Amazon scanning app showdown: In-depth analysis of how ScoutIQ compares to Scoutly. Features, pricing, data and lots more.
Video: An (offensively) long comparison of each app
The great ScoutIQ vs Scoutly debate: Declaring the best app
If you want to skip past all my detailed analysis and skip right to the winner of best app, here it is:
I declare Scoutly to be the superior scanning app for Amazon sellers.
Or maybe you use my recommendations as the basis for what tools not to use. If so, then here’s a link for you:
I encourage you to read this entire article, where I give extremely detailed reasons for this decision. My intention is for this to be the most detailed side-by-side comparison of Amazon sourcing apps ever published.
So don’t take my word for it. I’m going into a massive amount of detail below to create a bulletproof case for Scoutly being superior to ScoutIQ. So read on to get a full analysis of features, data, and more…
How this review is structured
- Main Display
- Data Quality
- Integrity & Credibility (Weird I know. But this matters.)
I’m getting incredibly, painfully detailed here. If you want a fast-talking guru to tell you what app to use in 2 minutes and say “just trust me bro,” head over to YouTube. This isn’t that kind of review.
Before we get into those five things, a history lesson…
The history of Scoutly
Scoutly is one of – if not the – oldest Amazon scanning app.
Here’s the history, as I understand it (the chronology is a little murky, and I don’t claim to be an Amazon historian):
Scoutly was originally called “A Seller Tool” (before it was called FBA Scan, and later Scoutly). It started as a simple interface you access on your phone, where you would manually enter the ISBN or UPC for any media item, and it returned pricing data a few seconds later. (Scoutly started as a tool for used media sellers only).
This is before I started selling on Amazon. But it’s fascinating to consider that the early days of Amazon bookselling required manual entry of ISBNs into a flip phone. (This is personally the first version of A Seller Tool I used in 2008, after I’d been selling for about one year).
By 2007, A Seller Tool was offering a PDA-based service that closely resembles the smartphone apps we use today. A PDA, for those unaware, was a pre-smartphone device that stood for “personal digital assistant.” They were essentially smartphones before smartphones, and without any actual phone features.
While I’m not 100% sure Scoutly/A Seller Tool was the first actual app for Amazon sellers, I can say confidently that all the first Amazon booksellers I met in 2007 were using it.
The breakthrough that Scoutly / A Seller Tool introduced at this stage was the ability to download the entire Amazon pricing database into your PDA. From there, you connect a bulky barcode scanner to the port at the top, and were now able to scan barcodes and get instant pricing data. (If you’re an old school Amazon seller and I’m off on my history here, and another app pioneered the data-download feature, please correct me in the comments).
I came onto the scene just after this debuted, but I can only imagine how mind-blowing this was for Amazon sellers in this era.
Around early-2012, A Seller Tool rebranded as FBA Scan, it’s first smartphone application. In this era, other scanning apps for smartphones had been developed, and Scoutly was just catching up (I was using an app at this time called Scanpower).
Around 2016, FBA Scan rebranded yet again to Scoutly, added a bunch of new features, and became that app that we use today.
The history of ScoutIQ
ScoutIQ came much later, in 2016. At this time, there were quite a few scanning apps available. Scoutly was still the best, but Amazon sellers had several options.
The history of ScoutIQ is a little weird. While I wasn’t around for the inception of Scoutly, I did watch ScoutIQ debut in real time, so here it goes…
In 2015-ish, a character emerged online, self-described as “The Book Flipper.” He had a blog, a YouTube channel, and Facebook group. What wasn’t entirely clear is if the character was purely a marketing stunt, or a real seller. (More on that at the end…)
It didn’t matter much to his audience, since the target for his material was newer sellers with little knowledge of the business. Almost immediately, the “book flipper” began cloning existing Amazon selling software and promoting via his blog. He first cloned (as in, almost down to the pixel) an online arbitrage tool, followed soon after by a near-clone of Scoutly called ScoutIQ.
The only attempts to distinguish itself from Scoutly came in two parts:
- A feature called “eScore” (evidence points to eScore being a largely fictional gimmick).
- Showing Amazon Trade-In values (Amazon has since shut down its trade in store).
As far as I could tell, there was no claim of superiority outside those two details. Success of ScoutIQ depended on offering affiliate commissions to bloggers and YouTubers to promote.
ScoutIQ was almost entirely a “newer sellers and promoters who didn’t know any better” phenomenon.
And a few years after “the book flipper” appeared, he vanished – selling ScoutIQ to a company called ThreeColts.
What is Scoutly’s claim to fame?
We covered the history of each app, but what is each one known for?
Scoutly’s “claim to fame” is being the oldest and most reliable app for Amazon sellers.
Again, I’m not 100% sure it was the very first, but that is primarily how it’s recorded in the halls of Amazon seller history.
The most notable attribute of Scoutly, in my opinion (aside from features, etc) is that their company seems to be 110% committed to it’s product. You’ll never see flashy promotion from Scoutly. No dancing-monkey-guru YouTube videos or “book challenges” or any cheesy promotion. Scoutly just quietly focuses on their product, and doesn’t make a lot of obnoxious noise about it.
This goes back to what is quietly one of the biggest distinctions between Scoutly and ScoutIQ:
- Scoutly is the app for established Amazon sellers.
