento, Shopify & NetSuite SuiteCommerce

NetSuite Ecommerce – Magento, Shopify or SuiteCommerce – Choosing the best option.

In this post I provide an overview of some of factors users of NetSuite should consider when choosing an Ecommerce Platform.

 

Whilst at Keystone Data and in a previous company I have built a great many NetSuite integrated websites.  As a general rule, for simpler sites, integration with Best of Breed is a good idea, however as sites get more complex the cost of integration can outweigh some of the benefits the best of breed platforms offer.

 

Before discussing which platform you should choose, I have clarified a few often misunderstood terms relating to SuiteCommerce, SiteBuilder and SuiteCommerce Advanced (often referred to as SCA)

 

What is NetSuite SuiteCommerce?  

NetSuite SuiteCommerce is NetSuites native ecommerce platform.  One way to think of this is a way of opening up your internal ERP system and allowing customer to interact directly with it.

Doing this has significant advantages over integrating with an external platform as your customers can be provided with live data directly from your internal system and are effectively accessing the same system as your internal staff via a customer facing website.

SuiteCommerce offers two distinct products, SuiteCommerce SiteBuilder and SuiteCommerce Advanced.

 

What is SiteBuilder?

SiteBuilder is NetSuites legacy ecommerce platform offering a well road tested but rather simplistic ecommerce front end with limited customisation ability.

What is SuiteCommerce Advanced?

SuiteCommerce Advanced is a more flexible, higher end product offering full flexibility and higher performance.

 

Best of Breed vs SuiteCommerce

NetSuite SuiteCommerce platform offers an extensive set of capabilities for building Ecommerce Websites.  However, building out Ecommerce functionality directly on NetSuite using SuiteCommerce can be more expensive that building using a best in class platform such as Magento or Shopify.

You might therefore conclude that best in class is the way to go, however if you have experience integrating ecommerce sites with ERP or you have read our article “How to Integrate Ecommerce Sites with NetSuite” you might have noted that although it can be cheaper to build on a best in class platform, the integration costs can outway the savings made by doing this.

Although this is true, for very simple ecommerce websites integration can be fairly straightforward and therefore best of breed is more suitable than SuiteCommerce.

A list of features which make ecommerce sites more complex and more difficult to integrate with an ERP system include:

  1. Complex or quantity driven pricing –  the methods used to configure these pricing structures will often differ between the ERP system and Ecommerce Platform.  Therefore integrating this can be very tricky.
  2. Offers, promotions and coupon codes – In addition to differing methods of configuring these elements, these can be represented differently on orders / invoices.  This can introduce considerable challenges when integrating
  3. Multi Language, multi currency, and multiple geographical zones targeted – These elements can introduce a whole range of issues when integrating, from issues with currency exchange rates, issues with lack of centralisation of multilingual product data.
  4. Complex delivery options – these very quickly become next to impossible to integrate due to differences in the way these are set up.
  5. Customer based pricing – this area will almost certainly differ between Ecommerce System and NetSuite, if the business has a large number of customers this area can prove very time consuming and challenging to integrate.
  6. Integrated support systems
  7. Fully integrated returns processes
  8. Live orders required for customer orders not placed online – this would require a 2 way integration.
  9. Online statement downloads – As Accounts Receivable procedures are not operated in the Ecommmce platform this must be provided by the ERP System.

However, in addition to the features I outline in this document, other factors will play into the decision on platform such as:

  • Budget – If a business generates a large volume of business online and has a considerable budget, an additional spend required to implement SuiteCommerce Advanced will not be significant when compared to the advantages to be gained from a fully integrated ecommerce front end.
  • Technical Skills of In house staff – The customer might have an existing Ecommerce site or technical skills developing an another ecommerce technology.

 

Eassy Composites

Easy Composites go live

Easy Composites, the Stoke-based supplier of a huge range of advanced composite materials with associated services to businesses and end users has gone live with its NetSuite implementation project.

This project included the using our JCatalogue product to re-site their website integrated with NetSuite and customisation functions.

The customization included a range of tailored user interfaces in the warehouse and customized dashboard information. Because Easy Composites supply products that fall under the Dangerous Goods Act we also included customizations to auto calculate suitable packaging for orders containing dangerous goods and auto generates highly accurate Dangerous Goods notes and Commercial Invoices.

