Amazon Dash Buttons: Consumer Behaviour Genius or the New Internet Fridge?

AMAZON dash button

An untimely announcement on the eve of April Fools Day led many to believe Amazon were joking when they announced the trial launch of Dash Buttons. But this week, Dash Buttons has officially moved beyond trial and launched. They’re only available to Amazon Prime subscribers who pay $99 per year for free, unlimited delivery for all orders.

So what is the Dash Button and what does it do? The Dash Button is a dongle with a button that connects to your home’s wifi and synchronises with your Amazon account. You then choose ONE high use product such as coffee, toilet paper or detergent, and then place an order with a simple press of the button when you’re running low.

There are currently 18 brands of household staples to choose from and they cost $5 each. The idea is that it’d be stuck to your washing machine for washing detergent, or next to the coffee mugs for your coffee.

 Amazon is no stranger to innovating and shortening the path to purchase. Introducing a button at the point of consumption is a significant step up from the long-standing, patented 1-click ordering option.  It’s a cool way of meeting that inevitable ‘doh, we’re out of ….’ moment every one of us experiences all too often.

The pressing question is whether or not Dash Buttons will provide Amazon Prime customers with enough utility to justify its existence. Is pressing a single-purpose button to order a grocery item where you consume them that much more convenient than tapping the phone in your pocket a few times?

Amazon’s Dash Button brings to mind another innovation that has been around since the turn of the century but has been largely rejected: the internet fridge. An internet fridge helps locate items in your fridge, remind you of upcoming expiry dates, generate automated shopping lists and to feed your pet. This all involves user input and begs the questions: “Is this necessary” and “Is it really that convenient”? These questions are already being asked of Amazon’s Dash Button.

Dash Buttons are, however, very appealing to two parties – Amazon and the brands they represent. If embraced, Dash Buttons will establish a strong switching barrier for both. If Amazon Prime customers order Dash Buttons and don’t use them they’re wasting two services they’ve paid for. It follows that possessing Dash Buttons incentivises customers to order the same brand’s product and order it through Amazon. This is especially the case for customers that possess multiple buttons.

Another commercial benefit of the Dash Button is its potential to shape customer behaviour... along with Amazon’s bottom line. By only allowing customers to order one unit at a time the frequency of ordering will increase, shifting customers’ buying behaviour to be more habitual – A habitual buyer is highly change-averse.

Amazon’s bottom line doesn’t necessarily mean that the Dash Button will strike a cord with people. Ultimately, its user experience will determine whether Dash Buttons are a successful innovation or if they become the latest iteration of the internet fridge.

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