Amazon Launches Merch: Sell Swag T-shirts Printed on Demand

Merch by Amazon

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The eCommerce giant Amazon has launched Merch by Amazon, a services that lets businesses and independent designers create and sell T-shirts which are then shipped to customers by Amazon on demand.

App developers and other interested users can use the self-service program to create and upload custom T-shirt designs. They can also advertise the designs on their mobile applications and elsewhere online and Amazon will print them on demand.

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Amazon rewards designers with royalty points that increase with the number of T-shirts sold.

To use Merch by Amazon, users are required to upload their custom design or artwork to an online dashboard — it could be art or a logo from their app, game or business — or use Amazon’s templates to get started. Using Amazon’s calculator, users are able to set their preferred T-shirt price.

A creators’ royalty depends on the set list price, less Amazon’s costs. Amazon requires that the list price set by developers covers its own expenses, including customer service, producing the t-shirts with artwork, stocking blank T-shirts, selling expenses, and shipping costs.

Amazon, however, says that increase in sales leads to increase in royalties since the cost of production reduces.

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Amazon also says that developers can specify the material and also configure their tees as either one or two-sided. Creators can pick from either American Apparel or Anvil brands, and the shirts are from a single product page in kid’s sizes (K4 to K12), women’s (S to XL) and men’s (S to 3XL). Once a sale is completed, the shirts are printed by Amazon and shipped to customers anywhere in the world.

The Merch by Amazon program does away with the risk of ordering hundreds of T-shirts ahead of time — that may or may not hit with the fans — and the complication of shipping and delivering the shirts.

Amazon is going up against some established players like CafePress, which sells designs printed on more than 450 products, including phone cases and mugs; and Teespring, which has raised $56 million in funding from the likes of Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz.

Merch by Amazon products are sold on standard Amazon pages and free two-day shipping is provided for Prime members. Designers can promote the shirts themselves through their existing channels (social media, blogs, email or website) or they can promote them on iOS, Fire OS, or Android via Amazon Mobile Ads.

Qualify for discounts, special offers and more with a Business Prime account from Amazon. You can create a FREE account to get started today.

Image: Amazon

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Antony Maina Antony Maina is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. His beat includes social media, general business reporting and exploring how people relate to technology. With a background in freelance writing, he is a contributor to other tech websites and can be found at Word4Bloggers.

10 Reactions
  1. Interesting to see how Amazon is jumping into the print-on-the-demand-t-shirt business! 😉 I will mention this news to my business partner in a new online venture with slogans on t-shirts.

  2. Check out the terms of use, do you really want to sign up for Amazon Merch after reading this?

    And this is from the TOU for amazon merch:

    “Materials You Post or Provide; Communications Monitoring

    The Services Agreement sets forth our rights related to any product information you post or submit through the Portal. For other information and materials you post or otherwise provide to Amazon related to the Portal (a “Submission”), you grant Amazon and its affiliates a non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to (1) use, copy, distribute, transmit, make available, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, adapt, modify, translate, reformat and create derivative works of your Submission, each in connection with the Portal and the Program, and (2) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law. Amazon will not pay you for your Submission and may remove your Submission at any time. For each Submission you provide, you represent that you have all rights necessary for you to grant us the rights provided in this section.”

  3. Cindy,

    Thanks for that. I knew Amazon was up to something … what kind of con is this merch program?

    There doesn’t appear to be a way to remove or delete our listings either !!!!!

    I guess Amazon now owns all of the work we have uploaded. Crazy.

  4. Wow! Yes, always read the fine print. So, as an affiliate seller, does that I mean I can use any Merch design for my own? Ha!

  5. I know that Merch by Amazon customers orders aren’t being shipped for up to 8 days according to one that emailed us today.

    Amazon is swamped and probably figuring out that they shouldn’t have unleashed Merch weeks to Black Friday and the holiday season! Maybe they should have started with 100 game apps instead of opening the gates to ALL.

  6. Cindy and Mike F., Amazon Merch isn’t trying to scam anyone with those terms. You’re going to find similar wording on any print-on-demand website. The verbiage is granting them the rights (non-exclusive) to print, promote, distribute the user’s content (and in case of trademark dispute) remove it from the site and stop selling it. Take a look at the CafePress TOS (I think section 4) and you’ll see the same protective language.
    You’ll find similar wording n TeeSpring, Zazzle, etc.

    • Here is the Zazzle TOU, you have the freedom to remove your content whenever you wish:
      y uploading Designs to the Site or creating Designs with Zazzle’s design tools, you grant the following licenses to Zazzle: the nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable, sublicensable right to use, reproduce, publicly display, sell, and distribute the Design in or on Products and in advertising, marketing, samples, and promotional materials for the purpose of promoting the Site and Products. Without limitation, this promotion, marketing, or advertising may consist of: (i) display of your Products; (ii) promotional “streams” of audio/video/photographic Content on the Website, (iii) Products or Design placement in magazines, television shows, movies, and other media; and (iv) the sale of Products available on the Site through third party product feeds. You also grant us the license and the right to make modifications to your Design as necessary to prepare your Design for use in a particular Product category or for other manufacturing purposes, if you agree that your Design may be used in such category. If you select the “customizable” option, you also agree that Zazzle and visitors to the Site (“Users”) may make changes to the Design for the purposes of creating and ordering Products.

      You may delete or hide your Design from the Site at any time, but due to caching and other technical issues, it may take a number of days for it to be completely removed from the Site. You retain all copyright and other intellectual property rights in your Design. Upon the removal of a Design, the licenses above will terminate, except that Zazzle will fulfill any orders placed prior to termination and Zazzle may continue to use your Design in marketing and promotional materials if such materials were created prior to removal of the Design.

  7. There are probably 10,000 people doing Merch by now.

    Every conceivable idea has been copied, rebooted, modified,etc…

    Things are starting to get ugly on the forums regarding intellectual rights.

    Some people made good money early, but the vast majority(me included) have sold a handful of shirts.

  8. Regina McKenzie

    I am wanting to sell through Merch but not sure if I should sell as an individual, just in case I only sell a few and it doesn’t take off, or do I start a business (LLC), get a tax ID #, business checking, etc. Not sure if it will be worth the trouble.

    Any suggestions welcomed.