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Amazon Doubles Down on Dash

By Quinten Plummer
Apr 4, 2016 11:17 AM PT
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Amazon last week announced that it had increased to more than 100 the number of Dash buttons Prime users can install in their homes to replenish supplies of common household goods.

Dash buttons -- which are available only to Amazon Prime members, for whom they're essentially free -- are connected devices that link to a customer's Amazon account. With the press of a button, consumers can order shipments of whatever product is associated with a given Dash module.

Users can, for example, stick a Gerber Dash near a supply of baby food, a Brawny Dash near paper towels, or a Smartwater Dash near gym equipment. Then they can press a button to replenish baby food, paper towels or water whenever they notice they're getting low.

Joining the Race

Amazon Dash got its start a year ago, but it wasn't until last fall that the company fleshed out and beefed up the service with buttons from major players. Early Dash participants included CleverPet, General Electric, Gmate, Oster, Petnet and Samsung.

New members of Dash more than triple the number of available brands. They include Brawny, Charmin, Clorox, Depend, Doritos, Energizer, Gain, Gatorade, Gerber, Glad, Hefty, Huggies, L'Oreal Paris Revitalift, Lysol, Olay, Purina, Red Bull, Slim Jim, Starbucks, Tide, Trojan and Wellness pet food.

"Prime members are using Dash Buttons at an increasing rate. Over the last three months, Dash Button orders have grown by more than 75 percent. Customers are using Dash Buttons more than once a minute," said Daniel Rausch, director of Amazon Dash.

Dash seems ideal for the most devout Prime customers, brand evangelists and those with loyalties to particular product lines, noted Karma Martell, CEO of KarmaCom.

"Obviously, Amazon thought there were enough of these customers out there to make this worthwhile," she told the E-Commerce Times. "I can see where it serves a twofold purpose of almost forcing major brands to join the program and sell through Amazon."

If you sell detergent and haven't joined your competitors in Dash, for example, you face a loss, Martell said.

Conversely, brands looking to cross-sell and upsell may find that Amazon's Dash buttons don't fit their plans, according to Justin Hamel, CEO of MastaMinds.

"There is a going to be a specific type of brand that will benefit from these Dash buttons," he told the E-Commerce Times. "A lot of the brands that are early adopters of the Dash buttons are perfect for these -- like Clorox, Tide, Orbitz gum, etc."

The Price of Convenience

Dash users put a lot of trust in Amazon's prices, Hamel noted.

"In the long run, I think that consumers will be paying for this convenience," he said, "but time is money, and saving an hour at the grocery store would be priceless for me."

Amazon has taken care to avoid prank and paw presses of Dash buttons, requiring account holders to confirm orders on their mobile devices and refilling only the previously purchased amount of product.

Still, there seems to be a good deal of customer confusion about what's available when they press the button, noted Martell.

"Judging from the user comments, it seems like there are a number of kinks to work out. After all, it's just a button. It can place one and only one repeat order," she said. "That's about as smart as it gets."

Despite its shortcomings, Amazon Dash changes the game, according to Hamel, who said he loves the concept.

"I'm really digging the idea of less trips to the dreaded supermarket and less time spent making stupid shopping lists," he said, "not to mention the convenience and wow factor of having a button to reup goods on demand."


Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.


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