Living in an era where all the activities are quickly shifting from the real world into the online one, to learn how to effectively start a new business on one of the countless web platform out there is pretty relevant.
If you are a navigated entrepreneur with his/her own brand and real shops you probably already know what I am about to state, but if you are just someone who wants to give it a shot, it is important for you to remember that every business, if handled correctly, can be successful. In this article we will discuss about the best ways to start a t – shirt business on Amazon.
Why choose Amazon?
Well, that’s an easy question. Amazon is an online marketplace that, over the time, has increased drastically its presence and its reliability. It gathers in only one place a wide variety of products, drawing to its platform millions of visitors a month. Needless to say that the first big benefit that a seller gains from Amazon is the visibility. In fact, it is most likely that many niches don’t know your brand at all and truth is, they would never discover it if it weren’t displayed on Amazon. Well once they know you and they are satisfied with your product, chances are that they will be willing to try other products of your brand, giving you the chance to potentially increase your market. I said “potentially” because even though the buyers are right there at hand, given the high number of sellers as well, in order to emerge from the crowd you will need to play out some best practice and climb the Amazon rankings.
There are 3 Amazon programs that you can join to start a t – shirt business. They all offer different plans that you can join based on your personal needs. Make sure to understand well the marketplace’s fee structure so that you will be aware of the margins that you can expect from each sale and therefore pick the most suitable program for you.
The first program that I am going to talk about is Shopify.
Shopify is a Canadian e – commerce company which was founded in 2004 with the aim of selling snowboarding equipment. In about 10 years, due to its major growth, it’s become one of the most widely spread e – commerce platform in the world. It is very user friendly, meaning that both a developer and a regular person like us can use it successfully; it has many cool features in it that you can use to personalise your account and it is “ready to go”, in fact you will be able to start selling on the platform within a short period of time after joining it and you can rely on their 24/7 assistance service.
Given the fast pace growth of the platform, Amazon has recently decided to take the chance and integrate the two platforms. This way all of the products sold on Shopify will be directly linked to Amazon as well… double selling double winning, right?
The integration is easy, just build your own Shopify store, where you sell all of your products, and then attach the Amazon plug in into it:
1 – Click the + button next to Sales Channel
2 – Click Learn more in the Amazon by Shopify section
3 – Click Add channel to confirm
4 – When on the last page, click Connect to Amazon
This way each item that is displayed on Shopify will pop up immediately on Amazon as well. It can be bought on both of the platform indifferently for the POD system works exactly the same way.
So how can you achieve that? Here are the things that you should make sure of:
- Make sure your store meets the specific requirements (you need to have an active Shopify account, your products must fit in a specific, existing category, the prices are to be listed in USD or CAD, you must not be shipping your products using Fulfillment by Amazon)
- Create your Amazon Professional Seller Account
- Apply for category approval
- Synchronize your Shopify store to the Amazon Sales Channel
- Purchase a product identifier such a UPCs
- Create Amazon Listings for your items
- Set your inventory tracking policy (use your store’s inventory settings or manually manage your Amazon inventory)
- Start Selling!
Shopify doesn’t come for free though. There is a monthly fee plus a percentage on each selling. The cost can vary depending on the program that each decides to enroll for.
Currently there are 3 types of monthly subscriptions:
- 29 $/month for the basic service. It is the ideal plan for people who are just starting to sell on e – platform and still have to figure out fully how they work
- 79$/ month is the intermediate service. The most suitable one for those who have good margins
- 299$/ month is the advanced service. It is recommended for big companies which may need statistics tools to run properly their business
Here are some more detailed information about pricing and features:
Also, as I have mentioned before, for every t shirt that you sell, 15 % of the total becomes fee to Amazon.
The second method to sell t – shirts on Amazon is to use Amazon directly. I will not spend too many words on this since all you have to do is to sign in with your personal Merch account and you start to sell.
In this case there are 2 account options available:
- Individual Plan which comes for free but you will be charged 0.99$ per item sold
- Professional Plan for 39.99/month
When choosing a Selling Plan remember to consider the products that you want to list. Both Individual and Professional Sellers can list products in many different categories but there are some that are available only to Professional Sellers, upon request of permission and only if they meet the requirements.
Also, if you intend to sell… let’s say less than 40 t – shirts a month, then you will be totally fine with the individual account. On the other hand, if you intend to go for more than 40 t- shirts then it’s a good idea to sign up directly to the professional account.
As you can see, the second way of selling on Amazon is cheaper than the first one but being on one platform only means that the potential customers are not as many as with the integration plus Amazon direct selling doesn’t make use of the POD system like Shopify or Merch by Amazon. This means that, on the contrary to Shopify, which relies on a third part to take care of the making of the t – shirt and then ships it to the customer, in this case you need to have the t – shirts ready, printed and prepared to fulfill the order on Amazon.
The third option available, that we have largely discussed about on the previous articles of the blog is, again, Merch by Amazon! How could we not talk about this tool, always improving and getting better, always popping up with new features and always creating integrations to improve the customers’ experience?! When Merch by Amazon was first launched, it was a totally new concept so as to be thought to be for developers only. Once even regular people became more acquaintance with this new tool and started enrolling in the program, they realised that it was a great chance to make money with the minimum effort. As things are now, Merch by Amazon has had that much success that new subscribers can only join it by invitation. However, due to the number of interesting partnerships (the last one being with Teespring) there is always the chance to enter the program in some way.
Remember that this is the most advanced Amazon tool to sell shirts designs because it only focuses on them. You upload your design on the platform and Amazon produces it and mails it to the customer for you, collecting a royalty of 12.87% per t – shirt to do it all and you earn on the profit margin that you add to your shirt price. You also get rewarded every time you sell much stuff, jumping to the next seller category. When you become a more recognised seller on the program, Amazon starts to let you do hoodies, sweatshirts, etc. in addition to regular t – shirts.
Let’s recap the best ways to improve your selling on Merch by Amazon with a quick, simple video:
If you optimise well those elements, you should be able to sell items without having to pay for any advertisement. It is not easy to do it by yourself. It may also require a lot of time, effort and patience. That’s why tools like SpyAmz were invented: to leave you only the good things of the business while we take care of the boring ones. SpyAmz is infact the largest MBA Design Database and despite using simple tools like keywords research & analysis, daily rank tracking, list tracking, trending alert, it is very effective when it coms to find the right niche for your products!
In conclusion: This t – shirt online business is getting more and more popular everyday. There are many ways to sell online and make good profits and Shopify, Amazon, Teespring are just few of the many, so it is only up to you to find the better way to do it, based on your profit goal, on the time that you are willing to spend for it, on your experience… in this blog I have only focused on the online tools connected to the Amazon world because this is what SpyAmz is about: find the best niches where to invest in order to make profits on Amazon and also because I have reasons to believe that it is the best market where to sell your t – shirts but hey, maybe this article will tickle your curiosity to find out more e – commerce platform and you will be the one teaching us something!