Update 7/15/2014: This post was initially written 2/28/2014. One major change that is not reflected in the original post is that Profit Bandit is now $9.99/month as opposed to the one time fee of $15 that is referenced below.
Update 3/21/2015: I no longer use either Profit Bandit or Scanpower as a scanning app for my business. I use Scoutify by InventoryLab as my main scanning app, and the Amazon Seller App as a backup. Lastly, if at anytime you wish to see the most up to date list of services I am using, it can be found on this page on my site: www.onlinesellingexperiment.com/resources
I have had a few questions lately asking me about the scanning tool that I am using, and what I find works best for me. Today I will be comparing the 2 main scouting apps that I have used, and which one I use as my main scouting app. I purchased Profit Bandit back in August of 2013, and I started a free trial of Scanpower on January 6, 2014 and have continued paying for the service. Both of these companies offer other products, but today’s post will only focus on their mobile scouting apps. These are apps that you use to scan bar codes when you are in stores to be provided with the current amazon information for products.
Let’s begin by looking at screenshots from each app for 3 different products, and compare it to the current amazon page as well to see the accuracy. These are 3 board games that I personally own in the screenshots, and are not products that I am reselling, all 3 are a lot of fun and highly recommended however.
So let’s take a look at the Scanpower and Profit Bandit results from the game Settlers of Catan, this first screenshot is from Scanpower ( My phone is a Galaxy S3): This is what the results will look like in Scanpower for any item that you scan. At the top of the screen you can see that this product is in the toys category, has a sales rank of 62, amazon is a seller for $36.99, there are 125 current offers, and the item is standard size. All good information to know when making a buying decision, and note that Scanpower is breaking out the amazon price separately at the top. From the the lower half of the screen, we can see that the lowest new non-FBA price is $37.78, the lowest non-FBA collectible (used toys and games must be listed as “collectible” per amazon policy) price is $46.89, and the lowest FBA new price is $37.09 with this seller having one item in stock. You can also see the quantity that the other FBA sellers have available to sell, and you know that there are 9 or more different FBA sellers. Scanpower will always show the 5 lowest FBA prices, and will show you a number that the number of FBA sellers is greater than. In Scanpower if you view the right-most part of your screen (not currently shown in the above screenshot), you can see the “net payout,” which is the total amount you will receive for the item less amazon commission and FBA fees, for each selling price. Take a look at this screenshot for an example:
That’s what the data in the Scanpower app looks like, now let’s take a look at the same item scanned in Profit Bandit:
At the top of the screen the app displays the category of the item, the list price, the number of offers in each category, and the sales rank. The app will then display the pricing information of FBA offers, New offers, and Collectible offers. The price with an “*” next to it, is the current buy box price. The price that is shaded in brown is the current amazon price. Profit Bandit will display the lowest prices for each category and a sampling of the other offers. In this case they show 3 FBA new, 1 non-FBA new, and 3 collectible offers. They also show the profit in the bottom right corner of the screen. I will skip the narrative on what each number means in the next 2 items I will be showing.
Now, let’s take a look at the current amazon page to see if the data coming up in the app is accurate (click on image to enlarge): As you can see amazon has the buybox and is selling for $36.99. Both apps were accurate in this regard and let us know that amazon was a seller. Competing with amazon is something that in general I like to avoid, so it is valuable information to know that amazon is this seller. The sales rank was exactly right for both apps. I counted and there were 16 different FBA sellers on this listing. Scanpower displayed 5 while letting us know there were at least 9, and Profit Bandit let us know there were 3.
Let’s take a look at item number 2, the board game Acquire in Scanpower: And in Profit Bandit:And the related amazon product page: Items worth noting here are: Scanpower told us amazon was not currently selling this item and that was accurate. Profit Bandit told us the buy box price was $25.95, and that amazon was not a seller as there was not a price shaded in brown. There were actually 15 FBA offers for this item, Scanpower told us there were more than 11, and Profit Bandit displayed 3. Sales rank was right on for both apps.
