E-Commerce Defining Its Scope and Risks within Retail Industry

By - April 12, 2013

The retail sector has been faced with many challenges in recent years, but a bright spot has emerged within the industry with the significant growth of e-commerce. E-commerce continues to expand at a rapid pace, altering distribution to the point where multichannel retail is a key criterion for the profitable growth of traditional retailers. The e-commerce segment is projected to account for a large percentage of retail purchases in the future due to the convenience and accessibility provided to customers.

Consumers want to be able to shop anytime, anywhere. They want to be able to order online and return in the store, they want to be able to shop from an app on their iPhone while waiting for their child’s practice to end. Expectations for the retail industry have changed. There are many things to consider when developing an effective e-commerce strategy. It is not as simple as setting up a website and reaping the benefits. E-commerce is a broad term, encompassing every facet of the business. Many companies tend to have trouble defining it and the expectations associated with implementing or expanding their e-commerce solutions. Companies also encounter difficulty in managing the strategic, operational, compliance and financial business risks that present themselves as e-commerce evolves and becomes more integrated with social media and the consumer’s changing shopping habits.

E-commerce touches on almost every functional area of the company, and this breadth and depth can lead retailers to increase the level of risk they expose themselves to while not truly realizing the scope and impact. It goes beyond buying and selling of products; it includes online development, marketing, selling, shipment, returns, customer service and payment for products and services.

For those of you using NetSuite to run your e-commerce business, you are in luck. NetSuite has designed a specific solution for companies that sell their product online. It’s the only solution that integrates ERP, CRM and a database-driven e-commerce platform in one comprehensive business management suite. NetSuite is very focused on the security of its systems and the integrity of its client’s e-commerce platforms. Its comprehensive risk management process has been modeled after the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) special publication 800-30 and the ISO 27000 series of standards.

When asked about concerns or fears companies might have when moving to the cloud, NetSuite’s CFO Ron Gill was recently quoted saying, “I’ve got a security architect and team of people who are trying to break the system constantly.” There is always trepidation with the unknown, but with a consistent uptime that exceeds 99.95%.  I’d say the risk is minimal and the benefit significant.

To expand its capabilities with its e-commerce business NetSuite acquired point-of-sale (POS) and retail management system, Retail Anywhere. This deal increases Net Suite’s e-commerce capabilities, bringing visibility into store activity to a multi-channel offering that currently addresses websites, call centers, social media networks and mobile devices.

At a time when a website is viewed as another location, driving more profit than the traditional physical location, companies have grown and evolved by leveraging online offerings without developing physical locations. E-commerce is more than a trend; it is a facet of business that is here to stay and will only grow as increased functionality makes the process more convenient for shoppers. Understanding and evaluating the portfolio business risks associated with a company’s e-commerce strategy is becoming more important in the rapidly-growing online space. So is finding a strong e-commerce vendor.

By: Bob Jacobson, Principal, RSM – National NetSuite Solution Provider

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