E-commerce giant Amazon has just launched its Amazon Dash service to Prime customers in the UK, following launches in Germany, Austria and the USA.
The service allows customers to order essentials at the press of a button in the home, from toilet paper and dishwasher tablets to pet food and tea bags. There are an initial 48 brands supplied in the UK, including Air Wick, Andrex, Ariel, Brabantia, Fairy, Finish, Gillette, Huggies, Johnson's Baby, Kleenex, Listerine, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, Neutrogena, Nicorette, Olay, Pedigree, Philips Sonicare, Rimmel, Vanish, Whiskas, Wilkinson, and more.
"We've all experienced the frustration of running out of something we need—Dash Button and Dash Replenishment Service are designed to make that moment a thing of the past," said Daniel Rausch, Director of Amazon Dash. "Dash Buttons offer the convenience of 1-Click shopping from anywhere in the home—they can be placed near those frequently used items you don't want to run out of, and when you see supplies running low, the Dash Button makes it easier than ever to order more. Just press the button and your item is on its way."
Amazon rationalises Dash on the basis of saving time for busy working people, and the frustration of realising you are out of important supplies.
However, is this just another gimmick that only encourages more laziness into the way we live?
The Internet of Things is already transforming our lives, in many cases going unnoticed. We can control our heating and lighting from our smartphones. We can order drinks in football stadiums from an app and have it delivered to our seat. Amazon Dash looks like another progression in this sense, building on the mass of home delivery services already available.
The next step for Amazon is to automate even further so that appliances such as printers, vacuum cleaners and washing machines order new ink, bags and washing tablets when they are running low. It looks like it will soon be possible to cater for one’s shopping needs entirely without leaving the home. Many will say this is a win for convenience and will allow people to concentrate on more important priorities. Others will argue this is a step towards an automated, lazy and robotic existence.
Regardless of this question, the fact the delivery will take up to 24 hours means that nipping out to the shops will solve the problem far sooner than Dash will.
It is also an expensive way of shopping, with each product costing £4.99 and having to be made in separate orders. Many consumers will not want to pay £10 for a pack of coffee and some toilet roll. Supermarket own brands are also not included at this stage, and there is another question over what many will see as a needless environmental regarding packaging and transport.
Despite this the service has proven popular so far. Since launching in the US last year, the Dash Button programme has seen continued growth, with the number of brands, orders and items available all increasing at a rapid pace. In the last two months, Dash Button orders have increased threefold and orders via Dash Button take place at a rate of over twice a minute. The number of Dash Button brands available in the US has also expanded four times faster in 2016 compared with 2015.
Whether it will be received like this in Europe will be interesting to see.