Saffron Rouge, a seller of organic beauty products, had only one requirement when it went shopping for its e-commerce software, but it was a big one: It had to run the entire operation. It had to have the tools to create a Web store, manage inventory, handle the back-office accounting, automate the sales process, and more. They found what they were looking in a Web-based application suite from a small company in California.
Saffron Rouge was founded in June 2002 by the husband and wife team of Kirstin and Jeff Binder. The business is named after their daughter, Saffron. Saffron Rouge sells organic skin care products, cosmetics and body care products through two versions of its e-commerce site: one for U.S.customers and one for Canadian customers. The business has fulfillment centers in both Canada and the U.S. According to the site, this arrangement allows its North American clients to avoid the confusion of converting currencies, product availability, or paying cross-border taxes.
Saffron Rouge presently has a staff of 10 individuals, and is growing considerably. It was looking for software that would go with it, NetSuite delivered the back-office and e-commerce operations they needed.
I spoke with Jeff Binder, CEO of Saffron Rouge, to find out how this nascent e-business is faring in the competitive business of health and beauty aids and to learn why Saffron Rouge decided to use NetSuite.Jeff is an internationally known teacher in the natural health field and business systems authority. At Saffron Rouge, he is responsible for operations as well as creating and managing the Web and business systems of the company.
L.R.: When you decided to choose NetSuite, what goals did Saffron Rouge set out to accomplish?
J.B.: Our goal was to acquire ONE system that would manage everything about our operations — especially e-commerce, Web, and integrated accounting. Our ideal was to find a system that would also manage CRM.
L.R.: Were there explicit goals that you were trying to attain, for example increased customer satisfaction or higher sales?
J.B.: Really and truly, we approached the system simply to get a solution that would effectively manage our e-commerce sales and our entire operation. It wasn’t about increasing sales, or customer satisfaction — though both are a part of our daily goals.
L.R.: So, how did you come to choosing NetSuite? What selection criteria did you use when you began your search process?
J.B.: I have experience using and reviewing multiple solutions for e-commerce, accounting and CRM. I have implemented and/or used or reviewed Simply Accounting, QuickBooks, Great Plans, ACCPAC, Act, SalesLogix, Siebel, Goldmine, MS Commerce Server, e-Transact, plus a host of other e-commerce technologies. Our selection process evaluated the following:
- Long term vision and viability of the product
- Depth of integration
- Easy of Use
- Easy of Implementation
- Strength of Product Concept
b>L.R.: You’ve had some experience with the competition. How then did NetSuite win the business? What clinched the deal?
J.B.: No product on the market is in the same league as NetSuite. It’s cheaper, more powerful, more integrated, well-supported, easy to use, and more rapidly evolving than any other business system I’ve ever seen. And the product, and the people behind it have vision. The product is going in a direction that I feel complements my own company, and the kind of technology I want to run my business on.
L.R.: Did NetSuite develop or customize the solution based on your business’ needs?
J.B.: They listened to our feedback, and implemented many of the features we asked for over time. We customized the app ourselves — it wasn’t difficult. When we needed help, we called them.
L.R.: Do you have a timeframe for evaluating competitive products? That is, how locked in are you to NetSuite?
J.B.: If they keep going like they are, I’ll never use anything else. They are evolving too fast in the right direction and with the features I would like to have.
L.R.: During the initial evaluation period, who at Saffron Rouge was involved in the decision-making process?
J.B.: Myself and the company’s president, Kristin. Choosing the right app is important — especially when it is for your whole business. There isn’t anyone on our team who doesn’t use it.
L.R.: How were your employees impacted? Were they trained to deal with the changes?
J.B.: It was an adjustment at first and has required some ongoing training but ultimately they all love the product. It is quite easy to use, once you understand the basics of how the product works.
L.R.: How long did NetSuite take to deploy and what glitches did you encounter?
J.B.: Deployment took about three weeks, but that was because we were building a Web site to go with it.
There are bugs — never think that there are not. All software has them. I’ve encountered numerous bugs and glitches over the years — too many to report — but NetSuite support and development has been very responsive and fixed nearly every single one of them. New ones arise, but I let them know (or another customer does), and they fix them usually in a relatively short period of time.
L.R.: What benefits were immediately apparent? For example, did you experience increased sales, increased consumer satisfaction, decrease in phone calls/e-mail to customer support.
J.B.: A killer Web site. We have a great and powerful e-commerce site. Other immediate benefits — [because it’s a Web-based application] I can work from anywhere. I can see most everything that goes on in my organization.
L.R.: What have been your customers’ reactions to the changes?
J.B.: Very positive. In one system we can see everything about a client’s order.
L.R.: As the owner, what would you change if you were to do it again?
J.B.: Strange as it sounds, not a thing…
Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com.