Retail industry experts’ first reactions to Amazon Dash

Amazon Dash is no April Fool’s prank. A collection of branded, clickable buttons, Dash is a new product that can order a re-stock of household paper towels, laundry detergent, trash bags, artisanal sodas and more everyday items for you with the click of a button.

After Amazon announced Dash buttons, questions exploded on Twitter. Does this mean we’re too lazy to pick up our own toilet paper, Clorox wipes and Gatorade? What will happen when real money can automatically disappear from your bank account after a button push? Does anyone really need an on-demand replenishing service for coffee and mac and cheese? (Answer: Coffee, yes; mac and cheese, no.)

But most importantly, Dash heralds a possible shift in the future of retail. Instantaneous purchases linked to our Amazon accounts could be just the beginning of the Internet of Things infiltrating our homes and daily routines, industry watchers say — some more breathlessly than others. It’s not only the buttons (which are currently available invite-only to Amazon Prime members); the Dash Replenishment Service allows manufacturers like Brita and Whirlpool to build enhanced devices that can respond to low product levels and submit automatic orders.

We asked four industry experts to give us their first reactions to Amazon’s Dash news, along with what they think it means for retailers.

Ben Kennedy, group director of mobile at Integer
“My first thought is it’s not surprising; we’ve seen this coming. I think what’s more interesting is that Amazon’s point of difference – initially one-click ordering and same-day fulfillment is being eroded by Apple Pay, Square, Strike and even Uber to a degree. Same day fulfillment works for Drizly, Instacart and others. Will Dash transform the future of shopping? No, I don’t think it will. Will it enforce the convenience of buying with one click? Yes. It gives someone the mindset of ordering something before it runs out, but from a user experience standpoint, are you going to have these little buttons all over the house? Probably not.”

Curtis Rose, senior vp/group director of creative technology at Erwin Penland
“When I first read about it this morning, I was excited and amazed at the simplicity of the thought, and how it turns everything in your home into a shopping cart. That’s a powerful notion, due to its simplicity. It’s an interesting and revolutionary idea, and beneficial for Amazon, but also for brands looking to jump on the digital bandwagon. The products Amazon chose to launch with are natural with it being used.

“The doubt right now that I have is the restrictive nature of how they’ve tied to brands. The very preferred vendors are a good launch, but you’re asking users to change. My daughter is a Pampers baby, not a Huggies baby. I’m not going to change that because of a button. A universal button where people can choose, that’s where you’re going to see it blow up and really make a change.”

Jeff Fagel, CMO at G/O Digital
“Ultimately, it’s the question: ‘Why do I need this?’ I look at Amazon Dash as being more of a novelty at this point. What they’re trying to accomplish down the line is what I would look at. Amazon is making the connection of in-home to e-commerce, but with that said, it’s still not going to be faster than a mom driving out to get cold medicine for her kids. That’s a big question mark for Amazon; can they dominate in same-day delivery as they are in delivering wherever and whenever?

“Amazon Dash is headline grabbing. Jeff Bezos is interested in that, and the value in that is questionable for customers.”

Adam Silverman, principal analyst at Forrester
“This is a very logical, customer-centric innovation that Amazon is offering. Innovation might not even be a strong word – it’s evolutionary. They’re creating frictionless purchasing in home. It makes a lot of sense. Is this going to be the final form for this? I don’t think so. But I think people are going to like it.

“For the right customer, this adds convenience and value. The challenge is — the way it is now — is there’s a limited assortment of products. It’s not at the point today that it can be scalable. But they’re also offering a service for manufacturers that have devices to integrate it. Not only are they providing orders for products quickly, but they’re allowing manufacturers to get in on their Internet of Things initiative. Amazon is the facilitator of the goods, and they’ve created an ecosystem for manufacturers to be a part of it, as well as customers to quickly order their products.

“Eventually, the button should be removed and the actual devices will become smarter. Right now, all it’s doing is making it easy and reducing the number of buttons you have to push basically. The next evolution will anticipate what you need and make recommendations and add more meaning to the service. The buttons and the brands that go into those buttons are going to change frequently. The main power is as at the platform level, not the individual button.”

Retail experts weren’t the only ones with something to say about Amazon Dash. Here are a few highlights from the conversation humming on Twitter.

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