When Amazon unveiled its new Dash Button, which places an order for a specific product with just one press — people thought it was an April Fool’s joke. But while the promotional video Amazon released felt a bit playful, and the concept seemed maybe a tad ridiculous, the truth of the matter is that the Dash Button is real, and it’s well on its way to becoming a household item.
While everyone’s been out arguing about whether or not the button’s ever going to catch on, scarcely anyone has stopped to really pick the thing apart to create some useful takeaways. For instance, is there such a thing too much convenience? Or does the Dash Button demonstrate the opposite? With a product like the Dash Button it’s important for us to step back and take a deeper look, because the biggest insights are often hidden in the details. As it turns out, some of the most downplayed aspects of this new technology might actually tell us most about Amazon’s intentions and, in turn, the future of e-commerce.
1. The Biggest Takeaway Is…Not the Button
While it’s been rolled out as a revolutionary new product in its own right, Amazon has a very clear-cut growth plan for its Dash Button. With the Dash Replenishment Service, which Amazon unveiled alongside the Button itself, they provide an API for smart devices. This means that eventually, any smart device will be able to implement an “order more” option within its own interface.
While the Amazon Dash Button is a great first step toward this, the Dash Replenishment API represents the real future of the Amazon Dash Button, and I’m excited to see how brands will take advantage of it in the coming months.
2. There’s No Pricing Display
The design of Amazon’s Dash Button is brilliant in that you can easily understand its function just by looking at it. All it takes is one glance at the bold branding and prominent white circle to know that this is clearly a “push-to-order” button.
Conspicuously missing from the Dash Button, though, is any sort of pricing display. It may have been more expensive to produce, but Amazon could have easily included a price readout to show how much the item’s going to cost the customer. Still, the lack of display is actually a huge win for Amazon and retailers who want to encourage impulse buys. By sending customers the details of their transactions after the fact, it allows sellers to convert first, and answer questions later.
3. Mastering the Recurring Purchase
One of the most striking features of the Amazon Dash Button is how specific it is. For starters, the entire button is boldly branded, meaning that frequent users of the button will become loyal to one particular business whether they like it or not. This specificity is important for other reasons, too: In its ad messaging, Amazon doubles down on recurring minor purchases, and even goes so far as to name off the specific scenarios where it sees the button working best, namely, the “kitchen, bath, laundry, or anywhere you store your favorite products.”
In addition to encouraging more regular purchases, the focus on recurring transactions has a second implication for Amazon — it could pave the way for all-new brand partnerships and revenue opportunities.
4. Knocking Down the Barriers to Entry
It’s unclear whether the Amazon Dash Button will cost money in the future, but for now, Amazon Prime members can get up to three of them for no charge. This extremely low barrier of entry makes the Dash Button at least worth trying out for Prime users who have products they like to replenish on a regular basis. This will be a key factor for these types of systems in the future – the lower the entry point, the more likely they’ll be to catch on.
5. Friction Can Always Get Lower
A lot can happen in a year’s time, and it’s worth noting that last year Amazon went for something similar to the Dash Button when it announced its AmazonFresh Dash system. Similar to the Dash Button, the device allowed users to place quick orders from home, but its functionality was entirely different. First of all, users had to scan or speak their desired items into the device, which would then add them to an online shopping list. From there, the customer would log into their Amazon account and place their final order.
While this would seem to make the shopping-from-home process extremely easy, the Amazon Dash Button is a sign that perhaps the original Dash device wasn’t quite frictionless enough. So there’s a lesson: Regardless of how much we streamline the purchasing process, there can always be less transactional friction.
6. Dash Button as Stepping Stone
As of now, it’s difficult for me to view the Dash Button as anything but a first step toward something greater. The button itself is full of little flaws: For instance, most recurring purchases, like toilet paper or shampoo or toothpaste, are for items that you need right now. There will be many situations in which even an expedited delivery won’t be fast enough for the customer, and for those situations, the button will fail. The better application is for smart devices. In the use case they offer for the Dash Replenishment Service, Amazon talks up a coffee maker that tracks the amount of beans, and offers a “buy more beans” button for customers when the supply is running low.
Even though this tech is already available for retailers, it seems to undermine the usefulness of the button itself. Still, if there’s one thing we take from Amazon’s new Dash Button — it’s the potential that this tech can offer when we pair it with smart devices in the home.
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