IoT in a click


Amazon Dash, a simple but connected object, which embodies the true Internet of Things philosophy in all the effects: to make people lives easier because, thanks to a single intuitive gesture, they can buy what they need, without leaving home

By Lara Colombi

For some time we have been listening talking of the Internet of Things, a neologism referring to the extension of the Internet to the world of concrete objects and places, which should have caused a  real revolution in a short time. Expression continuously used by marketing, often unnecessarily and inappropriately. The real innovations in this area, however, make us wait. Or rather, many experimentations were started, but nothing has been able to become yet a real ‘bestseller’ for consumers, who still look at this world with not few perplexities. But recently Amazon tried it too and, as it is in its style, tried to propose a simple, intuitive and open product that allows to make purchases with a simple click. It is a small object which, in the shape reminds a simple plastic keyrings, but that in the substance is able to make intelligent not only the appliances but also the pantry cabinets, that have very little connected. Its name is Amazon Dash and is nothing but the “physical” realization of the “buy”  button located on the well-known e-commerce website pages. Arrived in Italy in November, it is powered by a battery that provides at least five years of operation, it can be connected to the home wi-fi system and must be set one only time through an App on a smartphone or tablet. In its simplicity it allows to order consumer’s favorite products, by pressing a button.  In addition, the giant of Seattle made available Dash Replenishment (DRS), service dedicated to companies that allows the connected devices to automatically order consumable items, such as laundry detergents or ink for printers. All manufacturers of devices, from large companies to little operators can use DRS to make orders on behalf of their customers, without having to build the back-end infrastructure to handle orders. We asked Stefano Martinelli, head of consumables category at Amazon, to describe us the two services for daily shopping trying to understand what changes for industry and retail, which once again will have to stand and watch.

Stefano Martinelli, head of consumables category at Amazon

How do the new Amazon Dash services work?
Dash is essentially composed of two elements. The device named Dash Button and Dash Replenishment service which is the API (Application Programming Interface) open to all third-parties. The button, as a matter of fact, is a device with wi-fi connectivity which allows to order, in total comfort, the consumer’s favorite products simply pressing a button. This is why the back is sticky: the button can be stuck just where it is easier to realize that a certain product misses, for example, near the coffee machine for pods, or attached to the dishwasher for the detergent

How many brands joined your new initiative?
Now in Italy it is possible to buy various products from 27 companies, while in the US we can already count on more than 200 partners. Among the brands on the Italian market we can find, for example, Ace, Barilla, Dash, Gillette, Mulino Bianco, Caffè Vergnano and many others. Articles of these brands arrive home with the Prime service, in one day, and with the first order the price of the Dash (4.99 euro) is regained. Of course it is possible to have at home more than one button, in the US the Prime customers have on average three apiece.

This is a very intuitive example of the Internet of Things. Is it really so simple or do the practices to enable the service require some further step?
The service can be activated in three easy steps. The first is to connect the button to the user own connection through the mobile application on the smartphone, entering the wi-fi password. Through the app the list of the products related to that brand is presented and consumer chooses which product wants to re-order automatically. Third step is the delivery address confirmation that is taken from the Amazon account. When you press the button but also, as we will see, when the appliance order something through DRS independently, you receive a notification on the purchase through the app and you can also cancel it.

It is too early to understand if Italian consumers will like this new shopping mode. Instead, are there available estimates on the spread in other markets?
Since the launching last year in the United States and more recently – in August – in Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom, the Dash Button program has recorded a continuous growth.
In the US, the diffusion has been exponential, with orders increased by five times compared to the last year. We will see what it will happen in France, Spain and Italy where the button has just been launched.

What do consumers like of this object that makes even the home cabinets connected and transforms the thinking of purchase in a real purchase
It is an easy to use innovation that really makes life easier.

With the new button is still required a minimal interaction by consumer, how does Amazon Dash Replenishment Service work instead?
Also called DRS it is a service released for third parties that can be used by manufacturers in order to allow their connected household appliances reorder independently the consumable products needed for their functioning. We think, for example, to detergent for the washing machine, printer cartridges or pods for the coffee machine.

Unlike other IoT technologies is it a service that can be adapted to different brands?
Of course, the Dash Replenishment APIs are open and available for integration into any connected device to the Internet. We hear a lot of talk about the Internet of Things, at Amazon we prefer to speak of Internet of useful things, we try to find an added value for our customer.

What are the future developments of the device and what kind of diffusion do you expect in Italy?
We never think in these terms, for us the success of an initiative is decreed when even one single customer is satisfied. We imagine that in a not too distant future, the buttons will disappear, because objects will have already this technology integrated, which is small and convenient.  It will disappear because the objects will have directly inside the Internet of Things when they arrive at the customers home.

We have been listening speaking about it for a long time but it still seems a quite far thing…
Some years have passed since we have listened about it but we are focused on and we have brought a true Internet of useful things. With an object that needs no explanation, works in the same way for all brands, has a low cost and really makes consumer’s life easier. All essential characteristics in order to come to a wide spread of connected objects. Simple, as pressing a button.

An Amazon store