Founded as an online book retailer in 1994, Amazon.com has grown to become one of the largest marketplaces in the world. In the last two decades, it’s expanded into just about every retail space imaginable. Aside from selling books, Amazon now sells everything from DVDs and Blu-Rays to home electronics to household goods. Not to mention Amazon’s digital sales business, including mp3 music, ebooks, mobile apps, movies, and TV shows; they even have their own streaming video platform, Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Amazon has always been focused on how to make retail easier, faster, and more convenient for customers, releasing several advancements over the years. Some of these include free 2-day shipping on nearly all items sold through them via their subscription-based Prime membership, and shipment ‘lockers’ around the country which act as large post office boxes for customers who live in areas that are difficult to deliver to. Earlier this year, Amazon even announced plans for a 30 minute or less drone-based delivery option, called Amazon Prime Air, for those living in urban areas with an Amazon fulfillment center nearby, although there’s no solid timetable on when this would be made available due to regulatory concerns.
Earlier this month, Amazon announced a new product/service that has the potential to revolutionize retail more than anything else before. It’s a handheld barcode scanner called Amazon Dash. You may be thinking ‘what’s the big deal about a barcode scanner?’, but it’s not all about the device, it’s about the service it works with.
In 2007, Amazon launched an experimental subsidiary called AmazonFresh. Initially only available in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, but has since expanded to San Francisco and the greater Los Angeles area, AmazonFresh is an online grocer, in which you can place your order for nearly all your groceries, including milk, eggs, produce, and almost anything else you’d find at your local grocery store, online. Your groceries would then be delivered to you either that day or the next morning.
Online grocers are nothing new, in fact, the idea has been around since the late 1990s, but no one has been able to make it nationally successful. Amazon Dash might just change that.
Amazon Dash, which is in private beta testing right now, works alongside the AmazonFresh service to allow customers a shopping experience like never before. The idea is once you notice you’re getting low on an item, you scan that item’s barcode with Amazon Dash, and that item is automatically added to your Amazon Shopping Cart. For items without a barcode, there’s also a microphone on Amazon Dash, which uses voice dictation to determine what you need. You simply activate the microphone and say something like ‘chocolate chips’ or ‘apples’, and those items are also added to your shopping cart. When it’s time to replenish your pantry, it’s as simple as logging onto Amazon.com, double checking your shopping cart to make sure you’ve got everything, and clicking order. Because it’s all part of AmazonFresh, your order should arrive by the next morning.
No more dealing with crowded parking lots or stores, no more waiting in line at checkout, and for those few who’ve gotten used to online grocery shopping already, no more spending precious time online finding each item you need to order and manually adding it to your order. Everything is right there, already in your cart and ready to order, thanks to Amazon Dash.
Amazon Dash makes online shopping the easiest it’s ever been, and just might be the retail advancement to push us over the edge into an all online marketplace.