Shortcut shopping: Everything to know about Virtual Amazon Dash Buttons

Update: Physical Amazon Dash buttons are dead, but the idea lives

Amazon Dash guide
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Amazon may have killed off the physical Dash buttons, but that doesn't mean the premise behind the technology has been completely buried.

The company still wants you to shop on Amazon as much as you can, for whatever you can. It naturally wants you to keep buying things, and it's come up with a way to make Dash buttons available on the Echo Show, as well as your computer and smartphone.

Read next: Learn about Amazon Dash Replenishment

Understanding the new world of Amazon Dash isn't necessarily straightforward, though - and there's plenty of things to clear up since the switch from physical to digital. And, just in case you're wondering - yes, Amazon is still supporting existing buttons, even though no more will be produced. Let's dive in to how it all works.

Shortcut shopping: Everything to know about Virtual Amazon Dash Buttons

How does Amazon Dash work?

Amazon Dash is basically Amazon's way to make it quick and easy to re-order things over and over again. Available only to Amazon Prime members, it's made up of two constructs: Virtual Dash Buttons and the Dash Wand. As we just mentioned, the old buttons you used to stick around your house are now gone, though orders made through them will still be honored.

The Dash Buttons are simply a tappable way to re-order a certain product on Amazon, but they only work on products that ship with Amazon Prime. If you typically re-order things on Amazon, like vitamins, Amazon will provide a map to a specific product you choose, so you can quickly order your favorites.

Essential reading: Why Amazon killed Dash Buttons

Each Dash Button shows the brand logo or brand name of the product. And if you have more than one button from the same brand, we’ll automatically add a label for each one, in order to help you identify them. When you click the brand logo, you’ll see information about the product, such as the price, as well as the option to label or delete the button.

Virtual Dash Buttons are accessible on Amazon's website, on the app, the Echo Show and even the Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator. If you say, "Alexa, show me my Dash Buttons" on your Show, you'll get a quick look at all your buttons and can simply tap one to re-order.

Add a Virtual Dash Button to your layout

You can create your own Dash Button for something you anticipate having to re-order a bunch. All you have to do is follow these steps:

1) Search for an item on Amazon.
2) Make sure it uses Prime shipping.
3) Click Add to your Dash Buttons.

Like the old buttons, virtual Dash Buttons still give you 30 minutes to cancel an order if you or someone else tapped through accidentally - and there's now much more choice and room for error since the physical buttons were retired.

Shortcuts to shopping: Everything you need to know about Amazon Dash

What is the Dash Wand?

Ah, the Dash Wand. While the Virtual Dash Buttons aim to make it as easy as possible to re-purchase things you already bought on Amazon, the Wand has a bit of a different purpose. It wants to let you quickly buy anything on Amazon.

The Dash Wand has a little barcode scanner on the bottom that lets you scan barcodes on any product in your home. If that product is on Amazon, the Dash Wand's scan will automatically add it to your shopping cart. You can then head to Amazon on the app or website and complete your order after checking what exactly it added to your cart.

Read this: Amazon Echo tips and tricks

The latest Dash Wand comes with Alexa built in, so you can also tap a button on the Wand and speak to Alexa. You can add products to your cart this way, or you can simply ask Alexa to buy things – just as you would on Echo devices. This is also the same Alexa you're used to, so you can take advantage of its many abilities and skills at the same time.

You can still pick up the $19.99 Wand, though it appears this could be on the way out, just like the Dash Buttons.

Shortcut shopping: Everything to know about Virtual Amazon Dash Buttons

Is Amazon Dash worth it?

At first blush, Amazon Dash seems like a good idea. You tap through your favorite picks and get what you need a couple of days later. However, then there's that sinking feeling that it all sounds a little too good and too easy to be true. You'd be right.

Naturally, there are some drawbacks with using Amazon Dash. The first is that you're limited to options with Prime shipping. This may not be a huge issue if Amazon stocks a lot of what you need in a variety of options, but you're limiting yourself if it doesn't.

For instance, let's say you were a big fan of Quilted Northern toilet paper. With Amazon Dash, you only have two options: A 24 pack and a 48 pack. Quilted Northern makes a variety of pack sizes, from eight to 96, yet only two of them are on Prime. You see the problem.

Also, Dash re-orders the same thing every time. If Amazon is running a deal that would let you get more for the same price, you wouldn't be able to take advantage of it. Similarly, you may not want to rely on Dash too much, as there is always a chance another retailer could have a sale or something on something you regularly buy. Or hey, maybe you try out a new product one day and find out you prefer it.

The Dash Wand, however, is a different story. Many user reviews of the Dash Button have found that it sometimes has a difficult time adding things to your cart. There'll be a product added to your cart, sure, but it also may be a third-party seller on Amazon that doesn't use Prime, meaning you might pay more for it than you previously did. Plus, the regular Amazon app also has Alexa and a barcode scanner.

Still, the Dash can be handy if you're buying something so basic and affordable that you barely think about it. Batteries are a good example.

Shortcut shopping: Everything to know about Virtual Amazon Dash Buttons

The best Amazon Dash Buttons

So, you've thought about Amazon Dash but want to know which virtual buttons you should add to your collection. The AmazonBasics Batteries are a good first option, as you've likely got a bunch of remote controls around your home.

These remote controls obviously need batteries, and AmazonBasics Batteries has a solid 17 options to use with its Dash Button. Things start as small as four-packs of AA and AAA batteries up to a hundred pack for AAA batteries. There are also 20 packs for AA batteries.

Pampers is another one worth digging into, largely because when you're a new parent you're exhausted and don't want to think or go out and buy supplies. This Dash Button has a good amount of variety, with 49 products to choose from. Pet food is another with a lot of variety, though less so if you're in the UK. And while Fiji Water can be expensive, there are packs of 12, 24 and 36 bottles that work with the Dash.

Finally, there's toilet paper. Charmin is the best choice here, but not because of how many options it has. Instead, it's because you get a 5% discount when you buy its toilet paper through a Dash Button.

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