Dash Button Tech: Amazon pioneers automated ordering

 dash button, automated ordering

Traditional stockpiling

I hate running out of paper towels. And coffee. Toilet paper? Don’t even get me started. Fortunately, my fiancé is vigilant about making sure we have enough stockpiles of the essentials. In fact, I think we could wake up to coffee for the next 3 years without much trouble. And as far as the quicker picker-upper, spills don’t stand a chance if the zombie apocalypse closes Shaw’s. My paper towel collection is epic.

Amazon revolutionizing the re-order

For daily use items, its easy to put off restocking the cupboard. After a long day at work, I don’t always want to stop at the store. Or I forget, which is more often the case. I recently got an email from Amazon touting new “dash” buttons. “Never run out of the essentials” it claims, with bright colorful logos of commonly used brands displayed on little plastic doo-hickies with a button. Items ranging from toilet paper to laundry detergent were shown, along with a teaser for hundreds more. Intrigued, I clicked through. The video made it look easy. Getting low on something? Press the button. It shows up at your door in the familiar Amazon box, ready to fulfill its service. Like some sort of magical ordering fairy. The example used was a lady making coffee every morning. After a few mornings the coffee supply was getting low. Then one day, no coffee. Frustrated, she hangs her head in anguish. I’m sure she was thinking, “all of this could have been prevented if I had just bought coffee”. Or maybe she was blaming her significant other. Either way, there was no coffee and her day was off to rotten start! The commercial insinuates that a dash button would have prevented this coffee catastrophe.

For $4.99, you can order a dash button of the item you never want to run out of. Although $5 isn’t a lot of money, with the current promotion Amazon will credit your account this amount with your first order using the dash button, so really there is no cost. And while Amazon has been selling dash buttons for over a year, they’ve recently added a lot more to choose from.

The Dash Button – How it Works

 When you receive your dash button, you have to join it to your Wi-Fi. This allows the button to connect to Amazon and order the product. Following a few simple steps will connect the button to your wireless, and also your specific Amazon account. Next, affix the button near the item you want to keep handy. When you press the button, it initiates an order with Amazon for the assigned product. A blinking LED light on the button will indicate whether the order was successful or not. You can edit or cancel the order from their website or your phone, if you make a mistake. If you press the button more than once, its programmed to never reorder until your first order is delivered. This is to prevent 25 cases of dishwashing detergent showing up at your doorstep, and the awkward looks from your delivery man. And since you’ll be alerted to the order by email, if the button is accidentally pressed you can cancel the order.

What the future holds

Manufacturers are catching onto the replenishment phenomenon that Amazon is pioneering. Working with Amazon, some goods come pre-built with buttons to automated replenishment ordering. For example, some Brita water pitchers have a reorder button, so replacement filters can be ordered at the touch of a button. Some devices, such as printers or pet food dispensers, can automatically reorder supplies based on the device measuring what’s left. Whirlpool recently announced a partnership with Amazon to integrate product replenishment into some home appliances. Their washer will automatically reorder detergent based on the amount you’ve used, requiring no human interaction to keep supplies on hand. As home appliances become smarter, keeping an automated inventory of milk, eggs and other perishables is already in development.

Not everything from Amazon can be reordered at the touch of a button. Amazon offers list of currently eligible items here: . Most commonly used toiletries and household supplies are available, and will likely grow as more people adopt this sort of replacement method.

As much as I’m a fan of brick and mortar storefronts (and let’s face it, we all need to shop local for our community to thrive!) we’re seeing a trend where home delivery of goods is replacing trips to the store. Amazon is capitalizing on this movement, and making it easier for folks to use their services in a handy way.

Matt Rice, CTO

Matt is a graduate of Central Maine Technical College. He has been with Burgess since 2001, acting as Service Manager, then General Manager, before becoming an owner. Matt focuses on developing and delivering technologies that fit best with customer needs.

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