- ScoutIQ is the “newbie” app (nothing wrong with being new).
This distinction has nothing to do with the quality or simplicity of either app. It’s purely a byproduct of marketing.
To wrap this up: Scoutly’s claim to fame is: “The longest running scanning app for serious Amazon sellers.”
What is ScoutIQ’s claim to fame?
It’s very difficult to define what ScoutIQ is known for, since it’s not known for anything beyond being the one promoted most by various online gurus.
If there had to be one feature ScoutIQ attempts to use to set itself apart, it would be it’s eScore feature, which claims to estimate the number of sales on Amazon in the last 180 days.
However there are two issues with this being a “claim to fame”:
- Scoutly debuted a better and more accurate version of eScore called “Sales Score.”
- The accuracy of eScore has been (in my opinion) debunked.
As it stands, ScoutIQ is primarily known as being the app used by newer Amazon sellers who rely on YouTube reviews, before they either stop selling, or graduate to Scoutly.
What is a “scanning app”?
Let’s back up if you aren’t clear yet if you need a scanning app, or why you should care about this review.
A “scanning app” (also known as a “scouting app”) is a smartphone app that tells you how much items are worth on Amazon. Or at least, what they’re selling for at that moment.
Generally, they provide key data for any ASIN such as:
- Current lowest priced offers
- Divided by new, used, Merchant Fulfilled, and FBA.
- Amazon Sales Rank
- and more…
Whether you’re sourcing inventory “in the field,” or buying in bulk, scanning apps give you all the data you need to instantly assess if an item is worth selling on Amazon.
Most sellers use a scanning app in conjunction with a Bluetooth barcode scanner, which allows them to scan barcodes of items and get key data 10x more quickly than using their camera phone.
Here’s a specific breakdown of the mechanics of using a scanning app, for the uninitiated:
- Pick up item (for example, a book)
- Scan barcode
- View data on scanning app
Understanding downloadable database vs live lookup
A key distinction between apps is those that provide a downloadable Amazon pricing database (that saves in your phone), vs live lookups (via a cell signal).
The benefits of live lookup apps:
- The data is always 100% current
- Live lookup apps tend to be cheaper
The benefits of downloadable database apps:
- No reliance on a cell signal
- Data loads instantly
Both Scoutly and ScoutIQ offer a downloadable database, as well as a live lookup option.
Which is better?
Apps that offer a download option are far superior in my opinion. Once you use one, it will be hard to go back. You get much quicker results, and are not reliant on a cell signal (being unable to use your app when you have no service or bad service while sourcing will cost you lots of missed revenue each year).
Whatever money you save by choosing a cheaper live-lookup scanning app will be offset by lost revenue from being out of commission due to cell signal problems. It’s not worth it.
Why is a scanning apps the most important decision you’ll make?
I always say that all Amazon businesses are only two things:
You can ignore everything else, and if you get those two things right, then you can’t fail.
Scanning apps are the key that unlocks the “sourcing” part of the equation. They’re like X-ray goggles that let you see value everywhere. Like an automated repricer, they are a key part of an Amazon business where “the rubber meets the road.”
And just like with pricing decisions, sourcing decisions compound over time.
For example, consider if you have a scanning app with weird or inaccurate data that causes you to make one bad purchasing decision a day, costing you $10 each. Let’s say you source 3 days a week. That seemingly small defect in your app is costing you $30 a week. Or $120 a month. Or $1,440 a year.
This is why its always worth investing in the best (or taking the time to switch to the best): When it comes to a scanning app, the right decision will always pay for itself.
What other scanning apps are out there?
I’m discussing Scoutly vs ScoutIQ in this article, because they are the two the are most popular with Amazon booksellers (who comprise most of the readers of this site). But there are several other apps at various price points. Among them:
- ScanPower (I used Scanpower for about two years before switching back to Scoutly)
- Amazon Seller app
- Seller Mobile
- Profit Bandit
Do you need a scanning app?
Simply put: Yes.
Life for an Amazon seller without a scanning app is a very hard, and unprofitable one. Having to look up each item manually before deciding to source or list it is so laborious, it is almost an insane proposition.
A scanning app is the very first fixed expense I would advise any Amazon seller to invest in. When you get started selling, you can theoretically skip listing software, you can skip an automated repricer, and you can skip all other software tools to facilitate your business. But you should not skip a scanning app.
You can start with a cheaper one than Scoutly or ScoutIQ (such as Profit Bandit), but I would strongly caution against starting without using any scouting app. The return on your investment is so direct, its virtually impossible for a scanning app to not pay for itself with the most minimal use.
Overview of Scoutly’s features
Let’s get into it: A detailed breakdown of each app’s features, and how they compare.
For the purpose of this review, I’m defining “features” as everything that is not on the main display (which is covered in a separate section). This means all the various settings, etc other than what’s on the primary scouting page.
Very important to note: I’m going in-depth here, and if you’re new to this, you’re likely to get overwhelmed with the number of settings (particularly in Scoutly). So let me try to put you at peace:
You do not need to use 95% of these settings.
I’ve been doing this for awhile, and I still don’t know (and don’t care) what the majority of these settings do. They’re almost all unnecessary filler.
