Amazon Dash: A Quick Leap to Unique Insights, Highly Valuable Consumer Data
Love it or hate it, Amazon Dash is here. Descriptions of it range from "Space Odessy"-esque predictions of digitized washing machines someday gleefully ordering their own excessive soap stockpiles to just one more step toward an entirely streamlined, automated, modern household.
Dash allows consumers to reorder frequently used domestic products like diapers or paper towels with the simple push of a physical button. One has to admit the implications of its information-gathering potential are intriguing.
Amazon Dash, which consists of an actual button residing on a thumb-drive-sized device that can be placed anywhere in a household connected to a Wi-Fi system, makes it insanely quick and easy for consumers to place orders for necessary household items without interrupting their daily routine.
The result of adoption of Dash by consumers is the real-time generation of data that's a step beyond today's systems which capture and deliver consumer information at the point of sale (POS) in-store, online, on a mobile device, etc. The key here is that Dash delivers data that's generated not at the POS, but at the point of need — i.e., the moment in time and precisely in the place where the consumer actually requires the product to be delivered so that they can go about doing their daily business. This type of point-of-need information can go a long way toward telling retail brand marketers more about consumer habits and preferences than ever before.
For example, Dash can help uncover the real story behind how a customer truly interacts with a brand. Do they plan ahead to buy any product or do they wait until the last minute to reorder? Do they order more coffee pods early in the day as they brew their coffee, or do they wait until their caffeine-created insomnia drives them to do so? Are they more motivated to buy laundry detergent when they're actually in the laundry room doing laundry, or when they're relaxing on the couch watching their kids play in less-than-pristine clothes?
Dash represents a shift in data as much as it represents a shift in consumerism. Historically, the POS was far away (in both time and place) from the original point of need. This time-and-space gap was often filled with the potential for consumers to be contacted, interested in and motivated by competing sales messages from a number of marketing avenues. Dash, however, represents a unification of the moment of need and the moment of purchase — and that's very powerful.
Admittedly, Dash isn't perfect; new uses of technology rarely are. However, if you extrapolate to a time when its concept is perfected, you can begin to visualize a scenario where useful data streams are much more direct, there are far fewer messages hitting the consumer from far fewer vendors and, although there's less data, the data that is captured will be more valuable than ever in driving cost savings and higher margins.
Smart marketers today can look at Dash as a new frontier for gleaning the type of unique, insight-rich consumer information that can launch them further ahead of the competition stuck on the old ways of mining. With the right tools to streamline and simplify analysis so it can be actionable immediately, they can leverage new, more direct data sources to not only understand their customers better in real time, but also strongly improve their strategic decision making for a competitive edge in the future.
Anil Kaul is the CEO of Absolutdata, a consulting-oriented analytics and research firm.