We’re living in the golden age of electronic devices. Just 20 years ago, a smart doorbell or an electronic, voice-responsive home assistant was something out of science fiction. These days, such devices and many other types of hardware are common and in high demand.
Avoid Mistakes Hardware Companies Make With Companion Apps
With the devices and hardware in high demand come heavy competition and the expectation that devices will integrate beautifully with users’ smartphones.
If your hardware technology company is to thrive, it needs to solve users’ problems and delight them in the process. If you miss your goal of solving a user’s issues — you may find your product featured on the popular and aptly named Twitter account Internet of Shit.
Why Companies Fumble Companion Apps
Despite this reality, many hardware companies tend to disappoint customers with questionable companion apps for their devices. Some companies consider the hardware the “hard part.”
Yet, once manufacturing is finalized, retooling is a significant effort compared to revising software, so companies put the lion’s share of attention on getting the hardware right.
A noble gesture, but flawed.
In contrast, these companies consider software the easy part — and sometimes even just an afterthought. They don’t prioritize the high importance of building an excellent customer experience end-to-end.
Good Hardware, Bad App? Bye-bye, Users
It’s obviously vital to have your device work well and feel great to use. Companies often forget that the way most users interact with devices these days is through an app.
Your app is the crucial link between the user and your device.
If things work smoothly with your app, the device will be a pleasure to use. But a frustrating software experience can do significant damage to the perception of a product even if the hardware is polished and does its job well.
For years now, customer experience, or CX, has been a key determinant of who wins out in marketing. According to one Gartner study, about 4 out of 5 marketers responsible for CX at their companies expect to be competing mostly through who has the most compelling CX.
That’s unsurprising when you consider that one-third of users would ditch their beloved brands after just one clunky user experience. People hate fighting with technology, and bad CX feels like a fight.
The pandemic underscored the importance of CX.
In the past year as people have been stuck at home relying on their devices more than ever. Their tolerance for repeatedly poor experiences with hardware companion apps has likely dropped even further.
Bad Apps in Practice
I can say firsthand how frustrating a bad companion app can be. Just last month, we completed construction on our in-ground pool, one with a spa and heater, two water features, and multicolored lights.
The hardware is all fantastic: It shows the pool equipment company’s years of experience in this space and works flawlessly.
But the mobile app is an abject nightmare.
The mobile app loses its connection with the pool hardware controller every single time you launch the app. To the point — I’ve had to train myself (and the wife) to force-close the app every time I want to change something.
On top of that, the app is slow, buggy in other ways, and confusing. But it’s also the only way to control every feature of our new pool.
Instead of basking in the enjoyment of a beautiful display, I find myself more and more frustrated that this hardware company can’t get the software right.
And these problems aren’t just my experience; there are dozens of reviews and forum posts attesting to the same thing.
When enough users share their dissatisfaction, a company might find potential customers avoiding their brand even if the hardware itself is excellent.
How many times have you found yourself seeking alternatives because you stumbled on a few bad reviews before buying?
Bad Apps Can Damage Reputations
Another example comes from the Philips Sonicare companion app. The overwhelmingly negative reviews clearly show how companies can craft the most elegant piece of technology only to hobble it with an app that is pure irritation.
One reviewer described the app’s use as follows: “[For] two minutes of brushing my teeth, I need to spend ten minutes first just to be able to connect toothbrush with this app — rebooting my phone, restarting the app, putting toothbrush on the charger and removing from it again.”
Fantastic hardware — inferior app
Most potential customers would see this process as inferior to simply using a manual toothbrush, which is a shame, given how much work Philips has invested in its hardware.
Avoiding Common Mistakes With Hardware Companion Apps
These examples make clear that a less-than-stellar app can really sink the perception of a good product. So how can hardware companies avoid these pitfalls?
1. Get started on the app as soon as possible.
Too often, companies wait until the last moment to work on mobile app development, and the result can feel shoehorned and cheap—or just plain broken.
Instead, work alongside your app development team throughout the hardware development process to ensure things work as expected, and that the goals on both sides are aligned.
Just as with hardware, great apps require time, testing, and patience. They should never be rushed, so give your app plenty of time to come together.
2. Look for talent that specializes in companion and mobile apps.
When companies commit to in-house app development, they often fall into the trap of thinking their hardware engineers can figure out how to make a great mobile app on their own.
