In the Spring of 2015, Amazon launched a new product called the Amazon Dash Button, which is a palm sized wireless internet (wifi) connected device that with a push of a button automatically places an order for a household essential product. Amazon partnered with large consumer goods brands to launch this product. Each Dash device is for one specific brand, and the consumer is able to pre-set specific order preferences on the Amazon mobile App. The consumer can then stick the device in a kitchen cabinet or place in the home adjacent to its product so that as the consumer uses and depletes a basic essential like laundry detergent, paper towels, or pet food, they can reorder with a simple and easy push of a button. Additionally, to make it practical for people who live together, no matter how many times the button is pushed it won’t place an additional order until one order arrives at the house.
The idea behind Dash is to seamlessly integrate product use with shopping, thereby eliminating the need for an old fashioned grocery list or for the consumer to set aside time to plan and shop either online or in a local grocery store. The Dash product design makes Amazon sticky for its consumers, because by making it easy and fast to shop with Amazon consumers are likely to do so and Amazon is less likely to lose business to local grocery stores when consumers forget to reorder on the Amazon web site.
Today there are 229 dash buttons for beauty products, groceries, health and personal care, household supplies, kids and baby, and pet supplies. Amazon’s traditional retail business model is to provide a wide variety of products to consumers at low prices, with no tax and fast and free shipping, in an easy and convenient online shopping experience. The traditional operating model for delivering this value to customers is a user friendly web site and high level of reliability and speed achieved through its efficient warehouse, supply chain, and order fulfillment operations. Amazon is using this particular digital technology to drive increased demand, earn additional market share, and in the long-term to lead the way in household interconnected devices and to gain additional data about consumer habits . This data will be valuable to Amazon as it develops future products and product offerings. For instance, Amazon might be able to predict with a high degree of reliability the frequency of orders based on household size and zip code, and could offer to send products as corresponding intervals. So if they find that 25-year-old men tend to order shampoo and soap every five weeks, then Amazon could automate that decision for similar consumers.
The main concern with the Amazon Dash Button business model, and online retail more broadly, is environmental sustainability. Until recently consumers had to travel to a central location, the local grocery store, to purchase household essentials. Today, for the sake of convenience and cost savings, consumers are increasingly ordering online which means that there are lots more delivery trucks out on the road and lots more packing supplies like cardboard boxes being consumed than in the traditional shopping model. The challenge for Amazon and for local governments in the long-term is to make shopping more environmentally friendly. To compete with Amazon, local governments may have to reconsider sales tax on basic essentials because it is driving consumers online and away from brick and mortar businesses.
Amazon is also working on a Dash Replenishment Service, which will integrate product ordering directly into household electronics and appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines . This reinforces Amazon’s bet on how connected digital technology will drive the consumer shopping experience in the future. These devices when paired with Amazon’s data will be able to keep a household stocked with milk, laundry detergent, and a variety of other products. So, the Dash Button is simply Amazon’s first step in that direction.
 Michael E. Porter and James E. Heppelmann, “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition”, November 2014, [https://hbr.org/2014/11/how-smart-connected-products-are-transforming-competition], accessed November 2016.
 Mike Isaac, “Amazon Dash Aims to Be a Push-Button Substitute for the Supply Run, March 31, 2015, [http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/31/amazon-dash-aims-to-be-a-push-button-substitute-for-the-supply-run/], accessed November 2016.
 Featured Image from the Amazon Dash Button Web Site, [https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_hi_3?rh=n%3A133140011%2Cn%3A%21133141011%2Cn%3A2102313011%2Cn%3A10667898011&bbn=10667898011&ie=UTF8&qid=1479506852], accessed November 2016.