So with that understanding, let’s proceed…
Scoutly’s main dashboard
Scoutly’s main dashboard consists of these options:
- Database download
- Turbolister (Scoutly’s listing software)
- Scout (the main interface where you view pricing data)
- Menu (where most of the app settings are)
- Triggers (where you set settings that Scoutly uses to tell you if you should buy something or pass on it)
- Account (where you manage your account, payments, etc).
Here’s what that looks like:
And here’s what you can do on each of these pages:
Database download page
Your options are:
- Download books & media pricing database
- Download everything
I just tested a full download on a decent wifi connection, and it completed in 12 minutes and 47 seconds.
- Several options to manage your listing settings, and downloading Turbolister. (full disclosure: I use Scanlister to list my inventory, and have only tried Turbolister once. Listing inventory is a very different subject than sourcing, and I won’t be talking about it much in this review).
(This will be covered in the next section).
- Operating mode
- Accept list
- History and watch list
- Buyback cart
- Custom Action on Repeat Scanning
- Lock Screen
- Data Test
- Display settings
- Sales Rank Color
- Log Out
Going deeper – withing the “settings” option above, you have these options:
- Use Profit Trigger
- Show history chart
- Check restriction or Accept
- Wholesale integration
- Classic view
- 2d barcode on picklist
- Disable bird view
- Background download
- Three-column pricing display
- Display FBA vs MF profit
- Display average sales rank
- General restriction warning
- Disable sound
- Load balance
- Auto add to Buy List
- Keep screen bright in Lock
- Enable triggers
- Display rank color
- Use camera
- Shake to open camera
- Vibration on Buy
- Use internal browser
- Voice prompt only
- Voice prompt for title
These are where you create settings that Scoutly uses to tell you if you should buy something you scan, or pass on it. Basically you’re creating a set of rules. For anything that falls outside those rules, Scoutly will tell you to reject it (in the form of the word “Reject” appearing at the top of the screen). For anything that falls inside the rules, Scoutly will tell you to “Buy.”
Note: I personally don’t use Triggers, and advise Amazon sellers to not use triggers. But most people don’t listen to me, and most Scoutly users will use this feature.
The factors you set for each “trigger”:
- Item’s Demand (either current Amazon Sales Rank, average Amazon Sales Rank, or Scoutly’s proprietary “Sales Score”)
- Minimum “merchant fulfilled” price (anything below this amount will be an automatic reject).
- Target price (this is the price used as the basis for whether the item is profitable enough to purchase).
- Compare to Used Buy Box (no idea how this is different than “target price”)
- Compare to New Buy Box (see above)
- Target Profit
- Trigger effect (how the app will alert you to Buy or Reject an item)
Editorial: I have a lot of grievances over Scoutly’s user interface, but the Triggers page is one of the more offensive to me. As an experienced seller, I should be able to look at any setting in an app and understand instantly how it works, without having to think too hard or contact support. Any app that is confusing even to an experienced seller is not doing it’s job in regards to usability. While I don’t use Triggers personally, I find this page in Scoutly hopelessly confusing.
for example: There’s a “Target Price,” but then there’s a separate setting for the Buy Box price. Then there’s a second section for “new Buy Box or Amazon.” What is the point of that? If I select one, does it override the other? It’s ridiculously confusing. And while I’m sure that sellers who use triggers could explain it me easily, the fact that so many Scoutly settings aren’t even remotely intuitive is probably the only reason ScoutIQ got traction with newer sellers. Scoutly can be complex in ways it doesn’t need to be.
I’ll say it again: Never use triggers. Whether in Scoutly or ScoutIQ.
Not much to do here except see your username, password, etc.
That covers all the settings
And there’s a good chance you don’t care about ANY of that. But I wanted this review to be extremely thorough.
Now, let’s move on to ScoutIQ…
Overview of ScoutIQ’s features
Compared to Scoutly, ScoutIQ is much more streamlined and user-friendly. Let’s take an in-depth look at every ScoutIQ feature…
This is where ScoutIQ logs various statistics such as:
- Total number of items you’ve scanned
- Day with most items scanned
- Percentage of items scanned that are accepted by your profit triggers
- Estimated profits
(Scoutly has this feature as well, however it is incorporated into the main screen, so it will be covered there).
This works very similar to Scoutly’s triggers. ScoutIQ let’s you set the following criteria to determine if you should “Buy” or “Reject” an item you scan:
- FBA or Merchant Fulfilled
- Buy Cost
- Minimum eScore
- Maximum eScore
- Minimum Amazon Sales Rank
- Maximum Amazon Sales Rank
I won’t list everything because – like Scoutly – the “Triggers” feature is so pointlessly confusing, I’m choosing not to transcribe all the settings in protest. (What is an “FBA slot”? Why do I need a glossary to use your app?)
A warning about using ScoutIQs default triggers
While I don’t advise using triggers at all (for any app), there is something notable about ScoutIQ’s default trigger (the trigger that comes pre-set) that I have to mention:
They don’t even show you what the trigger settings are.
Seriously, there’s no way to see the trigger settings. So if you never set your own triggers, ScoutIQ will tell you to “buy” or “reject” items and you have no ability to know how it’s making that decision.
This means it’s possible there are thousands of Amazon sellers using ScoutIQ, blindly relying on the triggers to make buying decisions, and they have literally zero visibility into how the app is making its decision. Totally bonkers.
I’ll say it again: Triggers are the worst idea to ever happen to Amazon scanning apps.
