To Get, or Forget?

On April Fool’s day, I saw an article discussing Amazon Dash, the company’s new one-click product replenishment system. At first, like everything else you read on that particular day, I took it as a joke. It was probably just some other laughably dumb product or service that the big brands claim to be developing like they do on every April Fool’s day (ex: Google Nose a few years back). However, after my curiosity became piqued and I started reading to see what the joke was, I realized that it was the real deal.

One Click Coffee

One Click Coffee

Amazon Dash is a small device featuring a product or brand name sticker attached alongside a plain white button. Inside the device is a wireless transmitter that (presumably) connects to your home WiFi network. When you are running low on a product that you use frequently, like K-Cups for coffee or laundry detergent, you simply press the button and it automatically tells Amazon to ship you more of that product. Users would set up and decide their particular brands, sizes, quantity, delivery speed, among other things, when they are first using Amazon Dash in order to ensure they are getting exactly what they want. Imagine seeing that you need to refill on laundry detergent soon, but won’t have enough time to go shopping for more or simply don’t want to have to make the trip for it. Amazon Dash allows you to press it, forget it, and have exactly what you want delivered straight to your door. Pretty cool, right?

Yes, this is a real SkyMall product, I couldn't resist adding it,

Yes, this is a real SkyMall product, I couldn't resist adding it,

Well, sure, it may be cool. There are a lot of “cool” things in the world — just take a look inside a SkyMall catalog next time you get a chance. However, cool or gimmicky doesn't guarantee that it’s actually useful or worth a purchase. The real question you should be asking about Amazon Dash is: is it useful? I mean, Amazon already offers “one-click” purchasing options on their website and on their app, so why should anyone take the time to get a physical button delivered to their home and deal with the setup process, only to press a button that offers a functionality which already exists?

It seems that I frequently hear (in relation to brands) that it’s important to go where the people are, instead of trying to get the people to come to you. People are already on mobile and on PC/tablets — so is Amazon. Amazon already offers one-click purchasing as well. It seems like Amazon Dash is a product that was made simply because they could, without thinking about whether they actually should. Why not offer those same features through an Amazon Dash app on smartphones? It could do the exact same thing while also allowing people to order wherever they are instead of being forced to press the button they stuck to their kitchen wall. Plus, you wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of shipping, replacing, or setting up physical units. Boom, fixed. (Amazon if you’re reading this, feel free to send job offers my way)

Of course, all of that being said, I can kind of see where Amazon was going with this idea. Everything seems to be done through an app or some other digital medium these days, and a physical “one-click” button certainly breaks away from the clutter in that sense. Plus, Amazon Dash users would literally need only to press a single button to have their favorite or regular product purchases delivered straight to their door. It’s hard to get any simpler than that. I mean, on a smartphone, I’d have to first unlock it, then go to the app, and then tap the screen on there…that’s just too many steps, right?

Gary Dahl, inventor of the Pet Rock, was also an advertising copywriter and creative director.

Gary Dahl, inventor of the Pet Rock, was also an advertising copywriter and creative director.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. I can certainly anticipate a future where this technology is ubiquitous. Touch screens might be built into countertops, equipped with a system that not only monitors your consumption habits but also can predict what you’ll want to buy and when. Products could be delivered to your door by drone (or teleported) before you even realize you needed them. Amazon Dash might be just a small pebble on the pathway into the future of instant purchasing/delivering. Or if that’s too bold, perhaps Amazon was envisioning a future where Dash buttons become a household staple, and all grocery or product shopping takes place by just clicking a series of buttons stuck to the inside of a kitchen cabinet. That would be pretty cool to have in your home. Of course, this is all personal speculation. If you had told me about the Pet Rock, I would have laughed and said that nobody would ever buy it, so who knows. People are very interesting creatures.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Amazon is currently only giving special beta-testing invitations to select Amazon Prime members with a limit of only three Dash buttons per person. People who are Prime members are also those who tend to shop from Amazon more frequently, and Dash might be exactly what they want. Those users might just find that they love the product, and once it became a part of their home, they really enjoyed the simplicity of purchasing it offered. As for me, I can’t say that I will be sticking Amazon Dash buttons around my apartment any time soon, but that’s because it’s different than what I would want. While it’s important to distinguish your services from others and offer something unique to the brand (which is exactly what Amazon is doing with Dash), it’s also important to not try to be different just for the sake of being different.