Amazon Gets Me: A Brief Case Study in IoT and the Changing the Face of Retail Marketing

By Sara Brown

Picture this: It’s four a.m.  I’ve just returned from a ten-day Spring Break trip to Europe with my family. Why am I up so early? Because I’m jet lagged, naturally (or in this case accelerated, I guess).

I struggle to sleep longer. At least until 6. Particularly since we didn’t get home until late. But at 5:30 I give in and get up. Plenty of time to get my daughter ready for school.

I head downstairs to get a jump on making breakfast and lunch. Oops. We finished or dumped perishables before we left. No milk. No sandwich bread. No cold cuts. No fresh fruit. Worst of all, no coffee.

Ready to freshen up and start my workday, I find I didn’t have that back up deodorant after all. I use my daughter’s. Only one razor blade left. My husband and I will have to share. Also, ten days of laundry for three -- I have to wear back up clothes and hope my child’s friends don’t notice me.

Fast forward to the laundry/lunch break. Uh oh -- out of detergent. I will have to get by with the delicates wash until my husband goes to the store this afternoon.

Here’s how we do it at my house. We keep a running list on the kitchen table. Which works great if what you ran out of lives in the kitchen. If, on the other hand, you’re out of toothpaste, deodorant, razor blades or laundry detergent -- you have to remember to write it down in the busy morning hustle and, if you don’t, expect a second trip to the store.

So, you can imagine how my world was changed as the afternoon version of my East to West jet lag set in around 5:30 this afternoon and I happened across an article about a new product from Amazon which promises I’ll never have to spend another morning trying to eek out another microgram of toothpaste from a spent tube. Welcome, Amazon Dash. I’ve been dreaming of you.

How did they know? Probably because they are among the growing number of corporations that know way too much about me (you, too, I’m fairly confident). Do I mind? No -- I want it and I want it now (yesterday would have been better -- but they’re still working on time-reversal deliveries).

This nifty little guy affixes to my washer, bathroom mirror, and refrigerator . . . and let’s me order instantly by connecting through my household Wi-Fi. Better yet, thanks to my Prime membership, I get my stuff tomorrow morning. So I can brew my last pot of coffee and still have a cup tomorrow morning. I can wash that last load and be prepared for my mid-week laundry reboot. I can toss that razor blade and still be ready for the pool on Saturday.

Drawback -- you have to buy participating brands, but I’m sure that will change over time. The beta testing begins now. If I click the right button, I can have my Dash buttons here in the morning. In other words, count me in. And count how many cartons of milk I buy next month. I’m betting it’s worth it.