Amazon Dash Buttons – The Good, The Bad, The Interesting
When I first heard of Amazon Dash, I thought: “Wow. The guys at Amazon are genius! They’re removing all the barriers to making a purchase. Friction is known to decrease sales, so what better way to make a ton of sales than a button that delivers goods right to your doorstep?”
Just think of the implications:
- Running low on paper towels? Press the button. (Convenience)
- No signing in, no searching for what you need (Ease of shopping)
- Consumers will be infinitely more likely to order the brand on the button over another brand once you’ve built a habit around it (Loyalty) .
However, digging deeper, I’ve found no shortage of controversy over these simple little buttons.
What is Amazon Dash (aka the “Buy Button”)?
Amazon Dash – which has come to be known as the “buy button” – is Amazon’s new poster child. It’s a little Wi-Fi connected device, which you can stick to a wall, appliance, or door, that allows you to purchase items you need and have them delivered right to your door when pressed. There are over 150 brands available for the Amazon Dash Button replenishment service.
For example, if you grab a new roll of paper towels and notice you’re getting low, you can just press the button to have your stock replenished.
Amazon is selling it for $4.99, but also gives you a $4.99 credit towards the products you buy via the button, so it’s essentially free. The company describes it as “giving customers more options and making life a little easier.” Daniel Rausch, Director of Amazon Dash, reported that the order rate had doubled within three months. Even if half of the people who bought the Dash button have yet to use them, the fact that they sold out quickly after the launch is impressive.
“Dash Button is resonating with Prime members and has become an innovative way for brands to stay connected with their customers, keeping them supplied with products they count on with the simple press of a button.”
It sounds great in theory, but what do the critics say? Is it a step in the right direction, or is Amazon doing something evil? Or, is it something else entirely?
Amazon promotes the Dash Button as something that could “revolutionize the way we purchase everyday items whose selection requires little or no thought.” And, certainly, this is the future of shopping: Never having to remember to pick something up from the grocery store, never having that horrible feeling of waking up and realizing you’re out of coffee.
The frictionless, automated shopping experience has the potential to get Amazon more loyal customers who prefer to ditch the grocery store to order via the Dash Button and the Dash Replenishment Service.
Additionally, some the Dash Button has interesting business implications: “The Dash Button presents some exciting possibilities for industrial B2B companies – both manufacturers and distributors,” according to Zilliant’s Smart Tech. Distributors, can re-order supplies from manufacturers with the press of a button.
Dirk Beveridge, founder UnleashWD and author of INNOVATE! How Successful Distributors Lead Change in Disruptive Times, believes Amazon’s commitment to Dash also shows how the company is willing to innovate and try new things even when the odds are against them.
Unfortunately, Dash makes you pay for it’s convenience in the form of limited offerings, which removes potential discounts and locks consumers into one product.
There are only a limited number of brands to choose from (Huggies but not Pamper, Glad but not Hefty) and those brands don’t offer the same discounts you can get when buying directly from Amazon’s website.
Mark Wilson from FastCodesign, feels Amazon is forgoing its normal optimization for customer satisfaction in favor of maximizing profits.
But there are other drawbacks: “What if a child decides to press the button? Is it practical to have thirty of these buttons in a pantry holding as many family staples? Isn’t it just as easy to order these products from your smartphone?” said Ideasicle’s Will Burns, concluding that “The Dash Button is an advertising campaign disguised as an innovative new service.”, which gets consumers to stop thinking about shopping.
Perhaps this fancy new button is really a way for Amazon to blind you to the amount of money you’re spending. Or, perhaps, it’s something else entirely…
There is another theory about the buy button that has nothing to do with money:
“These buttons probably aren’t meant to drive significant revenue for Amazon,” Fast Company’s Jared Newman writes, in The Secret Power Of Amazon’s Dash Buttons: Not Sales, But Data.
“The true goal, in all likelihood, is to generate data. By understanding the shopping habits of brand’s’ most loyal customers, Amazon has a better chance to create the shopping business of the future.”
Amazon introduced a programmer-friendly, but more expensive button in the form of an “Internet of Things Dash Button” which allows programmers to code the device for other purposes. This could allow people to do a whole lot more than shop with the buy button. Things like opening doors, turning lights on and off, starting your car, and much more.
While Amazon’s Dash buttons have been off to a rough start, it seems like they’re beginning to pick up traction. However, despite seeing some success, plenty of people are unsure whether to trust in Amazon’s new approach to selling and question their intentions.
The 2015 Mintel Trends report found that 40% of consumers would like to buy technology products that easily connect to the products they already have. Amazon Dash seems to fit this perfectly. The latest trend in the IoT is using one’s home Wi-Fi to seamlessly connect needs and technology in real time. It plays on instant gratification and provides the excitement of owning another “thing” to show off.
Forget keychains stuffed full of plastic store cards – now we can fill our homes with Dash button. However, we are yet to see how the Amazon Dash button will influence or change purchase decisions or behaviors and if consumer will buy into it.
What do you think? Leave a comment: Is Amazon trying to squeeze as much money from us as possible, or are they truly trying to be the innovative, customer-centered organization they claim to be? Will the participating brands increase sales as a result of the technology? Which types of products will sell the most using Dash, and why?
However you feel about it, frictionless shopping is the future of shopping, and could revolutionize the way be buy items forever.