Why are we building Glide?

In this article, I will explain why we’ve decided to release Glide publicly.

As an owner or operator of a business that sells both custom and personalised products, this article will help you understand the need for tools such as Glide and why it could be the right fit for your business.

Various screenshots of Glide

I started by saying, ‘release Glide publicly’ because we actually built this tool for internal use over 3 years ago.

That business, called Sticker it, sells custom stickers and labels and has grown rapidly, meaning we’ve had many challenges to overcome.

I’m hoping these hard lessons can be avoided by similar companies in the future using Glide.

Why build instead of buy?

It comes down to 2 key factors:

  1. High ambitions
  2. The alternatives don’t solve enough problems

1 - High ambitions

We’ve always set our sights high on using technology in business.

The objectives are to improve the customer experience, grow quicker, and be more profitable. 

There are also lots of other benefits to having great systems.

  • Remove mundane and repetitive work
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Have a happier team who work on interesting stuff
  • Have more money to invest in solving the hard problems

Because of our high ambition to automate much of Sticker it, we built a team that can create systems like Glide.

We have developers, designers, industry experts, manufacturing managers and more.

Together, these people create the right ingredients to make a tool that will be genuinely useful to other businesses that sell personalised products.

2 - Poor alternatives

When looking for systems to help, we found that nothing was suitable.

Existing products generally fitted into these 2 categories:

Low cost and simple or expensive and complex diagram

The low-cost, simple products did solve some issues. They helped with creating a quote or sending a proof.

Which is fine, but we needed more.

We wanted a fully ‘joined-up’ system to save time through automating areas of the business.

The expensive, complex products were too high-risk in both cash & time. We didn’t want to invest £10,000-£20,000 in setup AND have a high learning curve for using the system and an expensive monthly fee.

These expensive solutions had long lists of features, but most seemed rigid and not a joy to use - one of our guiding principles.

We needed something that was going to adapt to our ever-changing business.

We decided to build our own

We already had an internal team that was working on other software products. We just moved these people to start work on Corkscrew (the name of our internal tool).

Within months, we had an MVP (minimum viable product) that was working and already solving some key problems for us. 

Simple things such as automatic file naming with unique codes was a game-changer. A simple idea that saves a designer 30-45 seconds per order line item. It also makes finding files easier in the future.

Assume you have 20 orders daily, with an average of 2 line items per order. Saving 45 seconds on each line equals savings of 182 hours (4.5 weeks) year! That’s massive, as designers are expensive. And it makes their job more enjoyable by removing mundane file naming.

Experience making custom products

Having built from scratch 2 businesses that sell custom products, we have real experience starting and scaling.

Manufacturing custom products is especially hard because it must be done in real-time, post-order.

Not making ahead of time. Holding stock. Then, a simple pick & pack to fulfil an order.

Outsourcing can work, so Glide handles that, but it wasn’t an option for our brands.

Manufacturing just in time is the holy grail if it’s efficient.

We’ve improved it for 3+ years

The final key reason for launching Glide is that we’ve got a feature-packed and helpful tool.

We’ve spent over 3 years using it every day in our team. 

We have Josefina in Argentina, Jomel in the Philippines, Byron in Sweden and the core team in England. We all come together daily to communicate and deliver orders fast using Glide.

For Sticker it, Glide is used throughout our whole order process, which goes like this:

  1. Import orders from our Shopify store
  2. Send design proofs to customers within minutes
  3. Customer reviews or rejects proof having received an email & an SMS with a link to their proof.
  4. Once approved, files get automatically nested and are on the printer within seconds.
  5. We print, laminate, & cut internally.
  6. Glide handles our rigid quality control check, including weighing products to check quantities.
  7. Finally, a label prints automatically and sends that tracking information to the customer.

Throughout the process, the customer can log in to their account and check the status. No need to email or raise a support ticket.

Final thoughts

In summary, we hope to help thousands of businesses that sell custom products to thrive.

Mix some robust structure with enough flexibility to suit any type of business process. Along with a tool that’s enjoyable to use at a reasonable price, and we hope it’s a winning mix.

We hope you enjoy using Glide.

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