After the demise of the Dash Button and the Dash Wand, it seemed as though Amazon’s days of building (non-Alexa) gadgets to help people re-order things were over. If the idea of poking around in a web browser or tapping a phone to call in new supplies is too odious, never fear: the Amazon Dash Smart Shelf is here.
Amazon originally started experimenting with this smart scale last year in partnership with several small and medium-sized businesses, and for a while it seemed the gadget would remain exclusive to Amazon Business shoppers. As it turns out, the whole thing apparently went well enough that the Smart Shelf is now available to anyone who wants one.
In case you missed it the first time, this thing isn’t a “shelf” so much as a Wi-Fi-enabled scale you store several of the same item on top of. Once the weight it detects dips below a certain threshold, it can automatically re-order more of those products, or alert you when you’re running low so you get the final say. Since you probably couldn’t squeeze a bunch of paper towel rolls onto a scale meant for office supplies, the Smart Shelf is available in three sizes: small (7x7-inches), medium (12x10-inches) and large (18x13-inches). All three can run for up to two years off four included AAA batteries, and surprisingly, they each cost $20.
If there’s one caveat here -- apart from the deleterious effect this could have on brick-and-mortar retailers, that is -- it’s the fact that you can’t place just anything on a Smart Shelf for it to intelligently track. That said, Amazon says thousands of the products it sells will place nice with its fancy scale, and a cursory search reveals most household and workplace staples are nicely accounted for. So far, we’ve spotted diapers, batteries, Nespresso pods, cat litter, reams of paper, packing tape, and Monster energy drinks available for Smart Shelf replenishment, along with, uh, Smart Keyboards for iPads and HP monitors.
Ultimately, the Dash Smart Shelf still probably makes the most sense for small companies that need simple, hands-free supply procurement, but 2020 has been a year so far. If a connected scale that can re-order boxer briefs will make your life better, no one can take that joy from you, and you can order one right now.