May 2, 2018Comments are off for this post.

5 Awesome Tools You May Not Be Using

I’ll admit it, I’m an addict.

My new browser tab is the Product Hunt daily feed. I check the App Store and Google Play homepages way more than I care to confess. I obsessively rabbit hole down the “apps you might also like” suggestions.

So, it’s true. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m addicted to digital products.

But more specifically, I love the “tools” category of those products because they are designed to increase productivity, make tasks easier or change up the way we think about doing a process. And, since I comb through tons of tools on a regular basis, I thought I’d share a few that have made it on the regular rotation of my software repertoire.

Dropbox Paper

Most everyone is familiar with Dropbox, but you might not know that it houses an incredibly useful productivity tool called Paper. Built as a collaborative document format, Paper seems like Google Docs on the surface, but it has all sorts of great features tucked under its hood.

Need to create product documentation? Paper has great editing tools, folder organization and version history to boot. You can invite your team for free and edit in a live space. As a designer, I love that I can embed prototypes directly from Invision or Marvel.

Need to compile screenshots and show them in an organized fashion? Drag and drop directly into the document, and separate with headers to create a table of contents (this is particularity awesome).

Need to write a blog post? Paper is a great, distraction-free tool for writing, and you can add others in to give feedback, help make edits and easily lay out your post.

And that’s just the beginning. Paper does so much more! It can also be used to create presentations or collect meeting notes. I can’t recommend it enough.

Wavebox

Wavebox is a more recent discovery, and I was sold on upgrading to their Pro license after only one day of use. Wavebox is a container for all of the web apps you use during your day, yet it does some nifty things to set itself apart from being a glorified set of browser tabs, such as:

  • Wavebox sleeps your inactive apps after a set amount of time, which keeps them from continuing to drain memory on your system. If you use a lot of apps, you’ll DEFINITELY notice an improvement.
  • Wavebox keeps you signed in so you don’t have to put in account credentials every time you restart or clear your cache.
  • Wavebox groups parent accounts, such as Google, and then houses your most used individual products inside that group. Instead of having Docs, Slides, Drive and Hangouts open in tabs, all you need is the Google tab. Very cool.

I love that Wavebox allows me to easily separate productivity from general browsing in a functional and thoughtful manner. I dedicate Wavebox to services and tools, and that way Chrome can be used for all the other browsing I do.

Pulse SMS

If you are an iPhone and Mac user, then you know how awesome and useful it is being able to use Messages on your Mac. Android users actually have a few options to do the same, but in my opinion, there is one clear winner — Pulse SMS.

Pulse is an alternative SMS client for your Android device which does all of the typical texting stuff. The true power in Pulse, though, is the ability to use it cross-platform. Unlike Messages, which is Apple only, you can use Pulse on any platform for every device, including:

  • Native apps for Windows, OSX and Linux
  • Optimized versions for Android phones, tablets, watches and TVs
  • Extensions for Chrome and Firefox
  • Web apps for use on iOS

I’m a Mac user, but I currently use an Android phone. I have the Pulse app installed on my Mac, and it works beautifully, just like Messages. I can also text from my iPad via the web app. It also doesn’t hurt that the native Android app is a pretty stellar texting app, as well.

Pablo

Pablo is a cool tool that helps you quickly create beautiful marketing images. It’s so quick and easy to build out a great graphic for a blog post, social post or newsletter.

You simply choose a photo, type out and position your text and then choose your graphic export size. Because of the formatting options, Pablo limits you to making better graphic and typography choices, which lead to stellar results. You can honestly get a fantastic looking image out of it in about 20-to-30 seconds.

Pablo also hooks into a couple of free stock library sites, so you have access to over half a million images at no cost. If you need a quick way to make an image and don’t want to hop into a graphics editor or pay someone to do it, Pablo may be the right app for the job.

WorkFlowy

WorkFlowy, at its most distilled, is simply a list tool. But it’s the way in which you build and navigate those lists that make it more useful than its counterparts. Where WorkFlowy really displays its value is when you want to break large lists into smaller lists — and so on, and so on and so on. WorkFlowy has an infinite depth, and you can drill into any item at any time to focus on it.

It’s an extremely focused tool that doesn’t need formatting or the ability to upload media, and that’s the beauty of it, it’s so efficient and perfectly tailored to what it does that it makes something usually boring and mundane like creating lists a much more pleasurable experience.

There is also a light share feature that you can use with a few people to manage task lists or projects, but don’t expect lots of collaboration options. I use it mostly for stuff I need to do around the house, and it is PERFECT for those cases.

