Gathering Requirements for Your SuiteCommerce Implementation

in , August 8th, 2022

Clearly defining what you want your website customer experience to be, as well as how your website will interact with the NetSuite backend, is by far the most important part of any implementation. Without clear requirements, you are throwing a line out at random and just hoping that the fish you land will be the kind of fish you want to catch.

So how do you gather requirements well?  What makes for a rock-solid set of website requirements?  It begins with a thorough self-interrogation. 

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Asking the Right Questions

Your company needs to ask itself what it really wants out of this website:

  • What are the essential functions of the business that must be transferred from the previous website or sales process?
  • What are the areas of the business that would most benefit from automation?
  • What do your customers wish you could change?

I like to think of this self-interrogation or requirements gathering as an act of mining. That is, you are mining your current business, delving deep into how you do things – these are the tunnels that you have dug before, with which now you are just re-familiarizing yourself in order to communicate the structure of those tunnels to your SuiteCommerce implementation team. However, when you reach the end of each old mine tunnel, you will still have to dig a bit further.

mining business processes

Beyond outlining existing business processes, you also need to plot out a course for where the tunnels will go next... where you hope your company can become more efficient and effective through its new ecommerce site. Essentially, you are drawing a sort of tunnel map for your business processes, that will help guide the implementation process.

mapping out business requirements

What follows are some suggestions on how to gather requirements, and some sample questions to get you started on asking the right questions of your company. You do not have to collect requirements completely by yourself, of course; a decent SuiteCommerce consultant will be able to guide you along this process of requirement discovery. However, in the end, you cannot rely on an external consultant to know what your company needs. Defining requirements is ultimately your job. 

Rather than beginning with what NetSuite offers natively, you may find it more fruitful to first sit down and think about the day-to-day needs of your own business.

“native” = something that NetSuite comes with by default. Generally, this is not something custom or based on custom code.

Having a clearly defined list of requirements will help you and your NetSuite implementation team to understand what it is that you really want out of NetSuite. Here are some questions to get you started...

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Before you dig too deep into any one aspect of your company, start with the basics. Think of it as beginning with the 30,000 foot view. Only after you've sketched out the essential framework of what it is your company does should you can start to dive deeper into particular aspects of your business.

  • What does your company sell? Products, services, or both?
  • Are your products simple or complex? That is, do you sell roses and tulips, or do you sell varieties of each flower, such as small red roses and large white roses? The complex items are generally set up as matrix itemsYou have the option to display all the variations of a matrix item on a single PDP (Product Detail Page), which can simplify navigation and allow your customers to quickly narrow down exactly which item option they want to purchase.
  • Who are your customers? Consumers or other businesses? That is, are you B2B or B2C? This will often influence both the login process and the payment process.

The answers to these basic company questions are things that you will know no matter what your role is at your company, so you should be able to easily answer these for yourself. However, as you continue on through this process, you might want to consider asking some of your department managers to help you answer some of the more detailed questions about your business requirements. Not only can this save you a lot of time, but allowing department heads to give early input into the requirements for SuiteCommerce might also help them see the transition as an opportunity to re-work related inefficient business processes.

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Order Fulfillment & Other Key Areas

Among the different areas of your business that you may want to dive into when outlining your business' specific requirements for your SuiteCommerce implementation, you will want to take an especially close look at order fulfillment. After all, SuiteCommerce is an ecommerce solution. So, while sourcing, manufacturing, vendor relations, and other areas of your business may have significant sets of requirements for your ecommerce solution, processing and fulfilling orders are the primary functions of your SuiteCommerce site.

  • How does a customer order begin? Do you create each sales order or does your customer?
  • What are the steps to getting that sales order fulfilled? Does it need to be approved by anyone at any of these stages?
  • Does your invoicing need to be manual or automatic? Printed or emailed?

As you answer these questions, you will find yourself thinking of additional considerations that need to be explored. That's good! Remember, the lists of questions we are providing here are not exhaustive lists, they are just here to help set you on the right path. In addition to order fulfillment, you may want to ask yourself questions around your basic requirements for things like returns & refunds, upselling & promotions, B2C loyalty programs, or B2B self-service tools.


Integration Requirements

This is another big one... SuiteCommerce provides an incredible amount of functionality related to ecommerce, and since it sits on top of NetSuite, you will have a wide array of NetSuite features available that you can leverage as well. However, sometimes companies still like to leverage other platforms for certain specialized functions. Are there certain systems you are already leveraging that you want to be able to connect to your SuiteCommerce system?

