What is Merch by Amazon?
Launched in 2015, Merch by Amazon is a print on demand (POD) platform similar to Amazon’s KDP and App Developer programs.
After opening an account Merch by Amazon, customers can upload their own designs for T-Shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies to the site.
Once approved by Amazon, the product will be available on Amazon and searchable by buyers.
When a buyer chooses to purchase a product, it will be produced to order – i.e, on demand. Then, Amazon pays the designer a royalty on every product sold.
How does Merch by Amazon work?
Signing up for Mercy by Amazon is relatively straight-forward and should take less than 15 minutes. Before you get started, make sure that you have the following to hand:
- Your Amazon account sign-in details
- Your contact information
- Your bank account and routing numbers
- Your social security or tax ID number
Pros And Cons Of Merch By Amazon
Whenever I'm thinking about picking up a new side hustle, I look for 2 main features.
- Can this business make more money even if I'm not working on it. Said another way, am I trading my time for money or not? Hopefully not.
- Can I sell this business for a multiple of it's monthly profit?
There are a lot of side hustle gurus pushing Uber and Shipt because they're easy to get started with and you see instant results. But they both have the same problems and they violate both of my tests for side hustles.
As an Uber driver, if you aren't driving your car, you aren't making money. Being an Uber driver is basically a second job where you are trading your time for money and you can easily calculate your $/hr rate.
Being an Uber driver is also not a valuable asset. You can't sell your Uber business because there isn't a business there. Nobody needs to buy your Uber business from you, they can just sign up and start driving on their own.
Merch by Amazon checks off both of my criteria.
Once you have a t-shirt design created and listed on Amazon, you don't have to do anything else to it. I've got designs I made 6 months ago that are still selling a couple of shirts per week and bringing in passive income.
The second criteria is that the business can be sold for a multiple of monthly profit and Merch checks this box as well. Here's a sample of the listings on Empire Flippers for Merch businesses that have sold recently:
There's a handful of people who were able to get to $2k-$4k per month in income and they sold that side hustle business for $40,000 or more. Pretty impressive.
Merch By Amazon Cons
Ultimately the reason I quit Merch by Amazon is that it's too easy to have your designs knocked off. Even if you can come up with an awesome, unique design, as soon as you start to see good sales numbers coming in, you'll have a huge swarm of competitors copy your design.
Amazon does a good job of protecting your designs and making sure nobody makes a 1 for 1 replica, but if they just change a small thing like the color or 1 word of a phrase, they can be listed right next to your listing. Copy catting on Merch is rampant and unavoidable.
And unlike an Amazon FBA business where you can follow up with customers and gather reviews for your product, you can't do that with Merch.
You have no control over what your competition does and you have no way to strike back by getting better/more reviews since you are all sourcing t-shirts from Amazon; the only differentiating factor is the wording/design which is easy to copy and means you can quickly be knocked out of the search results by scummy competitors.
How Much Money Can You Make With Merch By Amazon?
This question doesn't have a blanket answer. If you only have 10 designs on Amazon and they're moderate sellers (50k-100k BSR), then you'll probably only make $25-$50 per month.
If you get 2,000 designs live and you can get some of them in the top 10k or 1k BSR, it's possible to anywhere from $1k to $10k per month. The challenge is sustaining this level of revenue. As soon as your shirts start selling well you'll see a flood of competitors copying your designs and eating into your sales. The only thing you can do to combat this is to launch more t shirts and try to compete on volume.
Because of the competitive nature of Merch and the lack of control over listings and reviews, there is a cap to what you can earn with Merch. Based on the listings I found on Empire Flippers I'd say it's very rare to crack $5,000 per month in profit with Merch. It's possible to hit $1k-$5k if you're really dedicated and have a ton of designs, but you will probably never see anyone making $20k or $50k per month with Merch. There's just too much competition and too little control over the platform to really grow Merch into a huge business.
One of the methods people use to scale their business is to list their designs on other platforms. There are software tools available that will transfer your Merch listings to Etsy or other print on demand services which lets you tap into entirely new audiences that aren't searching for shirts on Amazon.
I wouldn't worry about branching out on to Etsy or other platforms until you're at the 500 tier or higher and you've hit your ceiling on Amazon. Your main focus should be unlocking higher tiers and making as many designs as possible on Amazon before you consider spreading your efforts.