Amazon has finally launched its Dash physical instant purchase buttons in the UK, bringing one-push buying of nappies, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets and washing powder to a washing machine near you.
The branded wireless buttons, which are essentially free to the consumer and purchase a set item when pushed, are another step in Amazon’s attempt to lock customers into its Prime subscription service, and edge out traditional supermarkets from the household goods market.
There are intially 40 branded buttons to choose from in the UK, each costing £4.99 to purchase but come with £4.99 in credit for the customer’s first order. They’re linked to an Amazon account and allow anyone in the home to instantly order replacement staples from toothbrush heads, kitchen roll and washing up liquid to coffee, anti-smoking aids and condoms.
The director of Amazon Dash, Daniel Rausch, said: “There is no retail therapy in buying toilet roll or bin bags. It’s just work. We wanted to take the one-click experience from our website and put it right where people need it most, in the home, near the products that run out. So that buying them is no longer work.”
The initial 40 brands cover a range of different types of products and include household names such as Air Wick, Andrex, Ariel, Cesar, Dettol, Durex, Fairy, Finish, Gillette, Huggies, Listerine, Nerf, Nescafé, Nicorette, Olay, Pedigree, Play-doh, Regaine, Right Guard, Rimmel, Vanish and Wilkinson.
The buttons are powered by Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), which can be built directly into products such as a Britta water jug that orders new filters and printers that order new ink. It was launched in the US in March 2015 with small selection of brands. Since then, the number of brands available has reached over 150 and DRS has been built into washing machines and other household appliances.
Setting the up buttons is simple using Amazon’s smartphone app for Android and iOS, connecting to them via Bluetooth or ultrasonics. The buttons stay dormant until pressed, connecting to your home Wi-Fi network and placing an order on the first time they are pressed. The account holder is notified of the order, and can change the quantity or cancel it. Subsequent presses will be ignored until the item is delivered, preventing duplicates.
Bosch and Siemens dishwashers will soon be available with DRS integration for ordering dishwasher tablets automatically in the UK, while Grundig’s new washing machines will be able to do similar for detergent. Whirlpool Sense Live devices will also be able to order detergent, descaler, anti-bacterial filters or softener when needed. Some printers made by Samsung will be able to order ink automatically too.
But the Dash buttons also show Amazon’s increasing precense in the next big technology space, the Internet of Things (IoT) – a series of connected devices that look to automate tasks such as lights that respond to presence or timers or smart thermostats that save energy by only putting the heating on when people are in the house.
Rausch said: “We talk about the Internet of Things in tech, but customers are often left wondering what the utility of it is. Dash is a super accessible, practical, useful way to smarten up their homes, and that’s the kind of reaction we’ve had from customers in the US.”
Dash is just one element of Amazon’s IoT push. Its wireless, voice-controlled speaker, Echo, has the company’s Alexa smart voice assistant built in. It competes with Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, and is capable of connecting to and controlling various automated and IoT systems about the house with voice commands.
Echo has rapidly become Amazon’s biggest sleeper hit seizing the company a significant chunk of a market of which all the biggest technology firms in the US are seeking a slice.
For an online retailer an automated purchase and replenishment service is an obviously logical next step.