Dash to the store no more?

Amazon Dash

Amazon recently unveiled a new device being offered to select Amazon Fresh customers. The small wand is called Amazon Dash, and its aim is to simplify grocery shopping. The Dash coordinates with your Amazon Fresh account and operates by voice command or by scanning bar codes, adding items to your online grocery list.

While Amazon Fresh currently operates in only three areas on the West Coast of the U.S., online grocers are poised for growth in the near future, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. After years of stumbles and failed startups, online delivery services like Instacart are establishing footholds in the grocery business. While online grocery providers may struggle to attract shoppers over a certain age, the generation that grew up with online retailers may find them a logical extension of the services they enjoy for other products. Some analysts paint a more pessimistic picture of the viability of online grocers, believing that growth will stagnate because consumers remain wary of online grocery shopping and are put off by the relatively steep delivery charges.

Cooking enthusiasts probably couldn't imagine allowing someone else to pick out their fresh produce or meats. Currently, online grocers do not allow you to view the marbling on a steak or determine if the beet greens are perky before buying. And if you lament the disconnect between farmer and consumer, these services do nothing to improve that relationship. However, being able to scan the barcode on the last can of coconut milk and have it appear on your doorstep the next day has a certain appeal. Online grocery delivery services could also be enlisted to help tackle the problem of urban food deserts.

While full-service online grocers only operate in large cities, others like the eponymous Amazon and Azure Standard ship non-perishable and specialty items to any location, a boon for those in rural areas who don't have access to products like dried porcini mushrooms or tamarind paste. Unfortunately for online grocers, while these people are likely to embrace their services, they live in areas where it is cost prohibitive to establish deliveries.

What do you think about online grocery shopping? Is the Amazon Dash a game-changing device?

Photo courtesy of Amazon Fresh

3 Comments

  • Christine  on  4/9/2014 at 8:53 AM

    I don't think this is something I would try any time soon, but for people who don't have a convenient grocery store close, can't get more exotic ingredients easily where they live, or are homebound, it's definitely a great option to have. What keeps baffling me about this Amazon version though is the need for a special device -- with barcode scanners on smartphones and the fact that you can find an app to do just about anything, I'm really surprised they went the route of developing a separate gadget to get the job done.

  • slimmer  on  4/20/2014 at 9:05 AM

    I'm one of those wary shoppers who doesn't trust someone else to pick my produce. Tried a few local services that offered "bounty baskets" of local veggies and sometimes other artisan products. Unfortunately, my tomatoes were either almost frozen (due to cold packs) or damaged. So generally I use them only with specials and free or reduced-price shipping. Local grocery stores have online service here, but again, delivery is steep and they don't always take coupons. So for non-perishables and specialty items, delivery is fine, but for my fruits & veggies, I prefer to select my own.

  • boardingace  on  4/22/2014 at 6:16 PM

    It sounds like a great idea for a lot of people, for whom convenience outweighs being able to pick out their own produce. The quality probably depends on a lot of changing variables. Personally, if it works for people, I don't think it matters what I think about it, but I probably wouldn't use it myself because I'm too frugal to pay the shipping - lol.

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