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Netsuite or other similar solution being researched
Does anything else work for less $$$$$?
iJeep




msg:3982321
 10:35 pm on Sep 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

We're shopping around for a new accounting system and really like the idea of NetSuite. They claim to seamlessly combine Ecommerce (with no SEO penalties for migrating), CRM and accounting. When a customer places an order, NetSuite will automatically send a PO off for anything out of stock to be drop-shipped. The system will also automatically e-mail past customers about new cross-sell products based on past purchase history.

That's pretty amazing stuff (to my simple mind).

The drawback is $20,000/year for a small business and $15,000 for phone support to help configure it...in addition to the 30-90 days of my time they say it takes to configure. Seems pretty steep for 3-4 people using it. Or is it?

Right now we are using Quickbooks...which I know is beginner stuff and priced super cheap.

Is there anything available that has similar features at a easier to swallow price? Having separate systems that work well together is fine with me.

SugarCRM sounds interesting and I think it would integrate with our Trixbox phones, from what little I have read.

 

bakedjake




msg:3982358
 11:26 pm on Sep 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi iJeep, I have a sure-fire way for you to make more money. Find out how to get factory half-doors for the JKs into Canada. We simply cannot get them up here! :)

Seriously, let's look at NetSuite:

1. There is no such thing as zero SEO penalities for migrating to any platform. Generally, if you change URLs, you will have a decline in traffic. How you manage that process determines how long your decline lasts, but there is always some loss from a changeover.

2. NetSuite's website structure is terrible. Duplicate URLs for different sorts, canonical issues, yadda yadda yadda. Ask them for some example sites and do site: searches on them. You'll see for yourself.

3. NetSuite's accounting system is no better than Quickbooks, and far more complicated. Unless you really like writing your own reports, QB is a far better solution for 99% of the population.

4. That $20k/year is a lie. They'll charge you additionally for each user (as in member of staff) that accesses the system. They'll charge you for a support contract. They'll charge you for analytics. They'll charge you for website services. You're realistically looking at between $50k-$60k. For that you can hire a kid out of college to write you an e-commerce platform that will do whatever you want.

5. NetSuite is very slow on the e-commerce side. As in some pages taking 2 minutes to load. This happens frequently in the evening. Don't believe me? Get some example sites from them and see for yourself. Speed of website has a direct influence on bounce/conversion rates, and can also affect organic and paid traffic rankings (at least with the big G).

6. NetSuite's email marketing system is garbage. Very little customization available for emails sent. Very little deliverability information. Difficult to tie campaign performance back to individuals email sent without using a coupon code (which isn't always a good measure of email effectiveness).

7. NetSuite's analytics solution is garbage. You'll need something else. If you don't want to use GA, that means more money.

8. NetSuite's inventory management system is probably its bright point. Unfortunately, you can do this yourself for a lot less money with an intelligent excel spreadsheet. You'll also almost always get better performance if you hire an experienced purchaser rather than letting the system tell you what to do.

9. Back to NetSuite's accounting - it makes dumb decisions. For example, by default, returns are handled absolutely incorrectly. For a lot of little bugs like this, you don't realize what it's doing until you drill into the general ledger and look for yourself. When that happens, usually you phone them and they say something to the effect of "oh, yeah, there's this hidden feature we can enable".

10. NetSuite's site search sucks.

11. Data portability - Web services are limited as to what you can actually pull out of NetSuite. You can pull limited inventory and transaction data, and almost zero financial data. How will you pull information out when you want to leave?

Here's pretty much what we do for every website:

- Develop internal e-commerce platform built for the purpose
- Get a decent analytics solution (Core or GA)
- Get a decent email marketing solution (wholeheartedly recommend CampaignMonitor)
- Continue using QB for now; let the site handle basic CRM functions and the journal of transactions, and import order data to QB at some regular interval in a way that makes sense for your business.
- Develop business processes based on what you'd like to do (cross-selling, for example) and build your own internal way of doing it. This isn't hard if you have a developer.
- Manage inventory and purchasing yourself

Apologies, as my approach as described above isn't really cheaper than NetSuite, but I feel it is better. One nice thing about this process is you can grow it as your business grows. If you develop your own platform, you can get it to do whatever you want and plug into any source that you want. When you get to the $10m/sales range then you can look at more robust CRM options, but even then, by that time you'll likely have such an efficient platform built there will be no sense in moving off of it.

Despite what naysayers and salespeople say, QuickBooks is a VERY robust product on the accounting side.

iJeep




msg:3982365
 11:42 pm on Sep 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the reply!

I'm always skeptical when a salesperson tells me a piece of software will do 100% of what I want better than anything else available.

Other opinions are welcomed.

One of our problems is that we are nearing the 14500 limit and don't want to keep making new company files. We might switch to not tracking customers in QB, which should help, it's just not as convenient.

bakedjake




msg:3982369
 11:46 pm on Sep 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

We might switch to not tracking customers in QB, which should help, it's just not as convenient.

IMHO, unless you're invoicing from QB, using it for customer management is inefficient. If you're clearning credit cards from a merchant account that interfaces with your website, then using QB for customer management is almost always the wrong solution.

You will (likely) never want your CSRs to touch QB, so do customer management outside of it.

This isn't too hard to do... Do you have a budget? If you know that, we can point you in the right direction for off-the-shelf if you don't want to roll your own.

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