The worst Amazon scanning app in the world: In record numbers, the Amazon Seller app gets confused for a sourcing app, becomes a sedative of the reseller masses.
Which Amazon scanning app is worse than none at all?
There is such a thing as something that is worse than nothing at all. And that’s something constricting that gives you the illusion of benefits.
Over the last year, the Amazon Seller app has been sedating thousands of Amazon sellers, making them just comfortable enough to feel they don’t need something that actually works.
Here, I’m going to tell you in great detail why I think the Amazon Seller app isn’t just a substandard option, but is actually costing you a lot of money.
Why free can be expensive
When Amazon debuted it’s Amazon Seller app, a free mobile app for sellers, it cast a spell over many sellers. Not because it was good, but for one reason: It was free.
The app never claimed to be a full-functioning inventory sourcing app. It’s function was to allow sellers to manage their accounts on their phone. But the app does have a “Product Search” tab, and a “Scan and Sell” function.
And because of this, something very bad happened: Thousands and thousands of Amazon sellers confused it for a scanning app. It became viewed (almost religiously) by many as an acceptable, free substitute to paid Amazon scanning apps.
The consequence? Thousands of sellers unaware of how a real scanning app functions, and the hidden costs of a “free” app.
Amazon never said it was a scanning app
Nothing I’m saying is an indictment on Amazon, or suggests any deception on their part.
The responsibility lies with sellers so eager to cut costs, they will cost themselves thousands of dollars down the road to save themselves $30 today.
3 reasons the Amazon Seller app is costing you money
- It’s slow.
- It’s really, really slow.
- You aren’t using all the better options because the app works “good enough.”
I’m going to tell you in more detail all the reasons I think this app is costing you way more than it’s saving you. So read on….
What the Amazon Seller app good for?
- Managing your seller account.
How the Amazon Seller app is costing you a ton of money
Your Amazon profits are in direct proportion to how quickly you can scan inventory. This is hard math. All other factors being equal, the seller scanning 60 books a minute is making 20 times more than the seller scanning three books a minute.
I will challenge anyone to a live scan-off: The Amazon Seller app against any paid app you choose. In terms of speed, the Amazon app is going to lose every time. And by a factor of five, at least.
And as your scanning speed decreases, your Amazon revenue decreases in direct proportion.
Speed test: The Amazon Seller app versus a paid app
Here are the steps when you want to scan an item with the Amazon Seller app, using a Bluetooth scanner:
- Tap “Search Amazon to sell” field
- Click on the result.
- To scan another item, click “Search” to start over.
What happens when you want to scan an item with Scoutly (and any other paid app):
And to scan another item, no clicking required. You just scan again.
The Amazon Seller app is not worth it
In other words, the Amazon Seller app is exactly the app I would wish on my worst FBA seller enemy.
It is virtually impossible to do any serious volume with so many steps.
A review of the data: Paid apps vs. Amazon Seller app
Amazon Seller app:
- Often displays multiple results per scan (including Kindle – what?)
- Sales Rank
- Reviews (Why?)
And after clicking the product….
- Lowest merchant fulfilled price (you must click a tab to view either new or used – you aren’t shown both).
- Lowest FBA price
Note that the data displayed when you scan is exactly what you’d see if you typed the ISBN into Amazon.com. Yes, the Amazon seller app is little more than the Amazon website – with some limited data thrown in if you have the patience to click through.
Data displayed Scoutly (should apply to all paid apps)
- FBA offers (all in the lowest 20 – the most allowed by Amazon)
- Lowest 10 used offers.
- Lowest 10 new offers.
- Net profit.
- Amazon sales rank.
- Average sales rank.
(+links to various other sites to inform a buying decision, such as Keepa)
And it does all of this with one scan, one screen, no clicking.
The only thing free about the Amazon Seller app is the download. From that point on, it’s costing you money. The reason is called “opportunity cost.”
Using a slow scanning app with multiple steps profoundly limits the amount of inventory you can process. And consequently, the amount of inventory you can sell.
Paid scanning apps allow you to scan 60 items a minute. And with the Amazon Seller app…. I estimate it’s something closer to 12. And that’s being very generous.
All other things being equal, that’s the equivalent of cutting your revenue down by 80%.
