Forward-looking: When it's not busy fighting other big companies for multi-billion dollar cloud contracts, Amazon is looking for new ways it can execute on old concepts that failed to gain traction, such as the Dash Buttons. According to the retail giant, most of the businesses in the US don't have the time or resources to worry about office supply management, so it sees a great opportunity to offer them a smart scale that can take that weight off their shoulders.
Amazon once tried the idea of giving consumers a series of $5 smart buttons they could place around the house to make ordering specific household consumables easy to order whenever they needed to be replenished. After keeping the experiment alive for four years, the company decided to discontinue them in favor of Alexa-enabled speakers that can provide the same hands-free shopping experience.
Now the retail giant is offering a spin on that old idea in the form of the Dash Smart Shelf, which is a Wi-Fi-enabled scale geared more towards businesses. The company's new vision for the Dash Replenishment Program apparently involves smart offices equipped with several of these devices, which are to be placed under piles of stock supplies like coffee, printer paper, or any other commonly-used consumable.
The new device goes one step further than the Dash Button by removing the need for manual interaction when it comes to ordering new supplies. If it notices that the weight goes below a certain threshold, it will automatically order a set quantity. It can also be set up so that it sends a notification if you don't want to have it order automatically on your behalf.
The Dash Smart Shelf comes in three sizes - 7 by 7 inches, 12 by 10 inches and 18 by 13 inches, and all of them are one inch thick. It can run using a power plug or AAA batteries, which makes it possible to set these things up pretty much anywhere in the office.
For those of you who would like to get your hands on one, you'll have to wait. Amazon will first run a test with small businesses in the US next year. They'll be able to manage the smart scale through their Amazon Business account or the Amazon Shopping app, and will have access to savings of up to 15 percent and exclusive deals that aren't available for consumers.
One possible reason why Amazon is more cautious with the new Dash Smart Shelf is that some regions have legislation that is more pro-consumer than that of the US. Earlier this year, a German court restricted the use of Amazon's Dash Buttons after it found that it doesn't do enough to inform users about the fine print.