Amazon takes laboured step towards Internet of Things with new Dash

6th Apr 2015

Amazon has launched, or rather relaunched, its Dash service, having already announced it as a product available to US-based Amazon Fresh customers, this time last year.

While April 2014’s Dash was a remote control-type device which featured a microphone and a barcode reader, and allowed you to either scan or speak the name of a regular household item you may need, the new Dash is a selection of adhesive strips with the logos of your most-used brand products plastered across them.

Connected to the home Wi-Fi, all customers will have to do is press a button on the strip and a product will be ordered and delivered to homes the next day; provided customers are signed up to Amazon Prime, and have confirmed via smartphone that they really do want to order the selected products, and that no mischievous kids were involved in the attempted transactions. 

Such was the timing, that Amazon actually had to issue an official statement to The New York Times confirming that Amazon Dash was not a prank for April Fool’s Day. A relief to those who had covered the original product announcement last year.

However, once the dust had settled and the product was assured to be real, a number of commentators questioned the necessity of the adapted version of the Dash service. For instance, the Wall Street Journal’s advertising editor, Suzanne Vranica simply wrote this on Twitter:

“Sure, I want a dozen brand logos around my house. Not.”

Contrastingly, the BBC’s technology reporter, Dave Lee, said the current iteration of Dash was a step up the ladder towards a true Internet of Things, and Amazon’s favoured eventuality of products and devices knowing when things were broken or running out and simply ordering replacements without human intervention. 

“Amazon’s ultimate aim, of course, is for this sort of thing to happen automatically. It’s been working with companies like Brita to produce a smart jug where, when water flows through it, the filter will  know when it needs changing, and a printer from Brother which will know when it’s running out of ink - which could get more than a little pricey.”

But while Dash may seem like a sidestep towards this multichannel, connected device utopia, there should be more than a little kudos to the company for attempting to take the next step towards it, especially if it means improving the customer experience ecommerce currently offers.  

“As a comparison, most supermarkets (in the UK at least) currently try to replicate the in-store experience for online shopping with websites organised by aisle,” says Neal Game, director for consultancy firm Incite Marketing Planning. “However, in doing so they are neglecting possible advantages of internet shopping and the removal of the physical constraints.

“By understanding habits and actively making suggestions - putting weekly essentials in the basket first for example – Amazon is essentially making the online experience a whole lot easier. Dash is a significant step in starting to use technology to reduce the boredom of the weekly shop for consumers. It may not be the final solution (how long have we heard about fridges that can order your milk when you run out for?) but it is a positive step for the industry and should be commended.”  

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