The online retail giant is rolling out the Dash Button, available by invitation. It lets customers place orders on a handful of frequently ordered products literally with the push of a button.
Trying to snare even more of its customers’ routine purchases, Amazon.com introduced new gadgets Tuesday that let customers buy frequently purchased items with a press of a button.
The new Dash Button is a pocket-knife-sized device that’s dedicated to a specific product, such as Tide detergent, Gillette razor blades or Gatorade sports drink. The gadgets, which come with AAA batteries and Wi-Fi chips, connect to the Amazon website to let customers buy those specific products instantaneously by tapping the button on them.
Customers will be able to attach a button, via adhesive or a hook, to, say, their washing machine or bathroom vanity. That way, when they run out of detergent or razors, they can press a button to automatically restock.
Amazon launched the service Tuesday, letting U.S. subscribers of its $99-a-year Prime service request invitations. The company hasn’t said how many customers will be selected. Those who are will be able to order up to three buttons, which Amazon will send at no cost. It will start sending the buttons in the next few days.
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Customers will set up each button using the Amazon shopping app on their iPhone or Android device to link the button to their home Wi-Fi network. The service isn’t available yet for customers with Windows Phones.
Users will be notified on their phones each time an order is placed, and will have a brief amount of time to cancel the order if it was inadvertent.
For the launch, Amazon is offering buttons for 18 products, which come in a variety of sizes, flavors and scents, from 10 companies. Amazon executives declined to speak for attribution about the device.
For its partners, the gadget offers the potential of simple restocking sales.
“You don’t always remember to buy something until you run out of it,” said Molly Steinkrauss, a spokeswoman for Clorox, whose disinfecting wipes and Glad trash bags will have their own Dash Buttons.
The gadget is an expansion of the business the company created with Amazon’s Dash, a wandlike device that lets subscribers of its Prime Fresh online grocery service scan bar codes in their homes to add products to their shopping carts. They can also speak into the device’s microphone to add items as well.
Amazon is also rolling out the Dash Replenishment Service for companies to embed into their products to let customers quickly restock.
So Brother, for example, is developing printers that will let customers place orders when ink and toner levels run low. Whirlpool is designing a washer and dryer that will anticipate when laundry supplies are running low, to trigger automatic purchases using the service.
“We want to take as many steps out of the process as possible,” said Brett Dibkey, Whirlpool’s vice president of integrated business units.
All told, there will be six products from four companies that will use the Dash Replenishment Service at launch. Those products should debut later this year, according to Amazon.
The company clearly believes the buttons will help address the annoyance of running out of frequently purchased items without warning. A video introducing the service shows an exasperated woman unable to make her morning coffee because she’s run out of Maxwell House pods for her automatic coffee maker.
But it’s an open question whether consumers will be willing to festoon their homes with the chunky, white plastic buttons in the name of convenience.