Hopefully, I’ve shown you a few new tools that will make your work and life a bit easier. Are any of these options a favorite of yours, or do you have other great tools? Let us know in the comments below!

 

April 19, 2018Comments are off for this post.

How Augmented Reality is Changing Retail

In 2018, it feels as though we have finally landed in the “future” as detailed in our favorite sci-fi plots. Disruptive technology has allowed us to become a truly connected world, and social media has facilitated the need for people to feel constantly connected. This need to feel connected has not only allowed us to explore the exciting technologies of smart homes, digital assistants, and wearable technology created to make our lives easier, but it has also allowed us to explore how to truly integrate new tech into our daily lives.

Now more than ever, consumers have a heightened awareness of the need for updated tech integrations, beyond just creating cool wearable accessories. As technology rules the modern consumer’s life, retailers are not only expected to be digital-first to succeed, but they now need to ensure users are engaged throughout the entire process. This, in turn, has completely flipped consumers’ expectations when it comes to shopping. With eCommerce giants like Amazon setting the standard for instant gratification with fast shipping and allowing users to dictate their shopping experience via the app, online, or in-person, e-retailers and traditional retailers alike need to step their game up across multiple touchpoints to even be considered competition.

“The modern shopper’s comfort with digital channels and content has changed the consumer purchase journey from a traditional linear model to a complex journey across online and offline touchpoints. But regardless of touchpoint, consumers expect a consistent brand experience at all times.” (The Business of Fashion)

We believe the solution to the modern retailer’s dilemma is simple: make user-experience the focus instead of an afterthought, with in-store digital innovations and customer-focused apps to drive sales.

Jose Neves, founder of multi-billion dollar online luxury fashion retailer FarFetch, stated “Where tech can help is not with gimmicks but making the experience more human.” (Vogue)

So the question remains, how can retailers create digital experiences that feel more human?

Retail brands like Reformation and Rebecca Minkoff saw after they introduced digital-fitting rooms that allow users to control lighting, play music, and request different sizes all from the touch of a button within the room, customers “buy on average three times more apparel than in a regular dressing room.” (NBC) In eCommerce, retailers rely on personalization and artificial intelligence to adapt to consumers’ purchasing behaviors. Online fast-fashion retailer ASOS took personalization and AI to the next level by introducing the Style Match feature in their app, a reverse image finder where “users can tap the camera icon in the search box to upload a screenshot from Instagram, a photo taken from a magazine, or to take a picture right from the app, and get results of shoppable items.” (The Verge) ASOS was able to create a digital connection between their customers that felt both innovative and human by identifying a huge gap within the process of consumer’s purchase journey, they were able to develop a digital assistant to help them find the exact clothing they want to purchase.

One of our personal favorites here at Dragon Army is incorporating augmented reality (AR) into the consumer’s retail experience. (Still getting AR and VR mixed up? Our CEO and COO Jeff and Ryan break it down in this awesome podcast.)

A great example of the power of AR in retail is the recently launched app by global fast-fashion retailer ZARA. Customers can easily download the free Z[AR]A app as they shop to bring digital innovation directly into their in-store shopping experience. The AR app cleverly showcases ZARA’s latest studio collection by encouraging customers to use the app to find surprise and delight AR moments hidden within store displays and packages from online purchases. Using the AR camera in the app, models come to life on the phone screen wearing the latest spring collection. “Customers will be able to see 12 different scenes, all of which were captured with 68 cameras on a 170 square meter stage, one of the largest productions of its kind, according to a company spokesperson.” (Next Reality) All the looks featured can be purchased instantly within the same app. Additionally, users will also be able to share their experience with AR on the social media channel of their choice.

Zara’s bold move to introduce AR to its customers not only illustrates their understanding of their client base but showcases their proactiveness to adopt new technologies. In addition to ensuring their online experience is engaging with an easy-to-use app and website, they saw an opportunity to design a completely new user-experience that supports the traditional touchpoints they already have in place. (@zara)

To be successful in this space, retailers need to embrace the power of both the consumer and new technologies, instead of relying on the traditional retail strategies that have put countless retailers out of business. Retailers need to bring disruptive technology such as AR to the forefront of their digital experiences to continue to engage and capture modern consumers, as well as adopt digital strategies that allow retailers to support consumer-driven trends.

Whether your digital solution is for brick and mortar or completely online, it’s time to rethink how you connect with your audience.

By: Veronica Miller, Account Coordinator at Dragon Army, LinkedIn

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