In record numbers, the
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
Here, I’m going to tell you in great detail why I think the
With the allure of “free,” the
Just over a year ago,
The app never claimed to be a full-functioning sourcing app. It’s function was to allow sellers to manage their accounts on their phone. But the app did have a “Product Search” tab, and a “Scan and Sell” function.
And because of this, something very bad happened: Thousands and thousands of
The consequence? Thousands of sellers unaware of how a real sourcing app functions, and the hidden costs of a “free” app.
Nothing I’m saying is an indictment on
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.
- 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….
But first: What the app is good for
- Managing your seller account.
- Doing title lookups of books without ISBNs (last I checked, some paid apps don’t offer this).
How this app is costing any serious seller a ton of money
Your profits are in direct proportion to how quickly you can scan inventory. This is hard math. All other factors being equal, the person scanning 60 books a minute is making 20 times more than the person scanning three books a minute.
I will challenge anyone to a live scan-off: The
And as your scanning speed decreases, your revenue decreases in direct proportion.
Putting them to the speed test: The
Here are the steps when you want to scan an item with the
- Tap “Search
Amazonto 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 the paid app I use (and the others I’ve tried):
And to scan another item, no clicking required. You just scan again.
It’s not worth it
In other words, the
It is virtually impossible to do any serious volume with so many steps.
A review of the data: Paid apps vs.
- 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
Data displayed in the app I use
- FBA offers (all in the lowest 20 – the most allowed by
- Lowest 10 used offers.
- Lowest 10 new offers.
- Net profit.
- Sales rank.
(+links to various other sites to inform a buying decision, such as CamelCamelCamel.com)
And it does all of this with one scan, one screen, no clicking.
The hidden cost of a “free” app
The only thing free about it is the download. From that point on, it’s costing you money. The reason is called “opportunity cost.”
Using a slow app with multiple steps profoundly limits the amount of inventory you can process. And consequently, the amount of inventory you can sell.
Paid apps allow you to scan 60 items a minute. And with the
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.
After my last post, covering how
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 sourcing app I’ve used gives you access to this data too. You just have to click through to
And with the
- 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
In short, the
Another drawback: The 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
- They take an extra 1 to 10 seconds per scan.
- They depend on having a cell signal.
I won’t use these anymore. Basically, once
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
And all of this assumes you’re using a barcode scanner…
If you’re relying on your phone’s camera to scan barcodes, using the
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….
The things we do to save ourselves $30 can cost us $30,000 (and more).
I am very familiar with starting an
But this is only a viable explanation for using a free app for a few weeks. Maybe a month.
The reason again comes back to simple math. Any 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 hold you back.
The reason they call it a “glass ceiling” is that you can’t even see it’s there. Which is what makes the
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.
Endnote #1: The proliferation of the
So if you’re in a Facebook group or
Endnote #2: For awhile, I’ve been hearing whispers of people making serious money buying books on
As part of this (emerging?) trend, there is a very exciting (and secretive) piece of online arbitrage software for
If you are interested in a powerful tool to find books to buy and resell on
Endnote #3: If you find the