In a move to push itself even further into the online grocery market, Amazon has unveiled a new $20 version of the Dash Wand. It combines two existing Amazon products: Alexa, or the Echo, and the Amazon Dash Button; a small electronic device that tracks a product to make repeat purchases of that particular product easier. This will be the smallest and most inexpensive Alexa-enabled device yet, extending the virtual assistant further beyond the existing Echo smart speaker lineup.
Behind the magical new shopping tool
Like the earlier incarnation of the Dash Wand, this one can scan barcodes and automatically order grocery items. But with the integration of Alexa, customers can use the deviceís support commands for additional useful functions like home automation, looking up recipes, converting measurements, and ordering last minute items. The Dash Wand fits perfectly in the palm of the hand. It is not only stylish but also durable, water resistant and magnetic, making it easy to leave on the fridge as well as for use around the kitchen.
The Dash Wand is “essentially free”, as Amazon puts it, because while it costs $20 to order with free shipping, customers will receive $20 of credit into their Amazon shopping cart. This opens up Alexa to both the tech-cautious and the budget-conscious; demographics that current offerings from neither Google nor Apple have any chance of hitting. The Dash Wand also comes with a free 90-day trial of AmazonFresh. So the device is a gateway to both Amazonís $15 a month grocery service and a way for getting the companyís smart assistant into more households.
Amazonís aim to transform lives of consumers
The grocery market, however, is treacherous and Amazon has faced multiple logistical challenges in the past. Issues of food spoilage and wastage have lowered profit margins for Amazon Fresh. Lack of presence in the physical world, and customer apprehension when it comes to buying fresh food online, further restricted the expansion of the company. The perishable nature of food combined with the cost of hand-selecting, packaging and delivering these products continues to pose major hurdles for Amazon.
Amazonís new Dash Wand is a crucial first step in tying up consumers more tightly to a single tech companyís ecosystem. With Echoís meteoric success, the incorporation of the virtual assistant to the wand helps to seamlessly organise and streamline the life of consumers on multiple levels. Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has always emphasised the importance of continuous evolution. ďOur customers are loyal to us right up until the second somebody offers them a better service,Ē he says. ďAnd I love that. Itís super motivating for us.Ē
This impulse has spawned an overwhelming stream of creative firsts. Amazon recently took a huge bite out of the fresh food business with its bid for Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. This provides Amazon with a vast physical network in the grocery distribution economies. Amazon is paving the future of retail as the combination of both online e-commerce and a brick-and-mortar retail presence. This recent acquisition could be detrimental to Amazonís competitors; both online and offline. †
Amazonís bullishness in the grocery market
The mobile-reliant, on-demand world is in perfect alignment with Amazonís founding idea that digital commerce will radically reshape the marketplace. Amazon is making it much easier and convenient for shoppers to order food and other essentials, thanks to its creative use of modern technology. However, the immediate convenience of the Dash Wand could also lead to automated consumerism. Pushing the replenishment button becomes a thoughtless process that could easily lead to excessive spending. Amazon dangerously promotes oppressive monopolies by not allowing consumers to compare prices and get better deals. This forced brand loyalty spawns not from quality products but from laziness.
Regardless, the intersection of the food and tech industry has been playing out for years, and Amazon is the undisputed leader. Amazon remains a startup at heart and constantly strives to remake expectations of consumers and most importantly repeatedly remake itself. The company that started out by selling only books is initiating a culture of relentless progress and innovation.
Featured image source: Flickr
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