Amazon launches Dash gadget to let you restock kitchen with a whisper

Dash, available in the US since 2014, will let shoppers reorder groceries by scanning barcode or saying name into microphone

Amazon is stepping up its assault on the UK grocery market with the launch of a gadget that helps restock the kitchen cupboards with the scan of a barcode – or just a whisper.

Shoppers who use the online retailer’s new fresh food and groceries service, Amazon Fresh, are being offered the Dash gadget, which has been available in the US since 2014, free with their second order. Amazon Fresh is currently only available in some areas of London.

Products can be added to their Amazon shopping list by scanning a product barcode or saying the name of a product into the gadget’s microphone.

In the US, Amazon also offers the Dash Button, a Wi-Fi enabled device that can be attached to a fridge or cupboard door and used to directly reorder a specific item such as washing powder, loo roll or nappies when they run out. The company would not comment on when and if the button, which was introduced in the US last year, might be launched in the UK.

The Dash services are a step towards the internet of things – in which household appliances are increasingly linked to the internet and mobile phones so that they can be monitored and managed remotely.

It is also part of Amazon’s efforts to poach shoppers from the traditional supermarkets by making it as easy as possible for shoppers already signed up to its Prime subscription service to order groceries.

“We’re all used to trying to remember the contents of the fridge and kitchen cupboard and scribbling down reminders on pieces of paper,” said Ajay Kavan, vice-president of Amazon Fresh. “With Dash, at any given time, customers can keep track of products when they come to mind and scan to reorder groceries and household essentials as soon as they run out. At Amazon, we’re always looking to innovate based on feedback and Dash has been designed to continually learn as customers use it.”

Amazon’s Fresh service launched in the UK last month, offering 130,000 groceries to homes in London, including thousands of fresh produce, dairy and bakery items that the company had not previously sold in the UK. It is now available in 128 postcodes. The service emerged after Amazon agreed to source fresh foods from Morrisons and began selling frozen foods through its Prime Now one-hour delivery service last year.

Last month, Amazon said it would hire 1,000 more people than previously expected in the UK this year as it rolls out Prime Now and extends its web services. The company will take on 3,500 more permanent staff as its fast-delivery service, launched a year ago, reaches more than a third of the UK population.

The traditional supermarkets are expected to have to up their game to fight back against Amazon’s assault. Tesco, the UK’s biggest online grocer, and Sainsbury’s have both recently begun trialling same-day food deliveries in response to Amazon Fresh.

Sainsbury’s expects to finalise the takeover of Home Retail Group, the owner of Argos, in September, in a move it hopes will help it improve its online operations. Home Retail shareholders approved the deal this week.


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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