I’m fairly convinced that Amazon, Google, and Apple will take over the world one day, or at least make it so I never have to step into a brick-and-mortar store ever again. If you use Amazon as much as I do, you probably understand. The online superstore boasts over 200 million products and the added benefit of Prime ensures that I’ll receive my order in two days or less. Additional services like Amazon Local (limited to certain areas) have many customers wondering why they should even leave the house to shop.
Press the Dash Button
Amazon’s newest innovation, the Dash Button, hopes to bring the company’s iconic one-click ordering system into the real world. Originally thought of as an April Fool’s Day joke, the product is an actual adhesive button connected to your smartphone via WiFi. Simply sync your Amazon app to it and press it when you want to reorder an item. An alert is immediately sent to your phone, just in case you want to revise your order before submitting. Want to see it in action? Check out the promo video from Amazon below:
What Can I Buy?
According to Rafe Needleman of Yahoo, Button users have 17 brands to choose from: Bounty, Tide, Gillette, Olay, Glad, Clorox wipes, Cottonelle, Huggies, Gerber Formula, Lärabar, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Maxwell House coffee, Gatorade, Izze, Smartwater, L’Oréal Paris, and WellPet pet food.
There are some limitations; for instance, you’ll notice that the Buttons themselves are branded to a specific company (e.g. Tide). This means that you can’t use your Tide Button to order Glad trash bags, or a brand that isn’t affiliated with the program. Of course, customers can alter orders depending on their needs at the time (e.g. different size diapers or more than one case of baby food).
If you’re familiar with Amazon Fresh, Amazon’s subscription-based grocery service, the Dash concept should sound familiar. In April of last year. The brand debuted the Amazon Dash as an exclusive device for Fresh customers. This WiFi-enabled, barcode-scanning wand features a microphone and a built-in scanner, which allows users to order products with their voices or by scanning it into the device.
Similar to the Dash Button, orders are confirmed via smartphone and products are shipped within a few days. Unlike the Button, the entire catalog of Fresh items is available for purchase with Dash. That said, the number of Fresh subscribers is considerably fewer than the number of Prime customers (to whom the button is targeted), which helps explain the lack of publicity the wand received upon release.
How Do I Get One?
The Dash Button is available, by invitation, to all Amazon Prime customers at no charge. To request a button, go over to the Dash Button website and see if you qualify (limit 3 buttons per subscription). Amazon plans to make the Buttons available to everyone, eventually, while the Dash wand is available to Fresh customers only.
The Future of Dash Replenishment Service (DRS)
Despite its recent release, the Dash Button seems to be the first step in Amazon’s quest to extend the Dash Replenishment Service to other goods in the near future. Amazon is already in talks with big brands like Brother, Brita and Whirlpool to use DRS, and plans to expand further in the near future.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Amazon spokesperson Kinley Pearsall had this to say when asked about the impetus behind the Dash project: “Our goal with the Dash Button is to learn as much as possible about what customers think about this.”
Is it creepy? Sure, a little. But we put up with a lot of creepiness in America in the name of convenience. For example: most of us build our Internet account house of cards on a single Facebook login. Sure, it makes things easier, but it’s also a huge security risk and results in Facebook stalking us from site to site.
Among his concerns about Dash, Needleman also points out that the Button could “lock out” the competition. According to the WSJ article, Amazon has not decided if they will limit customers to certain brands. For my part, I’d be much more interested in seeing an unbranded Button that would let us assign products of our own choosing for fast re-ordering.
But we’re not there yet. Even so, this is a really promising idea that I can definitely see gaining traction among the elderly and the housebound. For everyone else, though, I think placing orders the old-fashioned way is probably not the insufferable burden that Amazon believes it is.