Amazon Dash – Tech for Tech’s Sake?

Amazon Dash is a wifi-enabled button that can be used to quickly reorder items. When it was introduced in America on 31st March 2015, many assumed it was an April Fools joke, but after 18 months it is now available in the UK.

A phenomenon known as the ‘Internet of Things’ has been predicted for a few years, which involves household items such as fridges and cupboards incorporating a domestic inventory and reordering system. However, the practicalities of the system may actually reduce the amount of control the consumer has over their shopping experience.

One of Amazon’s wi-fi buttons costs £4.99 and allows for the automatic reordering of whichever product is assigned to it. The price of the unit is refunded in the form of future credit against the particular items you buy, so it works out costing nothing as long as it doesn’t remain unused.

The one-item-per-button scenario means that if you plan to use this technology for ordering laundry detergent and coffee, you will need two buttons. Two more devices to add to your home wifi network.

An Amazon Dash user would still have to go to the supermarket or arrange delivery for the majority of their groceries, so in a sense the only saving it would make is carrying an extra item home or adding that item to the online order.

It is being billed as a breakthrough for customer convenience, but the only winner appears to be Amazon. The scheme is only open to customers who pay £7.99 per month for Amazon Prime, a service which encourages more shopping. Also, the 40+ participating brands will undoubtedly be paying to have their products eligible for purchasing using a Dash button. Plus, the buttons mean a certain amount of regular trade is virtually guaranteed.

Whilst traditional loyalty schemes have involved incentivising repeat visits to a particular shop, this effectively ties the customer to the brand and the retailer. Once the user has ordered the device, paired it to the wireless network and installed it in the home, it doesn’t seem right to then purchase a different item.

Critics are suggesting that the increase in deliveries for just one item would be wasteful and bad for the environment. As Amazon Prime users would already be frequent customers, it would be more efficient to merge these single-item deliveries into their regular shopping routines.

A new scheme engineered to increase the number of Amazon transactions would perhaps be more appropriately named Amazon Dosh.

Amazon Dash Button