Dedicated to improving manufacturing efficiency

15 Minutes with... Neil Bennett, Director of Optima Warehouse Solutions

The warehouse management industry is recovering after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day sales. We grabbed a few minutes with Neil Bennett, Director of Optima WMS to talk about their Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and how Optima’s strong customer relationships help businesses achieve their goals.

 “Customers tell us that we take the time to understand them,” explains Neil. “They know their business far better than we ever will. Instead of pushing a system we think will work, we create something we know will work for a client and their business.

“They trust us to implement the features, functionality and facilities they need to run their business better. Sometimes, requested features or facilities seem initially unnecessary to us, but by understanding their business needs, it’s clear why these additions will save time and money in their warehouse.”

Optima have provided warehouse management software and solutions for over fifteen years. From their base, just off the M6 in Staffordshire, Optima have customers in the UK and across Europe too, and proudly proclaim they retain many original customers. This proves their policy of building the right software to meet to meet ever-changing client needs works.

“Because we’ve helped customers across many sectors, who manufacturer, store and organize different types of products, we make suggestions and recommendations based on previous projects,” says Neil. “What works for small ecommerce websites could be just as effective for an international distribution company and vice-versa.”

Flexibility is another key part of Optima’s policy of putting the customer first, as Neil is keen to emphasise. “Our customers provide different products and services,” he says. “This means that we can’t offer a ‘one size fits all’ WMS solution. Our project managers oversee the bespoke development of systems designed to meet customers’ exact needs, no matter how simple or complex. No two customers have the exact same features, functionality and capability from their Optima WMS, because we know, and they know, their requirements are different.”

Fast-growing online store, The Incontinence Shop, started in a garage and quickly grew to larger premises in Bolton and now London, and attribute much of their success to Optima. Co-founder Adam Watts explains, “Optima installed a WMS that works with all our sales platforms and shipping services, and couriers. The system is fully hosted, so we just remotely login, making it easy for Optima to correct any issues or problems we have. This is perfect for us as we don't have the time to maintain a system - it helps us get on with what we do best.”

And it’s not just smaller, start-up business who turn to Optima for their warehouse needs. One of the largest suppliers of snacks and crisps in the country, Seabrook Crisps, outsourced their storage and distribution and needed a new WMS to enable smooth picking and packing, and easier distribution to smaller outlets and High Street retailers throughout the UK.  

Factors like stock rotation, batch codes and best before dates, meant Seabrook needed a fully-integrated, time-sensitive WMS, making the project more complicated for Neil and his team.

“Seabrook crisps gave Optima the opportunity to tackle a completely unique set of challenges; to accommodate a well-established customer and fit in with their existing processes, and to increase efficiency and output using bespoke software solutions,” he explains.

“The key to the success of this project was our ability to deliver the solution to tight timescales and on time. We also had to understand and prioritise their bespoke storage and picking rules. Our skill and experience at understanding ever-changing customers’ requirements means we are well used to inventing solutions to meet their needs.”

Daniel Woodward, Chief Operating Officer at Seabrook Crisps is impressed, “The software provides an intuitive interface and handles the basics well. It is also backed by a team who can resolve queries quickly and easily. It also future proofs our internal warehousing and logistics operations, safe in the knowledge the system can accommodate wherever we choose to go.”

To Optima, WMS means more than working with clients to gain a better understanding of their business and warehousing needs before developing a strategy and software to meet their requirements. The follow-up care is just as important as the software itself to Neil and Optima customers.

“We pride ourselves on our after sales service as much as our software,” he says.  “Although many companies say this, we really do. We’re happy to talk to customers if they have a problem or question, no matter how big or small.

“Our customers range from start-ups to multinationals, and we enjoy explaining the features and benefits of Optima WMS to people new to warehouse management as much as talking technical with IT people.”

Neil Bennett was talking to Matthew Crist and Matthew James

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