How to Solve the Magento versus NetSuite Puzzle
Solving B2B and B2C Sales on Magento versus NetSuite, we discuss important considerations for selecting Magento and/or NetSuite for solving eCommerce and back office capacities. This article will offer new contrast and view point relative to the two platforms considering NetSuite’s latest SuiteCommerce functionality.
Organizing What You Care About:
We assume that if you are reading this article, the following applies to you:
You have an eCommerce business. You know that Magento is the most popular Open Source E-commerce Platform and this gives you comfort that there are add-ins and talent available.
You like NetSuite’s vision for full end-to- end transaction management and that they are the #1 Cloud ERP solution. You are nervous about NetSuite’s Ecommerce features and capability and don’t want to be locked in nor stuck because the tools won’t deliver.
Should this apply to you, we can understand your quandary. Many will say “give me both!” wanting the “best of both worlds”. But beware as this comes with a price.
It’s important to organize what you care about so you can produce criteria to help you make an informed decision. Answer these key general questions to help you get clear about your nature and investment propensity:
- Are you new to mid-market ERP, eCommerce, frameworks, and packaged business applications?If so, you may experience price sticker shock.
- Is it your nature to want to build all the IT related components in a database software solution?
- Do you feel that “software is just software” and it’s no big deal how the software was conceived so long as it gets the job done?
- Do you feel that a single vendor solution will tie your hands? Or do you see freedom from multi-party breakdowns?
- Do you believe that software should work for the remaining life of your business (in perpetuity unless you enter a new business model)?
- Is your custom software risk averse? Or do you embrace the possibilities that open up when you develop software?
- Do you believe that once two software solutions are integrated, it now should behave as a single system?
- Do you have multiple companies that buy and sell to each other? Do you want a wall between them or do you want them to share services?
Here are key areas where Magento and NetSuite overlap which adds to possible confusion areas:
- They both offer “on-par” eCommerce capacities. Each is strong with their differences in approach.
- They each offer a framework and an API to develop eCommerce functions. NetSuite has now caught up to today’s demands with SuiteCommerce (NetSuite’s next-generation offering).
- They both offer inventory and product management. Each is strong with their own approach.
- They both offer order management. Each is strong with their own capacities.
- They each advertise they offer content management but both are not strong compared to powerful tools such as Expression Engine.
Major Functionality Differences
Here is a way to look at the differences between the platforms that highlight strengths where the other is weak:
- NetSuite has full financial management and reporting capacities. Magento does not.
- NetSuite supports true multi-company management with financial consolidation. Magento does not.
- NetSuite supports a powerful CRM system that can, in some respects, rival salesforce.com Magento does not.
- Magento gives you a way to host your own solution. NetSuite is only available via subscription.
- NetSuite shields many arcane technical aspects from you as you customize. Magento does not.
- When looking at these differences, think about what you care about. Because some of those differences may help you distinguish the best course of action.
What is Lost on Most on the Journey?
When we speak with executives about these platforms, we find several matters may not have been carefully considered all which demand investment:
If you are in an eCommerce business, someone (or people), somewhere, is going to have to be technically competent in making the eCommerce system become what it needs to become to drive revenue. Are you ready to own that investment?
- Are you prepared to nurture the right intellectual talent drive these tools and thus your business?
- Are you prepared to make investments that may only have a few years’ payback?
- Are you ready to have someone own this care because any integration will cause information latency, errors, need for controls and diagnostic complexities in day-to- day management?
- Have you factored this element into your solution equation for a future reporting project to pull data together centrally to make sense of your business performance?
Pulling it Together
Unfortunately, there is no “answer” that is right when choosing between these platforms. Now that we have organized the thinking, you probably will want to consider the following generalizations to think about the puzzle:
- If you want a new backend which includes finance, HR management, budgeting, and operational/financial reporting, then NetSuite is your winner.
- If you also want an integrated CRM system to the transactional backend, then again, NetSuite is your winner.
- If you need serious multi-company transaction and relationship management, then NetSuite is your winner.
- If NetSuite is your winner, carefully think twice about going with a different eCommerce engine. No matter what you do, you must invest (as noted above). What you can avoid is the cost of integration, the maintenance of your integration, and the inevitable need for a central reporting database if you are instead willing to become good with the eCommerce tools.
- If you do not value the CRM aspects or the financial management because these are incidental, then Magento is your winner. Remember though, data will need to get to and from the accounting system but that may not be that important in your business strategy.
- If you believe that “best of breed” is the only way to go, and you understand the risks with a multi-application solution and the investment profile, then perhaps Magento is the winner.
While many people do embark on the journey to integrate NetSuite and Magento together, and there are folks that are happy to sell solutions that stitch these together, we urge you to carefully check your assumptions. When you integrate at the item, customer, and order level, you effectively marginalize the capacities of each system with an ongoing price.
At this point, we hope that we have opened your thinking sufficiently to not rush to an answer — but to instead weigh out your concerns for both the short-term and long-term investment horizon. We recommend we have a conversation about your specific situation to help you sort out the options.
We are a NetSuite systems integrator but have a long history solving for these kinds of challenges. Feel free to contact us and or use the comments below for a public dialogue.