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Amazon pushes mobile product-ordering convenience with Dash service

Amazon’s testing of its Dash push-button household item-ordering service may meet consumers in their moment of need but miss the mark with those who rarely wait to the last minute to replenish supplies of essential goods such as toilet paper.

By pushing the Wi-Fi enabled button that connects to a smartphone through Amazon’s mobile application, the consumer can reorder from brands such as Tide, Clorox and Huggies when supplies run out. The service, available by invitation only to select Amazon Prime members, continues Amazon’s effort to expand its offerings as mobile sales increase.

“While it might take some time to catch on, this is a stroke of brilliance,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president for business development and sales with Unbound Commerce, Boston.

“For a long time, online retailers have been trying to bridge the gap between the virtual and real worlds. By branding these Wi-Fi-enabled instant reorder buttons, Amazon is connecting cooperative name brand recognition, with brand-loyal consumers, and instant online reordering, converted in the moment when a consumer realizes they are in need,” he said.

Product offerings
Each Dash device comes with a different product name. It can be mounted to any object through an adhesive strip on plastic clip.

Meeting consumers on mobile in moment of need.

Desired products and amounts can be set with the app.

Saying or scanning items into the device allows the user to view the list on desktop or mobile to purchase and schedule delivery.

Users can cancel their order within 30 minutes. The order will process just once.

Dash buttons so far are available for coffee, detergent, razors, toilet paper, diapers, dog food, trash bags and other items.

While Dash is an exciting development, it faces challenges in its multitude of product buttons.

“Different buttons per brand is interesting, but not scalable for the many products the modern consumer buys on a daily or weekly basis,” said Andy Hobsbawm, chief marketing officer at Evrythng. “Direct interaction with a digitally activated product via a mobile phone eliminates the need for multiple, brand-specific buttons – it provides a more frictionless, seamless experience of re-ordering household products and beyond.”

Amazon, which did not disclose the Dash trial’s size, has been looking for ways to branch out and entice mobile users to sign up for its platforms. In 2014, it suffered its first annual loss in at least a dozen years.

It expanded one-hour delivery service in some cities, to compete with bricks-and-mortar stores near customers’ homes.

In another effort to establish itself as a go-to-destination on mobile, it recently began to produce and acquire original films for early distribution on its Amazon Prime Instant Video platform.

Membership in Prime costs $99 annually, following a $20 increase last year.

Mobile ordering
Dash could affect the way people order items on mobile simply by taking other devices out of the picture.

Promotion on Amazon mobile Web site.

“[It] remains to be seen if it will be used to replenish consumer packaged goods or not, said Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst serving business and channel strategy professionals for Forrester Research, Boston. “It doesn’t seem like it would be terribly profitable for Amazon and it’s not like there’s so much friction in buying goods now anyway.

“Amazon is always throwing things out there,” she said. “They need to continue enforcing the narrative that they are an innovation machine to justify their weak financials.

“This definitely helps in that way,” she said.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York