Amazon has announced the impending arrival of the Amazon Dash Button, one of the most brilliant initiatives the company has ever created. It is literally a branded button that you stick in your house and connect to the Internet. When you push it, the button tells Amazon to order more of a particular product, which is then shipped to your house. That’s it—and it’s genius.
Amazon has one true goal: to get you to buy more stuff as easily as possible. It’s why they’re working so hard to create autonomous drones for Amazon Prime Air. It’s why they created the Kindle, the Kindle Fire tablet, and the misguided Fire Phone. All three of those devices hook you into Amazon’s ecosystem and create easy ways for you to give them money in exchange for digital products.
Yet, despite having no fancy touchscreen, no display, no operating system or anything particularly flashy in any way, the Dash Button is completely brilliant, because it reduces the Amazon shopping experience to its most basic function. You need something, you push a button, you’ve bought it.
Currently the Dash Button is only available via invitation only, and exclusively for Amazon Prime members. Currently, there are only a select few items and brands available for purchase via the Dash Button—about 10 pages’ worth on Amazon. They’re mostly things like Cottonelle toilet paper, Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Bounty paper towels, Huggies diapers—you won’t be ordering a new TV set by hitting a Dash Button.
But if the service takes off, don’t be surprised to see your Dash options flourish. Amazon has an open pitch to brands for participation in the Dash Replenishment Service, which could even include releasing a product that relies on refills—like a Brita water pitcher or a Brother computer printer—with built-in Dash Buttons.
This is great news for customers who value the convenience of Amazon shopping, and great news for brands that want to make it easier for loyal customers to buy more of their products. It’s also great news for Amazon. It’s not such great news for smaller stores that may see their business erode even further with the advent of the Dash Button. One of the few advantages of going to a local store is the ability to get what you need right when you need it. The Dash Button makes the scenario of needing something right now even less likely. If you see you’re running low on toilet paper, you’ll hit the button and it arrives at your doorstep. You’ll never make it out of the house to pick up the essentials you might once have needed.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Dash Button goes when it rolls out to customers lucky enough to be selected. It’s not clear whether or not having access to the Dash Button will cost an extra fee or if Amazon plans on bundling it in with Prime Membership. Either way, this is one of those ideas that might change how we buy stuff in a lot of interesting ways.