NetSuite Content Management Integration with ExpressionEngine and BrilliantRetail

This article is relevant if you are seeking to integrate the ExpressionEngine content management system with NetSuite eCommerce.

Background

One of the challenges for organizations seeking to market and sell on the web is the different approaches used to manage content. In summary, I have seen two key ways content is organized for web presentation:

  1. Document Based: The document or page is the central presentation theme and includes capacities for authorship, editorship, and approvals. This orientation is typically more comfortable for marketers to work with in day-to-day content development.
  2. Item Based: The particular product for sale is the organizing principle. In this orientation, the product catalog is managed with multiple attributes or switches. The web site is drawn from a set of templates that read the the product catalog and respond dynamically based on the item attributes. This item based orientation is most common in eCommerce platforms, yet is harder for marketers to work with due to the constraints in document presentation rules. However, for organizations with large product catalogs, this approach represents a database-driven operation which, once learned, is usually more efficient.

NetSuite’s native eCommerce offerings (Site Builder and SuiteCommerce Advanced) are Item based systems. So too is the popular Magento Open Source eCommerce platform. Time and again, when I listen to clients seeking to produce eCommerce with a limited catalog, they desire the simplicity and ease of use of Document based architectures to quickly generate landing pages, promotions, and freedom of content expression. The open source WordPress platform is commonly referenced in this conversation.

ExpressionEngine Content Management Framework and BrilliantRetail

I have always been impressed with the ExpressionEngine Content Management Framework because it has powerful structured document capacities. With ExpressionEngine, you can define content taxonomies that can connect together to produce different presentation formats. Things can be simple (like WordPress) or complex depending on the marketer’s objectives.

BrilliantRetail is an add-in technology to ExpressionEngine that adds eCommerce capacities to the document based content management system. The add-in is possible because of ExpressionEngine’s rich document structure. For marketers that love ExpressionEngine’s flexibility, speed, and power, BrilliantRetail is a great choice for product marketers supplying checkout, payment gateways and account management features expected from any modern eCommerce environment.

NetSuite and BrilliantRetail Integration

For a recent client who was migrating away from Quickbooks and FishBowl Inventory management to NetSuite, they were concerned about their existing BrilliantRetail eCommerce web site. The good news was that the client’s BrilliantRetail web site was doing a great job supporting both their Wholesale and Retail customer channels. They were relieved when we suggested avoiding building a new eCommerce web site. The key was that the new NetSuite implementation needed to become the “backend” to fulfil on all orders that were captured from multiple order channels: BrilliantRetail being one of them.

My firm, Prolecto Resources, worked with Codesly, Inc., the creators of BrilliantRetail, to define an integration that would seamlessly take care of the client’s business operation. Using NetSuite Restlet technologies and REST APIs, BrilliantRetail and NetSuite are now integrated and support key capacities:

  1. Customer Integration: new and existing customers are kept in sync including payment terms, payment methods and ship-to / bill-to addresses.
  2. Sales Order Integration: A BrilliantRetail order becomes a NetSuite Sales Order in real time. Sales Order statuses are kept in sync.
  3. Discount Logic: A BrilliantRetail Marketer has the freedom to price as needed to respond to market conditions. However, to support superior NetSuite driven financial and sales reporting, as sales orders are constituted in NetSuite, both header and line level discounts are automatically created to distinguish between list (gross; MSRP) price and sales discounts.
  4. Sales Tax Engine: Since sales tax is only on retail customers, NetSuite leveraged BrilliantRetail’s Avalara Sales Tax engine. Proper accounting was produced in NetSuite to manage sales tax liabilities. While it is possible with an Avalara NetSuite connector, there was no need to actually integrate Avalara into NetSuite saving implementation fees and complexity.
  5. Shipping and Billing: When a fulfillment is conducted in NetSuite, BrilliantRetail is updated with shipment tracking information. Automation was created to produce NetSuite invoices from item fulfilments.
  6. Payment Engine: BrilliantRetail is connected to Credit Card and PayPal Payment Gateways via Authorize.net. With the integration, NetSuite triggers BrilliantRetail to capture funds and close the accounting cycle. There was no need to add credit card payment gateways to NetSuite.

Leverage Best of Both Worlds

BrilliantRetail on the ExpressionEngine Content Management framework is a powerful “front-end” technology enjoyed by eCommerce marketers. NetSuite is an excellent “back-end” framework for order, inventory and financial management. Now, with the front-meeting-the-back integration, an organization does not have to give up ease-of-use and can enjoy the best that both platforms offer.

If you would like to learn more, or are seeking to integrate your web content management system with NetSuite, let’s have a conversation.

To learn more about BrilliantRetail send an email to hello@codesly.com to connect with the team at Codesly.com.

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to setup a conversation.

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