This works the same as Scoutly’s database download feature, with one major difference: ScoutIQ’s database only includes media items (Books, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, VHS, and vinyl).
If you’re a bookseller or focus on media-only, how much does this matter? I would consider this a “medium big deal.”
It doesn’t matter how laser focused you are on reselling books or other media – you’re going to be encountering many profitable non-media items when sourcing. And every one you have to skip because of database blindspots is money out of your pocket.
But all is not lost with ScoutIQ. If you ever find yourself scanning anything that’s not a media item, ScoutIQ will look it up via your cell signal (but this will reduce loading time, and won’t work at all in many environments).
Download time: I tested a full database download and it completed in 4 minutes and 43 seconds. Considerably quicker than Scoutly, but again, ScoutIQ’s database is less than half the size.
Here’s everything on ScoutIQ’s settings page:
- Always awake (on or off)
- Audio (on or off)
- Vibration (on or off)
- ISBN searches only (on or off)
- Lock Screen (on or off)
- Scanning mode (Database only, Database + Live, or Live only)
- Custom link (allowing you to add one of five different customer links: eBay completed listings, eBay sold listings, eBay active listings, BookFinder.com, or AddAll.com).
- Wholesale intergration (this has something to do with displaying buy back prices from Sell Back Your Book.com)
Scoutly vs ScoutIQ: Which app has better features?
Now that we’ve covered everything, how do Scoutly’s features compare to ScoutIQ?
Ways Scoutly’s features are better than ScoutIQ
Scoutly offers many valuable features that ScoutIQ lacks. Among them:
- Check restriction link
- Keepa charts displayed on the page (vs in a separate page like ScoutIQ).
- Ability to add items to a “Buy List”
- Customization features (sales rank color, more)
- Transparency into it’s default profit trigger settings
Together, Scoutly offers a significant amount of bonus options that are missing from ScoutIQ.
Ways ScoutIQs features are better than Scoutly
I was unable to find a any feature in ScoutIQ that Scoutly did not have.
Declaring a winner: Scoutly has the best features
Scoutly beats ScoutIQ on this front.
Scoutly simply offers many more options than ScouIQ, while ScoutIQ has nothing apparent that Scoutly does not.
Scoutly offers more features for less money. The winner is clear.
So let’s move on to the most important part: The actual data you see when you scan an item, and how it’s displayed…
The main display: What data does Scoutly show?
Now we’re going to look at where you’re going to be spending 99% of your time in your app: The actual “scouting page,” aka the main interface where you review the data after scanning an item.
Remember what I said above: You don’t need 95% of this data to make a buying decision. Some of this data is good to have occasionally, some of it I find totally useless.
List of all data displayed on Scoutly’s main display
- Prices of lowest “merchant fulfilled” offers (used and new): Current lowest prices on Amazon.
- Prices of lowest FBA offers (used and new, if applicable): The prices for competing FBA offers. Note: Amazon doesn’t share a lot of FBA prices with 3rd party apps, otherwise known as “the FBA blindspot.” It’s important to know this column isn’t always telling the whole story.
- Current Amazon Sales rank: The current rank for an item (as opposed to the average rank). Since Scoutly offers average sales rank, the current rank isn’t very useful.
- Average sales rank: Offering a major advantage over ScoutIQ (which doesn’t have average rank), Scoutly takes the six month average sales rank – offering a much more accurate estimate of an item’s demand than current Sales Rank (and MUCH better than “eScore.”)
- Used Buy Box: This is the “featured offer” that Amazon makes most prominent on the product page. A lot of sellers only refer to the Buy Box price when valuing products to resell.
- New Buy Box: See above.
- Department: What product category the item belongs in (books, etc)
- Amazon’s price: The price for purchasing the item from Amazon directly.
- Number of offers new and used: The number of 3rd party sellers selling this item, in both Used and New condition. Useful for a couple reasons. One to know the level of competition. Two, because Amazon limits the pricing data it shares with apps, and if one of the columns is blank (because Amazon isn’t sharing certain prices), you can confirm there are prices being hidden by looking at the number of sellers.
- Number of FBA offers (if applicable): See above.
- Number of items in inventory for each offer: How many units each seller has in stock. Useful to know how many need to sell before the prices goes back up, if you plan to price higher than the lowest price.
- Profit: You net profit, after taking out your buy cost (which you can enter manually) and all Amazon fees.
- Sales Score: Scoutly’s proprietary figure that gives the estimated number of times this item has sold in last 90 days.
- “Fair Value”: Scoutly defines this as the “historical Used Buy Box price.” Useful for determining the
- Buy Back value: For books only, this displays the instant cash buy back price from Sell Back Your Book (.com)
- Product image: The top product image as shown on Amazon.
- Product weight: Self-explanatory.
- Sales history chart: Taken from Keepa, this is a graph that shows sales patters over 12 months.
- Restriction warning: Highlights books that are known to be restricted for most Amazon sellers.
- Summary (statistics page showing total number of items scanned, total profit, more).
Additional links & features on Scoutly’s main page
Here’s a few more feature options on the “scouting screen”:
- BookScouter link: For books only, Scoutly shows the highest cash buyback offer for any book on BookScouter.com.
- Live lookup button: If you’re using database mode, you can do a live lookup for real-time data for any item with one click.
