While undergoing an ERP project at WrestlingMart, I decided to choose NetSuite over Salesforce and the Force.com platform. The Force.com platform had more flexibility and a better UX, but unfortunately had two main pitfalls:
Salesforce’s platform was too complicated and costly to implement because we had to use multiple vendors to fulfill our business’s requirements. When we tried to replace our back office, we needed not only Salesforce but the Salesforce Apps Kugamon for quote / billing, FinancialForce for accounting / most of the ERP functions, an eCommerce integration, a shipping and receiving integration and a point of sale integration like SuiteRetail. These apps needed to be implemented in a certain order, most had 3-4 month implementation lead times and we needed all of the integrations to properly transact in Salesforce and have an accurate inventory.
- It was too risky buying Salesforce & its apps because I didn’t know what the final product looked like. NetSuite’s module system lets you test out a fully functional product for your vertical whether it is software, retail, consulting, etc. With Salesforce, I couldn’t play with the product and flush out issues or find errors of omission.
“Salesforce Application Stacks,” similar to the way that AWS(See AWS Marketplace) does it, alleviates the two issues that made us choose NetSuite. Imagine a “retail stack” that includes POS, shipping integration, eCommerce integration, purchase orders, quoting, finances, etc or a “software company stack” that has license integration, support ticket & knowledge base integration, website integration, re-occurring billing, etc. The software company or retail company could immediately envision a complete Force.com system. Salesforce Application would not only benefit the consumer but Salesforce, app developers and implementation consultants too. Here’s why:
- Salesforce could effectively communicate what a Force.com platform looks like in a way that resonates with a customer’s unique business. Salesforce & consultants could focus less on selling the platform as a service vision and instead give more practical examples of how an implementation would look. A company’s implementation team could practically demo the Salesforce product in front of internal decision makers.
- Customer’s Salesforce implementations would be significantly faster, cheaper and less risky. Since the customer would have a working product to play with, they could more accurately describe what they are looking for to consultants. Customers could more quickly find errors of omission that cause the most animosity, lost dollars and delays between consultants, vendors and customers. Consultants wouldn’t need nearly as much time to create a working version of the product, saving tons of money for the client.
- App developers and consultants could increase their recurring revenues and close sales easier from selling application stacks. Consultants would be able to leverage their existing implementation projects into default stacks and charge money per month per user. It would also attract new clients for consultants who find their Retail Stack App on the AppExchange. App Developers & Salesforce would avoid costly sales cycles & increase recurring revenue when customers just purchase the stack.
In my opinion, Salesforce is moving in this direction with their purchase of Demandware, an eCommerce company, and SteelBrick, a quote to cash company. However, Salesforce’s acquisition of these companies pushes out strong apps like Kugamon and FinancialForce while the Salesforce software stack strengthens Salesforce’s partnership with these vendors.
What next steps would I take next? I’d start out by talking to other companies to validate my thinking. After that, Salesforce’s endorsement isn’t needed to create application stacks. You could get buy ins from app vendors like FinacialForce, SuiteRetail, Kugamon, etc. and pre-package them as an existing apps on the AppExchange.
If you’re interested in turning this idea into a project, feel free to contact me or comment with any specific questions or if you want to share your thoughts. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned so far.