What Is Merch by Amazon and How Does it Work? Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Are you a designer looking for an easy way to sell your own product line without having to invest a lot of money right away? MBA is what you’ve been looking for! 

As a designer it can be quite hard to set foot in the industry – especially if you have no prior experience with ecommerce. Sourcing, production and logistics will probably be completely new to you and can be a little bit overwhelming for most. 

But luckily, you don’t necessarily have to worry about these things anymore. With Merch by Amazon (MBA) starting a design business is easier than ever before! All you have to do is take care of the design part and Amazon will do the rest for you.

In this blogpost you will find all the information you need to get started with your own design business on the Merch by Amazon platform. What is it, how does it work, which products can be sold and how is the pricing model? Just read on and find out all the answers you’ve been looking for!

What Is Merch by Amazon (MBA)?

Merch by Amazon (or short “MBA”) is an on-demand platform by Amazon that allows sellers to create and list products with their own designs.

Note“Merch” stands for "Merchandise" and not "Merchant”!

As sellers don’t have to worry about the normal ecommerce struggles like sourcing and importing goods for example, it’s very convenient.

All designers have to do is upload an image with their design and Amazon will take care of the rest – with no upfront costs! When the designs are sold, the designers get paid royalties.

Who Can Sign up for Merch by Amazon?

Amazon MBA is a great way for everyone who doesn’t have experience with ecommerce and is looking for a risk free way to try it out.

  • Designers – Merch by Amazon is the perfect platform for designers who want to make money out of their art skills and build their own brand without having to invest a lot of money right away or needing a whole lot of knowledge how ecommerce works.

Note"Designers" refers to artists and not fashion designers!

When talking about designers here, it means artists and not fashion designers as there is no option to make your own clothing cuts. The product line is limited to a few basic pieces at the moment.

  • Amazon Sellers – The same applies to Amazon sellers or other ecommerce experts who are looking to diversify their income stream. However, experienced Amazon sellers are probably better off when selling their designs on the standard Amazon marketplaces because they don’t need the help provided by the MBA platform, as they already know how ecommerce works.
  • Influencers and Bands – But it’s also an interesting opportunity for people who have their own brand that want to sell actual merchandise (like influencers or bands for example). In this case they can hire an artist to make the designs for them.

What’s the Pricing Model for Merch by Amazon and How Are Royalties Calculated?

With Merch by Amazon you have no upfront costs. You get paid royalty for every product you have sold. Your royalty is based on your product’s price less applicable tax and Amazon’s costs such as materials, production, fulfillment, customer service and so on. You can find a list of examples of Amazon’s royalties for the merch here.

Royalties vary from product and marketplace. Here are some examples for the US marketplace:

  • Standard T-Shirt – $15.99 purchase price, $2.21 royalty 
  • Pollover Hoodie – $39.99 purchase price, $10.78 royalty 
  • Phone Case – $14.99 purchase price, $0.80 royalty 

How Does Merch by Amazon Work? Step-by-Step Guide to Get Started

It’s super easy. To sell your designs over Merch by Amazon, you simply have to go through the following steps:

how does mba work

1. Request an Application 

Merch by Amazon is an invite-only system, meaning that you can only use it after receiving an invitation by Amazon. To be considered, you submit a request here by giving a few details about your background and experience.

2. Upload Your Artwork Using the Amazon Merch Template

Once you have been accepted to the Amazon Merch Platform, you can proceed to the next step. First, you have to upload your artwork, e.g. a sketch or a painting, to be printed on a t-shirt. 

Source: amazon.com

Before you upload your design, you need to ensure you don’t use

  • intellectual property including copycat designs,
  • slightly amended designs and
  • trademarked or otherwise legally protected content

as all of the above is prohibited by Amazon and the use of such designs will most likely lead to your products being removed from the platform.

Make sure that you are using the supplied Photoshop, Illustrator and Gimp templates. Also your design needs to be in good quality to ensure it prints well. 

Amazon has very strict requirements for the uploaded files. They have to be 

  • 15×18 in
  • 300DPI
  • with transparent background
  • PNG
  • no more than 25 MB in size

It is not only important to have great designs, but also to find lucrative niches beforehand. Always keep that in mind!

3. Choose a Product Type and Color

After uploading your artwork, you have to decide which product type you want to sell and in which color.

Be aware that certain designs are only suitable for certain products! So keep that in mind when making a decision for the product type.

Also, as mentioned before, royalties differ depending on the product type. So do the math and find out which products make sense for you financially.

amazon merch products

At the moment, MBA includes the following products:

  • Standard t-shirts
  • Women’s v-neck t-shirts
  • Baseball t-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Crewneck sweatshirts
  • Pullover & Zip Hoodies
  • PopSockets
  • iPhone and Samsung Phone cases
  • Tote bags
  • Throw pillows

4. Add a Product Description and Price

Once you are done with that, add a product description and price. 

This is a very important step, as you will have to research suitable keywords for your listing and then integrate these into appealing sales texts so your products will actually sell. This step is not much different to selling on the standard Amazon platform.

We definitely recommend to read deeper SEO and finding keywords or hire someone who can take care of this step for you. In this article, you will learn how to find the best Amazon SEO Service!

5. Let Amazon Do the Rest for You

Amazon will then create a product page for you and take care of the production, shipping and customer service. 

Merch By Amazon vs Amazon Seller Central – What’s the Difference?

If you are already selling on Amazon, you are already familiar with Amazon Seller Central. Selling on the Merch by Amazon platform is similar but there are a few differences, too:

  • No Inventory – The biggest difference is the need (or in this case no need) for inventory. While sellers using Amazon Seller Central need to purchase their inventory from a manufacturer, create a listing, price it and so on, Merch by Amazon designers only have to create the designs and upload them – and that’s it! So MBA is a lot more convenient and risk-free.
  • Fixed Framework – As you can see the business model for Merch by Amazon is quite simple, allowing you to concentrate on your artwork only rather than sourcing and production. But of course you are also much more limited in what you can do – because Amazon sets a very fixed framework. Not only your options are limited but of course your margin as well.

To find out the differences between Seller and Vendor Central, check this post!

Why Choose Merch by Amazon Over Other On-Demand Design Platforms?

Of course Amazon is not the first to come up with the idea of an on-demand platform for designs. Other platforms like Spring, Redbubble and Bonfire offer similar services. So you might ask yourself why you should choose MBA over one of the other platforms.

The answer is simple: Amazon’s reputation!

  • Amazon’s Reach Is Unique – No other platform comes anywhere near Amazon’s reach. By selling your designs on Amazon MBA you can benefit from it.
  • Amazon Is Well Trusted – Countless customers worldwide are already using Amazon frequently. They trust Amazon and value their customer service.
  • Easy Order Process – As most people probably already have an Amazon account that includes all their shipping details, ordering on Amazon MBA is super convenient. With other platforms, that’s often not the case so the effort to actually place an order is much higher.
  • Fast Shipping – The fast and well thought-out logistics are also a plus. Prime shipping is also available for MBA.

Conclusion on Merch By Amazon: Easy Starting Point for Designers!

Merch by Amazon is ideal for designers, who are new to this kind of business and want to start selling their products online.

While options may be limited, it is a safe and risk-free environment that allows you to make your first experiences in the ecommerce world while Amazon takes care of most tasks for you.

Even though you might be able to earn more when organizing everything yourself, it’s a very convenient starting point. It’s simple to use and does not require a lot of preparation. And you might even enjoy it so much that you start listing on the standard Amazon marketplace too. You never know unless you try it out!

So what are you waiting for? Get started!

Find an MBA expert to help you get the most out of your designs →

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