- Restricted button: A very cool feature that allows you to check your ability to sell any product with one click.
- Keepa chart: A graph showing the 12 month price and sales history for an item.
- Custom link: Large list of options to add a pre-formatted custom link, including AddAll.com, Google search for UPS, Google search by title, eBay active listings, eBay sold listings, CamelCamelCamel.com, Bookfinder.com, and BookScouter.com.
- Options to scan without barcode scanner: You can use your phone camera to search by barcode, ISBN (Scoutly uses “optical character recognition” technology to scan a book’s ISBN), or title (same).
Scoutly’s main screen is pretty busy so I’m probably missing something, but that should cover all the key points.
Scoutly’s main screen can get VERY busy and cluttered. There’s a dizzying number of settings (and I don’t recommend looking at most of them). Here’s a screenshot of the main Scoutly page from their website:
The main display: What data does ScoutIQ show?
ScoutIQ was clearly built as a copy of Scoutly. One the way to look at the difference between them is:
ScoutIQ is a more simplified, streamlined version of Scoutly. Simpler, but with less data and fewer options.
Let’s take a closer look…
List of all data displayed on ScoutIQ’s main display
- Prices of lowest “merchant fulfilled” offers (used and new)
- Prices of lowest FBA offers (used and new, if applicable)
- Current Amazon Sales rank
- Used Buy Box:
- New Buy Box
- Amazon’s price:
- Number of offers new and used:
- Number of FBA offers (if applicable)
- eScore: ScoutIQ’s proprietary figure that claims to give the exact number of times this item has sold in last 90 days. As repeated elsewhere in this article, eScore is frequently inaccurate.
- Buy Back value: Also displays Sell Back Your Book (.com) price.
- Product image
- Product weight
- Sales history chart: Seemingly from Keepa, but not clear.
Additional links & features on ScoutIQ’s main page
- BookScouter link
- Live lookup button
- Amazon product page
- Keepa sales rank & price history chart
- Custom link: Choose either AddAll.com, eBay active listings, eBay sold listings, or Bookfinder.com.
- Options to scan without barcode scanner (same options as Scoutly)
Main display comparison: ScoutIQ & Scoutly
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each app’s main display:
Ways that Scoutly’s main display is better than ScoutIQ
Scoutly has several data points that are missing from ScoutIQ. Among them:
Fair trade value: A different way to look at an item’s value (based on it’s historical Buy Box price), and is a valuable alternative to the current listed prices for an item.
Average sales rank: In my opinion, this is the single biggest advantage that Scoutly has over ScoutIQ. Knowing the demand for an item is central to any buying decision, and average Amazon sales rank is the best way to measure an item’s demand.
More custom link options: Scoutly has more ways to add a custom link to the main scouting page. CamelCamelCamel.com, BookScouter.com, and various Google searches are options that ScoutIQ doesn’t offer.
Restricted item look up: Being able to determine your eligibility to sell an item with one click is another huge advantage of Scoutly over ScoutIQ.
Ways that ScoutIQs main display is better than Scoutly
The only advantage of ScoutIQ’s main scouting screen over Scoutly is the design (covered in the next section).
In terms of data displayed, Scoutly is a much better app than ScoutIQ.
Scoutly vs ScoutIQ: Which app has the better main display?
Scoutly is the winner here.
ScoutIQ’s main display is basically a stripped-down clone of Scoutly, bordering on a shameless copy.
While Scoutly’s display can get a little chaotic if you let it, how much data it displays is 100% up to you. And while I personally prefer a streamlined display, Scoutly has numerous options for sellers who want more.
Scoutly simply has better data than ScoutIQ, which translates into better buying decisions and more profit.
Overview of Scoutly’s design
Design is an element of a scanning app that may not be important to you. Skip this part if you care nothing about the design or usability. I’m personally one of those people, but I’m including this section for anyone who considers good design to be essential.
Scoutly’s design and usability leaves much to be desired.
Is Scoutly’s poor design merely a cosmetic issue? Is this completely a superficial problem?
Yes and no. Ultimately, the most important details of a scanning app are the features and the data. But how that data is displayed does have an impact. And Scoutly makes navigating their app more challenging than it needs to be (both on the main display, and elsewhere in the app).
A few specific complaints I have:
Too many menu items: When you go to the Settings page, the number of options is so confusing as to be a chore to navigate. A basic design principal with apps (I’ve released a few non-mobile web apps myself) is “don’t make the user think.” And Scoutly puts a huge burden on the user to have to fight to understand what feature is where, and what means what. I’ve been using Scoutly for years and I still dread having to go into the settings and find something.
There are 18 options in the menu (and dozens more inside many of those). There are certain settings that should be placed inside other settings, and the Menu page should have 5 or 10 items max. With a little effort, the app could be dramatically streamlined.
Settings are ambiguously named: What’s the difference between “settings” and “display settings”? What is the “purchase” button for (it goes to a dead link in my account)? Why is there a Turbolister link (can you list items from your phone? I still don’t know…)? There are four page of “lists” (Buyback list, history list, watch list, accept list) – why aren’t they all under one menu item? It’s a little maddening to decipher.
Feature bloat: This is a software term for responding to every feature request from a customer (or an overzealous founder), and creating an app that has so many features it becomes chaotic and hard to use. Scoutly suffers from this tremendously. I suspect they could eliminate 65% of their settings and features and no one would notice. And everyone would be better for it.
