Amazon Dash – why rush?

Dash is the latest service offering from Amazon to arrive in the UK. Originally launched in the US in March 2015, the physical instant purchase button brings one-push buying for everyday essential items including nappies, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets and washing powder. The branded wireless buttons are connected to an Amazon account and instantly enable the user to replenish household items.

There are initially 40 branded buttons to choose from in the UK covering a range of different types of products and include household names such as Air Wick, Andrex and Fairy to name a few examples. Powered by Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), the buttons cost £4.99 to purchase but come with £4.99 in credit for the customer’s first order they can also be built directly into products such as washing machines and other household appliances.

This latest innovation can be considered a real game changer for the retail sector insofar as it bridges Amazon’s one-click online ordering system with the real (physical) world. Fulfilment speed is a major part of the Dash button offer, with Amazon linking the service to its Prime unlimited One-Day Delivery capability. This move is indicative of the changing supplier/customer dynamic where customers now presume that they will be able order the everyday products that they want at any time of the day, and for those products to arrive promptly at a location specified by the customer.

Of course, failure to get this right could having damaging repercussions for Amazon – the bottom line being that customers respond extremely negatively to businesses that get the delivery process wrong. In truth, the sheer scale and financial power of Amazon means such services are likely to be implemented confidently and seamlessly. The danger comes when smaller-scale businesses think that they must offer the same level of service in order to compete and maintain share of business.

The important point is to scale delivery services appropriately so that the function is consistently reliable. Consider whether same-day fulfilment is really a necessity. Options such as trackable delivery provide buyers with a real-time understanding of the status of their order at any point from despatch to door or collection point. For many goods and services, this functionality is appropriate and there is no need to rush headlong into same-day delivery.

It is also vital to consider how you might get unwanted goods back. A good returns system is something that many companies can forget to implement or implement poorly. And yet, returns are important to consumers. Harris Interactive has found that 85% of customers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle and, conversely, 95% will return to the same catalogue or internet retailer if the process is convenient. If customers find it difficult to return goods, it’s likely that they will look to a competitor next time.

Indeed, if delivery standards do not meet expectations, today’s retailers face the risk of a very public dressing down via social media. This can have huge reputational knock-on effects. Our research shows almost a quarter (23.5%) of respondents said that they had already used social media to complain about delivery services.

When it comes to purchasing everyday household items, Amazon Dash is all about bringing convenience to the consumer at the push of a button. However, this level of service will simply not be necessary for many retail businesses. Instead, these businesses should ensure that the fulfilment services they do offer are appropriate and managed efficiently. Undoubtedly, the management of such processes is becoming more complex as different solutions emerge and competition in the postal market brings pricing and handling changes. Increasingly, third-party experts are being consulted in order to develop end-to-end fulfilment systems that bring convenience to the customer whilst still being cost-effective for the business. Beware the mad Dash to compete with bigger players.

Paul Galpin, Managing Director, P2P Mailing.

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