Amazon announces a 'smart' shelf that automatically buys new office supplies when you run low

Key Points
  • Amazon announced new smart shelves with built-in scales that can automatically re-order office supplies for small businesses when they run low.
  • The smart shelves go on sale next year and buyers will need a U.S. business license to purchase one.
  • It's the latest example of Amazon efforts to sell you goods before you even know you need them.
Amazon Dash Smart Shelf

Amazon on Thursday announced the Amazon Dash Smart Shelf, a new scale that doubles as a shelf for office supplies. When the weight drops, it can recognize you're running low and automatically reorder supplies from Amazon.

It's the latest effort by Amazon to sell you goods before you know you even need them.

The idea started with Amazon Dash buttons, which you could put around your house and then tap to re-order common household products and goods. Amazon has since discontinued the buttons, but the idea morphed into the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service built-in to some appliances. A printer, for example, might know that you're running low on ink and automatically order you new cartridges before you run out.

Amazon Dash Smart Shelf

Amazon will sell small, medium and large sizes of its shelves, which run on four AAA batteries or a wall plug and connect to your Wi-Fi network. The product is meant for small businesses and you'll need a U.S. business license to buy one.

Once you connect it to your Amazon Business or Amazon Shopping account, you can tell Amazon which supplies are on the shelf and what it should re-order when it knows those supplies are running out. So, a shelf with a bunch of notepads on it, for example, will notice that you're running low when it senses the weight of the notepads has decreased.

If you don't want the shelf to reorder supplies automatically, you can have it send you a notification instead, so you can go out and buy your own supplies from wherever you want. But, if you buy the shelf, you get up to a 15 percent discount on some brands, Amazon said in a release.

Amazon Dash Smart Shelf

The Amazon Shopping app will "prevent accidental reorders if items are temporarily removed and then restocked, "Amazon says, suggesting that the weight needs to be lower for a certain amount of time before a trigger is activated.

The smart shelves will go on sale next year but pricing was not announced.

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