Solving The Challenge Of Making Reordering Products Simple And Easy

by drjim on July 24, 2017

Amazon's Dash button is designed to make reordering easy to do

Amazon’s Dash button is designed to make reordering easy to do
Image Credit: WNEP

So here’s an interesting question for you: when you customer uses up or runs out of your product, how do they go about ordering more from you? Perhaps this question would be better stated “how hard is it to order more of your product?” If you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes for just a moment, there is that realization that they have run out of your product, that understanding that they need to order more, and then the much bigger effort of figuring out how to order more and actually going about doing it. The product managers at Amazon sell a lot of products that customers run out of. They think that they’ve come up with a way to expand their product development definition in order to make reordering simple and easy: dash buttons.

What Is A Dash Button?

Amazon sells literally millions of different products. Naturally this means that there are lot of products that they sell, like laundry soap, that customers will buy, use, and then run out of. The Amazon product managers realize that when a customer runs out of a common product that they can buy via Amazon or the grocery store down the street, there is a very good chance people will just add the item to their grocery list and buy it at the store the next time they go.

This is exactly what the Amazon product manager don’t want to have happen. What they needed to do was to create a way that when you realize that you have run out of a product, you instantly let Amazon know so that they can charge you for a refill and then ship it to you. The solution that they have come up with that they want to put on their product manager resume is called the Dash button. A Dash button is a thumb drive sized device that allows customers to order specific items such as toilet paper and laundry soap simply by pressing a button. In order to make the button easy to use, customers are instructed to place their Dash buttons by their washing machines and refrigerators in order to make using them quick and easy.

The Dash push button has not been a big success since it was introduced in the Spring of 2015. They introduced it close to April Fools day and a lot of people initially through that they were joking – that the Dash button was not a real product. A number of marketing companies have been tracking how Dash buttons have been used since customers first started buying them. What they have discovered is that less than half of the people who have bought them have actually used them to place an order. Customers who do use the Dash button to place an order appear to make a purchase once every two months.

Will A Dash Be Successful?

Amazon is a very large company. They are not afraid to take risks and they try novel things that have never been done before. A great example of this would be their Kindle electronic book reader that virtually jump started the market for ebooks. It’s pretty clear that the Dash button is yet another experiment that the Amazon product managers are running in order to determine if making it easier to order replacement products encourages customers to place an order.

In order to get some support for the new Dash button, the Amazon product managers are busy recruiting manufactures to join up and create Dash buttons for their products. They have been successful in doing this. A number of firms have reported that they have signed up to provide Dash buttons because they want to maintain their close ties to Amazon. They view the Dash buttons as being more of a marketing tool than a product delivery system. Their thinking is that Amazon tries a number of different innovative programs and sometimes they work. If Dash were to be successful, they would not want to be left behind.

The Dash button is not free. Customers who want to use it have to pay Amazon $5 per button. However, they do get $5 worth of credit towards their first purchase with each button. Only customers who are a member of Amazon’s $99/year Prime program can purchase Dash buttons. Companies have to pay Amazon $15 for each button that Amazon sells. They then need to pay Amazon 15% for each product that is sold via the Dash system on top of the normal commission that they would pay to Amazon for a sale. A normal commission generally ranges from 8% – 15%. Hoping to jump start their Dash program, Amazon has dropped the $200,000 buy-in fee that they were charging companies in order to start to offer Dash buttons.

What All Of This Means For You

Amazon is both a very large and a very successful company. This means that their product managers have to always be searching their product manager job description for creative ways to drive more sales. One area that they have decided that they want to improve is the ordering of refill and replacement products. They realize that customers have a number of choices where they can get their refills and so they want to make it easier for them to purchase refills from Amazon.

The way that they plan on making this happen is by creating Dash buttons. They will then sell these Dash buttons to customers who can then place them in different locations in their house, hopefully close to where they use the product that they will eventually run out of. When they do run out of the product, they can simply press the Dash button and a replacement product will automatically be ordered from Amazon and delivered to them. The Amazon product managers are currently working with manufacturers to get them to participate in the Dash program for their products.

The Dash program is very innovative. However, I’m not convinced that it is going to be a success. I use so many different products that having an individual button for each product would overwhelm my house with buttons. Amazon’s Echo and Tap voice activated products can perform the same ordering task and don’t require a separate button. We’ll have to see if Amazon is willing to stay with this product long enough to find out if it can be a long-term success.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that Amazon should stick with the Dash product in order to see if it can be a success?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every product manager dreams of being in charge of a successful product. You can well imagine what a great job it must be to be a product manager who works for YouTube. The online YouTube service has over 1 billion users! However, their biggest challenge right now is that they basically are not making any money. Clearly, the YouTube product managers have their work cut out for them and will have to change their product development definition!

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