Amazon launches improbable IoT button

Despite today’s date all the signs are this is a genuine story. E-commerce giant Amazon has made its latest move to do to FMCGs what it already has to consumer durables by introducing a physical button that is used for one-click ordering of consumables such as washing powder and printer ink.

This innovation is called the Amazon Dash Button, in reference to the more significant underlying launch: the Dash Replenishment Service (DRS). This is a B2B initiative by Amazon to get the manufacturers of devices that use consumables, such as washing machines and printers, to build in sensors (if they haven’t already) that gauge how much has been used up and automatically put an order in to Amazon when a top-up is needed.

Of course some people might have a problem with their kit unilaterally putting orders into Amazon, so the big win for Amazon may be for the manufacturers to embed one of these east order buttons into the device.

This current Dash Button initiative seems therefore to be just a first move for DRS. The fact that it is being made available only to specifically invited Amazon Prime members adds to the impression that Amazon is just dipping its toe in the water at this stage. The trial appears to be US only right now.

The broader significance of this is as one of the first tangible moves into consumer IoT after years of wild speculation. We’re all familiar with the concept of the ‘smart fridge’ that benignly keeps an eye on your stocks of chilled food and automatically orders more as soon as you’ve run out. Amazon’s DRS isn’t a million miles away from this and the supermarket industry probably needs to raise its IoT game if it doesn’t want Amazon to eat its lunch.


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