Some examples of settings Scoutly could eliminate or clarify, that just clutter up the design:
- A separate audio setting for every possible scenario
- “Custom action on repeat scanning” (What?)
- Watch list (what even is that?)
- Turbolister (does anyone list from their phone?)
- Data test
- Color change options for 5 different things
- Redundant menu items (Everything on the main dashboard is also in the Menu, which is confusing).
- A Settings page and a Menu page – what’s the difference?
- Tons of other settings I still have no idea the meaning of: Wholesale integration? Wholesale in DB? Background download? Use internal browser? Does anyone know what these do?
If I was Scoutly, I would invest in a few thousand dollars to pay an entry-level UX person to come in and clean up the entire app.
Overview of ScoutIQ’s deisgn
ScoutIQ was clearly built with cosmetics in mind, instead of data or features. In fact, if you pull back and look at the entirety of ScoutIQs history, “flash over substance” seems to be in the DNA of the company that makes ScoutIQ: Putting an emphasis on image and marketing over a superior product.
ScoutIQ clearly invested in design and the user experience, making it as simple as possible to use. I suspect the simplicity (along with paying various internet personalities) was the primary reason ScoutIQ got traction with newer sellers.
The mission statement for ScoutIQ seems to be: “what’s the minimum amount of features/settings/design elements that we can get away with?” And if you set aside some key gaps in Scoutly’s features, I don’t think this is a bad design approach at all.
In using ScoutIQ, I never had the issues I have with Scoutly, where I wonder: “What does this mean? How do I find this setting? Etc etc. There’s no way to get confused or “lost” in ScoutIQ.
ScoutIQ vs Scoutly: Which app has a superior design?
ScoutIQ wins this one big time.
ScoutIQ is vastly better designed, has a more streamlined interface, and is easier to navigate than Scoutly.
While design is the least important of the five elements I’m comparing here, ScoutIQ’s design is far superior. It’s clear it was designed by a competent User Experience person.
- ScoutIQ is easier to navigate than Scoutly.
- ScoutIQ is less confusing than Scoutly.
- ScoutIQ has fewer options than Scoutly, which creates a better experience.
Good news for Scoutly is that this is a relatively easy problem to fix. They just need to be willing to bring in some outside help – Go on Upwork.com, find a competent UX person, and bring them in the clean things up.
Care about design more than anything? Choose ScoutIQ.
Data quality: auditing Scoutly
We covered a basic overview of what displays on the main screen, in this section I’m specifically comparing the quality of each app’s data.
When you subscribe to a scanning app, you’re paying for data. The higher quality the data you’re getting, the better the sourcing decisions you’ll make, and the more you’ll profit.
How accurate is Scoutly’s downloadable database?
Remember that Scoutly already has an advantage over ScoutIQ with it’s database download option: ScoutIQ only lets you download pricing data for media items, while Scoutly let’s you download (almost) everything on Amazon. (But we’re here to talk about the quality of the data of each app, not the quantity…)
I’ll focus on the two types of data that matter most when making an inventory purchasing decision: Data that measures demand, and pricing data.
Scoutly’s Amazon Sales rank accuracy: I never look at current sales rank personally, but for the purpose of this review I scanned a few dozen books (in database mode) and found no significant discrepancies indicating the data was more than 24 hours old. Scoutly’s database downloads always appear to be current.
Scoutly’s Average Amaon sales rank accuracy: This is impossible to pin down the accuracy of, but when comparing to other sources (like Keepa), I’ve never seen anything indicating Scoutly’s average sales rank data is calculated inaccurately.
Scoutly’s “Sales Score” accuracy: This is yet another way to look at demand, which Scoutly calls “Sales Score.” Like ScoutIQ’s “eScore,” the Scoutly Sales Score figure puports to measure the number of sales an item has received in the last 180 days. And (unlike eScore), when compared to Keepa sales history charges, it has always matched up near-perfectly.
Scoutly’s pricing data accuracy: Pricing data is never going to be dead-on when you’re in Database mode. Scoutly states their pricing data is updated every 12 hours, and that matches up pretty well with my experience. Never seen any wild discrepancies between Scoutly data and live Amazon prices.
Gaps in Scoutly’s pricing database: Occasionally you will scan a product that is not in Scoutly’s database, but its rare.
Overall, Scoutly has put an impressive amount of work into providing high quality data with minimal blindspots.
Data quality: auditing ScoutIQ
This is where things get a ugly for ScoutIQ.
When you take a look at ScoutIQ’s data, it becomes clear what they are compensating for when they put so much emphasis on design and promotion from affiliate marketers.
How accurate is ScoutIQ’s downlodable database?
Before I talk about how bad ScoutIQ’s data is, I will say I have had to deal with the craziness of processing mountains of Amazon data with my old online arbitrage tool. So I am sympathetic to how difficult it is to get it right. A certain amount of inaccuracy & latency is inevitable.
But flaws are flaws, and ScoutIQ has a few…
ScoutIQ’s Amazon Sales Rank accuracy: ScoutIQ’s sales rank data is frequently wildly inaccurate. In Database mode, I’ve seen examples of books displaying a rank a book hasn’t held for several weeks. For example, books showing a current rank of 500,000 that actually have a current rank of 2 million. Like Scoutly, ScoutIQ claims their database is updated twice daily, but it’s clear when scanning books (specifically low-demand books) that this is not correct.
