By: Briana Lynch
What brand of detergent do you use? How about paper towels and toilet paper? With so many choices in the aisles of grocery and retail stores, it can be hard for consumers to choose. The overwhelming number of choices may even be a deterrent for consumers to want to go into a store. Imagine a world where you can choose not to choose, right at the tip of your fingers, right in your own home. Are you running low on laundry detergent? Don’t even think about going to the store, just press a button and worry no more, your Tide laundry detergent is on its way. Better yet, imagine a world where you don’t even need to lift a finger. Your Whirlpool washing machine knows that you are running low on Tide laundry detergent, no need to think about it, it’s on its way. The same goes for your Britta water filters, your Keurig’s K-Cups, Clorox wipes, Bounty paper towels and Cottonelle toilet paper. Everything you need is delivered right to your doorstep, right when you need it. Life is never-ending convenience for the American consumer.
In the article “Will Technology Like Amazon’s Dash Button Make Us Stupid?” Paul Roberts writes about Amazon’s latest product, the Dash Button. This product conveniently allows consumers to order more of a household item literally at the push of a button. Amazon announced its new product March 31st, which caused web users to believe it was an April Fool’s joke. However, with a prime membership, Amazon members can request a branded Dash Button to try out. The lucky members who receive the buttons will be able to set it up to choose the product and quantity to be shipped when pressed. For example, one with a “Tide” brand Dash Button can choose to have two containers of Tide Pods sent to his or her house every time the button is pressed. Furthermore, Amazon has also stated that it is working with electronics companies to create appliances that can sense when an item is running low. The appliance will then automatically order more of this item from Amazon so that the consumer never runs out.
In our busy lives where we must distribute our time among work, school, family, friends, chores, meals, and the activities we choose to do in our leisure time, it can be tempting to reduce time spent on shopping. However, do we want to live in a world where our appliances make decisions for us? This product creates the issue of the decrease of the consumer’s actual involvement in the consumer decision making process. The consumer no longer will need to do internal and external research of a product. He or she will no longer need to consider the alternative options. In fact, it will hardly be necessary for consumers to even recognize a need if Amazon succeeds in creating smart appliances that replenish the stock automatically. Consumers will barely be involved in the process. The only step left is to make a purchase. This step will be endlessly repeated with little-to-no thought involved.
Another issue is that it negatively impacts competition both among brands and retailers. Consumers will rarely consider buying paper towels from Brawny after they become accustomed to pressing their Bounty button and having Bounty paper towels delivered right to their door. Business will also decline for retail stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, and several smaller players as people will have less incentive to go to the store to purchase household goods. The number one retailer will be Amazon. They will fulfill the majority of our consumer needs and will become unstoppable. With a decline in sales, retail stores will begin to shut down, workers will lose their jobs, consumers will lose their number of choices, and the market will lose its competitive aspect. This will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers and we will have nowhere else to turn to. Amazon and the large corporations it partners with will have a huge monopoly on the market for common household items. Therefore, I believe consumers need to be conscientious of how they choose to buy and of the consequences of too much convenience. Amazon’s blatant desire to become an omnipresent force in the lives of consumers ought to be a red flag for Americans. Otherwise, there may come a day when we blissfully accept our “chocolate rations” sold through and delivered by Amazon.com.