We live in a world of instant gratification where consumers can have almost anything delivered at the push of a button. Whether it’s getting groceries delivered, requesting transportation, or renting a puppy for an hour, consumers can have it all simply through an app on their phone. Similarly, most consumers are familiar with scheduling and paying for services through an app, and many are now comfortable with automatic account withdrawal for recurring bills. Amazon, who has played a large role in changing buying habits with Prime, launched its Dash Replenishment Service (DRS) for a range of supplies products that are regularly consumed and require replenishment. What comes to mind when we talk about replenishing consumables? Printer supplies! The service is a potential game changer in the printer supplies industry, as it stands to disrupt traditional purchasing habits, freeing consumers from the hassle of running out of ink or toner. From a business perspective, Dash is an opportunity for brands to lock in customers and potentially grow OEM share.

From a business perspective, Dash is an opportunity for brands to lock in customers and potentially grow OEM share.

The Development of DRS

Amazon’s recently launched Dash Replenishment Service (DRS) brings convenience even more within reach automatically delivering supplies without even the touch of a button. The service enables consumers to register an electronic device through DRS, which will monitor the consumables and automatically order new supplies when needed. The service supports devices from several different brands and industries including Brita water filters, Whirlpool and GE laundry appliances, a variety of pet feeders, and Brother and Samsung printers. With Amazon DRS, your printer has the capability to order ink or toner by itself!


Image credit: amazon.com

The service builds on the Dash Buttons, which allows Amazon Prime customers to reorder frequently used products when they press the Wi-Fi connected button. Each Dash Button is linked to a specific brand of goods such as Tide laundry detergent, Huggies diapers or Bounty paper towels. When the button is pressed, an order confirmation alert is sent to the consumer’s phone via their Amazon app. Consumers have the ability to cancel the order via the app if needed. Amazon recently reported on the success of its Dash Button program announcing that it has grown to over 100 participating brands, and customer orders have increased by more than 75% in the past three months.

Both services change the traditional shopping experience and make it extremely convenient for consumers by eliminating the need to physically visit a store. Additionally, both services send the replacement products to the consumer with free Prime shipping. However, in comparison, the Dash Button requires the consumer to initiate the re-order process, while Amazon’s DRS enables the device to activate the order. The ease of DRS potentially improves customer satisfaction with the supporting device and improves long-term retention rates.


Image credit: amazon.com

Samsung and Brother First Printer Movers in DRS Program

Amazon DRS officially launched in January 2016 with a handful of major worldwide brands signed on as participants. Brother debuted as the lone printer manufacturer for Amazon’s DRS enlisting over 45 inkjet and laser printers from its portfolio. For consumers who own a listed Brother printer, DRS is already built into the hardware, and it’s as easy as registering the device at Brother.com. Once registered, the consumer can choose which ink or toner products they want ordered, set when they want the supplies delivered, and then Amazon will automatically ship them when the supplies reach the pre-determined threshold. With Amazon DRS, consumers only pay for what they use and can freely cancel at any time. You never have to remember to order ink or toner again! It’s also assumed that the customer is offered Amazon’s already low and extremely competitive pricing, potentially providing customers some of the best deals available in the marketplace.

Samsung was added to the service in late February 2016 as the second printer OEM adding four laser devices to the DRS program. For consumers with Samsung devices, the DRS registration is completed through the OEM’s Mobile Print app for iOS or Android mobile devices, as opposed to Brother’s set up through its website. The addition of Samsung is possibly an indicator of the recent success of the program, theoretically supporting Amazon’s commitment to providing an extensive product offering to its Amazon Prime members. It could also be a low-risk way for the OEM to target customers with a form of contractual engagement. The more brands participating and the more customers enrolled equates to more orders for Amazon.

Brother and Samsung benefit in several ways as the only two printer OEMs that are currently part of Amazon’s DRS. They have the ability to market the increased convenience of the automatic ordering functionality. They can indirectly take advantage of Amazon Prime’s already large customer base, which possibly purchase printer supplies from a different source. Amazon Prime’s customers are also arguably among the most accustomed to membership purchasing likely bringing a large percentage of early adopters to the service. Additionally, the manufacturers can be assured that customers are purchasing genuine OEM supplies and not the aftermarket alternatives offered by Amazon or other supplies’ resellers.

Customers, on the other hand, significantly benefit from the program in that there is no purchasing action needed once their printer is registered or set up with DRS. Running out of ink or toner is one of the biggest pain points in the printing industry as reported by consumers.There is no contractual obligation on the customer side in that they only pay for what is delivered with the ability to cancel at any time.

Consumer Supplies Replenishment Still Evolving

Many manufacturers, especially in the print industry, are exploring ways to increase customer retention and lock customers into a form of “supplies plus a service” agreements. HP, for example, launched its Instant Ink program in 2013 prompting users to sign up for a monthly ink supplies service, which has reportedly been very successful for the OEM thus far. Amazon’s DRS is just another way for the printer manufacturers to take advantage of an opportunity in this evolving space.

The accuracy of the service and the timing of when supplies are delivered are still yet to be proven, but both of the participating OEMs have a lot to gain by being the first participants in Amazon’s latest venture. Although still new to the marketplace, Amazon’s DRS is likely to increase brand loyalty, drive OEM share, and definitely change consumer purchasing habits. Based on convenience alone, I’m willing to bet that the service expands in the near future to include an even larger assortment of manufacturer and supplies options.