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Amazon Launches the Dash Button, a One-Click Solution for Shopping

When Amazon launched the Dash last spring they gave shoppers an easy way to re-order groceries and other consumables, and now they’ve made the process even simpler.

The retailer has just launched the Dash Button. This simple device has but single button and fills a single purpose: it lets you re-order a single item on Amazon (or possibly an entire order – it’s not clear).

amazon dash button

Amazon hasn’t released any technical details on the Dash Button, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re looking at the device which went through the FCC yesterday. This tells us that the device has Wifi but no other connectivity or sensors, and that raises a few questions.

As you cans see in the demo video below, Amazon envisions its customers sticking the Dash Button to the wall and forgetting about it until the next time they need to restock. That’s when the customer presses the button and the Dash Button does its thing.

An always on wifi device would be dead within a week, so I’m betting that after it pings Amazon, the Dash Button disables wifi and goes to sleep until the next time you press the button.

Amazon and its competitors (Target, to name one) have been offering timed re-orders for some years now. I think Amazon calls it a subscription, but no matter the name clearly the Dash Button is the next step in Amazon’s plan to keep you from shopping elsewhere.

It’s a nifty idea, but I don’t know if it will prove useful enough to justify the clutter. The buttons may be small but by the time you get 6 or 7 stuck on the wall it’s going to start looking tacky.

I can’t speak for other consumers, but I’m much happier with simply keeping a spare box of whatever in the cabinet, and then ordering a new box when I open the spare. It’s a low tech alternative, but it works for me.

Plus I’d rather shop at Walmart, where consumables are often cheaper than Amazon.

If you would like to try it for yourself, the Dash Button is available only to Amazon Prime members, and only by invitation. It’s launching with only a limited number of eligible products, including items like toilet paper, cleaning products, dog food, and much more.

If you do get one, let me know what you think.

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jjj March 31, 2015 um 12:38 pm

A Pizza Button clone, except no pizza and a few years later.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 1:55 pm

Now that you mention it, I think there have been startups with one-click buttons like this. Those never went anywhere, so far as I know.

puzzled March 31, 2015 um 5:25 pm

The difference is that the startup in this case is Amazon. Which has the wherewithal to absorb the startup time and costs, and can fulfil and deliver cheaply.

fjtorres March 31, 2015 um 12:58 pm

I’m not sure the button will go on walls.
I can see a detergent button going right on the washing machine and a diapers button going next to a crib. The idea being not just simplicity but rather immediacy.
As their video shows, the likely use will be to place an order as the on-site supply dwindles or dries up.

The trick is they need to get the things out there by the tens of millions to bring the unit cost down and the ad revenue up.

puzzled March 31, 2015 um 5:26 pm

I’m sure the product vendor is paying to have their logo on the button. And the ability to be easily ordered.

It may actually be costing Amazon nothing for the device.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 6:44 pm

That’s a good point. If these things are as cheap as I expect then they probably only cost a couple bucks.

Do you think a vendor would pay $2 to get their brand on one of these buttons?

puzzled March 31, 2015 um 11:42 pm

Consider that pretty much all of these brands put out coupons in the US that will cost them that much, in less than 5 coupons (and usually much less), I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon hasn’t managed to get the vendors to foot the bill.

Remember Pavlov, once the humans get trained that pressing the button results in a reward, then they will keep pressing the button.

Common Sense March 31, 2015 um 1:58 pm

Do we really need yet another device? I already have an Echo. How about "Alexa, re-order laundry detergent, ship to main address"?

I already have frequently needed products on Subscribe & Save, if available. I try to have enough of them each month for the extra 15% off, which usually makes it cheaper than the grocery store. An idea. how about "Alexa, skip next shipment of dog food"?

I don’t think a separate device for each product is very useful.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 2:57 pm

I really don’t get it, either.

Over on yesterday’s FCC post Felix mentioned that this reminded him of the RadioShack CueCat, the consumer targeted barcode scanner from the year 2000. That device, like the Dash Button, was developed to fill a need which no one had.

The CueCat only became useful after it was hacked to be used for other purposes, and I expect Amazon’s Button will have the same fate.

puzzled March 31, 2015 um 5:29 pm

The CueCat didn’t provide a product, it was simply a URL encoding/decoding scheme, much like QR codes are now.

As such, the CurCat people had to get third parties to license it and put the bar code in their ads. Most people could handle typing on a URL, so there was no need for the bar code, and very few companies wanted to pay the CueCat people for running their (vendors) traffic through their (CueCats) servers.

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 3:06 pm

I like PandoDaily’s take on the Dash Button:

I doubt even Amazon knows the answers to those questions. (And even if it does, a company’s priorities tend to change when their bottom line is at stake.) Yet that won’t stop these services from giving companies what they’ve always wanted: mindless consumers who buy goods without a moment of thought.


puzzled March 31, 2015 um 5:30 pm

's Monty Python’s Flying Circus…

puzzled March 31, 2015 um 11:43 pm

Another factor: how long until these get hacked and re-purposed?

Nate Hoffelder March 31, 2015 um 11:49 pm

What would you do with them?

I actually can’t think of anything useful that I don’t already do with a mobile device.

puzzled April 1, 2015 um 2:43 am

They are a wireless button.

Door Bells. Light switches. Pool cleaner starter/stopper. Fan control. Panic button.

It looks like it sends a web message of some form. If you can change the routing of that message, either in the device or your wifi router, and with the appropriate app on your PC, you can control stuff.

Nate Hoffelder April 1, 2015 um 7:54 am

Ah, but if I needed a wireless button I would have already gotten one. The DIY market offers several options. Spark, for example, just launched a 3G unit which could be turned into a button. There are also kits you could use to make wifi buttons.

Yes, the DYI options are more expensive but they’re also more readily available.

Amazon's Next Dash Button Clears the FCC | The Digital Reader March 29, 2016 um 11:54 am

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