Amazon Dash: What is it, and Why Should You Try it?

If you have an Amazon Prime membership — and Amazon is working very hard to ensure that you do — then you’ve probably considered trying out a new Amazon innovation: Amazon Dash, which makes it easy to reorder your household essentials with the press of a button. Each Amazon Dash button is a Wi-Fi enabled device that lets you reorder a single item from Amazon. You can stick these buttons to any surface in your home, so that you’ll remember to restock the supplies you need. Lots of people have been skeptical about Amazon Dash, particularly because you have to pay $4.99 for a piece of hardware that’s designed for a single, simple task.

1. Each Dash button ends up being free

Some shoppers might be reticent to pay $4.99 for a Dash button without being sure that they’ll like the experience. But if you buy a Dash button for $4.99, then Amazon gives you $4.99 in credit toward future purchases with that button. That means that if you buy a Dash button and use it once, then the button is free. Another consolation for budget-conscious shoppers? As G. Clay Whittaker reports for Popular Science, you don’t need a Dash button for every product you use.

“Though it may seem like they’re hoping to get a Dash button in your life for every regular purchase you make, Amazon is actually focusing on things that individuals, with certain lifestyles, buy in bulk.” That might mean baby food and diapers for new parents, or Red Bull and condoms for college students. Of course, when you set up each Dash button, you have to ensure that you’re not opting for a more expensive package of the products you usually buy. But configure Amazon Dash to order your usual supplies and the convenience won’t cost you anything extra.

2. Amazon Dash can order more than 100 items

amazon dash button on washing machine


While the assortment of Dash buttons available at the program’s launch was fairly limited, you can now order more than 100 different items with Amazon Dash. Brian Barrett recently reported for Wired that dozens of new Dash partners have signed on, bringing products ranging from “everyday staples” to “steady orderables” to “the less defensibles” to the program.  Barrett writes that one of the best uses of Amazon Dash is reordering “anything you shove in a pantry or under a sink and forget about until it’s too late,” followed by the occasional restocking of “skincare products, pet-care products, vitamins, razors; basically anything involving personal maintenance (or that of your four-legged cohabitant).”

Dash buttons are probably less useful when it comes to the products that you only use occasionally (and likely don’t need to reorder in bulk), or for products orders via “Dash buttons that seem specifically engineered for purchase by undergrads who aren’t sure whether they’re being ironic.” You almost certainly don’t need tons of Dash buttons to correspond to all of the things you have in your pantry or bathroom at any given time. But Amazon Dash now enables shoppers to order so many different products that it’s very likely that there’s a Dash button or two that will be useful for you.

3. Amazon Dash makes purchasing the essentials simpler

Amazon Dash buttons


Whatever your essentials and shopping habits, an Amazon Dash button replaces the seven or eight steps it takes to order a product via your smartphone or your computer. Even talking to Alexa on Amazon’s Echo would be a more roundabout way of reordering the products that are running low. The great thing about Amazon Dash is that it’s easily integrated into the hardware and appliances you already have in your house. As Whittaker puts it, these buttons “go where they make sense.” You’d put one for ordering coffee on your coffeemaker, one for ordering more laundry detergent on your washing machine, one for ordering more trash bags on your garbage can, or one for ordering more batteries on your gaming console. A Dash button can save time and effort.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled about Amazon Dash. Fast Company’s Mark Wilson characterized the program as “an unabashed attempt to disconnect customers from the amount of money we’re spending,” and noted that while buttons are satisfying to press, “the core gesture of pressing a button to receive gratification days later fundamentally feels less like convenience than illusion.” Wilson may be right that pressing a button and receiving what you ordered 48 hours isn’t all that exciting. And he’s also probably right that Amazon Dash is just as much (or more) about Amazon’s bottom line as it is about making shopping easier and more convenient for consumers. But not everything about the “modern Amazon” that Wilson decries is bad, especially since plenty of people would rather opt for convenience than have to search for the best deal each time they need to restock on diapers or paper towels.

4. The next Dash button will be even better

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You might as well get used to the idea of Amazon Dash now, since the program is just going to get better from here. As Richard Baguley and Colin McDonald report for CNET, Amazon is offering a Dash device that can scan a barcode and ship you the associated product, as well as ways to restock on your household essentials with devices like the Echo, Tap, and Echo Dot. But even better is the fact that Amazon Dash now includes a hackable Dash button that enables you to control what the button does to control internet-connected devices and services. The next step, if speculation among Amazon fans is to be believed, is likely to be a blank Dash button that you can program yourself to reorder your favorite brand of tea, the type of paper you need for your printer, or your child’s favorite art supplies.

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