Amazon Dash Buttons

I recently got around to ordering and trying out an Amazon Dash button, and have been thinking a lot about what they mean for customers and homes.

For $4.99 you get a wifi enabled device that uses your Amazon Prime account to reorder items you pre program to get from the brand. In my case I got a Cottonelle button and could choose between a few order sizes. There is no difference between the buttons and I have heard varying accounts of how much brands have paid to have themselves included.

In the future, our homes will certainly be more connected and “smart” than they are today. The question is; what does the bridge to the fully connected home look like? I believe that the Amazon Dash buttons are a stepping stone to wiring up your home with a series of IoT devices and appliances.  What is the difference between having a Tide button stuck to your washer and having a built in button with a GE washer? What if your bathroom mirror had a touchscreen selection of Amazon prime items to reorder? What if your coffee maker had a re-order Amazon button built in?  These questions and more will be answered, but the hyperbole of previous commercials and hype showing futuristic homes never really got us there.  Since nobody appears ready for this future, Amazon is building a novelty approach to something we will look back on as obvious (and most will also be oblivious).

Switching costs and trials for CPG manufacturers are so high that getting into the production of products and buttons makes a ton of sense. Preprogrammed buttons make the technology easy and accessible, but I could imagine a future of programmable buttons to your own liking are possible.

Here is the device with human hand and my dog for scale:

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Many laugh today at the buttons, citing that a phone order is easier and faster but I believe that is short sighted. Instrumenting your home with wifi connected devices and beacons is a boon for Amazon and CPGs as this playful approach makes this encroachment all the more powerful. Reorder habits and brand affinity models are set to be influenced by branded buttons and so much data can be gleaned from this consumer usuage. I look at all this as step 1 of 1,000 in the fight to get IoT products and services into homes. Amazon is well positioned in this battle and I am excited to see where it goes.
Setup of my button was easy – a few quick steps and it was soon synched with my phone and confirmed to be ordering a specific product in question.  Obviously there is no difference in the hardware of the buttons to order another product, but things are locked down to Cottonelle for this one.  There are now also many examples cropping up of people hacking the Amazon Dash buttons for their own use; here is a great one tracking baby actions

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Once setup I placed it in a pantry shelf (stuck on the wall, but with optional hook).  I believe that this is a path to getting many connected devices into your home, and in areas that do not typically have power going to them.  I certainly can’t imagine shelves of buttons from every brand, but I can see a path to getting something similar.

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Having seen the rise of centrally connected devices, like the Amazon Echo, its clear that you can have a multi purpose device that gets things done.  The more beacons and signals that appear in a home from a ecommerce source, the higher the likelihood and affinity to that source will be. The Amazon Echo provides utility and convenience, and when you start to see the ordering capabilities of such a device its a powerful combination.  I can also imagine a future of IFTT type of controls for such buttons and controls.

The future of the connected home probably won’t be an AT&T commercial from the 80’s or the Back To The Future scenes we all know, but it will have themes from each that will seem as familiar as the technology in our homes today.

 

 

  • I helped a number of VC firms to scout and vet startup ideas around this in the early 2000s when the concept seemed very big. CPG co’s like Proctor & Gamble experimented with embedding tiny RFID chips in their Gillette razor boxes for example, so a store could take inventory constantly and instantaneously. Another big idea was that once every item in your supermarket shopping cart had such a chip, then 1 zap of an RFID reader would total up your order.

    Most of this has yet to really pan out. I’m not saying I’m skeptical, but we’ll see what happens this time around with the currently fashionable “IoT” moniker, Beacons, etc.

  • I think its a loss leader in the beginning, but will make people comfortable with these devices all over their homes in the future.

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