Amazon App Scan Feature

In How To, Lifestyle by Andrew Selepak is the dominant e-commerce site in the United States with growing sales and profits. In 2015, Amazon earned $107-billion in revenue, a 20% increase from 2014 according to Business Insider.

But the e-commerce giant is not just a desktop, one-stop shopping extravaganza. Amazon is mobile and the Amazon mobile app allows users to take their phones, tablets, and shopping with them.

According to Amazon, “Nearly 70 percent of customers shopped using a mobile device” during the 2015 Holiday Season; more than double the 2014 Holiday Season. And on Cyber Monday 2015, “Amazon customers worldwide ordered more than 33 electronics per second from a mobile device.”

But despite huge profits and tremendous growth in mobile sales, many are unaware of a feature in the Amazon Android app and iTunes Amazon app that can make shopping even easier.

When Amazon mobile users open the app, at the top is the option to search for a product by name. But next to the search option is a camera icon that allows users to search for a product on Amazon by scanning a physical item or a barcode using their mobile device’s camera.



The mobile app provides first time users with a basic explanation of how to use the option to find a product on Amazon.



There are multiple benefits for this underused feature. For example, a user can enter a store and scan an item or barcode to see if Amazon sells it for less. Or a user might notice a watch or pair of shoes they like and scan the item and search the e-commerce site for the same item or a similar product. According to the getting started screen, the scan feature works best with a barcode or for books, DVDs, video games or packaged groceries, but I found the feature works for most items sold on Amazon and if the exact item doesn’t appear, Amazon will suggest a similar product.

To show how the feature works, and with St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, I scanned the front jacket of an Irish Drinking Songs CD that I purchased years ago in a box store.


The app scanned the front of the CD through my phone’s camera and once it recognized the CD, Amazon provided a list of purchasing options including the CD and additional audio formats. The app actually found the CD so quickly that it was difficult to grab a screenshot on my Android phone before it provided a list of options to purchase.


After scanning the front of the CD, I scanned the barcode on the back of the CD jacket. Although I purchased the CD in the 1990s, the app scanned the barcode so quickly that again it was difficult to take a screenshot before it found the exact product.


Items with a barcode often point to a specific product if they are sold on Amazon, and in this case offered a 1-Click buying option as I was logged into my Amazon account on the app.


Using the Scan It option on the Amazon mobile app makes one-click shopping that much easier and allows customers to compare in-store prices with Amazon’s prices, find items customers see in the real-world, or let users shop for 23-year-old Irish Drinking Songs CDs in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

And don’t forget, after checkout, you can share on social media what you bought to let friends and family know about the new clothes you just purchased, or the book, DVD, or electronics you just purchased, or to let them know what you will be listening to this St. Patrick’s Day.

Enjoy and happy shopping.

Photo credit: Twin Design /

About the Author

Andrew Selepak


Dr. Selepak is a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in Social Media.