Case Study: NetSuite Rescue Implementation for a Wholesale Distribution Company

Flawless Inbound now has an in-house Oracle NetSuite expert! We keep sharing our Principal Solutions Architect’s success stories so that you can get an inside scoop on how NetSuite can enhance your company’s digital transformation. Read more in this article!

Mission: ERPossible 

Not all rescue missions are about humans or puppies stuck in a pond: our Principal Solutions Architect had to make that experience first-hand when working on a company’s NetSuite implementation. The company in distress tried to move from a legacy ERP to NetSuite twice but failed to do that because they lacked serious technical expertise. Here’s the big picture: a wholesale distributor for natural health products with 6M$ in annual revenue, the company was based in the Greater Toronto Area and had a small distribution center in the US; the entire team consisted of only ten people. Serving both B2B and B2C clients (70/30), the company was selling to other businesses and directly to consumers through their website and Amazon.   

NetSuite implementation for warehouses

The company was transitioning from another full ERP legacy system to NetSuite, mainly because of NetSuite’s comprehensive reporting capabilities: the old system they relied on had no reporting features. When a new partner joined the business, it accelerated fast and the company’s management wanted to know whether they were operating efficiently to keep up with their growth and develop more effective strategies. The system they used before moving to NetSuite was heavily Excel-based, requiring loads of manual data input, and it was difficult to analyze.     

When they hired our Solutions Architect, the implementation project presented several challenges that covered all major aspects of the business: inventory management, data management, shipping-receiving processes, pricing models, and security.   

Solution: Fix Incorrect Units of Measure  

The company was using several units, sometimes at the same time. For example, one product could be entered into the system by tub, by pound, or even both. This led to conversion issues when selling to clients and buying from vendors. Since there were countless invalid data lines, our Principal NetSuite Solutions Architect realized that the way to go was to delete all the data and re-enter more than 1800 SKUs with correct and unified units of measure.   

Solution: Inventory Count  

The units of measure were not the only problem. Since several team members were managing the inventory at the time – keeping the data in separate files and papersthey had to assume that all numbers in the system were corrupt. To keep the implementation going, a careful manual recount of the whole 12000 sq feet warehouse (about twice the area of a basketball court) was necessary.   

warehouse inventory count

Solution: Data Clean-up  

The company’s database had not been reviewed for a long time, and the logical result was a slew of duplicate data: a single client could have several entries like “John Doe,” “John D.,” and “Doe, J.” In other words, they needed to consolidate sales and contact information. NetSuite can consolidate several records into one, but the information must be entered correctly to make that possible. Thus, the team first had to manually enter the correct data, followed by several rounds of revisions by our Principal NetSuite Solutions Architect.   

Solution: Defining Shipping-Receiving Process 

Bottlenecks in the company’s shipping and receiving process occurred regularly. Although the decisions about assigning tasks and managing the procedures were in the client’s control, our Principal NetSuite Solutions Architect offered full support and advice, like researching default NetSuite business processes and making best practice recommendations.   

Note: NetSuite offers flexible settings to adjust the rules for your business. The customization can be done with SuiteFlows, where you can graphically build the workflow, or with SuiteScript, a more advanced programming module, giving NetSuite’s ERP even more flexibility.   

Solution: Customer Pricing Structure  

The company followed a traditional model: they offered contract-based pricing with fixed dollar amounts. Such pricing is not manageable long-term, especially in those retail areas where prices fluctuate. Our Principal NetSuite Solutions Architect suggested switching to a pricing matrix. He developed a model containing customer data and SKUs so that each time a vendor updates a price, these changes are reflected in a client’s data entry.   


Solution: Strengthening Security Access  

At the time our Solutions Architect took over the project, five people had full admin access to the system – for reference, the ideal number is two. This posed several problems from liability to system security – and most crucially that some changes made in the system were not traceable. With NetSuite, every update can be traced back – for example, if historical data is required 

NetSuite Implementation Process 

Originally, this implementation project was supposed to take seven weeks, but due to its complexity it lasted 12 weeks in total.   

For any digital transformation project, the moment of truth is the day when you go live. After resolving all the challenges our Principal Solutions Architect faced – dealing with units of measure, building the digital inventory, getting rid of junk data, assisting in shipping-receiving process building, developing new pricing structure, and resolving security issues – he presented the clients with a “Flawless Go-Live Day Checklist.” Here are five things to remember for a good-surprises-only, smooth, and flawless launch:   

  • Create User Acceptance Testing documents beforehand.  
  • Set proper expectations with key stakeholders.  
  • Clean data before migration (for example, if you’re moving from QuickBooks to NetSuite) to avoid junk data issues.  
  • Be ready for surprises. To reduce risks, prepare your clients and vendors in advance by reminding them that things are going to change and test invoice systems extensively ahead of time.   
  • Rely on post-conversion support. Although you put in a great deal of effort to master the new system, new questions and doubts will come. Feel free to refer to the support team for assistance.   

As you can see, each NetSuite implementation is different, and its success heavily depends on the starting point. To master a substantial ERP implementation, any business needs a partner that can lead the entire team throughout the entire process – from migration to implementation to optimization and final handoff 

The Flawless Inbound Team is fully equipped to provide you with the solutions tailored for your case. We ask the right questions to build a strategy that will deliver growth-driven results and, step by step, guide you through the full implementation process. Talk to us today to learn more.