Are Amazon’s Dash buttons the future of re-order? Nope, but here’s what is.

Button images from Amazon, kitchen image from Home Art Blog

Last Monday, Amazon launched Dash button, a set of branded physical buttons for common household products like Tide laundry detergent, Bounty paper towels, and Glad garbage bags, to name a few. The concept is simple enough — affix the button near the place you most frequently use the product, and when you’re running out, tap it once to place a re-order.

What’s clearly an improvement in terms of re-order convenience, though, is only the tip of the iceberg for Amazon, and for startups like GimmeAnother that are in the product re-order space (full disclosure — I’m GimmeAnother’s CTO). Most importantly, it’s the tip of the iceberg for users, who are just beginning to be offered superior methods of re-ordering the products they need.

The reaction from most of the people I’ve spoken to about Dash button can be summed up with two sentiments:

“That’s pretty cool.”
“A bunch of branded buttons scattered around my kitchen and house is ridiculous.”

As a longtime Amazon user (and Prime member) I agree with these sentiments — push-button re-order is certainly a great thing, but I have to admit that I’m bewildered that Amazon didn’t connect all the dots and launch Dash as a pure software play, similar to GimmeAnother. I’m glad they didn’t (obviously). Instead, the launch of Dash button validates some of our core assumptions:

  • Timing-based subscriptions to products are fundamentally flawed
  • Quicker, smarter ordering methods will replace existing shopping methods
  • When free shipping is offered, single-item re-orders are acceptable to users
  • As convenience increases, the need to display a price, in turn, decreases

Further scrutiny of Amazon’s recent “solutions” for re-ordering reveals a deep interest by the retail giant in hardware-based solutions, as opposed to app or software solutions.

Amazon’s Triple-Bet on Hardware

This latest hardware innovation from Amazon is on the heels of several “get me this product” flops, including the Firefly feature on the Fire Phone, which allowed users to snap photos of products that would be visually matched with Amazon products, and could then be purchased (dare I say) on the fly. The Fire Phone was lowered from $199 to 99 cents last year, around the same time the company took a $170M write down on the phone, in addition to $83M in unsold inventory that was (and is) unlikely to fly off the shelves anytime soon.

Bad puns aside, a few months later, and somewhat surprisingly, Amazon released its Echo device, a piece of hardware sold for up to $199 that essentially houses its own version of Siri, able to respond to various fact-finding questions, and with access to a user’s order history and lists of products. Last week Echo’s software was updated so that it could read off sports scores, as if that sort of functionality in a device could be considered even interesting, at this point.

Again, why Firefly, or even the software that powers the Echo, were not released as apps for iOS and Android devices, is beyond me. I can only guess that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and/or top Amazon executives believe that hardware solutions will pay off eventually, stacking these devices on top of Amazon’s over-arching strategy of delaying profit in favor of obtaining market share. The idea of delayed gratification, however, isn’t quite the same thing as losing billions as hardware innovations don’t pay off.

The Perfect App for Re-Ordering

When your company doesn’t have billions (big B) to spare, not only do you have to think outside the box, you have get rid of the box altogether, and develop useful functionality that can be applied universally. I’m proud to report that GimmeAnother, an app you’ve probably never heard of, is closer today than Amazon’s Dash button, or Firefly, or Echo at making re-ordering a seamless, perfect experience.

A lofty statement like the one above needs to be backed up, so allow me to demonstrate:

1. First, perfect re-ordering is about access to everything (including Amazon products), in one place.

The first thing we set out to do with GimmeAnother was to bring the brands and products you care about into your pocket. Today our app includes products from over 10,000 stores (a number that goes up every day) including products from all the stores whose app icons are above like Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Lowe’s, REI, and many more. In the rare case that a product or store isn’t already in our app, tell us and we’ll add it for you.

2. (VIDEO) Perfect re-ordering means easily finding products and building your collection.

My team realized, and our numbers prove, that the faster you find the right product, the more likely you are to order it. Everyone has a unique taste in products, or set of needs.

Our product search algorithm is constantly learning from our users, prioritizing products that other users have qualified by adding and/or ordering. Building your unique list of essential products only takes a couple minutes, and can include any product, from any store: local, regional, or otherwise.

3. Last, but not least, perfect re-ordering is fast and secure.

Image credit: GimmeAnother (Android version)

If speed and convenience are the sleek and sexy features of a perfect re-ordering app, which they most certainly are, then securing sensitive payment data is the unsung hero, essential and never to be taken for granted. We built our system to adhere to the highest level of PCI compliance, tokenizing payment data and never storing payment information on our servers.

Instead of distributing your payment information across 20, 30, 40 or 50 retailer websites/apps per year, we offer a single, secure solution for re-order compatible with all retailers, minus the risk.

The bottom line is that “perfect re-ordering” is a moving target, and to some extent always will be, but it does exist today, with or without branded re-order buttons from Amazon. Whether you choose to affix physical buttons around your home, or try an app that lives in your pocket, is up to you.

It’s time to try something new. Click here to download the GimmeAnother app.

P.S. If you enjoyed this read, please click “Recommend” below — it’ll help spread the story to more people.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Andrew Figgins’s story.