Lead-To-Revenue

Recurly for NetSuite Integration at a Glance

Recurly for NetSuite

To optimize your subscription business and get the most out of your customer data and other metrics, you need strong financial reporting that adheres to compliance guidelines. Financial reporting for subscription based-businesses presents unique requirements as these metrics have an emphasis on customer-centric data such as customer renewal rates, churn and lifetime value.

Recurly merchants can seamlessly integrate their billing and subscription data from Recurly with their accounting and financial data through our new integration with NetSuite, a leading cloud-based business software for accounting and ERP. Through this integration, Recurly merchants can effectively and accurately manage recurring revenue data using NetSuite’s best-in-class, automatic, GAAP-compliant revenue recognition and standard financial reporting.

Requirements:
The NetSuite integration is available to merchants who are on the Recurly Enterprise pricing plan.

In order to take advantage of the integration, merchants need the following functionality enabled within NetSuite:

  • NetSuite ERP
  • Revenue Recognition Module
  • Sandbox Account (for testing and verification of data)

Sync Details:
The Recurly/NetSuite integration is a one-way integration which syncs the following records between Recurly and NetSuite:

  • Plans, Add-Ons, and Setup Fees
  • Customer Accounts
  • Invoices
  • Transactions
  • Credits

The process runs every two hours by default, and will sync any records that have not yet been synced between the two systems.

The following diagram details how records are integrated between the two systems:

Plans, Add-Ons, and Setup Fees

Once plans, add-ons, and setup fee records are integrated with NetSuite, they will be Non Inventory Items for Sale in the NetSuite product catalog. From there, merchants can assign Deferred and Recognized Revenue accounts against each product so that when invoices are integrated, revenue will be recognized appropriately.

Customer Accounts

Customer accounts within Recurly are integrated with the Customer and Contact record types within NetSuite. Merchants can utilize NetSuite reporting to aggregate their financial records by customer once this information has been integrated.

Invoices

Invoices in Recurly are integrated with Invoices in NetSuite. The header information will be defined based on the NetSuite configuration of each merchant. The line level information will define revenue recognition rules: the periods that are defined on invoices within Recurly will populate NetSuite revenue recognition schedules that will drive revenue recognition. Merchants have the option to manually edit.

Transactions

Transactions within Recurly are integrated with Payments and Refunds within NetSuite. When a payment is integrated to NetSuite, it will close the accounts receivable on the invoice to which it is associated.

Credits

Credits in Recurly are integrated with Credit Memos within NetSuite. As with invoices, this will utilize the built-in revenue recognition functionality within NetSuite to properly recognize revenue and handle accounts receivable.

Custom Fields

Because every NetSuite implementation is different, Recurly is able to integrate with custom fields that a merchant has in a NetSuite. This customization can be defined during a conversation with the Recurly team.

All-in-one Systems: The simple case for why you should always consider the source

Customers often come to us and ask, "are there any better billing systems out there? I hear billing system xyz really solves all of our problems."

Our simple answer to that question is to consider the source. Are you being sold something or is someone offering their unbiased opinion?

The Unbiased Approach

After having worked with and evaluated Recurly, NetSuite Billing, GoTransverse, Salesforce Billing, and all of the other systems in between, each will sell you on their fancy kitchen, gold-plated faucets and all of them will fail to deliver in some area. It's their job to sell you on their solution.

The important consideration is: what billing solution will get you 80% to your goal without having to build your own billing engine and which solution will allow you to scale without re-work.

As unbiased as we are, we still have not seen anything that compares to how far evolved Zuora is and the breadth of their solution. We may have had a different tone prior to their acquisition of RevPro as revenue recognition is a key element of the subscription business model.

Will we recommend Zuora every time? No. Will we recommend other solutions? Yes.

There are a few arguments out there from the platforms such as Salesforce and NetSuite that offer:

  1. We are an all-in-one system
  2. Our platform scales with you

The first argument is a fair one for customers with simplistic needs; however, most businesses aren't simple and the way they want to price and package isn't either. This was a common marketing tactic back in 2005-2010 where productized integrations were still on the horizon but not as evolved as they needed to be to make disparate systems scalable. NetSuite called it 'the hairball'. Salesforce called it whatever they wanted and people bought it.

