Recently I was in a large Mech By Amazon Facebook group and saw a post that the person was complaining about the fact that they had 18 shirts up and had made 1 sale in like 4 weeks. Then they mentioned running ads, keywords, etc and nothing was working.
I made a reply to the post that people just don’t get this Merch thing and with this post, I want to explain why I think people are failing at Merch.
I am going to make an assumption that a large number of people doing Merch By Amazon are also FBA sellers. I am sure some aren’t, but if they aren’t , they will understand this even less.
The basic reason people fail is that they don’t understand how the Amazon algorithm works.
I know, you are yelling BS right now. Your saying ”I put in keywords on my listings” . ( So quit your damn keyword stuffing. It doesn’t work) That isn’t all the algorithm cares about.
Yeah you suck. You still don’t get it, so sit down, shut up and learn some shit!
What Amazon Algorithm Was Designed To Do
Amazons algorithm was not designed to be gamed by you. Putting 500 keywords into a listing thinking that more is better and the algorithm will rank your shirt high is just plain stupid.
That algorithm is written by a bunch of smarter people than you or me and they know what you are up to.
Amazon’s algorithm is made to sell products. That is the only goal Amazon has for it.
Type into AZ search the phrase “ funny t shirt” .
Amazon only returns 60 of over 2 million items.
These are the 60 items that Amazon’s algorithm thinks you will most likely BUY when you are looking for a “funny t shirt”.
It is not the listings with the search term “funny t shirt” stuffed in 40 times.
So the simple fact is that Amazon wants to show you items that you most likely will buy for each search you do.
This is the MOST important part.
How Amazon’s Algorithm Learns
When you put keywords into your listings, it tells the algorithm what your listing is about at first but then it learns if the terms are right.
Yeah, the true measure of if your search words are right is ( drum roll)
If you say your shirt is about say “owls” and when someone searches for a shirt about “owls” and Amazon displays your shirt and they don’t buy it, that tells the algorithm that your listing isn’t about “owls” or that it sucks. Either way, the algorithm doesn’t want to waste a spot in search results by showing your shitty listing that doesn’t sell.
As a side note, the algorithm gets more clues from things like reviews but that normally happens after conversions.
So when you first put up a t shirt and have it loaded with your keywords, the algorithm is going to sort of take your word for it. It will display your shirt sometimes as a search result for those keywords but if it doesn’t start to sell, it discounts those keywords as being valid.
Basically you get a chance to prove yourself and if you don’t, well you are pushed to the search results abyss.
So the goal for any shirts that you put up is to make fast sales.
Merch Is Just Like Private Label
The whole thing is to handle Merch like Private Label ( or any listing you make for Amazon FBA).
When private label sellers bring a product to market, they have to do stuff to get their products to rank in Amazon search and make it sell well.
The normal process is (was) to give away ( or discount) a bunch of the product at launch to get sales, reviews and to move up in ranking.
Well that same holds true for Merch shirts.
Remember me mentioning conversions? ( sales ) Well in private label, people give stuff away or sell cheaply to get the conversions.
Well we can’t exactly do that with Merch, but we can sell our shirts cheaply to make sales ( conversions) .
Time out for my rant
Everyone that knows me, knows how much I despise “fast turn” FBA sellers. I believe people are suckered into the math of compounding returns that some gurus teach. It normally goes something like this, “ If you return 10% every 2 weeks, that turns into a massive return after a year”.
Yes on paper it is amazing, except that it results in a crap load of work trying to spend that much money every 2 weeks.
Basically it is taught by people that don’t understand margin and basic business.
Ever walk into a Walmart that sells out everything on their shelves every 2 weeks?
No, never and that is not how you should run a business. The only thing you do is destroy the margins for everyone else before you burn out and quit selling on Amazon FBA.
With that said, I have found that the same low ball, fast turn sellers on FBA have a totally opposite strategy when it come to Merch.
They believe that their shirt designs should sell for a premium. They think that every one of their designs are worth $20, $25, $30 each.
They are willing to make 10-20% return on a product that they buy from Walmart but there is no freaken way that they would sell their shirts for say $14.99. ( $3.47 royalty )
They are willing to make $1 on a $10 investment on a product that they bought from Walmart but $3.50 from a digital file is sacrilegious. Go figure.
With that said, I am going to suggest you become the low ball seller on Mech that I hate on FBA.
Besides making a good design and basic keywords, the only other thing that we can control is the price we ask for our shirts.
Why would we want to do this?
Most people are more likely to buy a cheap shirt than an expensive one ( yeah I know that isn’t always the case) .
So let’s go back the owl shirt.
You have just designed a cool looking owl shirt. You put some good ( relevant) keywords into useful, human readable title, bullet points and description. ( ie keywork stuffing on these doesn’t make people want to buy anything)
So you have told the algorithm what the listing is about so it gives you a chance to show your stuff.
Someone searches for an owl t shirt and yours gets displayed in the search results.
This is your chance to show the algorithm that you really should be displayed for the search term “owl”.
Now there is the problem. Your shirt has no reviews and is priced at $24.99 ( remember you think it is freaken the most awesome thing to ever be listed on Amazon) and is shown next to a shirts that have reviews ( social proof) and priced at $19.99.
What are the chances that you convert?
Now the algorithm begins to think that the keywords in your listing are wrong. The buyer bought another “owl” shirt. There is a strike against your listing.
This keeps happening the next several times that someone search for owl shirts.
Now the algorithm says enough is enough, the listing isn’t really about owls and it isn’t going to show it to buyers anymore when they are looking for owl shirts.
Now let’s say you priced your shirt at $11.99 and it showed up in the search results for owl shirts.
Many people shop on price and some of them will buy the $11.99 shirt. ( Oh, no. There is no way in Hell that I am giving away the shirt that isn’t selling for almost nothing…..)
When you sell your owl shirt for $11.99 you don’t make crap on it (like $.88, but hey you are in fast turner range of return) but and the BIG BUT is, that you made a conversion. You just told the algorithm that your shirt is what people want to buy when they search for an owl shirt ( see this is exactly the same thing of what private label sellers are doing)
Your shirt will start to show up in search results more which will result in more and more sales.
So you would keep your price at this point until you make several sales on your shirt and then start to raise the price ( people do the same thing with private label. There is a launch price and a full retail price that they move to).
This is really no different than how you would launch any other product but for some reason people are afraid that every person that would ever buy their shirt will snag it for $11.99 and the will never have another person want to buy it.
Basically if 10 people buy your shirt for $11.99 and that is the end of it and there is no more demand for your shirt after that, then you have a dud of a shirt design anyway.
So what if 10 or 20 people get a great deal on your masterpiece of a shirt design.
Sell some cheap to teach the algorithm that you are the real deal and you will benefit down the road.
If you are someone that is totally sucking at Merch and you aren’t making sales, you have nothing to lose by following my advice. Log into your Merch account and reprice all you nonsellers to $11.99 and let them sit for awhile. Some are still going to suck but some will start to sell and after you have taught the algorithm, you can start to raise your prices up to increase your profits.
Or you can just keep sucking at Merch.