Amazon is a great place to sell print-on-demand apparel products. With the Merch by Amazon program, you can easily upload your graphic designs to have Amazon create unique product listings showing the design on the apparel. For many sellers, the print-on-demand approach to selling on Amazon is preferable to the traditional method of sourcing common, pre-made products.
One such seller is Jacob Davis, a 31-year-old from Arizona. Jacob sold on Amazon for 3 years with very little success. He was selling Camera Flashes and experienced frequent errors with the lamp which led to a high number of returns. With the loss from returns, Jacob decided to find something simpler to sell.
He learned about the Merch by Amazon program and felt it would be a great way to sell without worrying about product quality. Jacob’s belief was correct as he’s had great success selling print-on-demand merchandise through Amazon. Within the first month of listing his products, Jacob saw $3,200 in sales. He now generates over $10,000 in sales per month while only needing to spend a few hours per week working on his business.
This post will take you through a list of the steps Jacob follows to have success with Merch by Amazon.
How to Succeed in Merch by Amazon
Jacob says “Merch by Amazon offers a great opportunity but you still need to devise a good strategy if you want to find success. I made mistakes when I first started selling on Amazon and decided to invest more time into planning and research before selling print-on-demand apparel. This has helped me have more success as I understand my market and my competitors better.”
Jacob uses the following 4-step process to sell print-on-demand products on Amazon.
Step 1: Find a Niche
The first step is to find a niche. Jacob says, “when creating your print-on-demand designs, you want there to be a high number of customers that are interested in that type of graphic. If there is a market for a particular subject, your designs will see steady demand and you can build around that type of style”.
Jacob started his search for a niche by going to Pinterest. There he used the search function to explore different ideas like family, dogs, vegan, and reading. He analyzed the popular designs to see which got the most comments and likes. Jacob also noted the contents of users’ comments to better understand their interests.
After researching several niche ideas, Jacob was interested in dad-themed designs. He could see that the niche was popular on Pinterest. But, he needed to verify the same was true for Amazon. For this, he turned to the AMZScout Keyword Search tool, a platform that helps you find Amazon keywords and how often customers search them.
Jacob entered the phrase “dad t-shirt” to see how much interest the niche had on Amazon. He found a variety of keywords each with over 1,000 monthly searches. He said, “this verified that there was enough demand for me to achieve my desired level of sales. It also gave me the keywords to add to my product listings.”
Step 2: Check the Competition
Jacob says it’s important to know how competitive a niche is before creating your designs. “When I first started on Amazon, I didn’t take other sellers into account when I chose what to sell. Looking back, this made generating sales a challenge as there were a lot of other high-quality products.
So, when I started selling print-on-demand products, I wanted to see what the market for dad t-shirts was like on Amazon. For this, I used another AMZScout tool called the PRO Extension. It lets you analyze products and niches from Amazon.com.
I searched for a dad t-shirt and opened the tool to see if it was a good category. I looked at the Niche Score which gave the niche an 8 out of 10 overall for success chances. There’s a section for Competition which has a score of Medium. With the high demand and profit potential, I decided that this level of competition was manageable and that the niche would be worth pursuing. You should perform a similar analysis when researching print-on-demand products for Amazon.”
Step 3: Create a New Product
Once you understand how to research ideas and competition, you need to develop your designs and create your products on the Merch by Amazon platform. Jacob likes to break this process into three distinct phases: creating the design, adding the product, and waiting for approval.
1. Creating the Design
For your designs, you can create them yourself or you can find someone to design them for you. If you’re like Jacob, you’ll find outsourcing your designs the best option. Jacob says he doesn’t have much artistic skill so he decided to hire a professional designer on the freelance platform Upwork.
He wanted high-quality designs but also wanted to avoid overspending. After looking at a few similar projects on the platform, Jacob found the mid-range cost for a good designer would be between $25 and $50 per hour. He then created a new project on Upwork, listing this amount as the estimated budget. Jacob also searched the site for designers he found interesting and invited them to submit a proposal for the project.
By the end of the first day, Jacob had eight people interested in his project. He reviewed the proposals and the profiles of the designers and found a few that he liked. This included a $30/hr offer from a designer with experience creating concepts for print-on-demand apparel.
Jacob says, “I sent her a follow-up message and we quickly finalized the details of the contract. I told her I wanted 10 designs and she said they would take about 15 hours to create. We agreed to sign a $450 fixed-price contract, paid once the project was complete and she got to work the following day. In total, it took a little over a week to complete the project. I was very happy with the end result as all the concepts were visually appealing with a unique design.”
