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New Zealand beauty firm moves business onto Netsuite

New Zealand based beauty product supplier The Beauty Collective talks to Computer Weekly about its transformation to business software in the cloud

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New Zealand-based beauty products supplier The Beauty Collective has moved its business onto cloud-based software from Netsuite after taking the tough decision to replace Sage.

CEO Tim Cunningham tells Computer Weekly about the decision to move from Sage, the challenges that this brought and how the company overcame them.

New Zealand is an isolated place. Nestled at the far edge of the bottom of the world, the two main islands (plus a few smaller ones) form a country the size of the UK, yet with just four million inhabitants. It’s several hours’ flight away from the nearest major landmass, Australia, and lacks some of the technological benefits of more densely populated first-world countries.

None of which has prevented Kiwi companies punching well above their weight on the world stage. Although meat and dairy products are significant export drivers, the technology and service industries aren’t far behind.

And then there’s beauty. Auckland-based The Beauty Collective supplies more than 2,000 different products to over 3,000 stores in Australia, the UK, the US and New Zealand itself. Many of its products are manufactured in China and shipped around the world, via warehouses in major population centres.

Good logistics and business management tools are vital to this type of business. The Beauty Collective was using Sage software to underpin its operations, but switched to Netsuite earlier in 2015.

According to Tim Cunningham, CEO of The Beauty Collective, the decision to move from Sage to Netsuite wasn’t taken lightly. “It’s quite costly to change systems – you need to do it properly and have the right expertise on board. That’s definitely not cheap.”

That’s hardly surprising, since this was a fundamental change to the business. These tools are used to manage inventory, financials, reporting, manufacturing, research and development, product coding, customer relationship management (CRM), point of sale (POS), business analytics and sales key performance indicators (KPIs). It’s hard to imagine any change with the potential to be more disruptive to everyday business operations.

Nor, as with any IT project, did everything go to plan. “As with any system change-over, it never rolls out smoothly,” says Cunningham.

“So we did experience some downtime and it took some time to get the system bedded down,” he says.

Help came from an unexpected quarter. “Our accountants love technology, so it didn’t take them long to get their heads around the new system and they were able to help other staff with any issues,” he adds.

Once up and running, the new system has done what it was supposed to, giving the company room to expand. According to a press release, the business has grown by 168% since making the switch. How much of that growth was due to the new platform?

“It’s very hard to say, because we have diversified a lot as a business – launching new brands and entering new markets,” he says.

“For us, NetSuite has provided an operating platform for our business that has the flexibility to adapt to a changing business model, and I think that has been an integral part of our expansion.”

Cunningham says he is pleased with the results of the move to Netsuite, but has learned an important lesson: “Allow more time to implement the system and for beta testing.”

It’s advice that other businesses considering a similar move would be wise to follow. .............................................................................

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