Fast forward to 2018, integrations are productized and scalable; integration platforms are a common way to get all of the functionality you need in addition to the customizations that matter when you need data to flow seamlessly from system-to-system.

The second argument is also outdated. All systems, integrated or not, will take work to have it scale with you. Period. To think that a system like Salesforce can be 'out-of-the-box' and a company can scale on it without major work is irresponsible. No matter what solution it is, disparate or not, it will take significant work and iterations to grow a business on a business system.

LeadTo has focused on Salesforce, Zuora, and NetSuite as it is the most evolved cloud business system bundle with the most flexible and extensible integration points. It allows customers to choose systems that are excellent (not just ok) at what they do without compromising user adoption and the needs of the business.

Arguably, Salesforce is the best at CRM, Zuora is the best at Billing, and NetSuite is the best ERP.

The next time you are sold, "yes we can do that", it will benefit you and your organization to do the deep due diligence needed to choose the best systems for your business.

Cinemark Theatres Jumps Into The Subscription Business

Excerpts from an article by Ben Fritz in The Wall Street Journal

Rather than try to stop movie subscription services, theater chains are getting in on the game.

Cinemark Holdings Inc., the nation’s third-largest cinema chain by locations, is launching a subscription service—the first of its kind by a major exhibitor in the U.S.

For $8.99 a month, members of the Cinemark Movie Club will be able to see one film a month, get a 20% discount on concessions and bring a companion for an additional $8.99 a film.

The launch comes four months after the MoviePass slashed the price on its service allowing subscribers to see one movie a day at any theater with which its technology is compatible for $9.99 a month. The digital ticketing company said it had more than 600,000 subscribers in late October.

AMC Entertainment Holding Inc., the largest theater chain in the U.S., has a subscription service in the U.K. and Germany but not domestically.

Read the full article on The Wall Street Journal

Software isn’t eating Caterpillar’s world, just spicing it up

This story was originally published at Diginomica.com.

It often seems that the Internet of Things and driverless vehicles are a new thing. But a conversation with heavy equipment giant Caterpillar soon corrects such misconceptions.

The company started introducing telematics and autonomy into its products as long ago as the 1990s. Its self-driving dumpster trucks are an established feature with customers in the mining industry. Sensors in its products routinely collect and report back information for use in servicing and performance optimization. Software directs its earth-moving engines as they prepare construction sites around the world.

With connected products and intelligent operation a big part of its offering these days, Caterpillar almost seems to fulfil Marc Andreessen’s 2011 prediction that software is eating the world. But for all its usefulness, software isn’t eating up Caterpillar’s core heavy equipment business, points out Tom Bucklar, its Director of Innovation & Digital:

For us, digital is how we enable that customer and that industry that we already serve — versus, we’re gonna go try to build another business around software. We’re not a software company.
Our goal is to still be the leading manufacturer of earth-moving equipment and engines into the industries we serve. But we know that the only way to continue evolving and build more value around those products is these types of site-level systems and services … and so obviously it’s an expansion of what we do.

Connected products

That expansion is mostly driven through Cat Connect, a family of solutions that combine connected technologies and services with data from connected machines. It’s not only about increasing performance and uptime. By collecting data from sensors around a construction site and integrating into the customer’s other systems and processes, Cat Connect can contribute in fields such as safety, sustainability and productivity. Bucklar comments:

With having all of our machines connected, one of the things it’s allowed us to do is sit down with our customers and say, we’re going to create value around the machine.
We’re going to leverage digital technology and Cat Connect to make sure the machine has maximum uptime, maximum availability, maximum fuel efficiency and some of those things. But now all of a sudden we’re also going to help impact the customer’s job site because of the connectivity of the machine and the information off the machine.

