Retailer CompUSA to offer NetSuite's hosted software

NetSuite believes it has scored a real coup, clinching a deal with CompUSA announced Tuesday where the technology retailer will offer NetSuite's on-demand business software in all of its U.S. stores.

The deal is the first of its kind where a U.S. mass-market retailer will resell on-demand software, according to NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson. "Software-as-a-service is going mainstream," he said.

NetSuite offers an integrated suite of hosted ERP, CRM and electronic commerce applications aimed at small to midsize (SMB) companies.

Of as Tuesday, 10 CompUSA stores in New York and Connecticut will offer NetSuite software. After a month, NetSuite and CompUSA will evaluate how the partnership has been working and then continue the gradual rollout of NetSuite until the hosted software is available in all CompUSA stores across the U.S., Nelson said.

Customers will be able to purchase NetSuite software through CompUSA Business Services' 1,100-strong direct-to-business sales force.

NetSuite is providing training to CompUSA's sales staff and to the retailer's technology service providers which CompUSA refers to as its Techknowledgists.

CompUSA's customers tend to be early adopters of technology and the retailer initiated the contact with NetSuite, Nelson said. CompUSA looked at NetSuite and other players in the hosted business applications including Oracle's Siebel and Salesforce.com.

"Our customers have outgrown QuickBooks and Act, the products being sold at CompUSA," Nelson said, referring to Intuit's entry-level accounting software and Sage Software's contact and customer management product respectively. So offering NetSuite's business applications is a natural progression for the U.S. retailer, he added.

NetSuite and CompUSA have been in discussions about the partnership for the past four months. "There is a small window of exclusivity," Nelson said, with both organizations agreeing not to sign similar deals with third parties for the next three months.

As to how the arrangement might work in practice, Nelson foresees it may take two to three interactions with a customer before CompUSA makes a NetSuite sale. The CompUSA retail store will be where a customer will see technology demonstrations of the NetSuite hosted software and the place to generate sales leads but then the sales process will likely move online, he said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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