Online retailer’s challenge for the likes of Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s extends its Prime lock-in for taking the work out of buying toilet roll and detergent
Amazon has finally launched its Dash physical instant purchase buttons in the UK, bringing one-push buying of nappies, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets and washing powder to a washing machine near you.
The branded wireless buttons, which are essentially free to the consumer and purchase a set item when pushed, are another step in Amazon’s attempt to lock customers into its Prime subscription service, and edge out traditional supermarkets from the household goods market.
There are intially 40 branded buttons to choose from in the UK, each costing £4.99 to purchase but come with £4.99 in credit for the customer’s first order. They’re linked to an Amazon account and allow anyone in the home to instantly order replacement staples from toothbrush heads, kitchen roll and washing up liquid to coffee, anti-smoking aids and condoms.
The director of Amazon Dash, Daniel Rausch, said: “There is no retail therapy in buying toilet roll or bin bags. It’s just work. We wanted to take the one-click experience from our website and put it right where people need it most, in the home, near the products that run out. So that buying them is no longer work.”
The initial 40 brands cover a range of different types of products and include household names such as Air Wick, Andrex, Ariel, Cesar, Dettol, Durex, Fairy, Finish, Gillette, Huggies, Listerine, Nerf, Nescafé, Nicorette, Olay, Pedigree, Play-doh, Regaine, Right Guard, Rimmel, Vanish and Wilkinson.
The buttons are powered by Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), which can be built directly into products such as a Britta water jug that orders new filters and printers that order new ink. It was launched in the US in March 2015 with small selection of brands. Since then, the number of brands available has reached over 150 and DRS has been built into washing machines and other household appliances.
Setting the up buttons is simple using Amazon’s smartphone app for Android and iOS, connecting to them via Bluetooth or ultrasonics. The buttons stay dormant until pressed, connecting to your home Wi-Fi network and placing an order on the first time they are pressed. The account holder is notified of the order, and can change the quantity or cancel it. Subsequent presses will be ignored until the item is delivered, preventing duplicates.
Bosch and Siemens dishwashers will soon be available with DRS integration for ordering dishwasher tablets automatically in the UK, while Grundig’s new washing machines will be able to do similar for detergent. Whirlpool Sense Live devices will also be able to order detergent, descaler, anti-bacterial filters or softener when needed. Some printers made by Samsung will be able to order ink automatically too.
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Dash buttons cover brands from a variety of product categories. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
Convenience is the main selling point for consumers. For brands, a boost in sales and the ability to get a foot in the door of a large retailer’s push for the future before rivals marks the main appeal.
Taryn Mitchell, global vice president of Digital Sales for RB, manufacturer of brands such as Vanish, Harpic, Durex and Dettol said: “A significant number of the orders we see through Amazon today are placed via the Amazon Dash Button. It’s a remarkably convenient way for customers to reorder everyday items, and even adds a bit of fun to the process.”
Amazon refuses to disclose numbers, but Rausch said that buttons for beverages are used most frequently, being pushed more than once a week on average and that across the US two orders are placed via its Dash buttons every minute, with order rates increasing by three times in the past two months.
Data from research firm Slice Intelligence paints a slightly different picture. In June it estimated that less than half of people who bought Dash buttons actually used them, and those that do only place an order via the Dash button once every two months. Since then Amazon has added another 50 brands to its Dash portfolio.
Transforming the distribution and retail of staple goods
Geoff Blaber, vice president of research for the Americas for CCS Insight said: “Brands need to be onboard from the start. While Dash may appear gimmicky today it is very likely to transform distribution and retail of such products. Once the service is integrated into appliances and can automatically sense when replenishment is needed, brands will need to be involved or risk marginalisation.
“Amazon is seeking to establish itself as the scale supplier of high frequency purchase goods as diverse as printer ink and washing powder.”
The Dash button joins the recent launch of Amazon’s Dash Barcode Scanner in the UK, a device for buying groceries from the company’s Fresh subscription service by blipping barcodes or saying the name of the product into the microphone.
Between Fresh and Prime, Amazon is seeking to expand its market position from ocassional goods such as electronics, games and books to household staples and produce, directly challenging the biggest retailers, including supermarket chains Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
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