Utilising the latest mobile technology to revolutionise the centuries old practice of purchasing and verifying postage stamps
Postal services around the world are still mostly doing things the old-fashioned way, selling stamps and stamping letters and packages by hand, sometimes even sorting by hand and delivering in person. The industry is still a highly traditional one, even though postal companies are starting to invest in IT to drive digital transformation.
Most postal services around the world are selling stamps the old-fashioned way, even though the technology to do it in a smarter way already exists. This means that customers have to travel to a sales point and queue to buy stamps, and are often forced to pay more for stamps when the amount required doesn’t fit the number of stamps. Self-service kiosks often have technical issues and still require customers to travel to get the letter ready to post.
With an app taking advantage of the most recent developments in mobile technology, customers could instead weigh and measure their letters and parcels and buy exact postage, all without leaving their home. This would enable the customer to prepare the package for posting without any hassle.
The project was exciting to us because we understood and could relate personally to the issue. Buying stamps is a hassle and Hugh's proposed solution is a practical way to make it easier to send letters and parcels.
Hugh’s initial idea was to design envelopes with a pre-printed QR code on them. Talking it through with Russ, we quickly started discussing ways to do this that were easier for customers to use without having to pre-order envelopes. We came up with an innovative and disruptive solution, which at time of writing must remain confidential until postal services start rolling it out in a live environment. After storyboarding all our ideas, we agreed on the focus of the initial design sprint: making it possible to pay for a first-class small letter and get it sent off. This would be the basis of the MVP to prove the concept.
I came in for a chat and talked to Russ, who suggested a total original solution to “stamping” mail. I liked the idea, so from that, we developed the idea of having an app that allows you to send letters through whatever your postal service is, meaning the product could potentially be marketed worldwide.Hugh, Managing Director, Stamp Free Ltd.
In order to prove his idea, Hugh worked with Bad Dinosaur to develop a clickable prototype. This method ensures a rapid MVP design process, meaning that clients can get their product in front of potential investors quicker.
Finlay joined the project shortly after becoming Bad Dinosaur’s newest designer and was excited to assist Lindsay following her first couple of workshops with Hugh. From an early stage, the team set about exploring how they could take advantage of the latest mobile technology to both improve customer experience and make the app stand out against its competitors. The prototype was used to demonstrate camera measurement and advanced touch technology, allowing users to accurately record their item of mail to calculate the postage price.
Through market research, the team identified similar products that had been trialed in previous years by European postage companies, but as far as a viable native application for the current generation of mobile technology, no such product existed. Building from the lessons of these prior technologies, the team collaborated with Hugh to develop the initial purchase flow into a refined clickable in a matter of weeks. Using the clickable to demonstrate a potential business and parcel flow meant that the product could demonstrate Hugh’s long-term aspirations for the product to potential business partners.
Stamp Free was a testing ground in many ways: not just because this was my first project at Bad Dinosaur, but because prototyping in this manner, as a clickable, is still a relatively new approach for the company. This project in particular was a perfect proving ground for the process and I’m proud that we were able to successfully display its benefits to the client and improve our own internal workflow.
The initial design was bold, but Hugh was quite keen to have it look sleek and trustworthy. We agreed that we wanted it to look more professional, especially as the potential customers would be established mail companies and have always had consistently strong marketing. The design was inspired by the colours and feel of stamps and envelopes.
I’m not a technical expert, but I’ve had a lot of technical people look at it, including venture capitalists and international mail companies. They have tested it and many say this is one of the best prototypes they have seen - just from the way it’s been put together, aside from what it actually does. So that gave me confidence in both the prototype and in Bad Dinosaur's capabilities.
I’m not a technical expert, but I’ve had a lot of technical people look at it, including venture capitalists and international mail companies. They have tested it and many say this is one of the best prototypes they have seen - just from the way it’s been put together, aside from what it actually does. So that gave me confidence in both the prototype and in Bad Dinosaur's capabilities.Hugh, Managing Director, Stamp Free Ltd.;
Stamp Free continues to be a project that we’re very proud of at Bad Dinosaur. Hugh’s idea and its prototype have already been very well received by potential clients, with many expressing interest in developing the idea further.
The project is now at an exciting stage. Hugh has recently recruited Colin as Stamp Free Limited's operations director to help develop the technical feasibility of the project. Colin, a highly-accomplished IT executive and former program director for Royal Mail, brings 25 years of industry experience to the team.
Following an initial round of funding in Q1/2 2020, Hugh plans to proceed with development of the prototype into a cross-platform native mobile app. Both the designers and development team are excited to commence work on the next stage of the customer flow, resolve the various technical challenges of the project and help bring Hugh’s idea to a leading postal service by late 2020.