Amazon's IoT approach is a shopping list killer

Dive Brief:

  • Amazon began selling a Wi-Fi connected Brita pitcher on Monday that orders a new filter from Amazon using its Dash Replenishment Service once it deems its current filter spent. It is one of many products in the “Internet of Things” (also known as IoT) category on the retailer's website.

  • Once a customer has bought the new pitcher, registered it with Brita, and connected it to their home network, they can sign up through Amazon for automatic orders of new filters. Amazon says that a customer can control and manage their orders online at any time. 

  • The auto-sensing Dash Replenishment Service is distinct from Amazon’s Dash buttons that Amazon customers can manually press to easily re-order regularly needed household items. 

Dive Insight:

While Target's “Open House” in San Francisco is a store featuring connected home technological gizmos that has a decided space-age vibe, Amazon has taken a more sober tack that may be more effective at showing that the future of shopping is here.

Amazon eschews the kind of ethereal glow-light effect seen at the Target store in favor a matter-of-factness that seems to simply boost the convenience of replenishing stuff you need all the time.

Who needs a shopping list—pen-and-ink or mobile or otherwise—when you could hit a button or—in the case of the Brita pitcher and other items—let the pet food bin or water pitcher do the ordering for you?

That’s, of course, just another way of saying, “Why go to the store?,” which could have been an Amazon tag-line from the beginning.

This kind of easy ordering system, assuming it catches on, is an aspect of e-commerce that could threaten brick-and-mortar retailers' on-going efforts in attracting customers to their stores, at least for everyday consumer goods that take little thought and have little emotional appeal. Rather than just being places of necessity, physical retailers may have to rethink their merchandise mix and ordering (and re-ordering) opportunities.

Several brick-and-mortar retailers are talking up the customer exprience, in some cases hosting events or adding extra draws like blow out bars or actual bars to rein in customers. But when it comes to everyday needs, retailers may need to find entirely new strategies to compete with the likes of Amazon's Dash simple yet oh-so-state-of-the-art replenishment services.

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Top image credit: Amazon