Amazon’s Dash Button: Why This Smart Connected Product Design Works

This week, Amazon released the Dash Button, a product that allows Amazon Prime members to reorder high-use items, such as paper towels, laundry detergent, and K-cups. Companies seeking to introduce their own smart, connected products should look to the Dash Button for lessons on how to properly execute on this endeavor.


Conception: The Dash Button is clearly human-centered in its conception, distinguishing it from the multitudes of technology-driven Internet of Things products. Amazon identified an actual, human problem—running out of stuff—and correctly understands that, while the problem may seem small on the surface, it is actually a source of significant frustration. We can all relate to the experience of going to the cupboard to discover that there’s no toilet paper left and the sinking feeling it causes. Amazon knew that if they could solve this problem, people would care. Their approach of beginning smart, connected product development with a clear definition of a functional and emotional job-to-be-done is overlooked by so many smart, connected product developers. Too often manufacturers start with technology, not people. They ask, “How can we make our product talk to a smartphone?” or “What can we track if we had an accelerometer?” rather than thinking about the problem to solve.  This approach tends to lead to the smart, connected landfill.


Execution: The Dash Button is a great representation of the philosophy of smart connected product design — as incredibly complicated and high-tech as they are—should seem as magical and seamless as possible. Amazon avoided the temptation to highlight technology. Instead, they did their best to hide it. When a user experiences the feeling Amazon is trying to solve for, all that person has to do is press a button. A physical button. In the real world. You can’t miss it. And there’s only one thing you can possibly do with it. There’s no getting out your smartphone or checking your smart watch. There are no fancy LED’s or screens. Just a simple, physical button. You press it and after that your stuff shows up at your door.

Dan Ostrower

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Dan Ostrower