What Amazon’s Discontinued Dash Button Says About their Customer Experience

Michael Beausoleil

Amazon has revolutionized the shopping experiences in many ways. They’ve streamlined the shopping experience in such a way that has allowed customers to place an order in under a minute. Their shopping experience has gone through so many revisions that some of their innovations have been phased out of the shopping experience. One example: the Amazon Dash Button.

I remember the Dash Button introduction. In 2015 Amazon announced customers could restock on their frequently used products with just the click of a button. Not a digital button, but a physical button. This meant getting another order of paper towels was as easy as selecting your floor on an elevator. The product release was right around April Fool’s Day, and I thought it was a joke. It was not a joke, but it really wasn’t a revolution in shopping.

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(Photo: Amazon Dash Button via TechCrunch)

The Dash Button spoke to Amazon’s customer experience. Then, the Button was discontinued in 2019. The end of this button also speak to Amazon’s expectations for its customers moving forward. While the Dash Button still exists in a digital format, the physical button meant something more to the company, and will become an interesting casualty during Amazon’s expansion in the 2010’s.

Why The Amazon Dash Button Existed

Amazon grew in many unique ways during 2014 and 2015. In late 2014 Amazon would see the introduction of the Echo, the smart speaker housing Alexa. This meant Amazon could be anywhere in your house with just the sound of your voice. Convenience seems to be the basis of Amazon’s expansion during this time, and this is where the Dash Button fit in. If a customer didn’t want an Amazon Echo they’d be able to push a button to place an order. In all fairness, this service was designed for consumable products. People weren’t getting Dash Buttons for TVs or iPads. The buttons were designed for products like laundry detergent or oatmeal. Placing the button in your pantry to restock oatmeal is quite convenient and minimally invasive.

The Dash Button was also consistent with Amazon’s commitment to deliver orders faster than ever before. A couple of months after the release of the Button, Amazon announced same-day delivery for Prime members in some major metropolitan areas. These services were important because Amazon had recently announced a $20 price increase on its Prime service. Fast and convenient deliveries were important for retaining customers and justifying the increase in the cost of membership.

For an e-commerce site, Amazon did an incredible job of taking their experience away from the screen. People still associate Alexa with Amazon orders, but the Dash Button never gained the following as the voice-controlled Echo.

What the Dash Button Accomplished

Upon its release, the Dash Button received a good amount of publicity. Many people thought this was a smart move by Amazon while others shared my opinion: it was a joke or publicly stunt. Regardless, it had people talking and researching the Button.

Amazon began to establish itself as a tech innovator, and the Button was certainly a unique approach to placing orders. Regardless of its success, Amazon gained recognition for introducing new technology that could transform the e-commerce experience. It achieved a goal and took the user experience seemingly offline, a rare feat for a e-commerce site.

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(Photo: Dash Buttons integrated into everyday settings. Via PCMag)

The Dash Button was introduced around the same time as other new Amazon services. It did a great job of showcasing Amazon’s ability to deliver essential items. During this transformative time, Amazon demonstrated it could compete with brands like Walmart and Target. Amazon wasn’t just a website for electronics and media; it sold anything you could get at the department stores. All of the advertisements for the Dash Button also promoted Amazon as a way of restocking everyday items. If you lived in the city and didn’t have a car, Amazon wanted to be the company selling your toilet paper or cat liter. The Dash Button let you know you could order these things, and it was easy.

Amazon promoted its brand with the Dash Button. As it was expanding its product lines and introducing new services, the Dash Button was the oddball product that got attention for the brand.

Amazon’s Current Customer Experience

With the retirement of the Amazon Dash Button, Amazon is now placing emphasis on other convenience-based methods of ordering items. Alexa remains a major feature for the brand, and the feature is preinstalled in their smart speakers such as the Echo or Dot. With these speakers customers can order items without having to click anything, so Alexa largely replaces the Dash Button. Plus, virtual Dash Button still exist. So long as a customer is comfortable using a virtual button on their smartphone the Dash Button can be replaced with a smartphone.

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(Photo: Amazon Virtual Dash Button via Pocket-lint)

The easiest, most convenient replacement has been sitting under our noses at checkout. Automatic purchases are available on many consumable products and customers can often save if they sign up for a monthly subscription. For products that are used frequently, this is worth it. Of course, subscription-based services also have tan incentive for the company. Like any gym or magazine, Amazon is banking on the fact that they’ll be able to retain business when people forget to cancel their subscriptions. In the long run, it still may be more convenient for the customer. It also provides more business for Amazon than requiring customers to actively reorder their items, even if that activity is a single push of a button.

Amazon’s customer experience is constantly being refined, and their efforts are usually centered around the customer’s best interests. When they see a product that isn’t living up to expectations, it’s no surprise to see them discontinue support. In the case of the Dash Button, Amazon has given customers many replacement options that fill the void left by the loss of the Button.

Of course, I can’t ignore the fact that most of Amazon’s replacements seem to encourage profits for the company. If you have Alexa then you’ve taken the first step in becoming an Amazon smart house. The Alexa can make purchases for you, but it can also do a whole lot more for users. You could also subscribe to a renewal service, but you order will be renewed until you manually stop it. Wait too long and you’ve placed an extra order on Amazon.

The Dash Button Legacy

Overall, the Dash Button is a unique product designed by Amazon. Not their most popular, but an indicator of changes to come with the brand. While the service for the physical button is no longer supported, I believe the product did a lot of good for the brand. It displayed changes within the brand and increased exposure to the benefits of Amazon Prime.

The Dash Button’s replacements perform the same task and are probably serve customers better. Thanks to Alexa customers can take their Amazon experience off the screen. With monthly subscriptions, customers can get zero-click refills of products. The ultimate goal of the Dash Button was convenience. While the product was easy to use, other services were more popular. I don’t expect to see another Dash Button in the future, but I’m sure Amazon will find new ways to place orders without the use of a screen.

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