Amazon Dash: Magic or Madness?

By now we’re used to the idea that ‘one day’ our fridges might be so clever they’ll stock themselves, communicating directly with supermarkets behind the scenes so we never have to make a run for Tesco Express in our pyjama bottoms again.
 

‘One day’ seems closer than ever as Amazon Dash launches for UK Prime members this morning. Customers are now able to buy a button linked to one of their favourite household products, and reorder that product with a tap when supplies are running low. Your loo roll, washing tabs, coffee pods and cleaning products will then show up like magic at your front door.
 

The wifi-enabled buttons cost £4.99 a pop, but the price comes off your first order; a win-win for consumers and Amazon alike. And with a sticky-back adhesive, you can put the buttons right where you need them. But will we get on board with Amazon Dash, or is this a step too far for predictive retail?
 

Amazon Dash launched in the US last March, and has since grown its portfolio of brands to more than 150 household staples, proving there is a market out there, despite initial scepticism across the pond.

 

It’s true that for those of us who stick to the same brands for our basics, this seems like the answer we’ve all been waiting for. How much free time we’ll have, now we never have to think about loo roll again! We could write a novel, start a business, learn the clarinet, spend more time with the kids!

 

But what price are we really paying? With Amazon continuously impressing us with its logistics, do we really trust the retail giant to be doing right by us, and by the planet? Will we get a fair price for our goodies or by making such purchases invisible, are we actually giving Amazon more power to influence our buying decisions than ever before?

 

There’s still a way to go before we are happy to give retailers free reign, but Amazon have made sure to link the buttons to the app, so we can still see each order confirmation in black and white, if that’s something we’re interested in.

 

With fashion and beauty retailers using subscription models to send curated parcels to subscribers, Amazon Dash seems like the same frontrunner thinking, without the risk from a consumer’s perspective. It’s unlikely we’ll have to send anything back (because it’ll get used eventually) and it’s unlikely we won’t like the product (because it’s a brand we always have at home anyway).

 

Once we’re happy to order the boring stuff with the touch of a button, Amazon can begin to introduce appliances that do it for us, bringing us back to that future fridge.

 

 

We asked our studio what they thought about Amazon Dash, and it’s fair to say our responses were a mixed bag.

 

“I think this is an obvious extension of Amazon’s A to Z methodology, but my worry is that combined with their interest in drone delivery it could herald a future where the skies are constantly buzzing as packets of breakfast cereal and toilet rolls fly overhead. That’s not really a future I want to live in.”

- Gary, IT

 

“There are certain products that I would love this for; little things that I always forget to pick up when I pop to the shops. Love the idea, and could totally see myself using them.”

- John, Marketing 

 

“I can see the appeal but I like to shop by price, and will sometimes shop own brands against bigger name brands to get my shopping total down. I for one stay away from club cards, so something like the dash buttons does not excite me.”

- Anthony, 3D Design

 

“I wouldn’t want loads of buttons round my lovely home! They are ugly. Is this convenience gone too far?”

- Jon, Creative Director  

 

“I think this is amazing and I would love to ‘dash’. Not because I’m too lazy to shop, but because it’s convenient. Saying that, I can’t justify the environmental impact this might have, with a toilet paper delivery on Monday, washing tablets on Tuesday, handwash on Wednesday, toothpaste on Thursday…(ok, maybe I could add this to Wednesday).”

- Mat, HR 

 

“I personally think this is a brilliant idea. None of us get retail therapy from buying toilet paper but the biggest benefit for me is the time-saving aspect. City life is busy and these kind of purchases are always an errand that get in the way of work, gym, socialising etc. Also, items like washing powder are quite heavy so I wouldn’t go to the supermarket to buy them anyway – if I can just press a button then I’m all for it!”

- Sonam, Account Management

Nicole Wilson
Amazon Dash
One-button
predictive retail
convenience retail
strategy
design