Ecommerce Support

4 ways to get the most from NetSuite’s Customer Service & Support System for Retailers

1. Quick Add Solutions

When responding to customer queries we often find we reuse the same snippets and templates over and over again. To make the process more efficient, you should use Topics & Solutions to organise your predefined copy for use in customer cases.

NetSuite’s Knowledge Base can be used to feed FAQs onto your website or to advise employees; but in this instance, we suggest that you use them to standardise your case handling and email responses.

Topics act as a Category for the different Solutions which help when finding and adding Solutions to email responses.

To add a Solution, begin by going to Lists > Support > Solutions > New.

Setting a descriptive Title is really important here, so users can find the solution easily when adding it as a snippet to a Case response. In this example we will be adding a “Customer Returns Information Snippet (Standard)” Solution that could be used to drop the standard process information into an email to respond to a customer return request.

The “Status” must be set to Approved to allow use of the Solution on Cases and can be used for employees to create drafts before management approval. Checking “Display Online” will make the Solution available for Website Content.

The “Abstract” acts as a brief description, and will be displayed on the Solutions list to help identify each distinctive Solution. The “Description” section is where you can define the Snippet you’d like to appear in the case email. This area is HTML editable to help maintain your Email Templating, but can also just be added via the Rich Text Editor. CRMDSK Tags are also available in Solutions which are able to incorporate live NetSuite information in the copy.

As mentioned earlier, Topics help to categorise the Solution and can be used as a filter searching for Solutions to add to case responses. Other Solutions can be added to “Related Records” too to allow links through to similar responses.

Once saved the Solution can be used in the “Outgoing from Support Rep” section of NetSuite cases. This means that by clicking on the Solution it will automatically be added to the body of the email, saving time and ensuring consistent communication standards from all employees.

It is possible to add multiple solutions to a single message and therefore construct formulaic and consistent replies to different variations of queries.

2. Using Rules and Criteria

As a basic customer support system, NetSuite will supply all queries in one place with a Round Robin approach to sharing them out between support reps. However, if certain Case or Customer fields would be great filters for focusing who receives which queries they should be incorporated as Rules. For example, using Case Types (as discussed later) to better define what the customer is asking and associate it with the equivalent department is a lot more efficient than bouncing it between support reps until it finds the right knowledge base.

Rules can be added by going to Setup > Support > Case Rules and they work similarly to a Saved Search. For example, if you wished to associate merchant customers with a senior support group, a Case Field Rule could be added that declares if Merchant Account checkbox is TRUE on the customer record, then apply that case to the Case Territory with a senior support group added as members.

 

3. Efficient Case Capture Forms

Ecommerce Retailers can make use of a link between Website Capture Form and NetSuite to drag queries straight from the customer into the system. Unfortunately lots of retailers tend to stick to the default form that doesn’t make the customers do a bit more of the leg work for them.

Directing cases to the right people not only helps the customer get the right answer but saves the business huge amounts of time. With groups or territories set up, it makes sense to make your customer select a case type that adds their case to the relevant territory.

A good Case Capture Form can help tailor a customer’s query to your system and guide it towards more formulaic responses to help save time. NetSuite can allow the user to attach Files, which is a great way to encourage customers to add screenshots, while it is also easy to add an auto-reply to confirm to the customer the issue has being received.

Multiple forms could be added to help your website to categorise different queries and direct them directly to the equivalent group, or a rule set up to send all with a Case Type of “Returns Query” directly to the Returns Department.

 

4. Defining Unique Case Types

Case Types are used to help process and understand the type of customer query the business has received. However, the NetSuite default types are fairly basic; comprising of: “Question”, “Concern” or “Problem”. Tailoring the types to better suit your business is an efficient way to help focus your Customer Support.

Evaluating the current types of queries you tend to receive, and defining them within categories could help you better direct incoming cases. For example, the three types could be split into “Sales”, “Product”, “Website”, “Order Management” and “Return’s” “Questions”, “Concerns” and “Problems”.

Using unique Types can help break down the lists of Cases, and associate them to the relevant Support Groups; but then also can be used for Online Forms to encourage the customer to direct queries better too. A list like the following could make identifying cases much easier.

 

For more information on implementing Customer Service & Support features for your NetSuite account, contact Keystone Data today.

