SKT Smart Home: Smart Button Kkuk

Several boxes of Smart Button Kkuk ordered online

SK Telecom, the biggest mobile carrier in Korea, is the parent company of SK Planet, which owns Korea's 2nd largest online shopping mall, 11st (11๋ฒˆ๊ฐ€, 11th Street). So it was natural to see that SKT would come up with a clone of Amazon Dash, which simplifies online ordering with the push of a physical button. It's called "Smart Button Kkuk(์Šค๋งˆํŠธ ๋ฒ„ํŠผ ๊พน)", and became available in September 19, 2016, about 18 months after Amazon Dash's announcement.

Initially affiliated with about 60 items in 11st and given away for free with first 50,000 orders of the website's "Now Delivery(NOW๋ฐฐ์†ก)" service (this itself is 11st's version of "Fulfilled by Amazon"), it's now able to order from more than 140 items and shipped for KRW100 (US$0.09) when ordering certain specially marked items through Now Delivery. As of this writing, the stock of these buttons have apparently run out, but I expect it to be replenished soon.

Contents of the box - instruction manuals and the button

As with other SKT Smart Home devices, the button comes in a brown box with standardized instruction manual included. Looking at the device, the red button with 11st's logo on the left side is what you use to both pair and eventually order items online. The body is elongated to the right to house the battery. Like Amazon Dash, a removable hook is provided so that it can be hung.

Innards of the Smart Button Kkuk

For those who are curious, this is how it looks inside. You can open it up after unscrewing a single cross-head screw. Actual circuitry is quite small and sits completely under the button area. Rest of the space is taken up by two AAA batteries. There's no word on how long the battery lasts, nor is there any indicator on the device or the app.

Once the device is registered (left), you need to enter automatic payment details (right)

The device is paired with the app and the server in mostly the same manner as the other Wi-Fi based SKT Smart Home products. A slight difference is that you are also required to enter automatic payment details so that the orders can go through without intervention. Your 11st website login, payment information, and shipping address are needed.

Once you've chosen what to buy (lower right), pressing the button (left) will dispatch the order (text notification on top right)

With the payment configuration done, you get to choose what you would be ordering with the button. Unlike Amazon Dash, none of the Smart Button Kkuk are pre-configured to certain products. You get to select up to three different items, each with user-defined quantity, from the list provided in the Smart Home app. This can be changed freely after initial selection, so this is quite flexible. You can also set a password lock on the app to prevent accidental ordering.

When I browsed yesterday, I counted 60 beverages, 29 foodstuffs, and 55 personal hygiene products, for a total of 144 items.

Beverages: 1 juice, 8 tea, 7 coffee, 9 milk(regular & soy), 32 baby milk powder, 3 bottled water
Foodstuffs: 10 ramen, 12 biscuit, 2 grain, 3 canned meat, 2 instant meal
Hygiene: 8 soap, 4 toothpaste, 18 detergent, 6 tissue/toilet paper, 7 diaper, 5 sanitary pad, 7 shaving product

The selection is okay and covers some bases, but it's a very small subset of thousands of items offered through Now Delivery service. There were lots of types of items that I normally order on a repeated basis, but in most of the cases the available items were not the specific products I prefer to buy. There's also the fact that, because the order is treated like a Now Delivery, you need to purchase KRW20,000 (US$17.50) or more to be eligible for free delivery.

Buttons have magnets on them, so they can be stuck to a fridge

In the end, I needed to make a lot of compromises for the selection and the buttons are not getting a lot of action. Basically, they are passing their time as refrigerator magnets most of the time. I think SKT and 11st need to rectify this issue if they want these buttons to catch on and generate extra revenue.
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