/ Shopping, Technology

Would you order from the Amazon Dash push-button service?


The newly launched Amazon Dash service allows customers to order favourite items at the push of a Wi-Fi connected button. But is this convenience service a step too far?

I admit it, I’ve ordered groceries online before. It was when I was getting ready to move into a new apartment and was worried about first night logistics. So I ordered some essentials to be delivered that first night. It certainly was helpful to know I wouldn’t be worrying about milk or toilet paper at 11pm after toiling away at bubble wrap and cardboard boxes.

But I get a bit precious picking out my produce and choosing offers, so I haven’t since ordered full shops online. I do, however, order particular items online that are harder for me to find locally, or I know I get a better deal on them online.

So as an Amazon user, I was intrigued when I saw the launch of the Amazon Dash Button – this Wi-Fi enabled button is connected your Amazon account and allows you order a product by just pressing it.

Amazon Dash service

These buttons only work with specific brands and products, currently around 40 brands.

To use it you’d first need to be an Amazon Prime member. You’d then have to purchase each individual button for each brand from Amazon at the cost of £4.99 per button, but the button’s cost is then effectively refunded in credit from your first purchase.

And then there’s the set-up process, which seems a little lengthy: mounting the button next to the product in your home, such as an Ariel button next to the washing machine or Listerine button next to your toothbrush, then setting up a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection, and then managing all your ordering preferences.

Novelty tech

After looking into it, I wasn’t sold and it didn’t seem all that convenient. As an Amazon customer you’re able to see past purchases online, so if routine purchases of an item are your thing, you could theoretically press a button on your mobile to replicate orders periodically.

For me, these branded buttons made me picture my home as less as a place to live and more as a way to keep inventory on a stock shelf.

I also quite like shopping around for deals, seeing what other products are out there and supporting local and smaller suppliers. Repeat orders from one brand would certainly make that tricky.

On a more practical level, I wonder what happens the buttons are pressed accidentally? The Dash service will only allow one order per 24 hours, so that eliminates multiple presses by maybe a child or pet, but the odd accidental press could get annoying. Of course it’s possible to return items ordered from the Dash Button, but you have to go online to do so, which means the Button cannot be a stand-alone service.

In a similar vein to the buttons, customers will be able to shop for products based off of what they have in their home using the Dash Scanner, a small wand-like device to scan or say what items they would like.

All in all, I can see the argument of swapping choice for convenience, but currently the novelty seems too much of an ordeal to me. For now I’ll be sticking to my normal weekly shop, but am keen to see how more on-demand services develop.

Over to you

What do you think about these Amazon Dash Buttons? Do you feel these press and go services make your shopping experiences more convenient or enjoyable?


This service is yet another bit of technology which effectively keeps people locked into their homes. We’re forgetting what its like to go out into the neighbourhood to get the stuff we need when we need it. Once you are used to getting shopping delivered, food delivered, and now instant purchase of items – we will lose not only our ability to interact with the world around us, but electroncially someone out there can collect our data – so its an erosion of privacy too. We face a future where we are slowly losing our everyday living skills. Driverless cars, prepared food, disposable clothing (we can make our own!), labour saving gadgets (our grandparents made very good meals using knives, spoons and whisks), handwriting, ..the list can be longer. Technology is good, but we can get to a stage when we are so reliant on it that when it fails (and it does), we are physically and mentally helpless. And stressed!!

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Good stuff, DL – luckily we don’t have to inhale the full strength; not yet, anyway. Personally I hope this venture will fall flat on its face but Amazon are not noted for getting it wrong. I think we must spread Ann’s philosophy far and wide and protect our independent living skills – they are so precious. Amazon gets more like its namesake every day pulling huge amounts of stuff in from numerous tributaries and discharging millions of tonnes of silt into the ocean every year.

An Asimov fan, Duncan? Certainly a Caves of Steel reference in your post.

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You’d be at home with my library, then. We have 5000+ books around the shelves and I believe almost every SciFi story written between 1935 and 2000. But Asimov and Clarke stand above most, with Heinlein and the local Eric F Russell being among the finest, IMHO. Phil K Dick, of course, was one of the most portentous writers in terms of gloom and despair but I’ve long been interested in the ways the earlier writers predicted, often with worrying accuracy, the way society and the world would evolve.

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Amazon is trying to take advantage of how lazy people have become. People drive everywhere and” park “as near as they can to where they want to be. Some will not walk even a few feet if the cannot avoid doing so. We have now got generation of very lazy people and it will only get worse. Obesity,not overeating but lack of exercise as well,which I believe is the main cause not junk foods

I’ve seen the button advertised, but never really looked into it. The topic header has been revealing, so thanks.

This is a growing trend, and Amazon wants to be in the vanguard of the creeping internetisation of the home. Personally, having read the header, I think it’s a step too far and a bit ‘clunky’ at this stage. The idea of little buttons everywhere is a bit daft, I suspect, but I can see a natural progression.

The self-service checkouts we all use, albeit perhaps guiltily, owe their ubiquity to the electronic scale based on strain gauge technology, which is extremely accurate. How long will it be before kitchen cupboards are fitted with strain gauge shelving that, once loaded with all your items, can accurately determine what has been used and ask you if you want to re-order an item or two? It’s already feasible and cost-effective, so I suspect it might start appearing shortly.

