Rushing to post offices, buying books of stamps and messing around with printer returns labels – it all feels quite outdated, doesn’t it? Hugh Craigie Halkett, Founder of Stamp Free had this exact thought one night whilst desperately trying to buy a stamp. This was the beginning of his vision of a world without stamps.
Stamp Free came to us with the idea at the beginning of 2021 and we couldn’t help but get involved. We worked with Stamp Free to build a mobile application that provides an innovative solution to retailers, the postal industry and the consumer.
Now the project is coming to an end, our Marketing Manager Rachel wanted to find out a bit more about the project, how their platform is doing and what they enjoyed about working with GearedApp. Read on for Rachel’s interview with Tim Higginbotham, Stamp Free’s IT Director.
Tim Higginbotham, IT Director
Q. So can you tell me a little bit about Stamp Free, what was the idea behind it and how did it come to fruition?
” A few years back, our founder Hugh found himself stuck in a Tesco car park in the rain trying to post a letter, and it dawned on him – isn’t there a better way of doing this? The more he mulled it over, the more old-fashioned a stamp seemed – he thought why can’t we just write a code on a letter, and that’s where the idea for Stamp Free came from.
I joined the team a year ago and from there the concept really developed. Initially the idea was based on letters, but we soon discovered that the mail system is really all about parcels these days. Not many people send letters but online shopping and printing labels for deliveries is really what it’s about. Also, international postage – people are sending parcels internationally all the time. In fact, it’s forecasted that across the world we send around a billion parcels every day.
Stamp Free started from humble beginnings but we really are progressing.”
Q. What do you think the impact of this technology could be for our postal services? Do you think it will have a wider impact on the way we view mailing in general?
” Well I hope so, in terms of the eco impact I think it will make a difference because obviously printers, ink and of course paper aren’t environmentally friendly. A lot of retailers put a returns label on every single thing that they sell, and not only does that cost them a lot of money, we also need to think about the impact on the planet which is significant and obviously really relevant.
However, the other side of it is from a consumer point of view. The system of the customer paying for postage hasn’t changed in many years – you either have to pay for a book of stamps or stand in line at the post office, and it’s more or less the same across the world. I think the postal industry is just starting to realise that we need to offer something better to the customer and make it as convenient as possible. Our whole idea surrounding Stamp Free is not restricted to waiting for somewhere to open – you can do it 24/7 and you’re not restricted to having to use a printer at home.”
Q. What brought you to GearedApp? How did you find us and why did you choose us?
” Well it was actually a bit of a convoluted path, we had a grant from the Scottish government so I sent out a request for proposals to a load of companies for software development work. We wanted to work with a Scottish team since it was a Scottish grant – we weren’t restricted to that but it felt right. There was a company that referred us to GearedApp and it just felt right – I spoke to Lara and it all started from there.”
Q. How did GearedApp and the team support you in the development of the platform?
” Well when it came to developing the mobile app, the design and the UI was the easy bit, it was all the capabilities behind the scenes that were tricky. The real benefit of working with GearedApp was having your support throughout that journey and helping us take the weight of that problem off of our shoulders – the team were brilliant with guiding us throughout that process.
With a project like this, you go in with a view of how you want it to look and how you think it will feel. It was great having guidance from the development side on what we could actually make work. The team helped with some gentle probing and came up with some brilliant ideas to do with the look and feel of the app.”
Q. This was a very collaborative project – what was that like for you? Did you enjoy the collaborative nature of the project?
” I have experience of working in Agile and it can be chaotic but it’s great because it’s flexible – we certainly needed the flexibility. Agile working was perfect for us because iit meant we could have weekly conversations to talk about the priority and figure out the next steps. Using online tools like Slack made communication really easy and meant we could talk throughout the process.”
Q. How would you describe your experience working with GearedApp?
” It was a really positive experience – I love the relaxed nature of it all, whilst at the same time having a huge desire to do a quality job. Overall it has been a great experience, and I’d be happy to recommend you to anyone.
The project was done on budget and on time give or take a few extra features – it ticked all the boxes for us. “
Q. What is the outcome of the project at the moment? Where’s Stamp Free at?
” At the moment, we’re on the cusp of hopefully signing up two or three good clients, fingers crossed. Getting our first customer will seal the foundations of Stamp Free so we’re going all guns blazing on that front.”
Q. What does the future of Stamp Free look like?
” Like I said there are loads of parcels that get delivered around the planet every day so it’s not like we’re in a small market. I think there’s still a long way to go with the use of handwritten recognition technology, and I’d like us to be at the forefront of that. The use cases go beyond the postal and parcel industry, and there’s lots of different avenues we can go down.
I think in three to five years time Stamp Free’s code technology will be commonplace in the postage industry.”
Q. What’s the one thing that sticks out in your mind most about working with GearedApp?
” Really, the ease of working with you guys to develop something that can be positive in many ways. When you get something that has the look and feel you were aiming for, you can’t quantify that. There’s more to it than someone doing a bit of coding – there’s someone who has figured out and really understood what we were trying to achieve.”
GearedApp’s Thoughts on the Project
Working with Stamp Free to build their revolutionary app has been a fantastic experience for us. We are so grateful to have been involved in such an innovative project. Not only have we enjoyed working on this project but it’s been great working with Tim and Hugh from Stamp Free.
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