2. Adding the Product
Once you have your designs, you need to add them to Merch by Amazon. To do this, you’ll have to enroll in the program, upload the design files, and format how they’ll appear on your apparel. Here is a simple step-by-step guide for how to do it:
- Step 1: Go to the Merch by Amazon site, click Sign up, and complete the process. Amazon will ask for your business name, address, and bank account details. You’ll also need to provide your tax identification number or social security number.
- Step 2: Complete the request form. After you give your initial details, you’ll see a sign-up form. It includes fields for industry type, organization name, additional information, and website (optional). The additional information field is where you can tell Amazon more about what you hope to gain from the platform. Jacob recommends taking advantage of this space to give details about your designs and why they’ll be popular.
- Step 3: Wait for approval. After you complete the form and hit Send Request, Amazon will review your request and decide whether to let you list on the platform. The turnaround time can vary. Jacob says “it took 8 days before I got approved but I’ve heard of other sellers having to wait 2+ weeks”.
- Step 4: Upload your designs. Once you’re in the Merch by Amazon platform, you click Create to upload your designs. There, you’ll have the option to choose which types of apparel to create the listings for. You can then use the file uploader to upload your design. After you add your file, the artwork will appear in the center of the mockups for the products you selected.
- Step 5: Edit your designs. If you don’t like the placement of the artwork, you can move its position. Once the design is to your satisfaction, you just need to add the product details including a description and price. When it’s ready, you’ll submit the design to Amazon for review.
Jacob says, “the product creation process is pretty straightforward but there are some important details to keep in mind. First, you should note the required image sizes for different apparel types. It’s also good practice to keep your file sizes under 25 MB.”
Below we can see the artwork dimensions for different products:
- 4500px by 5400px - t-shirts, sweatshirts, long sleeve t-shirts and back of pullover hoodies
- 4500px by 4050px - front of pullover hoodies and zip hoodies
- 485px by 485px - PopSockets grips
- 1800px by 3200px - iPhone and Samsung phone cases
- 2925px by 2925px - tote bags and throw pillows
If you’re new to Merch by Amazon, Jacob also says it’s important to stay on top of your submission limits. “New sellers can only submit one design per day and you can only have 10 products live at a time so you’ll need to plan your designs and launch accordingly”.
3. Waiting for Approval
The final part of getting your products up and running is to wait for Amazon approval. On average, it takes around 3 to 4 days for new designs to get approved. Jacob says, “make sure your designs follow the MBA Content Policy and that you use high-quality image files. If you do, your designs should get approved without issue.”
Step 4: Promote Your Products
The last step needed to get sales for your print-on-demand products is to promote them. You need to market to interested shoppers if you want them to see your designs.
The Merch by Amazon platform comes with several built-in features for promoting your products. This includes the option to post your products on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest directly from Amazon. You can also use the Amazon Advertising platform to run Sponsored Product Ads for your listings.
Jacob says, “I started by sharing my designs on Pinterest since that’s where I originally discovered them. It’s a free way to get eyes on your designs and you can learn if customers like them by analyzing the comments and shares.”
No matter what kind of designs you create, you’ll need to compete with other products on the market. Jacob says it is important to take this competition into consideration when pricing your items.
“You should always look to see what similar creators are charging for their apparel. Price is important for any type of product so designs with low costs tend to see better sales. When I first got started on Amazon, I made the mistake of not looking at competitor prices. This caused my listings to see low conversions, eventually leading me to lose money on ads. However, this time around, I made sure to look at the prices for similar designs to ensure I always have the best-priced items.”
Keep in mind that Amazon has a minimum sales price requirement for each type of clothing. This is to cover their production costs. You can’t price your products below this minimum level.
Since starting with Merch by Amazon, Jacob has enjoyed consistent sales. He says, “after initially posting my designs on Pinterest, I also started promoting my products through Amazon Ads, and this is when the sales really started to take off.”
His business now generates over $10,000 in monthly sales. In the most recent month, Jacob had 620 orders and $13,702 in revenue. Most of his products are priced in the $15.99 to $19.99 price range and most orders contain one product. But there are some orders with multiple products.
Of this revenue, Jacob gets to keep a solid amount as profit. With Merch by Amazon, creators receive a pre-determined royalty based on the item type and price. For example, a standard t-shirt with a $15.99 purchase price receives a $2.21 royalty. Last month, Jacob took home over $3,250 in profit.
Jacob is looking to build upon his print-on-demand success by creating his own apparel brand. “The goal is to produce products and list them on other channels while lowering the turnaround time for customers to receive their orders. I’m also hoping to grow my own website where I can keep more profit from my sales.”
Print-on-demand can be an effective approach to selling on Amazon. If you’re interested in selling through the Merch by Amazon program, follow the steps given by Jacob to maximize your chances of success.