Amazon has announced the introduction of a ‘smart’ office essentials re-ordering device called Dash Smart Shelf which uses a weight-sensing, Wi-Fi-enabled smart scale to re-order products when they’re running low.
According to Amazon, monitoring and reordering everyday business essentials (e.g. printer paper) can be unnecessarily time-consuming for the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that make up 99% of business in the U.S. (99.9% of the business population/5.9 million businesses in the UK – FSB figures). Having a smart inventory-tracking service could, therefore, mean that time and money in manual stock checking can be saved, plus the disruption of running out of a particular item when it’s needed can be avoided.
How Dash Smart Shelf works
Amazon’s Dash Smart Shelf is a weight-sensing, Wi-Fi-enabled smart scale that looks like a closed laptop. The device is around 1-inch-tall and will be offered in three different sizes – small (7” x 7”), medium (12” x 10”), and large (18” x 13”). Amazon says the Dash Smart Shelf can work on a range of surfaces e.g. from counter-tops to wire shelving.
The idea being that the Dash Smart Shelf is placed on the shelf where stationery is stored and the stationery e.g. packets of printer paper, sticky tape or pens are stacked (one Smart Shelf per item type) on top of it. When supplies run low, the Dash Smart Shelf automatically orders more.
The Dash Smart Self is for Amazon Business customers and Amazon is offering them “business-only prices” on certain products and savings of up to 15% on orders for selected products placed using the new Dash Smart Shelf.
Amazon says the Dash Smart Self is easy to set up and only requires a wall plug (included) or four AAA batteries, a connection to your business Wi-Fi and that you are logged in to your Amazon Business account via the web or Amazon Shopping app.
Timescale and price
Amazon says the Dash Smart Shelf will be made available first to Amazon Business customers with a registered U.S. business license “starting sometime in 2020” and no prices have yet been made available.
What does this mean for your business?
Amazon makes the point that if you’re in a location far from an office supplies shop, or if you miss a big order (e.g. because you don’t have a certain sized cable), you will instantly see the value of a product that makes sure you never run out of essential supplies. This product does appear to have the potential to save time, money and hassle by no longer having to manually monitor stock levels. However, since this product is aimed at SMEs, and one unit will need to be purchased for each office product type, the price per unit Dash Smart Shelf (as yet unknown) is going to be an important consideration. Businesses may wonder how much flexibility they will have in choosing which supplier (via the amazon platform) they can have with the device.
Amazon has made in-roads into our homes and found out much more about us and our listening, viewing and other consumption patterns with smart speakers (Echo), Fire TV, the Ring Doorbell and more, and the Dash Smart Shelf marks a move into our business lives by Amazon. As the company becomes the sole supplier of some of our valued home and business services, this should enable Amazon to use the data about us to tailor more services and offers, thereby helping it to increase our loyalty and commitment to Amazon, and further fuelling the growth, power and diversification of this online giant.