Can the Amazon Dash Button Change Your Household Forever?

Earlier this month, I had the chance to pick up a couple of those Amazon Dash buttons that the shopping website had first announced around April Fool’s Day (which definitely confused a lot of us!). At first, I was snickering at this concept, but admittedly, it might work out pretty well in our house.

What is Amazon Dash?

Yes, the Dash button is a button, ostensibly. But I’m sure a representative from Amazon will tell you that it’s much, much more. The button is actually part of the larger Amazon Dash capability. I’m sure the Amazon representative would say, “It’s a life-changing system of never having to run out of your favorite products again!” While much of the Amazon Dash program is still under development (which I’ll address in more detail at the end of this post), right now it’s easy to order an Amazon Dash button and mount it somewhere convenient in your house.

My dish detergent Amazon Dash button is mounted right next to where we store our dish detergent. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
My dish detergent Amazon Dash button is mounted right next to where we store our dish detergent. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

The button provides users the ability to order the product pictured on the Dash button. Users need to set up that capability ahead of time, which I will discuss momentarily.

Simply press the button, and in as little as two days, the products arrive at your doorstep!

What Kinds of Products Can You Order with the Dash Button?

At the moment, the Dash button is available for very specific products, including foods, baby supplies, household cleaners, and paper goods. Even Greenies and Wellness pet products are joining in on the concept. As of this writing, there are only 29 Amazon Dash buttons available. Expect more companies to follow suit soon.

You can see Amazon’s complete suite of available products for the Dash here.

Frankly, I’m not super impressed with the product choices so far. My family has some “go to” brand names for certain products, and I don’t see myself changing my favorite products for the convenience of the Dash concept.

The food choices especially were outside the scope of what my family eats routinely. We don’t keep such volumes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, cases of Gatorade, or Orbit Gum in the house, nor do we eat enough Larabars to justify buying them by the case. Therefore, most of the food choices are out of the question for us.

As for the non-foods, I did find several options that would work for our household: Bounty paper towels, Finish dishwasher detergent, and Clorox anti-bacterial disinfecting wipes.

I decided to order two of the Dashes, the Finish and Clorox buttons, and try things out.

Setting Up the Amazon Dash

The buttons will arrive in these teensy-tiny boxes. In the box will be the button, an optional hanging rack, a piece of adhesive, and a small instruction pamphlet.

Two teeny boxes of Dash arrived via Amazon Prime. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Two teeny boxes of Dash-button-fun arrived via Amazon Prime. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Most of what the pamphlet will say is “Download the Amazon app for your mobile device.” This is where I should make clear that you need a smart device to use the Amazon Dash button, as well as wireless network capability in your house. Once you download the app, it will be easy to set up the button. Make sure you have your household’s WiFi password ready. I used my iPhone to connect my Dash buttons to the household network with no problems.

Like many modern-day gadgets, paper documentation is kept to a minimum. Most of what the instructions say is "Download the Amazon Shopping App". Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Like many modern-day gadgets, paper documentation is kept to a minimum. Most of what the instructions say is “Download the Amazon Shopping app.” Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The Amazon Shopping App will walk you through the Dash button setup. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.
The Amazon Shopping app will walk you through the Dash button setup. Screen capture: Patricia Vollmer.

Once you log into your Amazon Shopping app with your smart device, your account will present you with the options (under “Your Account”) for your new Dash Buttons. Since your Amazon account knows that you ordered the buttons, those buttons will be pre-loaded in your app and ready to configure.

When going through the setup, you’ll be presented with numerous options for what specific variation of product you want tied to the button. In the case of the Finish dish detergent, I could choose the size box of Powerball Tabs I wanted, or I could have had the button work for Finish Jet Dry products as well. You can only choose one product to associate with the button, but you can change your mind by returning to the shopping app and editing your choice.

Once you connect the button to your household WiFi network and choose which product you want ordered with the press of the button, you’re all set!

Pressing the Button!

So let’s talk about pressing the button itself. A lot of questions had emerged last spring about what Amazon would do if a child got his or her hands on a Dash button and pressed it, say, 20 times?

I chose a 90-pack of Finish PowerTabs to be ordered at the press f
I chose a 90-pack of Finish Powerball Tabs to be ordered at the press of a button!

Amazon took care of that issue: One press of the button will set up an order. Any subsequent presses of the button are void until the order is delivered. Boom!

As soon as I had set up the Dash button (mounted to the cabinet under my kitchen sink where I keep my dishwasher detergent), I pressed it. The tiny light on the Dash will turn green and that means the order has been placed.

The Amazon app will follow up with a notification (if you have them enabled) that the order has been placed. There is a grace period during which you can cancel the order.

The Amazon shopping app will give you a notification when the button was placed. There is time to edit the order. Image capture: Patricia Vollmer.
The Amazon shopping app will give you a notification when the button was pushed. There is time to edit the order. Image capture: Patricia Vollmer.

As you will see from the image to the left, I placed the order on Friday September 4. I remember placing the order around dinnertime.

In less than 48 hours—on a Sunday!—my Finish Dish Detergent arrived.

Conclusions

I think the Amazon Dash button is an idea that will take some getting used to. In our house, it’s working well, but it’s not life-changing. Perhaps it’s the wave of the future of acquiring consumables, and our family is on the leading edge of the technology. Only time will tell.

Amazon is known for pushing the envelope with bringing products to customers quickly and predictably. In fact, you can learn more about the full Amazon Dash program where customers can use a wand to scan products into the Amazon Fresh shopping list.

Another innovation that Amazon is testing is the ability for appliances to automatically order consumables when the supplies get low. Imagine a coffeemaker that knows when you’re low on coffee grounds and automatically orders grounds before you run out? How about with an inkjet printer? The Dash Replenishment Service is in a testing phase currently, with companies like Whirlpool and Brita testing the ability to time the usage of laundry detergent and water filters. I don’t know about you, but I start thinking SkyNet with capabilities like that.

As of now, this concept is still novel to my family. I will be needing to stock up on our family’s supply of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and I plan to press the Clorox button later today to do so. Can I jump in the car and get Clorox wipes faster from my local megamart? Yes. But right now it’s fun to press the button and have the products arrive in a couple days. As an added perk, as an Amazon Prime customer, I don’t pay for shipping, nor do I have to pay sales tax for shipping to Colorado.

The Amazon Dash button is currently available to Amazon Prime customers only. Buy the devices for $4.99 each, but Amazon will credit $4.99 back to your account with your first Dash purchase per button.

Top Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Patricia Vollmer is a geeky meteorologist mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 11 & 13. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.