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Internet of Things-connected Amazon Dash Button arrives in the UK

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UK shoppers can now order from Amazon using its wi-fi and Internet of Things connected Amazon Dash Button.

The device, available only to Prime members, enables shoppers to reorder favourite items at the push of a button. Each button is linked to a brand – and placed in a convenient location so that shoppers can order every time they run out of that brand. Thus an Andrex button might be beside the toilet roll holder, or an Ariel button on the washing machine. Each costs £4.99, with the price discounted from the first order.

Shoppers link the button to their wi-fi and then control ordering through an Amazon app. Orders are confirmed via email so can be cancelled if made in error. Meanwhile, a second order will never be placed until the first has arrived.

The button adds to the Amazon Dash scanning and voice ordering device launched in the UK earlier this summer. That enables shoppers to scan a product's barcode or speak its name into the device in order to add it to their basket.

And the technology also moves forward with the Amazon Dash replenishment service, unveiled this week, which enables connected devices to automatically reorder items when needed. Thus a connected washing machine might reorder detergent, or a printer might reorder ink. Brands working on integrating this replenishment service include Bosch, Siemens, Whirlpool and Samsung.

"We've all experienced the frustration of running out of something we need—Dash Button and Dash Replenishment Service are designed to make that moment a thing of the past," said Daniel Rausch, director of Amazon Dash. "Dash Buttons offer the convenience of 1-Click shopping from anywhere in the home—they can be placed near those frequently used items you don't want to run out of, and when you see supplies running low, the Dash Button makes it easier than ever to order more. Just press the button and your item is on its way."

The Dash Button has been available in the US since last year. There, says Taryn Mitchell, global VP digital sales, they account for "significant number of the orders we see through Amazon today." He added: "It's a remarkably convenient way for customers to reorder everyday items and even adds a bit of fun to the process."

In the last two months, says Amazon, Dash button orders have increased threefold, and orders are placed at a rate of more than two a minute. Four times as many Dash Button brands are available this year, compared to last year.

Commenting on the news, Neil Stewart, chief executive of digital consultancy Salmon , said: “Consumers have already wholeheartedly embraced the convenience and time-saving that digital shopping services bring. The UK launch of Amazon Dash is a clear sign that customers are ready to take this further and embrace Internet of Things-enabled purchasing. Retailers must move quickly to match Amazon and provide the services that consumers want. Those that fail to embrace programmatic commerce will be left behind.”

Meanwhile ecommerce delivery specialist ParcelHero argues that the launch of Amazon’s ‘Internet of Things' Dash service could take as much as 20% of UK supermarket online sales.

David Jinks, head of consumer research, said: "Dash is an ultra-convenient device. With the simple push of a button – or even by speaking to the gizmo for some versions – it will reorder your washing powder or your coffee or one of 40 products at launch. It’s great news for busy people as it takes care of routine shopping chores automatically; but it’s very bad news for supermarkets as it ties consumers into Amazon for even more products."

Our view: The Internet of Things has long been considered an important step forward for multichannel retailing: today it's becoming a reality through the arrival of the Dash Button and related replenishment service for connected devices.

This is a service that initially looks a bit odd – a Dash button by the toilet roll holder must surely provide a temptation for smaller members of any household to press it several times a day, if not an hour. Endlessly cancelling orders doesn't make for the most convenient retail service. But Amazon's figures from the US suggest the service is used, although as yet quite slowly at a relatively low two orders a minute. Will this be a hit, a miss or a maybe in the UK? We'll be interested to see. For us the replenishment service for connected devices that order their own refills seems more likely to be succcessful, since it removes a task, of remembering and reordering. Either way, it's certainly a significant step forward for the Internet of Things and its practical use in retail, and one that other UK retailers will be watching with great interest.
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