Is Amazon’s Dash the future of shopping?

Apr 01, 2015

As a USA Today article points out, this is not an April Fool’s joke. Amazon has created a way for consumers to order the products they need with a simple push of a button. It’s called Dash. It’s the Internet of Things coming right to your home, no wires attached.

The Dash Button is a small device, about the size of a pack of gum, that Amazon customers can press to reorder single items they frequently purchase. The device uses Wi-Fi to transmit the order to the customer’s Amazon account. Buttons use an adhesive backing to attach to household surfaces such as washing machines, dishwashers, etc. In total, Amazon is launching the device with 18 brand partners so a customer could have a like number of buttons pasted around their home.

[Image: Amazon Dash]

One upside is the device is also relatively childproof. It only sends one order no matter how many times it is pushed. Distribution of the devices is by invitation only and is currently limited to Amazon Prime members. Members get a notification of orders, so they can cancel them should they be placed in error or are no longer needed.

According to The Verge, Amazon sees the buttons as a short-term solution. The eventual goal is for companies to eventually incorporate similar features into products such as household appliances. While that solution won’t work for smaller CPG products, according to the report, "Amazon is betting that eventually these sensors will get so small and cheap to make, that you could have them in individual products too."

Is the introduction of Amazon’s Dash button a signal that the Internet of Things is closer to reality than many think? Do you believe the button will be popular with Amazon Prime members?

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17 Comments on "Is Amazon’s Dash the future of shopping?"

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Chris Petersen, PhD.

Wow. You have to be impressed with Amazon’s perpetual innovation machine!

Great practical application of IoT in everyday life. Very smart to launch it small-scale with Prime customers who are the highest volume and most likely to use it to replenish.

Will it work long term? Definitely depends upon the cost of the sensors.

But the more important question may be whether consumers will push the Dash button and then reconfirm the order on their phone, or if they will just use an app on their phone to replenish.

Max Goldberg

The Dash button is simple and easy to use. Chalk another innovation up to Amazon. While serving consumers and selling more products, Amazon has introduced another benefit to Prime membership.

Keith Anderson

Amazon is actively experimenting with all kinds of interfaces to remove friction from the process of buying, including many non-screen interfaces like its voice-driven Echo platform and the evolving line of Dash scanners and buttons.

It’s clear they still view these as experiments. Shoppers must request the new Dash buttons and the initial scope appears to be limited.

But there is a lot of long-term potential in embedding replenishment and buying capabilities into everyday environments and appliances.

Like many other ideas, this one isn’t new, but the technology and shoppers’ attitudes have caught up to the vision.

Ken Lonyai

Every manufacturer believes every device/machine/object they sell is going to be an IoT portal for additional sales, service and user usage data. That’s not going to happen. The biggest problem is competition amongst these ecosystems that will do nothing more than frustrate the consumer and add a layer of complexity to what is now a simple but inefficient system.

Somewhere between the “Internet of Everything” and today’s reality, a balance will be struck. Dash buttons and enabled products are extremely unlikely to be part of that balance, despite the hype cycle chatter that’s going on now.

Gib Bassett

I think Dash is a sign of things to come. For Amazon in particular it puts them right in front of their customers in line with the consumption of household products. So retailers and brands are one step removed from the shopping process. Seems like huge leverage for Amazon, who will also collect a lot of interesting data from these devices on a household basis that you could imagine helping develop household panel insight that is potentially better than any syndicated source, since it can be merged with the fully-online purchase behavior of consumers who shop on Amazon.

I think an ecosystem will develop around this capability sooner than we all think and it will be driven by the ease of consumer use and the insightful data that consumer will gladly exchange for the convenience. Bulk shipping multiple product orders quickly and cheaply for Prime members should increase take up and help Amazon learn a great deal about the potential here. I think retailers should be watching this closely and start thinking through the implications to their business model now.

Ian Percy

Sounds cool at first reading. But what it does is bring more and more software code into your world and that means more and more risk.

Pretty well everything in our lives is driven by code. It is well documented that your car, phone, refrigerator, TV and even your watch can be gateways into your most valuable information. Your smart phone can have 10 million lines of code, laptop 85 million, car 50 to 100 million. Add them all up and you start thinking a billion lines of code. In evil hands they are all accessible. You might as well post your passwords on Facebook.

