NetSuite (credit image/Pixabay/ Eduardo Davad)Chris Benner has been in the retail technology sector for more than 30 years. He is Master Industry Principal and Retail expert at NetSuite for the last eight years. He started his NetSuite career demonstrating and evangelising their products and working on strategic sales deals. Today, he works with analysts, partners and customers to communicate NetSuite’s roadmap and strategy. Enterprise Times caught up with Benner at the SuiteWorld event in Las Vegas.

What are the main challenges for retailers operating in today’s particular kind of tough climate?

“I think there are several challenges that retailers currently face:

  1. “They need to deliver the customer experience to meet consumers expectations. This is vital to ensure they remain loyal to your store, instead of competitors. The customer experience is huge. Solution providers like NetSuite must think how they can deliver that customer experience. It has to be modern, and relevant with what other competitors or Amazon are doing. It must meet consumers expectations, irrespective of whether they go to a physical store or they shop online. Can we make things simpler for the consumer?
  2. “There are various challenges for retailers on the operational side of the business. Enterprises have to pay attention to inventory. Ensuring they have the right inventory at the right place at the right time. Furthermore, ensure they are not losing money when getting inventory to the right place. This entails having complete visibility of stock and having greater visibility into supply and demand. This is important to ensure retailers can profitably get the stock to their customers when they need it. During the last few releases, NetSuite has been focusing on supply chain operations. Enabling visibility into the supply chain and supporting the sourcing of goods, getting into the supply chain.
  3. “Many brands and retailers are focusing on concepts like buy online, pick up in store and developing shipping flexibility. All of these initiatives are superb, however, we have coined our own concept – BAFFA – buy anywhere fulfil from anywhere.
(credit image/LinkedIn/Chris Benner)
Chris Benner is Master Industry Principal and Retail expert at NetSuite

“NetSuite’s unified platform is trying to break down the barriers between retailers, customers, and vendors. I want to make sure the processes are as simple as possible. If I need to buy a dishwasher, it should not matter whether it came from the warehouse or clicks-and-mortar store. It should just seamlessly arrive at my front door.

“During the pandemic, many retailers had to pivot their business models rapidly to continue their relationships with customers.”

How did NetSuite support their customers during Covid-19?

“It was a scary time going into COVID. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was honestly fearful that many companies would go out of business. What we found was that even the smallest of companies survived because they became agile and creative. They quickly developed new tools such as BOPIS – buy online pick up in store. They had never done this before. Restaurants developed new business models. In this new environment we found new models which required flexibility to adjust and meet consumers in a safe way where they wanted to meet you.

“In NetSuite, we had a lot of customers reaching out to us, to support remote working for employees. We also offered the flexibility for those companies that wanted to start using BOPIS. We were able to immediately support their needs because we were running their website or store solution. We already had all the data in the cloud available to them. Some retailers just needed to change some messaging on their website and communicate with their customers. They were now able to offer curb-side pickup.”

What is in your product roadmap for NetSuite’s commerce solutions?

“Both on the commerce and non-commerce side, there’s a lot of focus on analytics and providing data visibility. We have been working on behavioural analytics and intelligent product recommendations. We are going deeper into giving retailers insight into how their consumers are interacting with them. Behavioural analytics gives us the ability to figure out how consumers are browsing the website. If an enterprise launches a new promotion, we can track the customer clicks, product reviews and the conversion rate. This is behavioural analytics on the commerce side, in addition to intelligent product recommendations.

“For a number of years, NetSuite has been investigating the issue of basket analysis. Reviewing the likelihood of individuals who buy a particular product buying other related products. We are exposing that on the website, giving retailers the tools to cross-sell and upsell products and services. Providing retailers with intelligent promotions that are consumer-driven, that are going to give the consumers a better experience.”

What are your thoughts on the future of retailing?

“The key concept will be the emergence of BAFFA – buy anywhere fulfil from anywhere and breaking down the walls between retailers, vendors and customers. There are many retailers who want to get technology out of the way of their work environment. In the future, I expect retailers will be able to leverage technology for a smoother and more effective relationship with consumers.”


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