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Cloud vendor reveals UK retail wins

Cloud vendor reveals UK retail wins
Tuesday October 6 2015

Pret A Manger and WHSmith sign up to cloud-based business management software suite as vendor adds first two EU data centres

Cloud business management software vendor, NetSuite, was in London today to make a number of strategic regional announcements, including the addition of new UK-based retail customers.

US-based NetSuite provides financial and enterprise resource planning (ERP), commerce and business management software. It revealed quick service restaurant (QSR) chain Pret A Manger and stationery and books retailer WHSmith as its latest wins in the UK and Europe region.

B2B franchise deployment

WHSmith, the UK-based retail chain has launched a new cloud-based, B2B online commerce system on NetSuite SuiteCommerce with its IT systems integration partner Accenture to support its rapidly growing franchise business. 

SuiteCommerce’s B2B capabilities are allowing WHSmith to provide a robust, secure, and easy-to-use commerce system where the retailer’s 400 franchise partners and wholesale partners across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia can efficiently make purchases, manage payments, review order history and account details, and request refunds and returns from a secure, password-protected online environment. 

WHSmith has also eliminated certain manually-intensive processes from its previous systems such as faxing and emailing orders. Accenture worked with the retailer to integrate SuiteCommerce with its on premise IT systems in order to position it to more rapidly secure additional franchisees, improve operational efficiencies, and deliver rich self-service capabilities and improved customer service.

“WHSmith sells its own brand and selected branded merchandise to over 400 franchise stores and various wholesale customers throughout the world. To meet the needs of our customers we needed to develop a world-class business-to-business commerce capability. NetSuite SuiteCommerce offers an ideal combination of rapid time to market and rich functionality that will help us support the growth of our franchise and wholesale business,” stated David McGrath, Head of Shared IT Services at WHSmith. 

“It’s a win-win for both WHSmith and our franchise partners that will streamline operations, help us future-proof our business and open the door to strategic opportunities for continued growth.”

Back-office operational benefits

Pret A Manger, the UK-based QSR chain, was also revealed as a new customer that will work with NetSuite and change management IT partner Deloitte to overhaul its core financials and supply chain systems. Andy Chalkin, Pret A Manager chief information officer, told delegates that the company had grown to maintain no less that 28 separate finance systems as it has grown over its near 30-year history to encompass some 400 stores across five countries.

Chalkin said: “NetSuite will provide the retailer with real-time inventory management across the whole estate, so we can maximise the value of our stock.” He added that the financial systems consolidation would: “Accelerate the time to value for core financial processes, providing each individual store with up-to-the-minute P&L [profit and loss] information.” The retailer is looking to implement the new financials software by the second half of next year, followed by a focus on updating supply chain, logistics, and inventory management functionality through to 2017.

Chalkin also said that the new management software investment would help the business manage its omnichannel sales mix more effectively too. “We have a small delivery business,” he said, “so with better inventory visibility, we can make sure our online business is not affecting the customer experience we offer instore. That means, if an online order of 50 Avocado salads come through, we’re not leaving a store without enough Avocado salads to serve the customers there that might want them.”

European data centres announced

Zach Nelson, NetSuite chief executive, was on hand at today’s event in London to point out how important Europe was becoming to its business. “The region has been the fastest growing for the last two years,” said Nelson, adding that the company will be opening its first two regional data centres since its arrival on the continent over a decade ago, and which will both be powered by 100% renewable energy sources. 

“Our data centres in Amsterdam and Ireland are proof of our continued strong commitment to our European customers,” continued Nelson. “Today’s news is a key part of our ongoing plan to bring more resources, focus, and investment to our European customers in the form of additional capacity, security, and compliance with local data regulations. NetSuite has always had high standards for compliance and security and the European data centres will adhere to those standards.”

The new European data centres will enable companies to store their NetSuite business data physically in the European Union. This is especially significant given that the EU Court of Justice today declared the EU-US Safe Harbour framework invalid.  

Tagged as: Pret A Manger | QSR | WHSmith | B2B | franchise | international | supply chain | inventory | data centre | Safe Harbour | Accenture | Deloitte | NetSuite