How-To Geek

Use Amazon’s Barcode Scanner to Easily Buy Anything from Your Phone


Sometimes you just want things to be simple, and whether you want to buy a book, DVD, or even products like shaving cream and dry goods, you can do it in a snap with Amazon’s mobile app. If you’re a Prime member, it’s free 2-day shipping as well.

To be fair, Amazon doesn’t carry everything, but they do carry enough different products at great prices that you can at least use them to price check. This is something that a number of us here at How-To Geek do on a very regular basis to buy everything from shaving cream to extremely delicious Kona coffee. (Combine that coffee with this burr grinder and this French press and you have my morning coffee routine)

For an example of how useful this is: I was at somebody else’s house the other day and had some tasty wasabi peas. Since I wanted some for myself, I just pulled out my phone, snapped the barcode, and ordered them right then and there from my phone.

Scanning Products the Easy Way

All you have to do is open up the Amazon mobile application (search the Market or the App Store for your Android or iPhone), and click the Search box, which will show the “Scan It” option on the menu.


You’ll be presented with a normal barcode scanner, which you just have to point at the product.


And just like that—you’ll see the item. On the left screenshot you’ll see a book, and on the right, some shoe polish. That’s right, Amazon even carries shoe polish.


Obviously this isn’t a how-to article, but it’s something extremely useful that we figured we’d share.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/10/11

Comments (12)

  1. lrm537

    Might be a good idea to switch off “one click purchase”. I noticed it’s on by default. This would be fine if i can guarantee that i won’t lose my phone. But I can’t.

  2. Dafoo

    No Windows Phone option? Lame.

  3. sjr

    I use Google Goggles. Does the same thing and you’re not limited to Amazon.

  4. jon_hill987

    My use for this?

    In HMV and see a DVD/CD I want? Scan the barcode and see if buying it there and then is worth the (usual) extra cost of buying in a highstreet store.

  5. The Geek


    Yeah, I often go into stores and just scan the item there and buy via Amazon instead. =)

  6. Kerensky97

    I like Google Shopper more. It searches amazon and all other competitors, compares prices, shows local brick and mortar prices, and allows you to save items to research later.

  7. bub

    I got kicked out of Target for scanning barcodes awhile back. I explained it to them but they told me I was acting “suspicious”. Apparently it is against their policies.

  8. Lurker

    Wow. From ~30% battery to ~15% in 23 minutes? And they say the iPhone battery is bad.

  9. costco guy

    Costco also had a bit of a snit when I took a picture of a product code of something I was considering. Also against their policies.

  10. Lissa

    Thats awesome for restocking or like the pp said, at a friend house, ect….. but if everyone did that you are not supporting your own local businesses and I dont blame them for kicking the non consumer out. As i have done it before myself once or twice on special items but I prefer to support the local business.

  11. Mickey Hayes

    @Lissa, and anyone else for that matter :
    Yes, I agree in the support your local business, because it is what keeps us up for a better economy in your city and / or state. But, mind you, there are many businesses in your own city that want to rape you with costs (High Dolar, Imported, etc)

    Places like Walmart Superstore, usually have a large selection on things you may want to buy on the internet. The difference is, Walmart buys in large quantities, therefore getting a better deal for you abyhow, and can turn around and sell for the same or less then you would spend on the internet, because they take out the shipping and handling costs. Not to mention that you won’t have to wait 5-10 days to receive it.

    On the other hand, companies like FYE? Seriously?? Sometimes 30-35 dollars for a specific CD or DVD that you could get EVEN at Walmart for $19.95 + tax.? That is just CRAZY. Amazon for about 20-25 dollars, and even as low as (*this is a TRUE incident*) $0.67 cents, plus $2.34 S&H. AND it had 3 BONUS TRACKS !! (not included in the FYE store ordering info). When I had first ventured into FYE, they informed me that they would have to special order that CD (probably would order it from Amazon ayhow, LOL) and it would cost me $62 + S&H, and would take 2-3 weeks for delivery. What?!?!?! They said it was because it is an IMPORTED CD. So you get my point by now?

    Anyhow, so overall, I think that the Bar-Code Scanner would be helpful in stores that charge HIGH DOLLAR for the merchandise. But not for stores like Walmart. I have a Target, Walmart Superstore, Sams Club, Publix, K-Mart, and Winn-Dixie. Out of all of them, Walmart is ALWAYS lower in costs, even if it is only by a couple of dollars and / or change (it all adds up by the time you reach the cashier / register), than any of the other huge franchise stores. If they don’t, they will match / or beat competitor’s prices anyhow if you bring in the *SALES* flier / brochure.

    Ok, it is obvious that I am a huge Walmart fan, as well as an Amazon fan. I use Walmart for common things (groceries, clothes, etc) but I use Amazon or even RedBox DVD Service Kiosks for movies, electronics (Walmart does not always carry certain things I need), just not for everyday shopping. RedBox for rentals, Amazon for sales, especialy hard to come by movies (outdated, etc).

    ** I do think the Bar-Code Scan is in fact a great idea to use in the HIGH DOLLAR stores if you can get away with using it.**

  12. Lissa

    Well for instance my husband went to the music store and bought some reeds for my sons barisax. The box was $40.00 for 5. I almost crapped my pants, i scanned the barcode and found them $35.00 for 10.00. We chalked up this one but keeping the box for an online purchase. My point was don’t be surprised if you get kicked out of a store for scanning, to me it would seem rude. I am busy mom and would love to order everything online but I will continue to shop at stores with reasonable prices to keep the economy rolling.

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