NetRush is a retail agency that partners with premium brands to optimize their presence on the Amazon Marketplace. The company manages the customer journey by focusing on all aspects of the experience, from messaging to packaging to delivery time. Chris Marantette, NetRush’s President and CFO, has seen the business grow rapidly in recent years. With that growth comes the increasing need for building apps quickly and streamlining operational processes. In this latest entry in our “IT Visionaries” series, Marantette shares his views on the future of digital retail, developing and refining on the fly, and building up a business on a cloud platform.

1. What digital retail features or services do you think we’ll see more of in the next few years?

There’s no question about it: mobile. It has been reported that over 50% of Amazon’s pageviews are coming from mobile. That’s significant and it’s forcing Amazon, as well as sellers like ourselves who are developing content, to rethink and to constantly innovate how we deliver content. The other big macro-level change is that the consumer is going to demand quicker, faster, cheaper access to products. For instance, in populated cities like San Francisco, you have access to the Prime Now catalog, which allows you can get those products in two hours. Technology is going to play a big part in driving this, so we are ensuring our systems are prepared to ride that wave.

2. How did you manage your business before Salesforce?

We introduced Salesforce into a previous company, and in 2006, we started using Salesforce early in our launch of NetRush. It was a given that we were going to be using it. At the previous company, we were using other desktop CRM applications, but they just weren’t doing the job. We tested out Salesforce and learned pretty quickly that the CRM was good, but it was actually the platform that got our attention more than anything else. We could customize the platform with very little engineering or programming, which was necessary at that point in time. Whether it was sales or operations, and we needed a process or flow, we turned to Salesforce and created the solution in real time. When we launched NetRush, it wasn’t long before we were introducing Salesforce into our overall process. We had zero Salesforce developers; however we were able to just start building.

3. How has App Cloud helped move your business forward?

From a business standpoint that’s constantly shifting and requires us to take advantage of opportunities quickly, Salesforce allows us to pivot with very little overhead to accomplish it. Salesforce, as a platform, has allowed us to be very nimble and very flexible. The functionality is great, and the ability to adapt and develop quickly as we go has been a game-changer. We may have to come back and refine it and fix things later on, but it actually allows us to take an idea, build it out, and make an impact. When we see something, an opportunity, or a process, or anything, we use Salesforce to help guide that. The focus shouldn’t be on IT itself. It’s about being able to focus on what we’re trying to accomplish, and letting IT help guide us.

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4. Do you think more businesses could benefit from that ‘build as you go’ philosophy?

Absolutely, but it can be a challenge sometimes. You can build something that ends up not serving its purpose; however, you can also spend six months planning it out, and developing it, only to deploy it and find out it didn’t work. We’re big believers of developing things as we go, and then just refining it as we find the need for it. For us, speed is everything. In our world, you have to deliver fast, and organizational processes are what makes that happen for us.

5. Is that where customizing and building apps that run your business come into play?

Yes, all of our apps that we’re creating are all internal apps. Essentially what we’re doing is building up our whole organization on Salesforce’s platform. You can step back from Salesforce and see how our organization is run because Salesforce mirrors how we operate. We’ve built apps, functions, or objects around everything that we do.

6. That’s great! Can you share what some of those internal apps you built are?

One of them that we’re very proud of handles all of our shipping at our Kentucky location; we refer to it as One Piece Flow, or as the OPF app. To give you some context, the products that come to our facility will eventually be destined for an Amazon fulfillment center. We receive product, inspect it, process it, package it (if appropriate), and then it is sent to an Amazon fulfillment center to be stored and ultimately delivered to the end-consumer. We have about a 48-hour window that we try to have that product pass through our system. So we built the OPF app that handles the product coming through the system all in one single flow, versus the process described earlier. It’s probably one of the most amazing apps we’ve ever built with Salesforce App Cloud.

7. Do you have any advice for other small and medium-sized businesses looking to build on cloud platforms?

I would start with a cloud platform first. I ask anyone who starts a business, “Do you have your Salesforce license?” They need to understand that whatever you think in your head, you can actually apply in Salesforce, from a process or operational standpoint. Beyond the CRM element, there’s a whole platform available that’s open and available for you to define your business. People who are just getting started with Salesforce or are just starting to discover it should just go all in. The stuff they’ll discover, and the ability to do it is phenomenal.

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