Culture

Amazon Dash Buttons: The Butler You've Always Wanted (But Could Never Afford)

Image via Amazon
Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

I’m lazy. I used to waste time pretending that’s not true, but that took too much energy so now I just own it. At least I’m the best at something that comes very naturally to me: finding new ways to avoid doing things I hate.
I found a new one that I want to share with you: Amazon Dash Buttons. These are literally little buttons that you get from Amazon that you can put on things like you refrigerator or washing machine or in your pantry so you can just push the button when you realize you are running out of something. And then the button communicates with a special Amazon app and it schedules a re-order of Tide, Cheez-Its, Charmin, or whatever button you pressed. It’s like living in the future. A future where I never again have to make lists or keep track of what I’m running out of and then pile all of the kids into the car to go get it.
Here’s how Amazon Dash Buttons work (you can thank me later). There’s a big “How To” section on Amazon with very detailed instructions, but I’ll give you the basics. You go on Amazon and if you are a Prime Member you can order these little buttons that are for the specific things you always buy and don’t want to run out of (like your favorite brand of detergent or toilet paper or whatever). Then you link the button to your smartphone (iOS 8.3 or higher for iPhones and Android 4.1 or higher for other phones). You need to have WiFi or Bluetooth turned on for your phone and you will need to get a special Amazon app to make the buttons work. Then you follow the directions via the app to link your Amazon account to the button, so that when you push it Amazon knows you want to reorder whatever it is.

cheez_it_dash
There are household buttons for your cleaning products, paper goods, and everything in your home that you always run out of. They have Amazon buttons for all of the snacks that your kids devour (but never tell you they polished off). There are buttons for soap and shampoos and toothpaste and other personal care items. They even have a button for Play-Doh (so when your toddler is finished eating all of what you’ve got in stock, you can order some more).
TIME magazine called these buttons “the future of shopping.” I normally think TIME magazine blows and belongs at the bottom of a birdcage…but this time, like a broken clock twice a day, TIME is right!
With three kids in the house (as well as a giant dog who has figured out how to open doors with his paws and snout, so I am sure Amazon buttons are the next thing up on his learning curve), I was worried that they (the toddler especially) would be pressing buttons like crazy and telling Amazon to flood my home with all sorts of things we didn’t really need. But that’s not how any of this works.
Every time a button is pressed — say, for instance, the button affixed to the washing machine to order more Tide — it tells the Amazon app to put Tide into my shopping cart for my Amazon account. I then get an alert on my phone that this has happened. So I will know immediately if the kids (or German Shepherd) have been button-pushing and summoning Tide to be brought to me via UPS. I can easily cancel whatever is accidentally ordered.
I think there is a “Jetsons” sort of futuristic feel to all of this that I enjoy. I remember an old joke in a episode of “The Simpsons” years ago where computer-illiterate Homer was confused by the “TAB” button on his keyboard…forever upset that a specific brand of diet soda from the 1980s didn’t appear whenever he pushed the “TAB” button.

There’s probably a “TAB” Amazon button now, so theoretically you could set it by your computer and push it to order TAB…which would now really come via UPS a few days later.

We are living in the future, folks. And it is tailor-made for lazy people like me who hate making shopping lists but love pushing buttons whenever I want things. It’s like Amazon Prime is becoming the personal assistant or butler I’ve always wanted but could never afford, and pushing these little Amazon buttons is like ringing the bell to get my helper to do what I need to get done without me having to put much effort into it. Score! The only problem with these buttons is that they cost $4.99 each and honestly, if I’m committing to only buying Tide from here on out instead of what’s on sale, shouldn’t Tide buy that button for me?
Update: It turns out that most vendors will offer you a $5 rebate at the time of your first purchase, so no need to sweat the upfront cost!