Back in June, I put a couple of cool Robby Suavé shirts up for sale on Amazon. Yes, that Amazon. Amazon.com. If you search for “robby suave shirt” or whatever, you’ll find those shirts. It’s awesome. They’re only $15, and you should buy them. How was I able to get shirts on Amazon, you ask? Oh, I’m so glad you asked. That’s what I’m going to tell you right here and now!
In May or something, I received an e-mail from Amazon informing me that I had been chosen to be a part of their Merch by Amazon program. Right away, it appeared to be a shirt thing, so I was interested. I have no idea WHY I was chosen though. I mean, I have my music on there, but that seems to be a weird stipulation for being chosen to be a part of this Merch thing. It looked promising, so I signed up.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. I’ve dabbled with countless of other shirt-selling websites, and rarely was I completely satisfied with the process of making and/or selling them. The shirts tend to be pricey, or if they’re not, then they’re of poor quality. And their online design interfaces are generally not all that great. I won’t name any of them, but really, there are too many to name.
There is no web interface for laying out the design. Your only option is to upload a high resolution .jpg or .png or whatever. At first, I felt inconvenienced by that. But then I thought about all the times I’ve received a shirt that didn’t match the layout that I had set on their website. Using Merch by Amazon’s method, I feel like there’s little to no chance of undesired positioning. Being familiar and proficient with Photoshop helps a lot, I think. For someone who just wants to slap a photo or some text on a shirt, there’s that little hurdle. You’re forced to use their template, their resolution, their dimensions. It can be annoying, I suppose, but it ensures that your product looks exactly like the way you made it.
The other downside is the approval process. Unlike other, sort-of-similar sites, nothing is standing in your way of putting whatever you want on a shirt. Merch by Amazon has this bottleneck that I’m not a huge fan of. First, as you’re setting up your design, you choose between a premium or a less-premium (it’s still good) fabric. Then you choose the styles (men’s, women’s, youth) you’d like to offer. After that, you need to name and describe it. All that sounds fine, but after you choose those things, you submit it to Amazon to approve everything. They make sure you’re not infringing on copyrights and things, which is cool…ish.
You see, the time it takes them to approve your designs varies like crazy! I only have 2 designs up for sale right now (there’s more coming, trust me), but I set up about a dozen different shirts to figure out the process. So in my experience, it varied from about an hour to days. When it did lean towards the days of time, it seemed like it was triggered by me submitting another design. And that’s part of the reason why I was submitting so many shirts, just so I could get the older submissions through. That’s kind of crappy.
So yeah, if you accidentally enabled a color of shirt that you don’t want, for example, you have to cancel the design and start the process over. I don’t know how many times that happened to me because it has “white” as being a default color option. And the way a selected color is enabled is by a white outline…you can guess why it would be easy to accidentally overlook that. Ugh. The only things you can change after approval are the product name and description.
The last downside is the fact that, at least for right now, your only product options are t-shirts. I’m hoping more products are available in the future. Like, posters and hats and mousepads and pens and things. I’ve had bad luck getting coasters made recently.
Now let’s get into the good stuff! Again, I’ve dealt with many of these services, so I feel like my opinion is pretty valuable. I’ll put these into bullet points because I don’t need to get into specifics. Boom.
- Price! Not naming names, but other t-shirt sites force you to charge an arm and a leg for your shirts. I mean, if $20-$25 is an arm and a leg. I’m selling my shirts for $15 each, and I’m making more money with these than I was selling essentially the exact same shirts for $25 on another site.
- The ability to use a Photoshop template is nice, if you’re handy with those things. Again, it’s also required, so it’s either that or nothing.
- Speed of delivery. There’s a certain popular t-shirt site that forces you to create “campaigns” that end after a certain amount of time. With those, you have to wait for it to end and also a while for manufacturing and whatever else. With Merch by Amazon, I’m pretty sure it was about a week from the purchase date that I received my shirts. Not bad.
Hm. It seems like I spent a lot of time on the negatives, but while it’s not without its faults, I will use Merch by Amazon over anything else for t-shirts. I know exactly how the design will be laid out, they’re much more public, you don’t have to deal with campaigns, and you can make more money since the prices are much more reasonable than other sites.
I’m going to add a preface at the end of my review, because I’m cool like that. My experiences explained above happened in June, I think. There’s a handy dashboard on the site that lists updates to Merch by Amazon. None of the recent updates would have affected my opinion of the service though, so it’s kind of a moot point. But I just wanted to throw that out there.
Merch by Amazon. I don’t know how you are selected to be invited to it, and it’s kind of limited, but it’s pretty awesome. I like it. It’s hard for me to recommend it since you can’t just join it at will. But if you get an invitation, try it. There are already a lot of things to like about it, and chances are it’s only going to get better.
Really though, buy my shirts. If you don’t like the ones I have right now, I’ll have more soon.