Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Amazon Dash: April Fools?



Apparently this is not an early April Fools Joke. Amazon has made shopping on their site even easier. One click checkout wasn't enough, now it's quite literally going to be just one push of the button away. Dash will be available only to Amazon Prime subscribers, furthering Amazon's push to get people to sign up for their service. Essentially, Dash is a system of buttons that will be attached to certain spots in your home, when you run out of or are close to running out of a certain product, you hit the corresponding button and Amazon will ship you more. Simple. And don't worry about hitting the button multiple times and having 200 laundry detergent bottles show up at your front door -- hitting the button more than once still results in just one order being processed. You also will have 30 minutes to cancel the order and a notification immediately pops up on your phone to confirm the order. 

Let's think about the upside to owning a product like this. If I need a refill of toothpaste or razors quickly, I might run to a CVS or grocery store. But if I see myself getting low a day or two before and am busy with work, I can hit the Dash button to preempt me running out. By the time I use my last razor, a refill pack will be sitting at my door. Easy? According to Amazon, they believe this convenience will work for lots of other products, everything from laundry detergent to Kraft macaroni and cheese. On Amazon's side, they will get you to buy more products off their site more often. For someone who normally would go to a store to buy these products, this will eliminate impulse purchases you make at the grocery story. Say you head out just to pick up more toilet paper and while heading down the aisle spot some chips, and then some soda and say "I'll just grab that while I'm here." When you don't even have to leave your house, this won't happen. But for those that were going to buy the products off of Amazon already, how much more of a convenience is this? I can already scan bar-codes of products using the Amazon app, and with a few clicks I'll have that product shipped. That's just it, the scan and the clicks. Dash eliminates that. Just as someone might wonder why there is a need for an Apple Watch when I can already do everything from the Iphone, why get a Dash button when I can already order products from my phone? It seems, technology is closer and closer to making it as easy as possible to do more than ever. Dash is a further move in this direction.

On the other side of the coin, there's obviously some negative aspects we should take a look at. The author of this Wired article brings up one point I want to elaborate more on. The information that these devices will provide to Amazon, giving them more opportunities to market specifically to you. As the author mentions, say you have been buying toilet paper every 2 months using Dash. Amazon would be able to tell if you are low on fiber content, they would then market certain dietary products specifically to you. We can expand this further, say you haven't been buying razors as often, they can speculate you've started to grow some facial hair and begin showing you ads pertaining to products dealing with facial hair hygiene. The bottom line is Amazon will gather more information about you and be able to use it to their advantage. There is also the button itself to think about, how that might look in certain parts of your house. I sure wouldn't want some Gatorade logo on my refrigerator. They must be out of sight from the visible eye, say in the pantry or behind the coffee maker. It also might be annoying if your child hits the button every day, forcing you to cancel orders over and over again. However, I'm a tech optimist, I think a niche product like this will probably be useful in some circumstances.


At the end of the day, to those of you that are skeptical about this product, I'm partially with you. It will be interesting to see if and how this catches on. However, with the introduction of 2 hour shipping by Amazon in NYC and now Dallas, this is ultimately where we are headed in the future. Making it as simple as humanly possible to order goods off their site is a goal for CEO Jeff Bezos and co. This is just another extension of that. Or it could just be another Amazon shot at free publicity, Happy April Fools Everyone.