The world of e-commerce has opened doors for entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world, who are making a lucrative living without ever having to leave their house — those working with print on demand companies don’t even have to make any trips to the post office! Also known as POD, print on demand services make it easy for entrepreneurs that want to create merchandise, but don’t necessarily want to deal with all of the printing, inventory management, and shipping all by themselves.
Due to the fact that print on demand companies can make bonafide bank, it is no wonder that ecommerce goliath Amazon began to see dollar signs and decided to dip their metaphorical toes into the POD pond, announcing their own print on demand service, Merch by Amazon, in 2015.
Since Amazon has more money and resources at their disposal than almost any other company in the world, it is no wonder that articles about success stories began popping up — some entrepreneurs report making upwards of $150,000 dollars — it almost sounded too good to be true!
A little bit of skepticism is always healthy, especially when it comes to your business. Today, we are going to give you a full run-down of the platform; what it is, how it works, and our definitive Merch by Amazon review. Is Merch by Amazon the right POD site for you?
What is Merch by Amazon?
Also known as MBA, Merch by Amazon was first officially announced in 2015 as the ecommerce platform’s first print on demand (or POD) service. Print on demand services work as a middle man for entrepreneurs, doing all of the heavy lifting that comes with selling merchandise: acquiring and holding white-label products, such as t-shirts or hats; printing the requested images on the products; and shipping the finished merchandise directly to the buyer. As the name suggests, the final products are printed and shipped “on demand” when the product is sold, rather than being made in bulk to prevent storing unsold inventory. When using print on demand services, you do not have to worry about storing inventory, much less keeping track of who buys it or mailing the purchases yourself!
However, Amazon flipped the script a bit. Unlike many other print on demand platforms, which require you to pay for the inventory (either in full or a portion of the cost of the white-label item) in addition to the cost of their services, Merch by Amazon does not make you pay out of pocket for their inventory or their services. Instead, you are paid a royalty for each item sold using the platform.
Merch by Amazon is not the only (nor is it the first) print on demand service to use this method — there are many companies that do — but it is one of the largest, which means that its formula has drawn more attention to MBA than others.
This approach may make you think you would earn less money by using Merch by Amazon: instead of giving the print on demand platform a cut of your profits, they are giving you a cut of their profits. Unfortunately, unless you are able to directly compare the costs and earnings you incur by using Merch by Amazon and a different print on demand platform at the same time, it is difficult to say whether or not this is the case — but it might be. However, the lack of fees and complete removal of (almost) any work on your behalf may make up for a smaller share of your profits.
Before you get too excited about MBA being completely free, users who have posted Merch by Amazon reviews insist that getting started is the hardest part. The service isn’t available to just anyone. You have to apply and be selected (or be invited) to use Merch by Amazon. The application process can be lengthy, with some users saying that it took weeks or months for their application to be approved by Merch by Amazon — that is, if it got accepted at all.
What kinds of products can I sell through Merch by Amazon?
If you have ever read other Merch by Amazon reviews you’ll know that the platform doesn’t have a huge selection of products, despite being hosted through the largest online marketplace in the world. That being said, when Merch by Amazon was launched, the POD service exclusively sold and distributed t-shirts. Now, MBA has added a number of products, but the selection is still rather slim in comparison to other print on design platforms like Redbubble, which can print your design hats, jigsaw puzzles, clocks, and more.
Though Merch by Amazon’s product selection may be slim, the products they offer are universally popular, which likely contributes to why the platform is able to keep costs so low for users. Most consumers who like your merchandise or designs would buy a t-shirt, but only a few would purchase a clock — by streamlining product selections to please the majority, Merch by Amazon can eliminate surplus inventory and additional printing processes.
These are the products that you can sell through Merch by Amazon and how they can be customized:
|Product||Customization Dimensions & Options|
|T-shirts||4500px by 5400px (front and back)|
|Long sleeve t-shirts||4500px by 5400px (front and back)|
|Long sleeve raglans||4500px by 5400px (front and back)|
|Tank tops||4500px by 5400px (front and back)|
|Crewneck sweatshirts||4500px by 5400px (front and back)|
|V-neck t-shirts (women’s)||4500px by 5400px (front and back)|
|Pullover and Zip hoodies||4500px by 5400px (back only)|
|Pullover hoodies||4500px by 4050px (front only)|
|Zip hoodies||4500px by 4050px (front only)|
|PopSockets phone grips||485px by 485px|
|iPhone phone cases||1800px by 3200px|
|Samsung phone cases||1800px by 3200px|
|Tote bags||2925px by 2925px|
|Throw pillows||2925px by 2925px (16” x 16” or 18” x 18”)|
You can find a full list of Merch by Amazon’s product selections, dimensions, design templates here.
What does it cost to use Merch by Amazon and how much will I earn?
As an entrepreneur, the most important thing you think about when choosing a new product or service platform is simple: money. Just like any other ecommerce venture, print on demand platforms often have a number of fees required for their services… but not Merch by Amazon.