And suddenly, “Free” starts to look very, very expensive.
The only benefit of the Amazon Seller app
After my last post, covering how Amazon scanning apps are no longer allowed to display (most) FBA data, I got some questions about the Amazon Seller app. Here’s the situation, to clarify:
The Amazon Seller app does appear to show the lowest FBA offer – even if it is not in the lowest 20 offers (No third party apps are allowed to show this).
This is among the most significant pieces of data an FBA seller can have, and would alone make it a reason to switch over from any other app just to have access to this information.
But wait, it’s not that simple
In fact, every Amazon scanning app I’ve used gives you access to this data too. You just have to click through to Amazon to see it. But here’s the thing: The steps to get there with paid apps are:
And with the Amazon Seller app?
- Tap search field.
- Find & click product.
Only one extra step, so not a big deal, right?
It kind of is a big deal, because first of all you’re only seeing the lowest FBA offer. If you click through form there, it does not take you to a page showing all FBA offers. It only shows you the lowest 20 third party offers – FBA or not.
In fact, while it’s a positive that you get to see the lowest FBA offer at all, there is no way to see any other FBA offers if they’re not in the lowest 20.
This is a problem because it happens often that I’ll omit the lowest FBA offer as a factor in my buying decisions, simply because its a lowball offer and doesn’t matter. I plan for that one to sell out, and I’ll be the next in line – at a much higher price. Just the way I like it.
With the paid apps I’ve used, with one click you can be taken to an Amazon page that only displays FBA offers – all of them.
The Amazon Seller app doesn’t reveal any FBA offer except the lowest, meaning you are forced to make a buying decision with insufficient data.
In short, the Amazon Seller app means more steps, less data.
Bad news: the Amazon Seller app relies on your cell signal
I gave up on “real time” apps a couple of years ago. These are apps that give you live pricing and sales rank data, pulled live from Amazon at the exact moment you scan. The problem is two-fold:
- They take an extra 1 to 10 seconds per scan.
- They depend on having a cell signal.
I won’t use these apps anymore. Basically, once Amazon stopped allowing third party apps to show most FBA data, the last advantage of some of the “live data” apps was gone. And according the my priorities, speed is next in line. So I went right for a scanning app that lets you store Amazon’s database in your phone and gives instant results – no cell signal required.
Since there is virtually no benefit to “live” data for FBA sellers (your prices are already 2 to 7 days old by the time they hit the warehouse, remember?), I don’t know what we get for waiting that extra several seconds per scan.
Not to mention, such apps become painfully slow and often unusable if you don’t have a strong signal.
For this reason, I consider any app that relies on a cell signal to be a drawback. And the Amazon Seller app is one of them.
The app is even slower if you don’t have a barcode scanner
If you’re relying on your phone’s camera to scan barcodes, using the Amazon Seller app gets much slower.
Using your camera is a fine alternative for hobbyist sellers who pick up items to resell every now and then. For everyone else, I have another opinion….
Giving up thousands to save yourself pennies
The things we do to save ourselves $30 can cost us $30,000 (and more).
I am very familiar with starting an Amazon business and needing to bootstrap in a serious way. Most of my earliest book inventory came for free from dumpsters. I’m extremely sympathetic to starting with nothing, and needing to use any free option available to get off the ground.
But this is only a viable explanation for using a free Amazon scanning app for a few weeks. Maybe a month.
The reason again comes back to simple math. Any scanning app you pay for will pay for itself many, many times over.
I’ll make a bold declaration: If I had only $30 to my name, I would sooner put that towards a sourcing app than inventory. There are sources of free inventory. There is no free sourcing app that won’t cost you money.
The Amazon Seller app creates an invisible ceiling
The reason they call it a “glass ceiling” is that you can’t even see it’s there. Which is what makes the Amazon Seller app such a liability: It works just well enough that we don’t see what it’s actually costing us.
It’s worth closing on the point we started with…
There’s one thing that is worse than nothing at all: Something stifling that gives you the illusion of benefits.
PS: If you find the Amazon Seller app to be a huge benefit to your business, and you think I’m off base with the opinions I’ve expressed, leave a comment below and tell me why I’m wrong.