But the real problem is whether you want the world to know you’ve run out of Mr Muscle for the bathroom, or – heaven forbid – the coleslaw (but not in the bathroom, of course…) 🙂 More seriously, however, homes are inexorably moving towards total internetisation and the one aspect of that which is of real concern is that the security of the systems will never be bullet-proof. Happy times ahead.

I can appreciate that for many people it will be seen as exciting and progressive. For years the ‘mini-bars’ in hotel rooms have had sensors to detect the movement or withdrawal of items such that you can’t even put your own bottle of water in the fridge without triggering a charge. I agree that with a number of developments and refinements it could catch on with a certain demographic for whom filling a Waitrose order on-line is just too much bother. The current limitation of brands/products is a serious drawback but that will no doubt extend rapidly. Whether it will ever provide the choice and variety that we are used to in the UK I doubt but it might be handy for the staples. Amazon is already providing subscription services for all manner of household requirements like loo rolls and bin liners so that you don’t have to worry about running out and then running out to get some more at the last minute. Presumably one of the commercial spin-offs for Amazon is that if it can say to the detergent manufacturers “Look, we have got ten thousand customers locked into your product, now we want to see that commitment reflected in your wholesale prices” (so we can make bigger profits). The controlling aspects of systems like this are worrying though, as well as the long term consequences for cultural and social development.

You might look at this as a disaster of such size that people apparently cannot see it. An Emporor’s New Clothes mass hallucination.

I am not talking about the loss of personal contact, the loss of local shops, the marginalisation of those who cannot interact successfully with modern life. the loss of privacy, and the further divorce of money from the buying process.

The obvious one for me is the amount of physical traffic generated to deliver insignificant goods all over the country. Has anyone quantified the costs for the deliveries? The extra road traffic etc. Home delivery works currently as many misguided and desperate people are delivering items cheaply. If HMRC were not providing the tax interpretation they are then these people would have a living wage and the cost benefit of giant warehouses competing with local shops would be narrowed.

The UK Government amazingly is looking favourably on drone deliveries which will remove the delivery workers anyway. More underemployed or jobless people is not a blessing at the best of times. But particularly daft if the profits made from this service disappear to the USA. Basic economics says that if all profit is abstracted from a country then it hurts your economy.

What I find surprising is that the terrorist potential for drone deliveries seems to have passed unnoticed. But then money talks louder than people.

Good points, DT. I don’t know what the payload of delivery drones is projected to be, or what their maximum mileage before recharging is, but I guess there is quite a long way to go before they become a feature of everyday life. As they return empty to their depot it will look like bees going back to their hive so drones will presumably have built-in electronic separation software to avoid collisions. There are various crime and security concerns as well. I can imagine that someone will develop an intercepting device that will be able to take over command of a drone and divert it to a different destination. or instruct it to descend and unload immediately.

The current 2.2 kg package weight limit, plus the weight of the drone, are already quite disturbing but they will presumably have to have higher capacity in order to be economically viable. The risks of crashing into each other and into structures in built-up areas are quite high, also of dropping their load while airborne [any remotely-activated release mechanism on the drone is bound to be prone to accidental premature evacuation].

I would no more use the service than I would buy shares in King Solomon’s Mines from a Nigerian Prince. Amazon has developed it’s markets at the expense of it’s competitors by spending years hardly paying tax in many areas in which it has traded. If the firm is allowed to become totally dominant in the marketplace what do you think will happen to British owned companies who have had to pay proper taxes over the years and of course have been unable to compete on the same terms. Less income for the Exchequer means less money to spend on public services in the future. It may not matter to you this year but don’t cry when your pension payments are increased and all public services suffer in the future. I am not against International trade but you must see that the big multi-nations companies will do all they can to avoid contributing. Look at the attitude of Apple at this very moment!! Support your own now or suffer later. By the way, its a stupid gadget anyway, Amazon are the only beneficiaries.

Well said David. I think this is a case of “be careful what you wish for”. If we want “cheaper everything” and use the likes of Amazon to help us get it, then, in the longer term, we risk ending up with cheap and nasty social services (healthcare, welfare, schools, police, etc.) too.

REALLY? An Amazon ‘Cash Button’, what next! Not only do they expect you to fork out £4.99 a time for one of these gimmicky little things, but they hope you will fall into the trap and buy one for each and every Branded Product ‘they’ hope to steer you into buying. No Thank You.

One flaw I see is each Button would need a second Button for when the battery inside the first one runs flat? And it will as having something like this stuck around the average household will result in little fingers pressing it endlessly for the sheer hell of in and cries of ‘mummy what does this do … it doesn’t work’???

From a more basic level I personally think some companies are trying to be too cleaver for their own good, after all this is the UK not America/Germany. We’ve less numbers over here with high disposable income to throw away and with the economy as it is the 40 odd High End Brands these ‘Buttons’ cover would perhaps be better suited to Aldi and Lidl’s own brans 🙂

But what would I know … I’m just a working mother living the dream in the real world.

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