Applying the technology in this way helps the customer “lean out” their processes, says Bucklar, by automating previously manual activities, such as the driverless dumpsters in the mining industry. Another example comes from the construction industry, which has used Caterpillar’s technology to eliminate the process of marking out a site with wooden stakes as a guide for operators when leveling the ground. Instead of having a survey crew go in and physically place thousands of wooden stakes, the site is now marked out virtually using GPS technology. It’s safer for the surveyors and makes the process more efficient, Bucklar explains:

Now the survey crew can stay away from the heavy equipment. They continue to do their validation and their quality prep — there’s still a role for them. But they’re off the job site, and we can grade 30% more efficiently. We can do it into dusk and even into dark, we don’t need line-of-sight to those stakes anymore.
So we invest in the digital technology to help that customer build the road faster. Nothing different than what we’ve done for 90 years, right? We maybe built a bigger machine, we maybe went from a dozer to a tractor-scraper, to an excavator and a loader — different product solutions to help build that road faster.
Digital’s just another extension for us to invest in to help build that road faster, more efficiently, and in a much safer manner.

Subscription services

These digital solutions are often sold on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis, taking Caterpillar into the realms of the XaaS (everything-as-a-service) business model. But Caterpillar has no plans to start selling its heavy equipment bundled up into a subscription service, says Bucklar. Instead, the subscription services are sold alongside the equipment, through Caterpillar’s established dealer channel.

Our primary business model is not changing. Us building and selling earth-moving equipment or engines to a dealer channel [who sells] to a customer, that progression is not something that’s changing right now.

But that’s not to say some customers aren’t changing their own business models to embrace XaaS principles. Caterpillar has developed new finance and rental offerings to support those downstream requirements, without changing its own route to market, he explains.

We’ve had to create Cat Financial, for financial services, to provide options. We’ve created our Cat Rental services through our dealerships that provides different ways to acquire. And we do get into cases with a group called Job Site Solutions, where we start to sell more power by the hour and [by] outcome. We have dealers that work with customers to have more outcome-based contracts.

That independent dealer network, through which Caterpillar has traditionally sold its distinctive yellow CAT brand equipment, is where more innovative business models are most likely to arise, he suggests:

That’s been one of our biggest competitive advantages, to have a very strong, local-owned, localized channel that understands the customer, that can serve the customer, that can develop, quite frankly, innovative services based on customer needs in that region.
In digital, Cat Connect is what we’re taking through the dealers because we want to enable that dealership that really knows the customer better and lives with them everyday, to be able to have solutions to take to that customer and that region.

Caterpillar’s partnership with subscription management provider Zuora helps it support those offerings to the dealer channel, he adds.

We’re now to the point we have over half-a-million assets that are connected. We had a very manual process to go out and do the billing and invoicing for those telematic space subscriptions.
We’re rolling out to automate the process between us and our dealers, to be able to do the billing, subscription tracking, all the way through. The [Zuora] system has that flexibility and capability for us to leverage it for the relationship between CAT and the dealer, and then for the dealer to be able to take that out to their customer.

In the future, Bucklar sees an increasing role for analytics and machine learning in developing and enhancing services, with more and more data being collected not only from the machines themselves but also from their surroundings. Caterpillar also has a venture group that works with start-up companies and keeps an eye on innovation in the consumer world as well.

My take

Caterpillar’s story provides an important reality-check on the progress of subscription business models and the trend towards everything-as-a-service (XaaS).

For a manufacturer of substantial physical products like Caterpillar, there’s little benefit in turning the capital cost of the product into a subscription. But the utility and value of the product is considerably enhanced by collecting data from the device that can form the basis for delivering software-based services over its lifetime.

So Caterpillar is getting into the software business and XaaS delivery models, but only as a supplement to, not a replacement for, its traditional way of doing business.

Hive Turns its smart home products into subscription services

This story was originally published at Diginomica.com by Phil Wainewright.

While Google’s Nest attracts breathless headlines from the tech media whenever it makes a move, its UK rival Hive powers ahead in its domestic market, almost unnoticed. Launched in 2013, the smart home platform already has half a million customers and expects to reach one million this year. It is now expanding into the US, Canada and Ireland.

This year saw the launch of a new set of services that take the Hive brand and mobile app not only beyond the original smart thermostat, but also into the realms of subscription sales. Hive Welcome Home is a £5.99-a-month ($7.90) subscription package that provides two smart light bulbs, a smart power plug, a motion sensor and a smart hub. Customers don’t need to own a Hive thermostat and can add additional devices as part of the subscription. The US package leads with a thermostat and is priced at $24.99 a month, while the lower-priced UK package opens up a new market for Hive among home renters who may not have the option of installing a thermostat.

