A dash of frustration

Amazon’s continuing efforts to deliver consumables to your door before you’ve even realised you need them has seen a rapid expansion in the UK recently. Their Pantry service launched a few moons ago, their Fresh option has been gradually creeping across London presumably with desires to go further, and just a few week’s ago, the Amazon Dash buttons were launched.

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If you’ve not heard of them, the idea is simply that you set up a small device with a button so that when you press it, specific goods come to your door. The buttons are supplier specific, and offer a range of goods for you to select from, that should arrive with Amazon Prime swiftness. That’s the idea, and in principal, I love it. The concept of reaching for your last dishwasher tablet, or getting to the bottom of your jar of olive oil, and simply having to press a button to get more is brilliant! Forget having to remember to put it on a shopping list, you never have to think about it again, and stuff just turns up at your door.

Well, that’s the idea, anyway.

I’ve tested a couple of buttons and have so far found the following problems:

  1. There’s a limited choice of suppliers on offer. Granted, it’s a new service and is likely to expand if enough people use it, but there aren’t many things on the list that I actually need or use. Mr C was incredibly disappointed in the selection of edible goods, and isn’t interested in hearing about Amazon Dash again until they have touch-of-a-button Maltesers delivery.
  2. The buttons are slow to arrive. I ordered four buttons, they cost £4.99 initially, and then you get your money back when you make your first order – presumably to weed out anyone just ordering buttons for a lark. But I’ve only received two buttons, with only one arriving the day after I ordered it. The rest were on back order, until I cancelled them. Why offer the buttons if they’re not ready yet?
  3. Some of the goods are slow to arrive too. The second button I ordered finally arrived, and I set it up and pressed it, only to find the products weren’t actually going to be available for almost three weeks. I know Prime has spoiled me in terms of expecting things in a timely manner, but three weeks for something where you are supposed to press the button when you want to restock seems far too long.
  4. The selection of goods changes. I tested the biona button as it was the first one to arrive, and ordered some wonderful organic apple juice. Then I wanted to see if you could change the products, which you can, and opted for some potato crisps instead. When I wanted to change back, the apple juice being far nicer than the crisps, the selection of products available had been reduced significantly, with now only four options for varying types of coconut oil. Even the crisps had disappeared. The order still worked when I tried pressing the button again but if you can’t rely on what options are available, that’s a real disadvantage.

I understand that the service is new, and these are all probably teething troubles. More suppliers are likely to sign on, the product selection should become more stable and certainly more available, and it will all be as good as I hoped. It’s just a disappointing first experience when the ideal is so wonderful but the reality feels very half-finished. Amazon have enough money and enough experience to be able to hold off on launches until they’re ready, and that way the customer can be satisfied instead of frustrated.