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NetSuite Aims To Help Retailers Battle Amazon

NetSuite buys cloud-based Order Motion management application to help retailers turn stores into mini warehouses and distribution centers.

Retailers doing battle with Amazon and other online sellers have an underutilized asset that could be turned to their advantage: Stores.

NetSuite this week acquired order-management firm Order Motion to help retailers using its cloud-based application suite turn stores into mini warehouses and distribution points for faster, cheaper delivery close to the customer. The move comes as retailers are dealing with complex demands to enable customers to shop online and pick up or return products in stores and to deliver from online or other stores when customers don't find what they want in stock at a retail location.

Order Motion focuses on the back-end coordination behind the multi-channel challenge, which is the "unglamorous" but hard part, according to Andy Lloyd, general manager of commerce products at NetSuite. The company's cloud-based order-management applications help retailers effectively tap into in-store inventory for e-commerce fulfillment so they can operate more efficiently.

"Instead of having to have a massive stockpile of goods at a distribution center, they can burn down the inventory strategically from within retail locations," Lloyd told InformationWeek.

"With this distributed approach, retailers not only save on inventory, they can save on shipping and get goods to the consumer much more quickly from locations that are closer to the customer."

[ Want more on NetSuite's retail capabilities? Read NetSuite Acquires Retail Anywhere For Point-Of-Sale Boost. ]

Sounds good in theory, but are retail stores and store employees really prepared to pick, pack and ship out goods on a day-to-day basis?

There are "core operational challenges" in this distributed order-management approach, Lloyd acknowledged, including store flow and employee training considerations. But the Order Motion application makes it obvious what products need to be picked off shelves and either held for pickup or shipped out for fulfillment as part of a larger order.

NetSuite acquired all assets of Order Motion, a privately held company in Burlington, Mass. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company had 180 customers, but it was acquired primarily for its technology and domain expertise. Company co-founder and CTO Patrick Puck is joining NetSuite. NetSuite will continue to offer standalone Order Motion services for current customers until the applications are integrated with the larger NetSuite service.

NetSuite already offered order-management capabilities to its 16,000-plus customers, but Order Motion offers superior order continuity and replenishment functionality, according to Lloyd.

"They have great support for recurring orders and direct-response TV was an area where they have been very successful with strong call-center support," Lloyd said.

The acquisition of Order Motion follows close on the heels of NetSuite's January purchase of Retail Anywhere, a cloud-based point-of-sale system that helps consolidate transactions from across multiple stores, integrate with backend systems and support business intelligence querying and reporting.

All of these capabilities are now directly tied in with NetSuite's multi-channel inventory management, storefront, order-management and customer support capabilities, which span retail, websites, call centers, social media networks and mobile channels.

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