Sure, smart, driven people can eventually figure things out given enough time and resources, but that’s not efficient, and it would likely cause more stress than it’s worth. That’s because the expertise to build hardware and firmware is very different from mobile app development.
It requires a completely different understanding of the ecosystem, design considerations, app store requirements, and best practices. It requires understanding, for example, the limitations and differences in popular brands and models of smartphones.
It also means app developers need to be fluent in the programming languages appropriate for the smartphone for which they are developing. Placement in the Apple Store, for instance, requires the Swift programming language or Objective-C, and Android devices call for Kotlin and Java.
You can go the cross-platform route with React Native or Xamarin, but each option has its own pros and cons. Trying to learn all of that on the fly can quickly bog a project down and delay releasing the device—or worse, cause the device to be released with a buggy, irritating app.
3. Think of the custom mobile app as an opportunity to impress your users.
Don’t plan for just the bare minimum to make your hardware functional. Instead, dedicate resources to building an experience that is both easy and fun to use.
Whether that’s with charming animations, beautiful UX design, or smart wording in your app’s content, it can be a surprisingly effective differentiator of your app and product compared to your competitors.
Hardware is about engineering, so it’s easy to present way too dry an image to the public (as anyone who has read a product manual can attest). Don’t make this mistake.
Fun apps do much more than coexist with high-tech products
A fun app can greatly enhance the user experience and differentiate you and your company.
As an example, consider my swimming pool controller app debacle. Sure, the primary gripe I had was the bugginess and unreliability of the mobile app customer experience.
But let’s assume all those issues were fixed. Wouldn’t it be compelling for the app to have some beautiful imagery of flowing bluish water or scenes of poolside relaxation and an aquatic-themed font and icon?
Every time I used it—or, better, showed it to friends—the app would be selling not only itself but also the device and the brand.
Consumer demand for devices is at a fever pitch.
Demand for great devices to make work and life more enjoyable is at an all-time high. Don’t shortchange your users with clunky, frustrating apps.
Commit the time, talent, and resources necessary to improve customer experience through outstanding custom mobile app development.
Image Credit: rob hampson; unsplash; thank you!
RUSSIA’S DEFAULT IS A REALITY AS GRACE MONTH IS OVER
Russia’s default has finally arrived on its sovereign debt in foreign currency for the first time in more than a century. Moscow has been unable to pay the interest on two bonds in dollars despite having enough foreign exchange reserves to do so. Investors assure that they have not received payment after the grace month.
Russia is showing the consequences of the sanctions the West has massively imposed on it after the war against Ukraine.
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For months, the country has managed to find ways and shortcuts to wade through the measures that tried to isolate the government of Vladimir Putin and make the country fall into technical default. In the end, the West has achieved its goal, albeit somewhat later than expected.
Although Russia had the capacity to meet this payment, leading economic indicators —the composite PMI sank in March and remain below 50, indicating that the economy is contracting— reveal that the country is facing one of the major economic crises of recent decades.
With double-digit inflation and several leading companies on the way out, Russia will face a deep recession and perhaps years of economic stagnation.
The one-month grace period expired on Sunday on around $100 million of trapped interest payments due May 27, a deadline that is considered an event of default if not paid in the correct currency, according to Bloomberg.
Russia’s default is also backed by other data. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveals that the Russian Government had a debt of around $40 billion in hard currency at the end of 2021 —a relatively small amount.
Although the total foreign debt exceeds $470 billion, only part of that amount is in foreign currency and a smaller part is still a liability to the Russian Government.
This is a clear symptom of the rapid transformation that the country is facing, both financially and economically. Russia will have to go on without the foreign capital flows that have historically helped finance investments in emerging countries.
The nation’s Eurobonds have been trading on the secondary market at very low levels since early March, while the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves remain frozen. Russia’s largest banks are cut off from the global financial system, leaving the country in isolation.
Published First on ValueWalk. Read Here.
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Take Inspiration From Trending and Successful eCommerce Businesses
Believe it or not, online shopping has become a massive trend nowadays, and its popularity is increasing daily. Of course, we were already in the era of digitalization, but this entire pandemic situation has made eCommerce industries flourish more than expected in the last few years.
Nowadays, everything is digitized as people buy food, groceries, cosmetics, clothes, and even electronic gadgets online. This digital revolution has made it easier for creative founders to convert their dreams and ideas into a waking reality.
