With Amazon Dash Button, Home Goods a Push Away

Through Amazon's replenishment services, appliances and devices like washers, copiers and coffee makers can automatically reorder supplies.

Dash Buttons

You can already buy almost anything on Amazon, and usually with a single click. Now the online retail giant is making even that easier.

Amazon already offers single-click shopping on its Website, and last year launched a small handheld device—the Dash—through which buyers can order products by scanning them or saying their names. If even all that is too difficult and time-consuming, the company has now come out with a button that consumers can push to order—or reorder—a wide broad range of products, from Bounty paper towels and Huggies diapers to Izze sodas, Oil of Olay cream and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

The company on March 31 introduced the Dash Button, a small device about the size of a thumb that can be either hung up or stuck anywhere via adhesive tape on the back of a product you buy. A single button can be used for a single product. If you're running low on Smart Water, push the button and it will be reordered, and delivered in two days. Need Gatorade? Press another button.

The buttons are linked to a smartphone via an app that connects to the WiFi network. Once connected to the network, a consumer presses the button once, and the item is reordered. Amazon already has the information regarding the consumer's credit card and how much of the product they need. Once the order is placed, Amazon sends an alert to the smartphone, so customers can cancel an order if necessary.

In addition, if a buyer accidentally hits the button more than once, the Dash Button will only respond to the first order, and won't send any more products until the first order is delivered. That said, the button can be configured to allow multiple reorders at once.

Amazon officials continue to develop ways to make it easier for consumers not only to buy products through the online shopping site, but also to reorder them. The Dash Button is designed to capture those people who already buy products from the site, but may run to the corner store to replenish supplies if they find they're running low.

Amazon is making the Dash Buttons—which have battery lives that extend for years—free to Amazon Prime members, and initially through an invitation.

Amazon initially is making 18 products available through the Dash Button, with plans to expand the choices in the future. However, officials are making the Dash technology available to product makers to make it easy for their customers to replenish supplies. Through the Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), device makers can either integrate a physical button into their hardware to enable customers to easily reorder supplies, or in true Internet of Things (IoT) fashion, the technology can measure use of a product and automatically reorder it when supplies run low.

The Dash Buttons are used for products that aren't connected to a device; the DRS is for consumables that are linked to a system, like a coffee machine or water filter device.

For example, Whirlpool is developing a smart top-loading washer and dryer that will be able to determine when laundry supplies are dwindling, then automatically reorder supplies through the replenishment service. Similarly, Brita is creating a connected water pitcher that will be able to measure the amount of water running through its filter, and will be able to order a new filter when needed.

Brother printers will be able to measure the ink and toner levels and order more supplies when amounts are running low, and a company called Quirky is introducing the Poppy line of smart appliances that include an artisanal pour-over coffee machine, a baby formula maker and a pet food dispenser. If the machines indicate that supplies are getting low, more will be ordered.

The DRS is in limited beta right now, but will be publicly available in the fall, according to Amazon officials.