 

 

dd heading

The internet in the consumer’s pocket : What retailers can do about Smartphones, Tablets and becoming Omnichannel

Consumers are swimming in more channels than ever when taking the purchase journey. Businesses have accepted they need to consider more than ever just how connected to the world of pricing and product information their customers are. With 31% of consumers visiting in-store before buying online and  34% doing research online then coming in-store, there is a worry retail outlets could be on their way to just being Amazon’s showroom (The Omnichannel Opportunity, Deloitte/ebay, 2014).

The answer, it is implied, is Omnichannel. Consumer expectations are sky-high and so a need for a seamless system has arisen, where the brand connects its bricks and mortar to ecommerce, mobile apps and social media seamlessly.

And so the focus of this blog materialises, when mobile devices now mean consumers can be connected to the web and wandering through your store at the same time, what should you do about it?

 

Internet-in-their-pocket shoppers and Google

The first worry with Android shoppers is their ability to quickly Google your product straight from the barcode. Why is this a worry? Well first of all you’re not price-competitive, second of all you’re not on the first page of search results and finally you haven’t given any reason for brand loyalty.

Luckily that wasn’t actually your scenario and we can think on this first. The first and biggest concern posed by the internet is the threat of substitute. Are you selling someone else’s product or brand that is subject to price wars, or is your product fairly generic and alternatives can be easily found? If yes and yes it is time to deliver a compelling argument to your customer. A great brand is a reassurance and great service a way to be distinctive, but the modern millennial is a thriftier adversary than ever before.

One solution is for the retailer to develop their own range and brand so they can dictate how much their product is worth through marketing and customer experience, rather than eBay’s average auction price. That level of brand control is what you see all across the high street, but what about using a bit of the consumer’s tech against them. Could it be possible to use consumer’s searching devices to even the playing field?

 

Wi-fi-ght at all

Some retailers have started offering wi-fi in-store and it isn’t just for bored husbands at the changing rooms. Sure it may trap people in Debenhams a while longer, and offer a way to collect some extra people for the mailing list; but what happens if the consumer jumps from product reviews to competitor checkout? (Want to make use of your competitor’s wi-fi? Keystone Data offer a fully-unified NetSuite ecommerce solution and responsive website development that will look and function beautifully on the shopper’s mobile)

This is where the omnichannel approach starts to take shape. If the customer has the opportunity to go online, give them a reason to stay loyal to you on the web. Invest in the SEO for your likely product searches to reassure the customer of your brand’s legitimacy, offer incentive codes at point-of-sale in-store to force them through the checkout online or give cues in-store to further rich content available online or on your Social Media (video tutorials for example).

 

Connecting your customer service

Anything your customers can do, your staff might just be able to do better. The advancements in tablets and unified cloud solutions, like NetSuite, means retail staff can now be given the whole supply chain at their fingertips. Having the opportunity to give Mr & Mrs Smith a live, accurate and instant promise when it comes to stock, is a reassurance that will remind them of the usability they enjoy from Amazon. Being able to transition this quote into an order in no time, even better. Being able to set them up with an account for your web-store at the same time and you’re ready to enjoy omnichannelling.

Once Mr & Mrs Smith have their access online it is easy for retailers to forget that they were happy to come in-store once upon a time. Click and Collect is often seen as the reserve for larger companies, but it’s often just a case of being the person willing to stay in all day for the delivery. If your opening hours are more likely to be accessible to the young professional than Royal Mail’s vague midday drop-off, that could be a unique selling point that makes you money in your area. Offer out a discount for Click & Collect through your mailing list and social media, and then you could be punching above your weight in the omnichannel arena.

 

 

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Three new clients

Over the last few months we have won business with three new clients.

 

Lloyd & Barnes based in Cwmbran are an insurance advisor for whom we are developing a front end to NetSuite to handle their insurance brokerage business.

 

Thames Distribution based near Reading are a distributor of electronic parts and equipment for whom we have provided a tailored link between their invoices and email.

 

Abacus Direct based in Harrogate are a manufacturer and distributor of bathroom and heating products who have appointed Keystone Data to redesign and build their websites linking them to their new NetSuite implementation.

global currency

How to use multiple currencies in NetSuite

When a company decides they need to use foreign currency in NetSuite there are a number of decisions to be made. These decisions can only be made once the company has decided what aspects of multi-currency usage they need.

In this paper I shall consider the various issues in tracking different currencies for a company that buys or sells goods or services in more than one currency. There are a number of other details and features that NetSuite offers and we recommend that a company considers all aspects carefully before making decisions and implementing multi-currencies.

