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Why Amazon's Lazy-Button Gimmick Probably Won't Be Its Last

Anything to cut the time between "want" and "buy."

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Almost one year ago to the day, Amazon unveiled a magic shopping wand, which seemed pretty darn gimmicky. I thought, at the time, it would be a long while before we saw another gimmick like that from Amazon. Then yesterday happened.

The company unveiled a tiny Wi-Fi connected device, called a Dash Button, that Amazon Prime customers would stick somewhere in their house and press when they wanted to order a specific product — like Tide detergent or Gatorade — without opening up the Amazon website or app. Some saw it as brilliant. Others saw it as a sign American society has failed us.

Neither opinion really matters. What Amazon has shown over and over again is that it will launch absolutely anything that will help shrink the time between “want” and “buy.” In addition to the wand, Amazon’s Fire Phone can purchase items by essentially taking a photo, the company is testing delivery by drone and now there’s the “lazy button” along with a system that will let your coffee maker order refills for you. The publicity that comes from what some see as the ridiculousness of such initiatives only helps.

There may literally be nothing Amazon could do to make ordering stuff easier that would surprise me at this point. Jeff Bezos could decide tomorrow to turn portions of Amazon warehouses into condos for Amazon’s best Prime customers so they can wake up and stock up in their pajamas — and I wouldn’t even flinch.

“We want you to go from ‘I want that’ to ‘I bought that’ in 30 seconds or 10 seconds,” an Amazon exec told me last year. He was talking specifically about shopping on mobile phones, but he easily could have also been talking about Amazon’s mindset in general.

When the shopping wand launched a year ago, I said Amazon was planning for a future where ordering on Amazon’s website becomes the least convenient way to buy things.

And, as yesterday shows, it’s going to keep updating those plans. Gimmicky or not.

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