Making good on the retailing truism that “If it has a barcode, Amazon will kill you” Amazon has soft-launched a competition killer in the form of a new smart shopping wand called Dash.  Simply wave the free WiFi wand at a product, and abracadabra, it’ll be added to your Amazon shopping cart, ready for you to review or tap that 1-click checkout button. You can even talk to the wand if magical Harry Potter style waving is too theatrical for you.

No news yet on whether Amazon will be offering the same deal it has offered to Target shoppers – scan any product in one of Target’s 3000+ stores and Amazon will deliver it to you for free and for 10% less than the Target price, but you get where this is going.

The Dash WiFi shopping wand is being piloted initially only for Amazon Fresh subscribers for their home grocery purchases. Simply wave the wand at products in your pantry or bathroom and the wand will add products to your Amazon shopping list.  But any idea that Amazon will restrict the wand’s use to in home shopping would be a triumph of optimism over reality – and precedent.  Amazon wants to turn the world of in-store retail into showrooms; sure browse, touch and try in-store – but buy from Amazon.  Retailers that don’t get this are zombie retailers – the walking dead of a bygone era of retail.

To some, Amazon’s shopping wand might seem like a gimmick – shopping apps already allow you to scan products and get better prices online.  But what’s smart about the Dash wand is that, unlike a smartphone, it is a dedicated shopping accessory – visible, simple, portable and practical.  Smartphones are digital Swiss Army knives – they do loads of things, but their polyvalence is their undoing.  There’s a knife on every Swiss army knife, but how many Swiss army knife owners do you know who use their penknife to eat with? We use the simplest tool to do the job.  And for shopping, the Amazon shopping wand could be it.  And the Dash shopping wand is psychologically smart too – we associate objects with activities – and the wand is unashamedly and uniquely for shopping – so every time we see it, we think of Amazon shopping.

Zombie retailers watch out.  the Amazon Dash shopping wand is a zombie-killer.

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