If you haven’t heard about Merch by Amazon by now chances are you probably been living under a rock. The relatively new platform is taking on the print on demand (POD) industry for t-shirts. It’s basically Amazon’s version of CafePress, Zazzle and other companies offering the POD service.
I had heard of Merch when it was first launched in September of 2015 but never took the time to sign up for the platform. Instead, I was preparing for Q4 on the Fulfillment by Amazon platform, which is Amazon’s busiest and the most profitable time of the year. Then in late December Glen from Hustler Hacks recommended that I sign up to get on Merch by Amazon.
Initially, from my understanding, when the program was first launched just about everyone was approved into the new platform with no hesitation. Unfortunately, as more and more people signed up for the program Amazon experienced high demands from both content creators and customers. This forced Amazon to eventually switch their approval system to an “invitation only” system. By the time I had applied for the program in January I was on a long waiting list to be approved.
Finally, in March of 2016, I was finally approved and started to design shirts immediately. For people like myself and Glen, this is the perfect platform to be content creators. We both have a degree in graphic design and once we come up with a concept we can typically have a design finished relatively quickly.
Unfortunately, because of the rapid growth Amazon had to put restrictions on other aspects of the program. In May of 2016, they put a hold on their tier upgrades, which I will discuss shortly, and began limiting orders on Amazon by making some shirts “not searchable” and certain sizes were listed as out of stock. This put a burden on my Merch business as I had to strategize what types of shirts I designed so I can get sales.
Fast forward to today and Amazon has made some significant improvements and from what I can see they are tiering people up and approving accounts again. There are other limitations at the moment such as Amazon reviewing designs before they go live but that is a good thing as it deters copycats from violating their service agreement.
If you are approved then I’m sure you been designing shirts already. Initially, Amazon will just give you 25 slots to upload your designs. That means you can only sell up to 25 shirts in the beginning. Once you sell 25 shirts they will upgrade you to the 100 tier. At a 100 tier, you have to sell 100 shirts to get upgraded to the next tier, which is 500. After 500 is called “Pro” and by invitation only.
At the moment I am having moderate success with Merch by Amazon. The reason I say moderate is because as I mentioned earlier I got a late start on the platform. However, I have been slowly scaling my print on demand business even with all the restrictions. I see the overall growth potential on Merch by Amazon and recommend everyone to look into possibly venturing into the new platform.