While I can’t be sure, my suspicion is that ScoutIQ has some kind of tier system, where they refresh high-demand products more often, and low-demand (i.e. “long tail”) products less often. All the examples I’ve seen of wildly inaccurate sales rank data has been with Long Tail books.
ScoutIQ’s Average Amazon Sales Rank (or lack thereof): ScoutIQ doesn’t offer this, instead referring users to their “eScore” figure. And I supect the reason ScoutIQ doesn’t show Average Sales Rank is that it would reveal the inaccuracies in their eScore figure. (More on that in a second…)
Gaps in ScoutIQ’s pricing database: Again, this refers to the frequency with which you scan something and ScoutIQ has to perform a live lookup because the item is not in it’s database. ScoutIQ has items missing from it’s database far more often than Scoutly.
(Database issues seem to be a frequent issue with the company behind ScoutIQ. Some years ago I did a video exposing the massive gaps in the database of their online arbitrage tool called “Eflip.” So it’s no surprise the same issues afflict ScoutIQ).
ScoutIQ’s “Escore” accuracy: This is where it gets uglier. “Escore” is the only substantial claim of superiority ScoutIQ ever had over Scoutly. Like Scoutly’s “Sales Score,” eScore purports to measure the number of sales in the last 6 months. Not an estimate – they claim it is an exact figure.
In a detailed audit of ScoutIQ’s escore I did, I showed that eScore has the appearance of being a totally fake figure. If you’re using ScoutIQ, this is going to be hard to hear, but I back up this claim pretty well in the article. In it, I scanned approximately 70 books, and found wild, extreme inaccuracies in eScore in 10 of them.
(I went into a significant amount of detail in that article, including screenshot of everything. If you have any doubts, see the findings of my eScore audit. To date I have not had anyone even attempt to dispute the findings).
My takeaway is that eScore isn’t just inaccurate, it appears to be almost totally disconnected from reality, resulting in costly purchasing mistakes.
Scoutly vs ScoutIQ: which app has superior data?
Scoutly has the most accurate data – far and away.
As a user of Scoutly for many years, there’s been lots of opportunity for any defects in Scoutly’s data to reveal themselves. And I’ve simply never seen it.
ScoutIQ on the other hand, had data inaccuracies that revealed themselves to me almost instanlty. Between pricing data errors and “eScore” errors, I personally cannot trust anything I see in ScoutIQ. (Search Amazon seller forums for “ScoutIQ” and you’ll get an eyeful of sellers who have similar concerns).
All you’re really paying for with a scanning app is the data. And data quality tilts favor heavily in the direction of Scoutly as the best Amazon sourcing app.
Honesty and credibility: auditing Scoutly
Scoutly occupies an interesting place in the Amazon selling world.
As stated before, Scoutly has been around for almost 20 years. But the founders have stayed largely invisible (as far as I can tell), working quietly behind the scenes without any flashy promotion, social media, or drawing any attention to themselves at all.
Normally I like to know who is behind the products I use. But in the case of Scoutly, I kind of respect how singularly focused they are on creating a good product at the exclusion of almost everything else.
No affiliate outreach. No courting of gurus. No flashy marketing campaigns. Very little social media presence. Minimal YouTube content. Just a good product, and founders who don’t need to yell and scream online about how good their tool is. (I am unable to keep myself from doing this with my own tools, so I appreciate their restraint).
I’ve never seen Scoutly make any claims they can’t back up, or do anything other than make a solid product. And then let word of mouth do the rest.
Honesty and credibility: auditing ScoutIQ
ScoutIQ is essentially the opposite of what I described with Scoutly.
Concerns with ScoutIQ fall into three categories:
- Repackaging other apps (copying vs innovating)
- Questionable clams about their data
- The “book flipper” persona
I’ll point out that the original founder apparently sold ScoutIQ to another company. Does this wipe the slate clean on their integrity issues? It’s not clear who is still running the show at ScoutIQ now, and there’s been no clear attempt from the new owners to rebrand (that I’ve noticed).
#1: Repackaging other apps
It would be impossible to point to any innovation introduced by ScoutIQ or it’s associated products. Their first tool (called “eFlip”) was a direct copy of another online arbitrage tool. ScoutIQ is a direct copy of Scoutly. Neither has any significant benefits over their originators. Nor, with minor exceptions, do they even claim to be better tools.
The whole model is essentially the software version of Chinese counterfeit purses: Make something that mostly gets the job done, and hope no one notices it’s a copy.
#2: The whole “book flipper” thing
The official story is that the “book flipper” founder of ScoutIQ had been selling books for 10 years, and decided to launch an app. This “book flipper” persona came out of nowhere in 2015-ish, with a blog and YouTube channel. The whole thing felt immediately inauthentic (to me). For example: If you’ve been selling for 10 years, why are you buying my my beginner ebooks a few months before the launch of your “book flipping” blog? (Here are the receipts:)
It raised questions as to whether the official origin story of “I’m just your everyday Amazon seller who wanted to build a better app” was a real story, or the Amazon selling community was being sold a fictional marketing construct. There’s an authenticity with Amazon bookselling that is very hard to fake. And the whole “book flipper” character raised some questions.