Old ways and patterns of handling businesses are changing every day, and business owners need to adapt to the fluctuating market trends. And in this, some trending eCommerce businesses have taken this eCommerce industry to a whole new level. They are ruling and conquering like a boss.
Here in this blog, we will be discussing such inspiring eCommerce businesses. So, keep reading to find out more and cope for the better.
What are The Types of eCommerce Businesses?
E-commerce businesses are not limited to one particular business model. Instead, there are various sorts of eCommerce business models as per their business offerings. So have a look at some of the highly prevalent eCommerce models.
- Business to Consumer (B2C): The process of selling from business to customer comes under B2C type E-commerce.
- Business to Business (B2B): The buying and selling process between businesses comes under the B2B type of E-commerce.
- Direct to Consumer(D2C): This new idea of selling directly to end customers without the involvement of any retailer comes under D2C type E-commerce.
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C): Consumer-to-consumer sales on platforms like eBay, Etsy, Fiver, and many more come under C2C type E-commerce.
- Consumer to Business (C2B): An individual selling their services to different businesses comes C2B type E-commerce.
Examples of Successful E-commerce Businesses
1. Warby Parker
Warby Parker is popularly known for producing designer, reliable and inexpensive frames for eyeglasses. An MBA student, Neil Blumenthal, and 3 of his friends launched this eCommerce company in 2010. They proposed the idea in 2008, and took nearly two years to implement.
Their idea of business was something very essential at that period because Luxottica (Another eyewear brand) was one of the few companies that used to sell designer and reliable frames, but they were costly as compared to Warby Parker.
Warby has a free try-on policy with free shipping and numerous return offers, and this is what the brand has adopted to stand out from the crowd and appeal to its customers.
An online Mattress retailer is helping people sleep better and comforting their sleep cycle. The whole idea behind this business model was to help people realize the importance of sleep and how an adequate amount of sleep can increase their productivity and quality of life.
Their first-ever mattress was “Universal Adaptive feel.” It was so flexible that it could easily adjust to all body types.
The 100-night free trial policy worked well for their customers and made the business model a huge success. Leesa had traditional showrooms at first, but with time they also opened online stores.
ModCloth is an eCommerce company launched in 2002, selling women’s clothing worldwide. They sell fun and quirky clothes that are not so exclusive but are comfortable and budget-friendly.
Everything about their store is creative and exciting – which customers nowadays love. The copies describing their clothes are also fun to read because every product has a name and story behind it – now, this is something very catchy.
ModCloth became a brand within a few years of its launch because of its targeted marketing strategy. They know who their target audience is and what requirements they have. Knowing this has made their business reach exceptional heights within a short period of time.
Mostly we know Amazon was launched in 1995 as an online bookstore and has been flourishing since then. Now amazon is not limited to books anymore because now it sells almost everything you can think of. From groceries to clothes and even jewelry, Amazon has it all.
Right now, Amazon is one of the largest eCommerce stores by revenue worldwide. Though amazon started with no competitors, now it has Walmart as one of its biggest competitors. Last year Amazon made a revenue of $470 billion.
Amazon has adopted a stellar marketing strategy, which is targeting the right customer and offering products at comparatively lower rates.
Shopify is a SaaS (Software-as-a-service) company that provides all the tools needed by a business to run its eCommerce business smoothly. It helps them with website building, marketing, payment processing, financial tracking, and everything in between.
It is a tech infrastructure that supports more than 2 million merchants and various operations ranging from mom-and-pop businesses to global brands. Shopify made $389 million in revenue in 2016 to $4.6 billion in revenue in 2021.
The profitability of Spotify has been improving with time because, just like every SaaS business, it has also scaled up.
LARQ is a business model that makes self-cleaning water bottles that are reusable, rechargeable, and also have some advanced features. For example, it has UVC technology used to eliminate viruses & bacteria from water bottles.
LARQ has the initiative to provide clean water to everyone. They also raised $1.7 million for the same. In addition, LARQ donates 1% of its earnings to help maintain clean water worldwide.
The product was so unique and exciting that it attracted numerous customers. As a result, many environmentalists and aware citizens switched to these LARQ bottles and saved their money from buying single-use water bottles.
7. Beer Cartel
Beer Cartel, as the name suggests, is Australia’s number one beer subscription service. It is said that some ideas sell themselves; the same was the case with this one.
Beer Cartel sells beers from all around the world to their subscribers at their doorstep. This online store gives people the freedom to select their unique beer bottles at a price better than traditional stores.