There were multiple results for this UPCs, so I clicked the icon for the item matching the game (the top one) and this is the result: Now, here’s the result I got when scanning in Profit Bandit scanning the exact same UPC, and this was the result: The app displayed that there were no sellers for the item, and did not even show that it was listed on amazon. I then typed in the UPC by hand to see if that would display the results: It came up with the same no results page. So let’s see what the current amazon page for this UPC looks like:
As you can see this item was indeed listed on amazon. There were 62 FBA sellers, and Scanpower told us there would be more than 18. They were accurate in that amazon was not a seller, and in the sales rank. As for the error in Profit Bandit, I am not sure why this happens, but occasionally it will not display any results when there should be. I have had this happen quite a few times. I did not intend for this to occur by intentionally waiting to find an item that would have an error, I literally pulled 3 games off my shelf and began scanning and taking screenshots for this post.
Now, let’s get into the cost of these 2 services. Scanpower is $39.95 per month for the mobile app, and this monthly fee also includes “Webscout” which is basically Scanpower mobile that you view in a web browser. Profit Bandit is a one time fee of $15 to download. Profit Bandit charges a one time fee of $49 to use a bluetooth scanner with their app, while Scanpower does not charge an additional fee.
UPDATE 4/24/2014: Both apps require you to have a pro merchant account with amazon to use the account. A pro merchant account costs $39.99 per month, but waives a $0.99 per order fee on every item that sells.
Overall, Scanpower is dramatically more expensive than Profit Bandit, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts, about it. The real question however is, which one is the better value? and which one am I using?
I was using Profit Bandit for the first 3 months that I was selling online full time, and overall I was happy with it. It provided me the information I needed to make buying decisions and it helped me some see pretty good results as you have seen in my October through December income reports. I was noticing however that, I was receiving a decent number of products not found (as one example above) and occasionally being burned by not definitively knowing amazon was a seller on an item. This led me to explore Scanpower. I started the free trial at the beginning of January, and am now a paying user.
Here’s why, they provide the best data available. They show if amazon is a seller with accuracy, they show the lowest 5 FBA offers, they show the minimum number of FBA sellers, and I have found their app to consistently display results when items are for sale on amazon. These are the main 4 reasons that I am paying $39.95 per month for Scanpower. Now, if you told me 6 months ago that I would be willing to pay this much per month for an app, I would have thought you were absolutely crazy. But, I have seen what is possible with FBA, and having the best data available is an essential part of the business for me. I only have to have Scanpower find me an additional $40 per month in profitable items that may not have displayed on Profit Bandit, or to save me from buying too many (or possibly any) of an item that amazon is selling that I could lose money on.
Scanpower’s founder, Chris Green, did a Spreecast Q&A about Scanpower (kind of like watching someone film a youtube video live and being able to type in questions for those of you who aren’t familiar with Spreecast) this past Wednesday, and I asked him the following question via chat, “Does Scanpower have an exclusive agreement with amazon or how are they able to provide more information that the other scanning apps?” You can watch his response HERE if you are interested (note: he may be slightly biased against the other apps).
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Profit Bandit is a good value for $15. It’s a great app to get started with due to the lower cost, and I still recommend it to people when they are just starting out. I did just fine my first 3 months full time with it. You just need to be aware that it will not show you if amazon specifically is a seller, won’t show all of the FBA offers, and will occasionally say there are no results, when there should be.
I am now using Scanpower as my main scanning app as I believe the accuracy of the data they provide more than offsets the cost. I still use Profit Bandit as a backup, and have no plans to get rid of it completely. Once you are starting to do some decent volume with FBA, and definitely if you are selling on amazon anywhere near full time, I believe it is worth looking into Scanpower and at least doing their free trial. The normal free trial for mobile scouting is 5 days, if you sign up for the free trial to “The Scanpower Pack” you will receive a 2 week free trial that includes mobile. If you enter my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) as “Where did you hear about ScanPower?” I believe you will receive an extended free trial. HERE is a link to Scanpower’s website. HERE is a link to Profit Bandit’s website if you would like more info.
This got to be quite the lengthy post, but I hope you find it useful in evaluating scanning apps. It’s worth noting that both of these apps also have other useful features that I really didn’t get into, maybe a topic for a future post if anyone is interested?
If you want to see an up to date list of all of the products and services I am using with my amazon business, be sure to check out my resources page here: www.onlinesellingexperiment.com/resources.
Lastly, my February 2014 financial results post will be ready on March 3rd, so stay tuned for that!