UPDATE: Amazon announced Tuesday that it has added 50 new brands to its Dash button order program, including Campbell's Soup, Clif Bar, Puff, and Quilted Northern. Amazon Dash now offers over 150 brands for thousands of products.
Amazon introduced the Dash platform last March: The Wi-Fi-enabled devices allow customers to replenish goods with a simple button push. But the Dash initiative appears to have limited staying power with consumers, with fewer than half who bought a Dash button since March 2015 still using it to order something; of those that do use it, they push it once every couple of months or so for items like laundry detergent that are regularly used but too unpredictable for subscription orders, based on Slice Intelligence data cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Brands buying into the Dash program right now view it as a marketing channel more than a product-delivery channel, the Journal notes.
Amazon Dash, famously mistaken for an April Fool’s joke when it was first unveiled, is the real-world embodiment of Staples' “Easy” button, empowering consumers to order a item when needed with a simple push.
Absolutdata CEO Anil Kaul told Retail Dive at the time of Dash's launch that the retailer had created what he calls a “Zero Moment of Purchase,” eliminating a previously accepted gap: The time between needing something and getting it. “In a Zero Moment of Purchase scenario, all other factors—coupons, packaging, advertising—become irrelevant,” Kaul said.
But there appears to be more than zero friction in actually using Dash. The Journal spoke with one early adopter who said that while she bought Dash buttons for Tide detergent, Gatorade and dog treats, she now only uses the Tide button. Because the buttons don’t automatically display the prices, and because prices fluctuate on Amazon, it’s hard to avoid price jumps, and the system’s method of price notifications via text upon request isn’t that helpful, math teacher Kyle Boyd told the Journal.
UPDATE: Despite these questions of slow adoption, Amazon said that order frequency on Dash buttons has doubled in the last three months, with an order taking place twice a minute.
Some brands are pleased with Dash: Slice reports Tide is the top selling button available to buyers and Bounty enjoys the highest average spend. Not surprisingly Sun Products, which uses Dash to sell All and Wisk detergents and Snuggle fabric softener, told the Wall Street Journal that the program as “exceeded expectations.”
But other brands say they’re hedging their bets by participating, joining in early out of fear of missing out on another Amazon innovation.
“It may not be the most intuitive feature,” Ken McFarland, director of e-commerce for Seventh Generation, a manufacturer of eco-friendly household goods, told the Journal. “But Amazon is trying so many things, and you don’t want to miss out on the ones that work. You want to be out there if it does happen to be a hit.”
Dropps CEO Jonathan Propper, whose pre-measured detergent and other cleaners will be included in the upcoming Dash expansion, also defended the program. “Things can change,” Propper said. “Look at the categories Amazon created that never existed before, like Kindle. There were people who said no one wanted to read a book off a screen.”
But Dash may ultimately be more reminiscent of Amazon’s Fire phone, which crashed and burned after failing to resonate with consumers, hampered by a hefty price tag and much-hyped features like “Firefly,” whose showrooming and product scan/order features could have been accomplished through the development of a mobile application.