One of the significant reasons for Beer Cartel’s success is that they offer exclusive taste under budget. In addition, they have a wide range of varieties that keeps their customers interested and coming back.
8. Berlin Packaging
Berlin Packaging is well known for sourcing, designing, and even distributing containers and closures for companies like fortune and various family-owned startups.
They have always provided products at a lower cost to their customers to increase the overall efficiency of their enterprise. One interesting fact about it is that it is not a new startup; it is 80 years old, in fact. But Berlin Packaging has somehow still managed to bring their customers the latest and top-quality beer.
They started this eCommerce business model to keep up with the times, which worked out well for them.
With the introduction of eBay, Bonobos knew that the eCommerce business was getting more competitive with each passing day. So, they introduced a unique business model targeting only a super-specific audience.
This strategy of narrowing down to a particular audience helped them make loyal customers who also flourished their business in the long run. Bonobo’s success made everyone realize that focusing on the competition is not good for your business’s health.
They should focus on the value they provide to their customers, and they will reach greater heights of success.
The name of the company seems fascinating, right? Well, so is their initiative. TOMS is an eCommerce company that sells its customers quality shoes that are reliable, comfortable, designer, and inexpensive.
What separates TOMS from other similar eCommerce is that with every transaction, they will help one in need. Yes! Not only this, but they also run various social media campaigns with hashtags like #withoutshoes and many more to stand out from the crowd.
Everything about their business model is catchy and interesting, making it easier for them to drive more traffic to their online shop.
What are the Biggest Benefits of eCommerce?
Shopping in the comfort of home: eCommerce has made shopping easier and more convenient for our customers. Buying and selling things is a child’s play nowadays. As a result, our purchases are simpler, faster, less time-consuming, and not so hectic.
Markets are globalized: Now, you can shop from anywhere around the world at the convenience of your home. The impact of eCommerce on the planet can easily be visible. There are no limitations or barriers to buying from a different state or country.
Building startups is not so expensive anymore! Yes, in this era of digitalization, anyone can set up their online store at a meager cost. In addition, the operating cost is minimal because both buyers and sellers are now digital.
Technologies are evolving rapidly because of this, eCommerce businesses have to see a lot of changes frequently.
If you have an eCommerce business that is not growing as expected, you must adapt to new business models that add value to your customer’s life and your e-commerce services (my business: krishaweb dot com).
Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!
What Does the G7 Russian Gold Ban Mean for Gold Stocks?
The G7 plans to announce a ban on Russian gold imports. But does that really matter for investors? While there hadn’t been an official Russian gold ban until now, this news isn’t exactly a surprise to the industry. Today, we’re seeing that lack of reaction in gold prices.
Typically, a ban on imports for a particular commodity sends prices soaring higher. Just look at what happened to oil after Russia invaded Ukraine. As it pertains to gold, prices also initially ticked higher this morning, with the futures opening up by under 1%.
However, it has now turned lower on the day, as have the VanEck Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX) and the VanEck Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDXJ).
Does the Russian Gold Ban Matter?
This latest decision does matter. However, it will have a limited impact on the global gold market and gold-mining stocks. Warren Patterson, Head of Commodities Strategy at ING Groep NV (NYSE:ING), had the following to say:
“The impact from a ban on Russian gold imports by G-7 nations is likely to be fairly limited, given that the industry already took steps to restrict Russian gold […]It looks as though its largely symbolic.”
Russia has the world’s fifth-largest gold stash according to the World Gold Council. However, it only exported roughly 5% of the world’s gold supply in 2020. A bulk of those exports — over 90% — went to the United Kingdom, a G7 member. Still, Russia will likely find buyers in China and India.
In actuality, the buying pool may shift, but it will not completely evaporate.
How Does This Affect Gold Stocks?
At this point, the ban does not seem to have much of an impact on gold stocks. There’s multiple reasons why this is the case.
- The industry seems to have largely prepped for such a ban.
- Russia is not that large of an exporter of gold.
- The efforts from central banks to raise interest rates and strengthen currencies is likely playing a more important role in regards to precious metal prices.
Ultimately, a Russian gold ban certainly doesn’t hurt gold prices — if anything, less supply is a bullish catalyst — but right now that catalyst is not reverberating through the market. However, removing Russian supply from the market will be a modest positive for gold miners.
Published First: InvestorPlace. Read Here.
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