That’s right — Merch by Amazon is totally free of charge for its users. The platform does not charge a single cent to sign up, host your merchandise on the marketplace, print your designs on the product, or ship them to the buyer. Better yet, all products sold through Merch by Amazon are Amazon Prime eligible, meaning that buyers will receive expedited shipping for free, provided that they are Prime members.
It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it is — depending on how you look at it.
They might not charge you anything to use Merch by Amazon, but that doesn’t mean that Amazon isn’t making any money off of you. Since MBA is a print on demand service, they only have to spend money to produce your merchandise after it is sold, taking the majority of the profits for themselves and paying you a royalty. This may seem strange, considering the legal definition of royalty is “a compensation to the owner of intellectual property or natural resources for the right to use or profit from the property.” So why are they paying you royalties?
Merch by Amazon does this because while you may be the intellectual owner of your property, Amazon essentially owns your designs in order to sell them, similar to a book publisher. This is why Merch by Amazon is so strict about copyright and intellectual property rights in their FAQ page and why the platform can get away with giving you only a small portion of the profits.
The platform’s payments are based on the purchase price for every product (you can see the full payment breakdown here) and also depend on the type of product, which gets confusing. Unfortunately, this results in some pretty scant royalty payments and — if you’re really unlucky — legal issues if you decide to remove your designs from the platform. These are the royalties you can expect to earn on each individual sale of a product has been sold and distributed with MBA:
|Product||Purchase Price (USD)||Royalty Earned (USD)|
|Standard T-Shirt||$15.99 $17.99 $19.99 $21.99 $23.99
||$2.21 $3.72 $5.23 $8.25 $9.77|
|Long Sleeve T-Shirt||$20.99 $21.99 $22.99 $23.99 $24.99 $25.99||$2.37 $3.09 $3.81 $4.53 $5.24 $5.96|
|Pullover Hoodie||$29.99 $31.99 $33.99 $35.99 $37.99 $39.99||$3.57 $5.01 $6.45 $7.90 $9.34 $10.78|
|Zip Hoodie||$29.99 $31.99 $33.99 $35.99 $37.99 $39.99||$2.26 $3.68 $5.10 $6.52 $7.94 $9.36|
|Crewneck Sweatshirt||$27.99 $29.99 $31.99 $33.99 $35.99 $37.99||$2.12 $3.62 $5.11 $6.61 $8.10 $9.60|
|Tank Top||$17.99 $18.99 $19.99 $20.99 $21.99 $22.99||$2.07 $2.84 $3.60 $4.36 $5.12 $5.89|
|V-Neck T-Shirt||$17.99 $18.99 $19.99 $20.99 $21.99 $22.99||$2.10 $2.85 $3.60 $4.35 $5.09 $5.84|
|Long-Sleeve Raglan||$21.99 $22.99 $23.99 $24.99 $25.99 $26.99||$2.36 $3.10 $3.83 $4.57 $5.30 $6.03|
You can find a full list of Merch by Amazon’s royalty payments for each product and currency here.
What are the pros and cons of using Merch by Amazon?
Like a print on demand platform, we do the heavy lifting for entrepreneurs, so we have scoured the web for Merch by Amazon reviews from actual users in addition to our own internal selling experience on the platform. Unlike products on Amazon’s marketplace, the company is not as forthcoming with user reviews about their own services — a bit of a red flag for us. According to Merch by Amazon reviews, here are the best and worst things about the print on demand service:
The Best: Merch by Amazon Pros
- Merch by Amazon is completely free to use, removing all the hassle of inventory and printing fees. The only real work that users need to do is create and upload designs.
- All MBA are hosted on Amazon, the largest ecommerce marketplace, and are Prime eligible, resulting in increased visibility and (hopefully) more sales.
- User interface is easy to understand and use with little to no learning curve.
- Easy way to earn passive income — upload your designs, forget about it, and (hope) the money rolls in.
The Worst: Merch by Amazon Cons
- Low royalty fees and a huge, extremely competitive market means that users have to sell a lot of merchandise through Merch by Amazon to see a healthy profit.
- Users have to be approved to use Merch by Amazon. The application process can take months and does not guarantee that users will be accepted at all.
- Merch by Amazon does not offer any integrations with other websites or marketplaces, like Redbubble or Shopify.
- Product selection is slim, only offering the most popular items.
Of course, there are additional talking points to note when deciding whether or not to use Merch by Amazon (such as the tier level system), but these were the most common complaints and compliments surrounding the print on design service.
The Final Verdict — Our Merch by Amazon Review
There is an innumerable amount of print on design platforms across the web, and while we love Merch by Amazon’s simple and cheap outlook on the industry, we aren’t convinced that it is the best one.
Though Merch by Amazon gives its users increased visibility and the ability to sit back and relax, this hands-off approach doesn’t give users enough control over their products or finances. Not to mention, due to the application process, there is no guarantee that users will even be allowed to use Merch by Amazon!
Overall, we think Merch by Amazon is a solid print on demand service that would be a great addition to others for entrepreneurs who sell merchandise on a number of other websites, but due to the low royalty payments, it should not be the only POD platform you use.
You can sell on multiple print on demand platforms and increase your profits as a result. This is what the top sellers on these platforms do to ensure their consistent sales.