Making the switch to subscription services

The switch from one-off product sales to a recurring subscription service has been accompanied by a big change in how the smart home company goes to market, says Jo Cox, Commercial Director at Centrica Connected Home, the owner of the Hive brand.

“Up until now, it has been very product-led decision-making, which is, ‘What is the product we want to bring to market?’ We’ve flipped it on its head this year.”

Customers don’t think in terms of products, says Cox. Instead, the company has adjusted its product marketing to focus on use cases such as, “Never come home to a dark home,” and then assembling the products and functions that bring that to life.

“What our customers feed back to us is, ‘I actually don’t care about the technology, I don’t care how it does it, I just want to know what it does for me.’ It’s about, as you get within 10 miles of your home, your home knows you’re nearly home, so it turns on the porch light, and it turns on the landing light, and it turns on the lounge light, for instance.”

Flexible smart home packages

This new approach of packaging up an experience has led to a more flexible approach to product selection and pricing. Hive uses Zuora to manage subscriptions and has leant on the platform’s flexibility to help it fine tune its offers. For example, the initial Welcome Home package was a fixed-term, fixed-price subscription — similar to a mobile phone contract — but early feedback from consumers led Hive to introduce a more flexible offer, says Cox.

“The feedback from my customers is, ’24 months is too long, we don’t feel comfortable with that in the new technology sector. Second of all, please can you make sure that I’m understanding what’s value and what’s product?’ Because of Zuora, within six weeks we changed the model.”

As a result, Hive unbundled its service element, called Hive Live, so that customers who want to continue to use the smart home app at the end of the subscription period, once the bulbs and other devices have been paid for, can carry on paying for just that element.

Conversely if customers want to add extra bulbs or other devices at the beginning of the subscription — or at any other time — the Zuora subscription engine automatically recalculates the monthly price. This has been really helpful as the company tests the market, says Cox.

“There’s very few engines that allow you that sort of flexibility in the moment. Usually you have to go, ‘Oh no, the customer said that they want five bulbs and four plugs, so now we have to build a subscription that allows you to do that.’ For a company that’s new in this smart technology in a brand new segment, where we’re learning as fast as our customers, we have to have a system that allows us to be that agile.”

Another option that takes advantage of this flexibility is the ability to pause the service element of the subscription for a period of time, for example if the homeowner spends part of the year away from their home.

User-centric approach

New packages have dictated the selection of products, for example a new service called Home Check, which adds a camera so that subscribers can keep watch on their home while they’re out. Another service currently under consideration would allow subscribers to add sensors to an elderly relative’s home to keep an unobtrusive eye on them. For example this might monitor when they boil the kettle or open the fridge door, to know whether they’re up and about.

The Hive app helps consumers set up functions such as the Welcome Home service by prompting them through a sequence of questions, such as which lights do you want to come on, what thermostat setting do you want? No one has to configure a software tool such as IFTTT to chain actions together, unless they want to. The machine learning-based AI can also prompt for instructions if a setting hasn’t been preset, says Cox.

“It does really simple things like, as you’re driving home, if you don’t have a setting, it’ll say, ‘I sense that you’re nearly home, would you like me to turn your heating up so your home is warm when you’re coming home?’ It’ll learn what you normally like to do, and then it’ll ask you if you want to set that as a standard, and then it will start to automate in the background. It’s about removing the thinking and doing that thinking for you.”

This user-centric design approach is important to remove barriers to adoption when selling the Hive subscriptions online. The original thermostat product became successful because Centrica also owns the British Gas brand, whose field engineers are one of the most trusted workforces in the UK. Their recommendation during an annual boiler service visit helped overcome the usual resistance to a £249 price point, says Cox.

“If an engineer is in your home and is saying, ‘Oh, by the way, you can actually control your home from your phone with this smart thermostat,’ the propensity to buy is much, much higher than just through standard marketing, buying it.”

My take

As this example shows, the switch from product sales to subscription selling involves a lot more than simply introducing a pay-monthly price list. Moving to what we at diginomica call an everything-as-a-service or XaaS business model entails a radical shift of mindset. Instead of products and transactions, the organization must refocus around relationships and outcomes. Hive has learned that lesson well and it will be interesting to see what inroads it can make on Nest’s home turf in the US market with this distinctive approach.