UPDATED 13:31 EDT / AUGUST 19 2015


Can Amazon’s Dash Button scale? Experts weigh in

Is the Amazon Dash Button scalable? The latest smart home offering from the retail behemoth has all the ease of its online one-click purchasing options, conveniently placed in the pantry, kitchen or nursery. With a dedicated product for each Button, however, is the $4.99 gadget scalable beyond a handful of retail partners for diaper and detergent deliveries?

Amazon hasn’t been shy about experimenting with connected devices, launching a storefront for smart home products and services. The online warehouse has also taken strides to hasten home deliveries with subscription offerings, discounted shipping for Prime Members, a grocery offering for same-day drop offs and even experimentation with airborne drone deliveries.

With such strong and frequent interaction with consumers, Amazon is set to be a major influencer in driving adoption for smart home technology, and has taken a reasonable approach with a simple Button that retrofits into any home setting. But will Amazon create a Button for dozens more products, or is the Dash Button merely a quick fix in the market’s journey to a fully automated home?

Amazon is already working on a broader Dash product for its grocery service, AmazonFresh. Dash is a handheld device that scans products in need of replenishing. But has Amazon’s single-point solution addressed a real problem consumers face, and can Amazon create smart home technology faster than product manufacturers can begin including their own connected beacons for easy or automated reordering?

We asked the experts to share their thoughts on Amazon Dash Button’s scalability, and whether this is a transitory solution to a larger problem.

Will it scale?

Tushar Parashar, Engagement Manager at Vivaldi Partners Group

Let’s face it. A successful firm like Amazon won’t launch a product or service without any consumer or market research about its viability and scalability. But doing your homework doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. We all know how often new products and innovations fail. There are two lenses from which we can analyze the scalability issue:

  • Amazon wants the Dash Button to be scalable.

While I don’t believe this is true, here is my projection of what’s going to happen. The tech enthusiasts will jump to buy the dash just like they did with Apple Watch and other new gadgets. When the dust settles down, consumers will realize the  limited capability of the Dash Button as a consumer needs to buy one Button for each product she desires.

  • Sticking several Dash Buttons in your home seems complicated.

Consumers have dealt with the issue of “stuff running out” for ages. Most people visit the grocery store at least once in two weeks and many overstock supplies so they don’t have to deal with “stuff running out”.

The real value of dash is the convenience of delivering my supplies to my home. But if all of my supplies are not covered by Dash, I would still need to visit the store. Thus, a product like Dash cannot be truly successful until it covers the entire gamut of my grocery needs and helps me in preventing that undesired grocery store visit.

Phani Pandrangi, Chief Product Officer, Kii

A much more scalable way is to produce generic (no label) Dash Buttons and simple let [the consumer] configure what the Dash Button should do – i.e. which product it should buy/order in one’s phone app. The first time you order something, along with that product, the appropriate label also ships with it so that you can stick it on top.

Maybe Amazon thought … well, if the user is doing that, he might as well set himself a reminder through the app and won’t need the Dash Button. That’s probably why they didn’t go the generic button route.

Consumerization of the smart home

John Calagaz, CTO, CentraLite Systems

I believe the ultimate goal of Amazon is to get the usage data from consumables and be able to “refill” as needed.  The only way this will happen is if all of these devices are connected.  Amazon will likely have an API, if they don’t already, that will allow manufactures themselves to easily build this logic in the device or simply give usage data to Amazon so they can make the call on when refills are needed.  

I believe Amazon has two reasons for doing this.  First they will be able to capture the sale of the refills instead of the consumer going to a retailer to purchase it.  The second is data usage.  Data is very powerful, especially if you are talking about predictive analytics.  Amazon will need to know when the user will run out before they run out, in order to ship them a refill.  Amazon will only be successful if they make this transition easy on both the consumers and the manufacturers.

Will retailers skip the Amazon Button?

Cees Links, CEO & Founder of GreenPeak

[People] think that having a refrigerator notify and facilitate the ordering & purchase of a new water filter or having the clothes dryer notify and make it easy for the user to purchase more laundry supplies will become “status quo” with a decade. The box of dryer sheets will talk to the dryer, which will then talk to the smart home network and a service like Amazon. Of course, the dryer sheet box could talk directly to the home network as well. “Help, I am just about empty.” The pet feeder can send a message that new pet food needs to be picked up and/or delivered.

Enabling devices, appliances and products inside the home to monitor themselves is an essential element of the really smart home.

For manufacturers, in addition to facilitating the ordering and purchasing of products, the added benefit is to establish and build the link between the brand itself and its customers, essentially cutting out the retailer and middleman distributor channels. This is taking the concept of Smart eCommerce to the next level, enabling any manufacturer or vendor to take charge of its retail channel, maximizing profits while minimizing costs for advertising, product distribution and in store merchandising.

Will the Amazon Dash be faced with the same issues?

Meyar Sheik, CEO of Certona

The product UPC codes today are not as standardized or as universal as consumers are led to believe, so while Dash will be a convenient feature, it won’t be without its compatibility issues in showing or ordering the wrong products due to inconsistencies in UPC codes.


I think Dash will have another issue that is not present in the current form.  Currently Amazon more than likely carries the products for which there are Dash Buttons.  If they are attempting to do this with “any” grocery item, it means that Amazon has to not only carry the same brand but have it in stock or have a partner that can get it quickly.  With groceries, freshness is always looked at.  Just-in-time inventory would have to be flawless for this to work.

Contributors: Mellisa Tolentino & Cheryl Knight

Image source: Amazon.com

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