There are many who believe that chips are surreptitiously implanted in many Chinese products like your iron, food mixer, printer, etc., all tracking what you’re doing. I wonder where these little wireless buttons are made.

If you have concerns about privacy and security in this invasive technological world you might want to check out this white paper.

Steve Montgomery

I hate to be the Doubting Thomas but who wants a lot of Dash buttons stuck on appliances, etc., all over their home? I might understand if a Prime customer wanted to put them all in one place on a sort of one-push order board. This one-stop shopping board might work depending on the size of the buttons and the number of items a customer uses them for.

I do admit that I admire their attempts to find ways to be convenient. I will further admit that while I am not a big Amazon customer I did order something from them yesterday that will arrive tomorrow. The item was not available in any brick-and-mortar store locally and using BOPIS meant it would not arrive until the 15th.

Liz Crawford

The Dash product will be an advantage to manufacturers, because the shopping journey is dis-intermediated such that shoppers will not be confronted with other brands or alternatives when they are buying. I would imagine this is a no-brainer for brands. On the other hand, shoppers may wish to choose from among a variety of options and alternatives, including pricing among competitors. This will be interesting.

David Dorf

Consumers don’t want to invest time and effort shopping for household basics. The Dash wand, Dash button and Echo will all help streamline in-home replenishment, allowing consumers to easily reorder products when they run out. What’s concerning is that these reorders all go to Amazon and leave other retailers out.

At ARTS, we are looking to define a standard interface that can be leveraged by multiple retailers to process product reorders. Then the consumer is free to decide which merchant fulfills the reorder. This will eventually extend to appliances when they add the capability.

Shep Hyken

This is brilliant! Sometimes a great service and user experience is an “effortless” service. I love how easy Amazon makes it to do business with them. On their website they have a “one click” option to place an order. Now they’ve taken it to another level. I can’t wait to try this, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Herb Sorensen

Great idea! We’ll soon know if there are more problems in implementation, but this goes right to the heart of the most important part of selling: The customer making up their mind and saying YES, I want this item. Amazon launched on this road years ago when they patented one-click purchasing.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are VERY obtuse about dealing with anything remotely resembling one-click in their stores. They are very much attached to the model, “Come on into the warehouse and pick what you want. We’ll STOP you at the door to take your money!” Oh right, many now let you do your own checkout and bagging, too! It’s sad.

Tom Redd

Stupid device and just another PR tool, in my opinion. Why? Anything can fire a signal to the IoT concept via Wifi. It is a no brainer. Next, CPG companies will have these buttons on their containers. Last, IoT is hot—until the security breaches start. Then the news will run wild with that and consumers will rethink getting back to basics vs. being too lazy to adjust the thermostat.

From my chats with real high-tech security people, once someone in the IoT Organized Crime Group (new mafia) intercepts your home IoT wifi info, they can do a lot with the toys you add to your house and re-order Tide each day!

Dash button? I like the PANIC button. Hit it and your analyst calls.

Remember—Amazon just want news space….

Ed Rosenbaum

Count me in the “Why do we really need this?” group. I do applaud Amazon for their ingenuity and brilliant creativity. But do we really need another reason to sit home and be lazy? Many of us are already at the stage where we get little to no exercise. This is another notch in the obesity gun.

Craig Sundstrom

I’m joining Tom and Ed on this (if I get it in in-time it will be three in a row): “This isn’t an April Fool’s joke” tells me all I need to know.

Lee Kent

Love the concept, hate the application. Who wants to stick buttons all over their house? Not me.

Now, if the button is embedded in the product and a Dash customer simply has to activate it, I see that as a next great innovation from Amazon!

That’s my 2 cents.

Lee Peterson

The Amazon PR machine keeps rolling on….

Kai Clarke

This is a good concept, it only needs to be increased in scope (why not a simple touch pad, instead of a button, that includes common products on it? Milk, eggs, butter, bread, detergent, Coke, etc.). Better yet, this could be a “screen” that is part of an app that resides on your phone, which can be customized to include any key items which Amazon offers. The user then just selects the items, and pushes the send button. There is only one screen, and it can be customized to include whichever items the user wants, so that the user only checks off the items they need and hits the send button to transmit the order.


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