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Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Technology is rapidly changing the way that Retailers, both online and offline, operate. We look at the Amazon Dash, and how it’s reflective of changing customer demands.

Want to see the possible future of "frictionless" online retail? Amazon Dash could be it. The newest release from the company lets shoppers simply press a button on the pantry door when they run out of flour or milk, making online reordering a piece of cake (or the ingredients of a cake at least).

Champion of the one-click purchase, retail giant Amazon has long-strived to streamline the online shopping experience. Rather than force customers to jump through hoops, Amazon knows that convenience and ease of use are the keys to online retail – regardless of what you're selling. The fewer roadblocks between your customers and the checkout, the more likely those customers are to keep coming back.

Amazon Dash takes this idea of frictionless shopping to a whole new level, eliminating the need for customers to reach for their computer, smartphone or tablet when they need to reorder a product. Instead customers will be able to stick tiny Wi-Fi-enabled Dash Buttons in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry.

The single buttons are dedicated to instantly reordering common grocery items from breakfast cereal to washing detergent. One press and the item is delivered within two days, with safeguards in place to ensure that little fingers don't order you a year's supply of toilet paper in one week.

Amazon dash button on a washing machine

How does it work?

Amazon Dash links to the AmazonFresh online grocery service, which is currently limited to a handful of cities in the US only.

While the Dash Buttons are dedicated to ordering a handful of products using your Wi-Fi, the handheld Amazon Dash wand can compile your shopping list by scanning barcodes or understanding voice commands. Currently there are more than a whopping 500,000 items available to order via the Amazon Dash wand.

In contrast, the thumb-sized Dash Buttons are configured using the Amazon mobile shopping app. Once you’ve programmed them, you can mount them using a plastic clip or adhesive strip.  A small light on the front blinks after you press the button, then turns green to let you know your order has been placed.

Amazon even plans to build Dash technology directly into household appliances so devices can automatically place orders when they're running low on consumables. The first products, including Whirlpool washers, water filters and coffee machines, will be available later this year in the US. This Dash Replenishment Service is the long-play for Amazon, ensuring customers remain loyal by cutting them out of the purchasing process for mundane items.

What might it mean for online retail?

Not all businesses have the ability to replicate Amazon Dash, but the new product is symptomatic of a broader desire from customers to make things as easy as possible. There’s a lot to learn from Amazon's efforts to streamline its operations to better meet the needs of customers, while ensuring they remain loyal.

Amazon's mission is “to be Earth's most customer-centric company", which is no easy task when you never actually meet your customers face to face.

But Amazon Dash is the perfect example of a customer-centric solution that removes any unnecessary steps from the online shopping process. While you could argue that Amazon's one-click purchase model capitalises on impulse purchasing decisions, Amazon Dash is the opposite. Amazon's Dash ecosystem minimises last minute customer defections by letting shoppers replenish everyday supplies without a second thought.

There'll never be a button for everything – people aren't going to buy a new car by simply pressing a button in the garage. But if small, day-to-day purchases are your bread and butter, then it's worth looking to Amazon Dash for ideas on how you can keep customers coming back for more. The secret lies in making things as easy as possible.

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