A Branded Home: The vision of Amazon Dash
Dave Malouf

Dave — this is a great critique of the newly designed Dash service. It is clear that the scalability of this design is questionable based on your picture above.

First, it is worth noting that Amazon also created the Dash API to allow appliance makers to integrate the delivery pipeline capability into the product itself. For example, if a wi-fi connected coffee bean hopper is low on beans, the hopper could notify Amazon that there needs to be a replinishment of product and a delivery could be scheduled without user interaction (Or, alternatively, the order button could be on the device to make the interaction more transparent). You can imagine this curbing the behavior of sticking buttons all over your house, though admittedly this sort of integration will take significant time to come to the market (as you and I both know in the enterprise world).

The sticking in your pictures is a little reckless, and I doubt consumers would sincerely place them at random. Alternatively, the picture could be a pantry style interaction where the items are on the shelf, and the dash buttons are neatly arrayed across the bottom underneath the items. You’d basically have a grocery store in your house. Here’s a primitive alternative:

The idea is that you can arrange the buttons tastefully, perhaps inside the couboard instead of directly on the appliance. I understand in these sorts of discussions/critique we are to swing for the fences, but the reality of how people will use the button could be in a dozen more ways (what if all the dash buttons were in a drawer that people picked them up from?)

Which leads me to responding directly to why Amazon abandoned the wand for this implementation instead. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Cost: It is way cheaper to produce a cheap plastic button with a sticker and a small beacon that adds something to your cart via your home wifi.
  2. Ease of use/convenience: A scanner that is handheld is great for a tech-savvy person but for all ages is difficult to really use. Also, imagine accessibility improvements via a one-tocuh button. Example: I could put these all over my grandfather’s house and have the bill come to me, so if he needs anything he doesn’t have to leave the house all the time.
  3. Brand buy-in: Of course, Amazon stands to make a HUGE gain by having brands front and center on the button. Consumers, like it or not, also identify with brands and gravitate toward them in their everyday experience.

Given this, it is easy to see what a button does make sense absent some of the gaffaws one can make as criticism towards it. Ultimately Amazon has a bit of kinks to work out when it comes to the accidental ordering/etc, but that’s why this is still a beta concept. If we try to travel down the path of where this could go, I could imagine a world where we can get to the ultimate state of where all devices autonomously determine stock and push notifications to a central device to request a restock. The IoT movement has a big problem: it is really hard to set up an IoT. Amazon has the full stack of capability to pull of an experiment like this, and they also have one of the most integrated platforms that would make such a network viable.

My personal critique of the dash button is actually from a place of sustainability, which is a general problem I have with Prime. With this button, Amazon orders will be increasingly less “bundled” and cause an increase packaging production, which really hurts carbon footprint. I hope in the future iterations of the service, they make it so that all dash presses are “held” until a certain amount is reached, so that they can be sent as one delivery. Similarly, I hope Amazon increases their central drop zone footprint, so that they don’t have to require the people delivering product to have to stop at every house just to deliver a package of bounty at a time.


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