Glowforge App: The Success of a Famous 3D Printer

4 min read

Back in 2013, at the rising dawn of the 3D printer technology era, lots of various companies have tried to secure the targeted audience. However, everyone had an issue with that most of the printers had huge and impractical designs. Some of them even looked like partial robotic prototypes that might have looked impressive. But they have significantly lacked a more straightforward and flexible format.

Glowforge App Design #2
The design layout of the original Glowforge App

A year later, a business unit named, GlowForge company made its debut by presenting a simple yet fantastic design for the 3D printer technology. It was compact, slim, and the size was just perfect for a 3D printer. Why are we telling you this? Well, because the company CEO has reached out to us to make his Glowforge app platform real!

He explained that as he had built his future business roadmap plan, he understood that he lacked enough resources to implement his ideas. That’s why he contacted us in the first place. He noticed that our company assists with both the business and technological development of a startup. That’s where he decided to share a fantastic work for us too.

The team decided to outsource a significant part of their Glowforge business plan activities to another software firm. Which just happens to be us, JetRuby! They found our services beneficial for creating an e-commerce platform that will boost their product awareness and adjust their sales process.

Glowforge Challenges

An initial thing that most startups lack is the right brand image. The product itself made a great noise for a startup to quickly gain a sufficient amount of its users. However, what it lacked ever since the first step is the visualization of their company. A branding that captures a customer’s interest was priority number one.

The next challenge was the long process of building a customer order. To be even more precise, the process of preparing an order was taking a tremendous amount of time. And not because the website was slow, and they used a LAMP stack to do that—quite the opposite. The composition of a regular customer order requiring the involvement of several departments was the reason for that. To top it off, our client required integration with NetSuite. Since most of their work was utilizing it, and it would speed things up efficiently for the entire team.

As it often happens in e-commerce, the front-end technologies available for the users are the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of different activities that can give you many headaches if you consider implementing it by human labor. Synchronization of data between various departments, prices & tax calculations for each given country, and automating the system processes as possible. These were the issues that the Glowforge app required resolving.

The Implementation

Design and Discovery Phase

Once our team understood the list of requirements, our Project Manager immediately offered to go through a custom Design and Discovery Phase. Mainly because the startup never had a branding image of their product or even a simple website. So, it was necessary to launch a few test marketing theories and find the appropriate design option.

The first thing that our design team focused on, was the brand logo. Our logo combined both the simplicity of perception and complexity of the art. Since Glowforge company is all about creativity, it inspires users to be creative and brave in visualizing their dreams. A calm color palette with predominantly blue, black, and white colors makes the user feel confident and relaxed.

Glowforge App
Brand Image of the Glowforge App

The user interface design was very simple, and strategically using color and texture allowed us to create an encouraging design. The Glowforge app & product is in rectangle form. That’s why we made a design rectangle-like to save the product’s integrity and the design itself. So the overall concept was built not around the overall outlook but rather the psychology of the product itself. Exactly that allowed us to focus on the essential product aspect and not be distracted by anything else.

MVP Development

Most of the Glowforge app’s orders worked under a specific methodology, which was not automatic and connected whatsoever. Thus, requiring human labor. All the customers’ demands are created on the frontend of the platform and user profiles. All of this information, stored and managed by a custom solution based on Solidus. This solution required that all relevant information on the order statuses and specific goods go to NetSuite.

But these two pieces of software are not the only ones that Glowforge was using. So, let’s review each step-by-step and first see what responsibilities each bear and corresponds to in the Glowforge app:

  1. Celigo / – A third-party service-to-service integration manager.
  2. NetSuite – Accounting software.
  3. Solidus – ECommerce Glowforge platform.
  4. Flex – First manufacturing and logistics partner.
  5. ModusLInk – Second manufacturing and logistics partner.

And now, let’s take a look at how the automation system should look like after our implementations would be successful:

  1. First, the order status and each item’s status have to be in sync between NetSuite and Solidus at all times.
  2. Second, Flex and ModusLink have to get the information instantly when the item changes its status. And they should be informed via Celigo API.
  3. Third, once any changes on the item status, will synchronize between Flex/ModusLink and both NetSuite and Solidus.
  4. Last, implementing this logic structure will enable all managers to have 100% relevant data at all times, almost annihilating human labor.

After the necessary development work, JetRuby successfully automated customer order creation in NetSuite. At the same time, we integrated the Glowforge app’s orders with NetSuite and automated manual ops. These jobs covered numerous scenarios, such as pre-orders and real-time orders, and system behavior in RMA. Also, it fixed the issue where the chosen item was not in the local warehouse, but instead somewhere else.

As a result, we managed to automate most of the internal processes into a neat system. Now it was capable of forming and sending a relevant customer order in no time across the entire US and worldwide. 

One of the other responsibilities of the internal system was to calculate value-added tax for the chosen country (specified in the order). It should present relevant information to the selected customer and be synchronized among various departments, including accounting.

During the development process, JetRuby has created an integration from scratch with Avalra and implemented the “Landed Cost” functionality for several countries. This feature allowed customers or employees to receive a total order amount, as it will calculate every mandatory expense. Avalara is yet another excellent solution for e-commerce projects targeting international markets worldwide. As a result, users now have a clear understanding of the item pricing and the tax rate.

Business Results

During the first month, more than 10,000 printer products have been successfully sold. Almost an infinite number of satisfied customers have already experienced the ease of the platform and are satisfied with the Glowforge app experience. Additionally, Google recognized this product as the “Next-generation 3D laser printing”.

We made an attractive Glowforge website design that allows simplistic navigation through various sections of the website. Now people are starting to build businesses on them. On the one hand, some people are doing their woodworking hobbies and making fundraisers around them. Some schools are actively using them for prototyping, art classes, and engineering classes.

Glowforge company is considered to be the leading and the most iconic 3D printer technology in its market niche. Approximately, a few million handcrafted materials that all customers have already created and continue to develop. While the estimated sales revenue spiked up to $70 million in January 2018, it grew bigger and bigger!

We were glad to help our client’s business grow, as we built a custom E-commerce allowing all creative people to easily buy Glowforge products. We would like to thank all the Glowforge team. Specifically Xander Joo, for a hugely exciting project and the best-looking spec we have seen in a decade!

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