The ability to handle promotions by ERP systems in the context of wholesale distribution and retail verticals is a must. Over the years, NetSuite developed several solutions that can be enabled or installed as add-on bundles. In this article, I will explain the differences between the three solutions; when it is appropriate to use them; and lastly, I will point out some of their limitations.
It is important to note that promotion records hold discount, customer and order specific information. When applied to the order, a discount item is added to the order and the order is discounted by a specific percentage or fixed dollar amount. Think of a promotion as a configuration record whereas a discount item is what impacts the general ledger.
Basic promotions functionality does not require any installation. The Admin will log in to the system and enable it in the ‘Enable Features’ section of NetSuite.
The following table shows what features are available out of the box when you enable basic promotions:
Based on our experience, ‘basic promotions’ are tailored to retail businesses. However, due to a constant innovation in the retail industry, the functionality offered by this feature just isn’t comprehensive enough for most of the companies we work with.
In order to bridge some gaps mentioned above, NetSuite introduced a plugin (custom interface) which, when installed (SuiteBundle id: 49247), provides additional functionality highlighted below.
After you install ‘Advanced Promotions’ you will be able to choose additional promotion types when you got to (Lists > Marketing > Promotions > New)
Each type will have its own custom form that you can use, explore and customize. Just like with standard / basic promotions you or the customer would need to enter the ‘coupon code’ and NetSuite will apply the promotion and related discounts after the order is saved.
The action of entering a ‘coupon code’ is a manual process (out of the box).
SuitePromotions is a feature in NetSuite that can be enabled in ‘Enabled Features’ section. You would typically enable ‘SuitePromotions’ and ‘Auto-Apply Promotions’ feature as well. The latter will then apply promotions automatically if the Customer order is eligible for promotions and discounts.
One thing to note is that you cannot use ‘SuitePromotions’ and ‘Advanced Promotions’ togethers as SuitePromotions will replace all Advanced Promotions’ functionality and render it impractical. SuitePromotions was introduced to enhance and replace basic and advanced promotions. Please see the highlighted table below, these are additional features that are supported by ‘SuitePromotions’.
After enabling SuitePromotions, navigate to Lists > Marketing > Promotions > New to create a promotion (just like with the other two solutions). The next screen will be slightly different and more up-to-date.
Based on Customer Categories, items and order configurations, the promotions can be automatically applied to your orders. They will appear in the separate tab on your transaction for easy audit, tracking and reporting.
Promotion lines can be exposed on ‘Advanced PDF Layouts’ in NetSuite and exact promotions and related discount amounts can be printed on your Invoices.
This feature offers advanced functionality that will likely support all your promotion scenarios. With that being said, we have determined two limitations based on our testing and our client's requests.
- This feature does not have the ability to provide fixed (unit-based) dollar amount off per SKU.|
The promotion can be configured to set a specific fixed price for one or multiple items if the promo deal’s requirements are met. It cannot be configured to offer a fixed discount amount per SKU and the inventory unit sold. Lastly, you cannot set a different fixed price for each SKU on one promotion record. Hence, $1 or $2 off promotions for each unit sold are not possible without offering a separate promotion for each SKU, which can be burdensome for maintenance.
- Financial segment tagging when the promotions and related discounts are applied is not possible.When posting regular discounts to GL, we have the ability on the line-level to select a department, class or any custom segment we want. When this line posts to GL, these segments are tagged on our financial reports. In a practical example, if our transaction posts the first line in the table below against the wholesale channel, then the following happens:
# Account Debit / Credit Amount Sales Channel / Class 1 6000 Income / Sales CR $500 Wholesale 2 6501 Wholesale Discount DR $50 Wholesale
We want our discount line to tag the same channel so that we can correctly track our income against our sales channel or other relevant financial segments on the P&L.
Second use case may be to apply promotions or discounts to items based on specific segments selected on transactions.
SuitePromotions do not consider these requirements and do not have the handling for segments when the discounts are posted to GL.
- Promotions cannot be applied to a specific CustomerWhen you set up a promotion record with SuitePromotions, in the ‘Audience’ tab, you can make this promotion applicable to certain customers through NetSuite’s ‘Customer Category’ field.
This works if you can categorize your customers and maintain promotions in this fashion. You are out of luck if you need to apply promotions to a specific Customer record.
To conclude, our advice is to test all three solutions. Please make sure to test every option and try to adapt your current processes if needed. This is if the GL impact of your current practice and what NetSuite’s Promotions will produce are the same.
We advise that the customization of the system (especially when it comes to transaction line-level manipulation) should be your last resort. However, if you wish to overcome the limitations that I presented above, please contact us and we will be happy to demonstrate alternative automated discount functionality that we have developed and successfully implemented with our clients.