The Amazon Dash Button came out in the US in 2015 and reached the UK in September this year. I’d completely forgotten that I’d read about it last year until Amazon started heavily pushing adverts my direction recently. For those of you that aren’t aware the Amazon Dash Button is a branded plastic button with sticky tape on the back. Each button is branded by a specific company (Huggies, Ariel, Andrex, etc.) and is designed to be stuck all around your house. When you run low on a product you press the button and Amazon magically save the day by delivering the product of your choice to your house with gusto.
Since they are priced at just £4.99 and your first purchase has £4.99 off the price I decided to give one a go. Out of the dozens of different options it was difficult making a choice as to what I wanted – and that’s the first issue with the Dash Button. Of all the different manufacturers, I don’t buy products from any of them and any of the products available seemed to be in extremely large pack sizes. So, if I wanted to try this out I needed to order a lot of a product I wouldn’t normally buy. After much consideration, I decided that my daughter helps us get through our fair share of baby wipes and maybe the Huggies button would save the day at some point so ordered that one.
Setup is easy – you unbox it, load the Amazon app on your phone, press and hold the button and magically the button gets detected (some variants here depending on your phone model). Very quickly you have a button on your WiFi network and then you just select what product that button will order. If you ordered a Huggies button and you now want to order Andrex then it’s too late – you’re stuck with the branding of your choice. Your button is then good to go.
Once you’ve set it up it really is as easy as the press of a button. Press it, it is ordered and delivered based on your Prime membership. Press it twice and the default behaviour is to not order again as long as a previous order is outstanding from that button. A day later your product has turned up.
Wow. The future is here now. It’s a button that I can press and a product turns up at my house as if by magic. This is completely amazing! The only thing that would be more amazing would be if I could choose the product I wanted and quantity at any point in time. It might be really useful if I could select any product from any manufacturer and have that delivered. Maybe I could see some reviews at the same time just to make sure it’s what I want and check the pricing? Thankfully that future is also here now and has been for a very long time. With smartphone and tablet apps not to mention access via my laptop or desktop the Dash Button just feels completely pointless. That’s not even to mention that if I actually did put this in my bathroom near the baby wipes then my daughter would hit it every single day a dozen times and I’d be spending the majority of my time cancelling Amazon orders due to the crazily large package sizes that you have to take.
I just don’t get it. This doesn’t add any utility – it just adds a company’s branding in my house and they’re not paying me to advertise here. If Huggies really want to win my custom what would be fantastic is for them to make baby wipes that were actually as good as those I can get at a supermarket for half the price. If Andrex want me to buy their toilet paper then perhaps they should concentrate on the cushiony feeling of my bottom rather than pictures of puppies. None of the companies pushing a Dash Button to my house are going to convince me it’s a good idea by selling bulk-products at not-that-great-of-a-price via a site I can already elect to use. This may be a good idea for them getting presence in my world – but I don’t see the benefit for me. Amazon already let me one-click order and they have done for many, many years.
So a total waste of money, a total waste of my time and a massive step back to the analog age. Or is it?
There is one awesome thing about these buttons – they’re a nicely designed WiFi button that (presumably) has a decent battery life and has all the hard work taken care of. For any home automation project these things offer an interesting avenue. You can just monitor your network for ARP requests and bang – you have a button that a machine on your network can look for. In the US they’ve actually started selling these as AWS IoT buttons and for that purpose these are great.
For ordering products in a digital world? Absolutely nuts. Come on Amazon. This is mad.