Amazon Dash Button Should Push Retailers
Is your refrigerator a moron? Does your washing machine lack even the most rudimentary intelligence? Are you embarrassed because your dishwasher is a dullard?
Well, fret no more, because Amazon can now fill your home with smart appliances.
Last week, the company unveiled the Dash Button, a home Wi-Fi-connected product-ordering device that allows customers to replenish items like laundry detergent, juice, fabric softener and toilet paper (there are 225 products from 18 brands to choose from). The plastic, single-function controller is the size of a pack of gum, and each button bears a different brightly colored product logo. Simply press the Dash Button and it places the order, sending a smartphone confirmation to the shopper.
I love this idea. For the most part.
I mean, it’s not as if shoppers are demanding an alternative to the complexity and strain of online shopping. And I have to imagine that those colorful buttons will be irresistible to kids and really smart pets (though the technology will only fill the first order, so if Fluffy goes crazy you won’t receive 15 packages of toilet paper).Plus, how will it feel to know that your washer is collecting your private detergent usage information for goodness knows what purpose?
When the product was announced on April 1, many thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke. Company spokespeople had to reassure journalists that the Dash Button was indeed real. The media was split in their response. Some thought the device was at best unnecessary and, at worst, a consumer-duping brand tool. Others heralded the Dash Button as a huge leap forward in omnichannel marketing.
I’m impressed with the Amazon Dash Button not so much because of what it can do, but because of what it represents.
Smart Appliances for the Masses
This little piece of technology gives consumers a tangible example of what the smart home will be like. It is a no-cost, easy-to-learn, non-threatening entree to a digitally assisted lifestyle.
A Brave New Web
The Dash Button is not an endgame. These gadgets are the opening move in a much larger enterprise: merging the consumer marketplace with the Internet of Things (IoT). This device demonstrates the sometimes confusing topic of IoT; how everything can connect, how automation can make a life easier, how people can interact with objects, and objects can interact with each other.
A Taste of the Future
The Dash Button is paving the way for a new standard of home appliance. The engine of the product is the Dash Replenishment Service (DRS). Amazon is already working with manufacturers to build this technology right into household electronics and appliances. Whirlpool is working on a washer and dryer that anticipate when laundry supplies are running low and automatically order more detergent and dryer sheets. Brita is developing a pitcher that will order new filters at just the right time, and Brother is building a printer that will order ink as needed.
The Dash Button is the latest big thing in retail. It won’t be the last. What this little button does is demonstrate that anything is possible. Retail marketers should look at this as a proof point of the evolving face of retail, and as confirmation that the consumer hungers for something new and delightful. (BTW, I don’t believe the Dash Button will eat into in-store sales in a huge way. Shoppers are already ordering online, and this technology drives the sales of staples. Shoppers of everything else will still want to go the store and experience the transaction.)
Amazon’s Dash Button underscores the shopper’s need for interaction and connection. Retail marketers should be asking themselves, “How can I make this button work for me in-store?” and “How can I elevate this to a satisfying shopper experience?”