Arik Hesseldahl

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NetSuite Acquires Point-of-Sale Company Retail Anywhere

Zach Nelson of NetSuiteLast year, NetSuite, the cloud software company that helps mid-sized companies run their business, added to the growing list of things offered “as a service.” Its contribution to that list, announced in May, was “commerce-as-a-service.” NetSuite’s approach was, and is, managing both the back-end bit of business-to-business commerce and the direct-to-customer type of commerce, in a unified way.

NetSuite called it SuiteCommerce, and it has turned out to be a pretty big deal. In fact, one of its key partners was a smallish company called Retail Anywhere that specializes in point-of-sale terminals and software. Retail Anywhere had decided to build its next generation of POS terminals using SuiteCommerce. Retail Anywhere had created the popular Retail Anywhere point-of-sale app for Apple’s iOS devices. The two companies went to market jointly, and the result was a surprise for at least one of them. “We crushed them with demand,” NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson told me.

Today, NetSuite announced that it has bought Retail Anywhere. Financial terms aren’t being disclosed, because it’s not material to NetSuite’s finances. Nelson told me that NetSuite and Retail Anywhere had 30 joint customers, but that among its existing customer base, there are 500 companies who consider themselves retailers that could could take advantage of the combined offering. And there are thousands of existing Retail Anywhere customers — the company has been around for 28 years — who will get exposed to NetSuite.

One thing that’s not staying, Nelson said, is the point-of-sale hardware. “We’re going to get out that business,” he said. Eventually, he said, in-store retail will look a lot more like e-commerce. “More and more, you’re seeing sales reps walking around stores with iPads, swiping credit cards,” he says.

And things like that are having an effect on shoppers’ attitudes. A Deloitte survey conducted during the 2012 holiday season found that retailers who had several touchpoints through which to engage with a consumer had a 71 percent greater chance of selling to them than those who relied only on the old-school brick-and-mortar approach. What it means is that stores who can reach a customer both online and in person are more likely to sell to them. And that means you need to unify the experience. Pricing and inventory, for example, need to be in sync.

NetSuite is due to report earnings on Feb. 4 later this month. Analysts expect it to report a four-cent-per-share profit on sales of about $83 million, and for it to close its fiscal 2012 with about $307 million in sales. NetSuite shares rose at the open this morning by about 30 cents on the news, to $70.65. The shares rose by more than 66 percent in 2012.

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