I wrote the blog post below during my first month of Amazon Merch but never had the chance to publish it till now. Some of the things are a bit outdated but I am more than happy to answer any questions in the comments section
I was in the process of working on my own small clothing label when I came across Amazon Merch. I didn’t think much of it, there was at least a 10 month wait at the time, and really, its another opportunity in life. It wasn’t going to cost me anything, so I signed up as well. I would just like to preface the journey with a bit of my background. I have done a variety of things, that are in my opinion, a rite of passage when it comes to business in the online space. But please by no means be discouraged, its all about trying, failing and trying again. I have had my share of successes and failures in dropshipping, ecommerce, arbitrage and a few others here and there. Besides that, I was completely new to Amazon Merch, just like I suppose, you, the reader, are. So let’s start chugging away!
Approved for Amazon Merch.
Done a bit of reading over the month and got our designer Christian on-board and uploaded our two original designs.
Put together a Facebook page, made an ad and set it to run for 2 days.
Que the sad trombone. Our ads did not convert. We spent maybe $30/ad, the ads were incredibly well received but still failed to convert. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready for it.
Change of tactics. Looked up best selling shirts and joined the “improve the best selling shirts” band wagon. Started making Halloween shirts and Trump related shirts, smh.
We believe we have uncovered an original design idea and we were just in the moment, so we dropped another ad on Facebook. Wait, do you hear that? I think I hear it, its the sad trombone, wah wah wah. Engagement was even better than our previous ads at maybe 30% engagement to views but no sales :(.
Spent half the day scratching my head over why the ads didn’t convert.
Found two design ideas browsing Reddit. I learnt about Amazon giveaways and ran a sweepstake for a week.
Not much has happened. Just kept uploading shirts, hoping for a sale.
DING DING DING! First sale! YEEEESSSSSS!!!1111!! We sold one of the shirts we advertised for on the 5th of the month. Didn’t justify the ads, but I finally felt happiness again after 20 days of emotional loss.
We hit our design cap. Thoroughly disappointed over our poor performance. I think I sort woke up that day and said, whatever that we were doing manually, it wasn’t working. Called for a small meeting and decided that research was the problem, not the design.
Spent a whole day thinking what processes I could improve. As I have an engineering and programming background, I naturally started with devising automated processes and scripts. Made a program that searches Amazon’s clothing category best sellers to output their shirt names in a list. Spent the rest of the day looking through the results. Don’t know what happened, but it sort of just clicked. Looking at the list sort of gave me a really good idea of what people wanted (I elaborate on this in some commentary further below).
This is an important day, this is the day when we uploaded our most successful shirt. It wasn’t anything good, in all honesty, I thought it was crap. I uploaded without too much thought.
We sold it within 24hrs! Really stoked! Rotated out another design.
Sold the second one! Uploaded 2 more designs.
We sold 5 shirts on this day, really proud. Out of the 4 shirts we uploaded since I wrote the program, we have made at least two organic sales on them! We sold a few shirts since 27th averaging about 2 a day but nothing else really happened.
Dry day, think people were out trick o’ treating, not Amaz o’ Buying… Uhh.. Sorry…
Here is an overlook of how performance over the month, do keep in mind some of the sales came from give aways:
On forums, people mention that “text” based shirts typically outperform graphic based shirts. I didn’t really quite get what that meant prior to looking through the list. Maybe because I am not American, or maybe I was just in denial as a designer. I just assumed “text” shirts were shirts with text on it, but really, it was a design revolving around text. Puns, statements of pride, sayings, proverbs, quotes etc. I don’t really know how to explain it, some people might disagree with me on this, but the “design” aspect of the text shirt such as the positioning, sizing, font type, all the small things which makes the text relevant to what its saying is what a text based design was.
One of the more surprising things was that, our best selling design is one we didn’t believe in. To say the least, it was just outright stupid. I sort of get it but not because its related to American culture. But the lesson here is that to think in the shoes of the audience. Having had that shirt sell, I have become much more open minded towards designs. In the design process, I sometimes close my eyes and just imagine what kind of person would wear it, what their personality is like and what household they live in. I am going to run along with this concept for the next month and see how I go, but I am fairly confident it will be at least mildly successful.
We also hit 10 sales like a week after the tier wave, which was a bit of a downer, but oh well, life moves on! To save people the time calculating, I priced all of my shirts at $11.90 this month.