When Amazon launched Amazon Dash buttons, many observers predicted that the concept would completely upend the retail model. But recent market research shows that fewer than half of Amazon Dash purchasers have actually used the button.
Having a re-order button transforms what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth — the way consumers make decisions about brands in the Internet era — into the Zero of Purchase with a device that enables one-click buying offline. It has the potential to diminish the role of retailers and elevate the relationship between brands and consumers.
Does the fact that Amazon Dash hasn’t yet caught on in a huge way mean that taking the friction out of buying, i.e., creating a Zero Moment of Purchase, isn’t appealing to consumers? That conclusion is premature: As the incredible success of the original Amazon business model has shown, consumers are remarkably enthusiastic about innovations that make their lives easier. That passion for convenience transformed Amazon from a startup bookseller to the world’s largest retailer, after all.
Instead, the lagging use of Amazon Dash buttons likely points to other challenges that need to be ironed out, such as consumers’ price sensitivity (the Dash button doesn’t include a price review function) or people’s reluctance to stick single-use buttons all over their kitchen cabinets and utility closets. Amazon Dash buttons in their original incarnation may be refined to enable product price comparisons or perhaps replaced with a smart home function that enables auto-refills based on sensors with built-in price parameters.
Amazon’s original business model was to remove the friction involved in purchasing a book. With Amazon, users didn’t have to drive to a bookstore and hunt for the title they wanted among the thousands of books on the shelves; they could order online and have the book delivered to their door. Amazon sold its first book in 1995. Since then, it has utterly changed the nature of shopping and publishing itself as customers have opted for the convenience the company offers.
In a sense, Amazon Dash, the one-click product purchasing device Amazon launched in April 2015, expands on the retail giant’s original innovation: Dash is a compact internet-connected device that allows users to reorder favorite products from Amazon at the touch of a button. For instance, consumers can stick a Dash button for their favorite brand of detergent on their washing machine and simply press it when they run out of detergent to get more delivered directly to their home instead of going to a store to purchase more detergent.
Amazon Dash may or may not find wider consumer acceptance, but one thing is certain: The Zero Moment of Purchase is here to stay. Amazon and other innovators — including savvy brands and smart home product developers — will find their way into consumers’ houses and wallets because shopper convenience is an incredibly compelling marketplace advantage. Brands that want to build closer relationships with customers should continue to look for ways to gain insights from data and position themselves for success as the relationship between consumers and brands evolves.
Anil Kaul is CEO of Absolutdata.