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Amazon aims for Staples, Office Depot with new ‘smart shelf’

smart shelf

Amazon is entering the business of letting businesses automatically reorder supplies.

The e-tail giant is introducing Dash Smart Shelf, a scale upon which businesses can stack basic office supplies such as sticky notes, copy paper, and disposable cups. The shelf senses the weight of items and determines when inventory is running low. Depending on the preference of the Amazon Business customer, Dash Smart Shelf then either automatically places a reorder timed to arrive before supplies run out or sends a low-inventory notification.

A built-in battery enables businesses to use Dash Smart Shelf with or without an outlet. Available in large (18-by-13-inch), medium (12-by-10-inch) and small (7-by-7-inch) sizes, the shelf connects to WiFi via the Amazon app. Users select a product and quantity, and can choose a different product or brand at any time. Participating brands include Hammermill, Bic, Keurig, and 3M, as well as the Amazon Basics and Amazon Commercial private label brands.

Amazon has not yet announced an official launch date for Dash Smart Shelf, but the homepage for the service has a link for Amazon Business customers to obtain email notification once it is live. The retailer has not yet released any details about cost of the program.

This service represents a revival of Amazon’s Dash automated reordering hardware, which the e-tailer phased out for consumers earlier in 2019. Amazon has continued to offer Dash software capabilities in partnership with smart appliance vendors such as the Sears Kenmore brand.

More significantly, Amazon is directly entering turf already occupied by office supply giants Staples and Office Depot. Staples offers businesses an auto restock service, while Office Depot business customers have the option of a joining a supply subscription service. However, only Amazon is offering the ability to determine when reorders are needed based on smart inventory tracking – the other two services are based on timed deliveries.

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