  • What platforms do you use to accept payments? Does your business already have a contract with a credit card processor? Or does your target market rely on unconventional payment solutions, such as platforms that convert one-time-payments into payment plans?
  • What solutions are you currently using to communicate with your customers? Do you have abandoned cart automations established through an emailing platform like Mailchimp? Do you have an SMS solutions you like using?
  • What other solutions are you already using? Are there other tools you use to manage customer loyalty programs? Do you have a shipping solution in place? What about a solution for tax calculations on ecommerce sales?

When you show a SuiteCommerce consultant or implementation team a list of the solutions you are already leveraging, they will be able to help you in a few ways:

  1. They will be able to tell you if the native functionality available in SuiteCommerce/NetSuite can replace some of these solutions so you aren't having to work from (and pay for) so many different platforms.
  2. If you are leveraging a specialized solution that you want to keep using, your consultant or implementation team will be able to tell you if the solution can be integrated to NetSuite/SuiteCommerce, and... whether that can be accomplished through a connector platform like Pipe17, through an existing direct integration, or if bringing a developer on to build a custom integration for the platform would be worth exploring.
  3. Your consultant or implementation team may also be able to recommend alternate specialized solutions that already integrate well with NetSuite, and which may even offer better functionality than the current solution you are leveraging.

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Reporting Requirements

Understanding what information you will want to get out of NetSuite is crucial to figuring out the best way to put information into NetSuite. One of the benefits of using default fields and records to keep track of things is that NetSuite has already bothered setting up reports corresponding to those fields and records. It is always possible to create your own custom reports, but why work harder than you need to? 

Here is where you might want to get input from your executive leadership team, and really from anyone who regularly needs to see reports for analyzing the general health of the business or the efficacy of a particular business practice.

  • What kind of reports do you need in place for accounting purposes? Who will be viewing these regularly, and what kind of information or detail should the reports contain?
  • What kinds of reports do you need regarding marketing? At what level of detail do you care about analyzing the value of marketing efforts?
  • What reports do you need surrounding inventory? How much detail do you need on your purchases, stock levels, or committed items?
  • What kind of manufacturing reports do you need? What information do you want included about raw materials, or WIP?
  • What kind of reports do you need to see regarding sales? Do you have specific goals or KPI's that you want to regularly compare your sales metrics against?

NetSuite’s primary three reporting tools are Saved Searches, Reports, and the exciting, newly released (2020) SuiteAnalytics Workbooks. Reports are often pre-built, while the other two tools require some customization before they will give you the quantitative insight into your business that you need.

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NetSuite Dashboards

Another element of reporting worthy of note is the user dashboard.  The dashboard is your NetSuite “homescreen,” and what it displays can vary by user and role. NetSuite offers the ability to capture the key data you need at your fingertips every day, and present it via convenient bar charts, graphs, pie charts, and search results. To make the most out of NetSuite, you should consider designing your user dashboards to pair well with your SuiteCommerce website.

For instance, you might have certain large, custom Sales Orders come in from the webstore that need to be manually approved before they finish processing. You could set up a custom search to bring these Sales Orders right to the dashboard of whoever is supposed to approve them.  Next to that search you could see a report snapshot which displays sales per item, or items that are running low, or sales by customer, or sales per advertising campaign… the list goes on.

Another portlet that is particularly useful within the context of SuiteCommerce displays the total number of sales from that day on your website, compared with some previous day, such as yesterday or last month. Keeping an eye on this number will help you quickly notice if something bad has happened to your website and is hindering sales: perhaps a sudden drop in SEO or a broken page or a buggy checkout customization. Using the dashboard to provide instant, in-your-face reporting on these critical elements of your business will assist you to respond quickly to whatever emergencies might come up, while also leaving you free most of the time to just go about your other work and not have to worry about the health of your business.

Want to learn more about customizing dashboards in NetSuite? Check out this video:

NetSuite Commerce Partner


That's all for now, but we hope that this article was helpful and informative! If you have general questions about SuiteCommerce implementation, or specific questions about how to gather requirements and prepare for your own SuiteCommerce Implementation, feel free to contact our team at any time. Anchor Group is a certified Oracle NetSuite Commerce Partner, and is equipped to handle all kinds of SuiteCommerce projects, large or small!

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