Should we care if the “book flipper” was a marketing stunt or a real thing? Most wouldn’t care, as long as the product was good.
But there’s some credibility issues to ScoutIQ that are easier to verify and impossible to ignore…
#3: Inaccurate data claims
As discussed, ScoutIQ’s eScore figure appears to be largely fictional. This is a serious credibility issue for ScoutIQ. And there’s more..
Before ScoutIQ, they created a tool called “Eflip.” It claimed to be an online arbitrage tool with 20 million books in it’s database. Because I like to stir up trouble, I uncovered a screenshot from their developers confirming the number was only 3 million. Then, their story changed to “actually, we updated to 20 million.” Then I did a video on Eflip showing their database was still only 2 or 3 million (a big deal when you’re relying on a tool for sourcing inventory). Then the story changed again, where they said (in essence) “our database is 20 million, but we only show you some of those. It’s for your own good. Just trust us.” What? Weird.
This is Amazon selling, not a hedge fund. There shouldn’t be this much confusing, contradictory, and suspicious obfuscation around basic numbers.
It’s clear that the ScoutIQ camp (at least before it sold) had no qualms about being loose with numbers, making questionable claims about data that impacted sellers, and changing the story when questions of accuracy were raised.
Scoutly vs ScoutIQ: Which app is more honest & credible?
Scoutly is the winner. Scoutly simply delivers exactly what it promises, and has been absent of any false or questionable claims.
If trust and integrity is an important factor for you in choosing an scanning app, Scoutly is the only option.
How much does Scoutly cost?
I didn’t include subscription price in the top 5 criteria because I don’t consider price to be a relevant factor in what scanning app any Amazon seller should choose. Even the smallest benefit of any app will insure that it pays for itself quickly if you’re sourcing at even a small volume. So going with an app only because it’s cheapest is always a mistake.
Scoutly is both better and cheaper than ScoutIQ.
Here are Scoutly’s two pricing tiers:
- Professional plan (Includes live lookup and database download: my recommendation): $35/month
- Lite plan (live lookup only): $9.95/month
How much does ScoutIQ cost?
Again, ScoutIQ is more expensive without asserting any clear or substantial benefits:
- Database + live lookup: $44/month
- Live mode only: $14/month
Why do more “gurus” promote ScoutIQ?
If you search around on Google and YouTube, you’ll notice more people promoting ScoutIQ than Scoutly. And if you believe that product endorsements are based on a genuine and objective analysis of the better option, you would conclude that ScoutIQ must be the better app. Why else would more people be promoting it?
The answer is: more people promote ScoutIQ becuase they pay higher affiliate commissions. As in, ScoutIQ pays substantially more to people who promote it. Specifically, Scoutly pays approximately $5 per referral, while ScoutIQ pays almost $9. That’s a significant difference, and the reason online gurus are far more motivated to promote ScoutIQ.
(I’m using Scoutly affiliate links in this article, but I’d earn a lot more if I was recommending ScoutIQ).
While I don’t blame anyone for promoting ScoutIQ, I tried to find anyone getting paid to promote ScoutIQ who said that ScoutIQ is actually better than Scoutly. And the only reason I found was the ScoutIQ “eScore” feature. And as we saw, this relevance of eScore has been undermined by both Scoutly’s debut of it’s competing “Sales Score” feature, and eScore being shown to be too inaccurate to rely on.
More promotion is not to be confused with a better product. It only reflects higher commissions.
Recap: What are the downsides of Scoutly?
Scoutly is inferior to ScoutIQ in a couple areas:
- Scoutly has worse design.
- Scoutly has inferior usability.
Recap: What are the downsides of ScoutIQ?
Scoutly is better than ScoutIQ in every other category:
- ScoutIQ shows less data
- ScoutIQ has lower quality pricing data
- ScoutIQ has lower quality sales history data
- ScoutIQ is less honest and credibile
- ScoutIQ has a fewer items in its database download
- ScoutIQ has fewer overall features
- ScoutIQ is more expensive
Declaring a winner: Scoutly is the best scanning app
Scoutly is a vastly superior scanning app to ScoutIQ.
Better features. More data. Higher quality data. More integrity. All of this translates into more profits for sellers who use it.
Top 10 reasons Scoutly is a better scanning app than ScoutIQ
#1: Scoutly has better data accuracy
#2: Scoutly displays more data
#3: Scoutly shows Average Amazon Sales Rank
#4: Scoutly offers free TurboLister lising software
#5: Scoutly is cheaper than ScoutIQ
#6: Scoutly is a longer-running, more credible company
#7: Scoutly’s database download contains all product categories (not just books)
#8: Scoutly let’s you check if an item is restricted with one click
#9: Scoutly displays Keepa charts in the main scouting screen
#10: Scoutly shows an item’s “Fair Market Value”
The final word on the Scoutly vs ScoutIQ debate
The scanning app you choose is truly one of the most important decisions you make as an Amazon seller, specifically in it’s impact on your profits. And I hate to see sellers choosing an app based on flashy marketing over hard facts.
My intention was to create the most comprehensive review of the two biggest scanning apps (at least for Amazon booksellers). I hope you got lots of value from it.
PS: Think ScoutIQ is a better app? Make your case in the comments below.