NetSuite also caters for a company that owns subsidiaries working in different currencies via OneWorld. I shall consider their situation in a separate paper.

Record actual cost in foreign currency.

When a company buys or sells anything in other than their base currency (sterling for UK) they may want their system to record the value of that item in its currency. For example if a company buys products from South Korea they would want to record the fact that it cost 100,000,000 South Korean won (KRW) rather than 100,000,000 in sterling.

Estimate base (sterling) value of foreign currency transactions.

Having bought products in one currency a company may want to estimate how much it costs in sterling in order to decide what price to sell it at. This is an.

Similarly an company is likely to want to know what the sterling value of a sale price is in order to judge what margin is expected compared to sterling-based costs.

These are estimates at this stage because until the invoice from the supplier is paid the actual cost of the goods in sterling is unknown and similarly until a payment is received from a customer the actual sterling price in unknown.

For example in May the company may receive 100,000,000 KRW worth of goods from the supplier but not actually send money to the supplier until July. The sterling rate for KRW will probably vary over two months and even if it does not vary the actual rate paid by the company will depend upon how the 100,000,000 KRW are bought – from which bank etc. Therefore until such time as the bill is paid the company is working on an estimate of how much the goods cost in sterling.

Estimate sterling value of foreign currency balances

Another reason why an company would need to record the estimated cost in sterling of any outstanding currency balances is to maintain a position at any time of the state of the business in accounting terms for example sterling cost of goods or value of accounts receivables in the profit and loss and value of inventory, bank balance or fixed asset in the balance sheet.

An outstanding currency balance could be in accounts receivable or payable, awaiting payment by a customer or the company to its suppliers, or it could be in assets, perhaps a bank account in a foreign currency or a fixed asset purchased in a foreign currency.

NetSuite will hold a sterling value against each outstanding foreign currency transaction which from time to time should be re-valued. It is recommended that such re-valuations take place before a period close and further strongly recommended that period closure be used via enabling of the Accounting Periods feature in order to effectively use foreign currency features.

If periods are not closed such re-valuation will affect foreign currency transactions from what the business considers closed ‘earlier’ periods even though NetSuite still considers the periods open.

Common exchange rates across the business or vary by transaction

NetSuite allows the use of one exchange rate across all transactions or to enter a rate for individual (or selected) transactions.

When a new transaction is entered there is a choice of using the one ‘standard’ rate or entering a particular rate. When the re-valuation process occurs (see above) the company can decide whether to re-value all transaction types.

For example, a company may decide to use a different rate for purchases than for all other balances. In such circumstances when entering a new purchase the company would manually enter the rate. Then when re-valuing foreign currency (possibly at the end of the period) they would select account types other than Accounts Payable. Optionally the company could manually update the Accounts Payable transactions to common exchange rates before period close.

Using one exchange rate across all transactions means that the latest rate is used when entering transactions and on re-valuation, the option of All Account Types is selected.

Automatically or manually update common exchange rates

NetSuite offers the choice of an automatic update of exchange rates, manual update or update via importing a currency exchange file.

Automatic update is available via a choice of providers:

  • Xignite, which is the default rate provider, and Thomson Reuters. Xignite sources its data from Morningstar and provides the latest bid and ask exchange rates as well as the computed midpoint of these two quotes, which NetSuite uses.
  • Thomson Reuters has received awards from Waters Ranking in 2013 for Best Reference Data Provider and Best Low-Latency Data Feed Provider. This rate provider offers real-time, current market rates.

Manual update is available either when a decision is made (perhaps daily or weekly) to update the recorded exchange rate or when a transaction is entered with a manually entered exchange rate. At that point of time NetSuite allows for the update of the common exchange rate by updating the currency record.

Multiple currencies

There is no restriction on the number of currencies that NetSuite supports and further more NetSuite allows the use of more than one currency for any customer or vendor.

Fluctuations in Exchange rates

NetSuite automatically calculates realised and unrealised gains and losses.

Account Source
Realised Gain/Loss Realised gains and losses resulting from payment application
Unrealised Gain/Loss Unrealised gains and losses resulting from month-end open balance revaluation
Unrealised Matching Gain/Loss Matching unrealised gains and losses from revenue commitments and funds deposited

This type of gain or loss is initiated internally during certain foreign currency transactions such as when a customer payment is deposited into bank. NetSuite creates a gain or loss as part of the bank deposit, regardless of the dates of the customer payment and bank deposit.