Lots of people like to talk about the internet as though it were one gigantic global market, but the truth is it’s an endless collection of thousands of markets. Not all of them are worth your attention, but the biggest bazaar on the block, Amazon.com, definitely is. Amazon has recently launched its own POD service, Merch by Amazon, and artists and sellers are clamoring to get on board.
What Is Merch?
Merch by Amazon is a print-on-demand (POD) service that you can use to translate your designs into attractive and profitable products. It’s a relatively new service, so right now it is limited to use for t-shirts. This should change as the program grows and expands.
Merch presents a very attractive prospect to designers and other professionals who are looking to create merchandise without a lot of upfront investment. Because Amazon foots the cost of creating and shipping your shirts, you don’t need to spend anything on infrastructure or stock to operate a profitable store.
What’s This Invitation-Only?
This is the downside of promising new services launched by big, popular companies: Demand tends to grow like a particularly infectious disease. When it first launched, Merch by Amazon was open to any seller who signed up. This changed awfully quickly and now Merch is an invitation-only program.
Amazon is slowly but steadily increasing the ranks of its authorized Merch sellers. Right now, the only way to score a slot is to request an invitation (https://merch.amazon.com/landing), cross your fingers, and hope. Nobody has any solid advice on speeding up the process and the latest reports from sellers who apply indicate that it takes several months to receive an invitation. If you want to get in on this exciting POD service, though, it’s well worth applying. Some anecdotal evidence indicates that multiple requests are OK with Amazon, so applying on a monthly or bimonthly basis might be a good idea.
The Creator’s Perspective
Once you get a Merch account, you will find a very simple platform for creating shirts. Amazon provides the templates you will need for formatting your graphics properly. At present all Merch designs have to be submitted in PNG format. The current color palette is limited to five choices.
Merch by Amazon operates on a tiered system where the number of designs you are allowed to offer depends on how many sales you have made. The tiers are currently set at 25, 50, 100, and 500 designs. There is also a “Pro” tier that is by invitation only. To advance to a higher tier, you will need to sell at least as many shirts as your current tier. Unlocking the 50-design tier requires a minimum of 25 sales, for example.
Amazon takes $12.31 out of the cost of each shirt to cover production, shipping, and listing expenses. This includes their 15% listing fee. You’re free to set whatever retail price you want on your shirts and you get to pocket everything that’s left over as a royalty payment after Amazon gets its cut. This translates into royalty rates that start at 40 percent and go up.
What Are The Advantages?
Why are artists, designers and even major companies chomping at the bit to get into Merch by Amazon? For a start, look at that last paragraph again. A 40 percent royalty rate is exceptionally favorable for the creator. While there are many other POD services out there, few can compete with the potential profit margin Merch has to offer.
The other major advantage that has people in a lather to join the program is free access to Amazon’s immense marketplace. The sheer number of prospective customers shopping on Amazon translates into immense sales potential. Sellers who have transitioned to Merch from other POD platforms have reported huge jumps in sales, even when selling identical designs.
Right now the only major drawback to Merch by Amazon is the unavoidable waiting period it takes to secure an invitation. If you’re considering entering the POD market or are already in it using other services, you should definitely submit your application to Merch sooner rather than later.
Stephanie Song is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed technophile, who loves keeping up with the latest gadgets and technology. You can check out her site, InkTonerStore.com for all your quality ink and toner cartridge needs.