Founded in 1990, Barnes Williams has been supplying herbs and spices from around the world to food manufacturers for over 26 years.
Barnes Williams is part of a group of three food related businesses that employs 17 members of staff selling around 650-700 different product lines.
This wide variety of herbs and spices are imported from various locations across the globe, including China, Mexico, Turkey, Morocco, Europe and the US. Barnes Williams began using OrderWise to manage all their business operations back in Chilli Doctor Logo 2012. We spoke to Steve Logsdon, Financial Director of Barnes Williams, to discuss how using OrderWise has helped the company to grow over the years.
Before being introduced to OrderWise, all of Barnes Williams’ daily processes were managed through Sage 50. At the time, Barnes Williams was just one business instead of the three they are today and were using third-party hauliers to manage all of their warehousing and fulfilment. However as the company began to expand both in terms of the products offered and subsequent increase in the number of daily orders being received, it soon became clear to Steve and his team that it would be more cost-effective for Barnes Williams to have their own warehouse.
“It got to the point where we were spending that much money on storage, it was cheaper for us to actually bite the bullet and purchase our own warehouse. Because of this, we also recognised that we needed to invest in a warehouse management system.”
Although Sage 50 had served Barnes Williams well for many years, with the growth of the company there were limitations with what it could do, so the search for replacement business management software began. Initially Barnes Williams looked for a software solution for warehouse management that could be added onto their existing Sage 50 package, however the company soon realised that moving to an all-in-one solution would offer greater scope to the business and future growth projections. Having researched the market for a solution, Barnes Williams became aware of OrderWise and, following a trial, Steve knew it was going to be the right system for the business.
“We spent a day looking at OrderWise and what made us decide to go with it was its ease-of-use compared to the other systems we looked at and also the amount of information we could pull out. It was stock control, purchase and customer order systems fully integrated, so that the whole lot was on one platform.”
Although it was clear that OrderWise was the right solution for Barnes Williams, it was a big investment for a then small business. However after much deliberation, Steve and his team took the plunge and decided to implement OrderWise into the business.
The OrderWise Solution
In the three years since Barnes Williams first implemented OrderWise, they have expanded their operation into a group of three businesses (the other two being the Chilli Doctor specialising in chilli based ingredients and BW Catering Products) delivering daily orders to leading food manufacturers in the UK and Europe. Steve explained that although OrderWise was seen as a considerable outlay for the company at the time, the benefits Barnes Williams have been able to experience have far outweighed the costs.
“We thought that for a small business it was a huge investment, the biggest we had ever made into our IT systems. However what it has enabled us to do is save us lots of time via better order placement, fulfilment and of course really efficient stock control. So while it seemed like a lot of money when we first bought it, in reality it has more than paid for itself.”
Steve also elaborated on how OrderWise has been able to help make his life easier on a day-to-day basis through seamless integration with Sage 50. Barnes Williams decided to keep Sage 50 on to continue managing the company’s accounting needs and, as Financial Director, Steve explained how posting invoices and analysing the company’s performance now couldn’t be easier.
“The way the invoices are generated and everything is pushed through to Sage is really good. Also the reporting on our margins and sales means I can easily get the information from OrderWise that I need.”
However possibly the biggest asset that OrderWise offers Barnes Williams is the structured management of stock and full end-to-end traceability that they require to operate effectively as a food ingredients business. Steve explained that having full visibility of all their products and a comprehensive audit trail means they always know exactly which items need to be shipped first.
“It’s definitely helped with the management of batch and expiry dated products. Now when we bring our products in, we push them through OrderWise so we can accurately record the batch numbers and best before dates. That way the system will always pick the product with the shortest shelf life, which obviously helps us with our stock rotation.”
Additionally to this, the end-to-end stock traceability OrderWise provides enables Barnes Williams to respond quickly and accurately to any potential product recalls. Although they fortunately don’t have many of these, being fully BRC (British Retail Consortium) accredited means Barnes Williams have to have at least one practice recall every year. Through the functionality available with OrderWise, Steve explained how every practice recall always works without a hitch.
“Most importantly from our point of view, we have to know exactly who has bought every kilo of product because if there is a problem with it, we have to be able to recall it all. And with OrderWise, that information is available literally at the push of a button – it takes seconds.”
However it is not just the software that has impressed Steve but also the customer support that OrderWise has been able to provide over the years. Although Barnes Williams only need to contact support on rare occasions these days, Steve said the assistance provided by the OrderWise Support Technicians is always excellent.
“The support has been really good, in the beginning when we first moved over to OrderWise and were still getting to grips with everything we were maybe ringing up about three times a day, but now it’s more like once a month!”
What’s Next For Barnes Williams?
So with Barnes Williams able to expand the business, cut costs, save time and effectively manage all their stock and traceability requirements, the big question is what’s next for Barnes Williams and OrderWise?
“When we first started with OrderWise, we only had one business – now we’ve got three, all of which use OrderWise. We’ve doubled in size since we started with OrderWise three years ago and we’re looking to double again in the next five. OrderWise certainly won’t hinder that growth and it appears to have the capacity to do exactly what we need going forward.”