Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Boxes - A New App for Collectors

Recently, I was asked to take a look at this new (FREE!) program called, Boxes, for organizing, tracking and discovering goods.  Of course, my review is based solely on its functionality as it relates to jewelry collecting. Currently, Boxes is only available to iPhone or iPad users.



My favorite function of Boxes is as an inventory tool for collectors.  It allows me the ability to upload a photo directly into a specific, customized 'box' that can be kept private while allowing me to also identify a very specific location for the item; track its provenance or make it available for sale to other collectors if I should choose to do so. 

You can upload items from your camera roll or by snapping a photo with your iPhone or iPad.
Boxes also allows for in-program photo editing.



As a Personal Collection Tracker
While, evaluating it as a tracker for my personal jewelry collection, I was struck by the amount of detail that could be included along with the item photo.  It allowed me to include a title; the price I paid; value; receipt information; detailed description; general location such as the city and state; specific (private) location such as where in my house it is kept and even allowed me to categorize the items with predetermined hashtags.


Location information can be added to include specific information such as an address
or general information such as just a city & state.

Pros

  1. Privacy Feature - I love the fact that it gives me the ability to make, and keep, an item private so that only I can see it as well as always keeping certain information such as price paid, specific location data, notes etc. private.
  2. Provenance Tracker - With vintage jewelry, provenance can be everything in certain circumstances.  Keeping track of where and item came from; where it went; etc. is incredibly helpful and, as more collectors use Boxes, the easier it will be to track certain pieces throughout their life cycle with every collector.  
  3. Wish List - The Wish List function is a perfect way to create a gift exchange idea list.  In my household, you have non-visual people who can't picture something without actually seeing it and those who can form a picture inside their minds with a verbal description.  So the Wish List function is perfect at bridging the gap.  It allows me to show a picture, description and purchase location to those non-visual folks therefore making gift giving easier. 
  4. Multiple Devices - Like many, I have both an iPhone and an iPad.  I love that the application automatically syncs between the two devices upon set-up.  I didn't have to fiddle with anything!  That means, that whichever device I use to upload my collection will be the same regardless of which device I use to access the information at a later date.  Having once been the victim of a home invasion in the past, I can see where this feature would be especially helpful when trying to get an accurate inventory of what is missing.
  5. Receipt Function - This allows you to take a photo of your receipt for an item and attach it to the profile for a piece.  Receipt information is kept private but allows you to keep all the records associated with a specific piece in one spot.
  6. Photos - I love that it allows me to save up to five photos with every item.  For insurance purposes, proving that I own an item - by having a photo of me wearing it - is a huge plus!

Just like your attic at home, Boxes lets you organize in boxes that you can either make private or public.
The application is set up with default boxes that can be easily renamed or deleted allowing for full
customization of your "attic."


Cons
  1. Appraisal Information - As a collector, having a digital record of valuable items such as jewelry; is imperative for insurance purposes (to read my post about insuring your valuables, click here).  Although Boxes has a receipt function, I think an appraisal function that would allow for the upload of a multiple-page, scanned document such as a PDF would be a huge bonus, and selling point, for collectors.  Sometimes, having a digital copy of the information already provided to your insurance company on hand can provide all the parties involved in a potential theft with the detailed information they need right away.  Additionally, as a collector, often time what you purchased an item for versus what it was appraised at to replace can be vastly different so tracking both of these numbers allows for better understanding of your own collection.  Naturally, this is information which would also fall into the 'always private' function.
  2. Availability - Currently, Boxes is only available to iPhone and iPad users.  Therefore, if you have any other smartphone or tablet device, this application would not be available to you.


The user profile is your public Boxes face.  It allows other users (& potential customers)
to quickly & easily get an idea of you as well as your product right from one location.



As a Sales Tool
As a sales tool, Boxes has the ability to share with Facebook, Twitter and eBay making it simple and easy to update your listings.  I would love to see it link with Etsy and Ruby Lane as well to further increase the potential audience that, as a seller, you reach.


Listing items for sale is quick & easy.  Ready-made hashtags make it easier to find your sale items
while also syncing them to other social media sites such as Twitter & Facebook.

Pros
  1. Sync / Linking Functions - As a potential sales tool, Boxes sync/linking functions to other social, and sale, media sites such a Facebook, Twitter and eBay make it perfect for keeping your followers up to date on new additions to your inventory; price changes; general inventory locations and the like.
  2. Provenance Tracker - As with a personal jewelry collection, where an item came from; who owned it; etc. can be everything in certain circumstances - especially when it comes to high value items or those who's proven provenance can impact their pricing structure.  Keeping track of where and item came from; where it went; etc. is incredibly helpful and, as more collectors use Boxes, the easier it will be to track certain pieces throughout their life cycle with a collector.  As a sales tool, this type of information can prove valuable in helping to track what types of items certain collectors favor.
  3. Privacy Feature - The function to always keep certain information such as the price that I paid for an item; specific location data, notes etc. private is huge from a sales perspective.  For example, keeping the price that I paid private allows me to know exactly what would need to make on an item to 'break even' so negotiating a best offer becomes faster for both myself and my client.
  4. Sale Items - It makes it simple to list an item that you have in your personal collection for sale with a quick "List my item for sale" button.   Again, the linking function makes getting your items out there quick and painless.
Cons
  1. Availability - Currently, Boxes is only available to iPhone and iPad users.  Therefore, if you have any other smartphone or tablet device, this application would not be available to you...Or some potential customers.
  2. Appraisal Information - In the jewelry world, items seem to sell faster when an appraisal is included.  Having the ability to include this information in the form of an uploadable PDF scan, separate from the receipt function, would be a huge bonus!  Once the appraisal function is added, to make it even more user-friendly would be to have it so that the attached appraisal can be either public or private.
  3. Limited User Base - As with all new applications, having a limited base of users is a concern.  However, the functionality of Boxes makes it so user-friendly that I would suspect that as the program expands; so will its user base thereby increasing potential clientele for sellers.

Conclusion

As a personal collection inventory, Boxes is one of the best I've seen and used.  It's very user-friendly and has a lot of functionality.  Adding an uploadable appraisal function would make this a top-tier inventory application for personal collections!

As a seller's tool, the limited availablity to Apple products only decreases the potential clientele base for sellers, however, the sharing/linking function with other sites such as eBay, Facebook and Twitter demonstrate the growth potential of the application.  Finding a way to link through Etsy and Ruby Lane would be a great way to further expand the application's reach and increase potential buyers for sellers.

Overall, it's a great program that I think will continue to grow.  I've been having a lot of fun with it as a great way to keep my own virtual jewelry box at my finger tips!


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