Because this is a post aiming to educate the beginners in the industry and to get them started we want to focus on free traffic sources(free exposure of our products) which are risk-free. This is actually the main and crucial advantage of MBA and Podalyzer because it allows a huge exposure of your products to millions of users who are searching for shirts on the Amazon marketplace as soon as your designs go live. At Podalyzer we also aim to implement other marketplaces like Etsy and Ebay and there should be a connection very soon. Well, of course, there is a workaround for the other POD platforms which allows you to place your designs on the Amazon marketplace, but it requires some extra work and effort, a little cost as well as a markable disadvantage in comparison with the MBA listings. In order to explain this disadvantage, we need to go further down to a new subheading which explains the basics of Amazon listing ranking system and much more.
Advantages of Merch By Amazon(MBA)
In order to easily explain you the main advantage of MBA and Podalyzer first of all, you need to know the core of the Amazon search.
How Amazon Search Engine Works?
Whenever some types something on the Amazon search engine they need to give the customers the results which he is looking for, so they have an algorithm which programmatically decides which listings are most relevant and list them in a particular order. The main four key features to tell Amazon what our product is about are the Title of our listing, the description, features, keywords as well as brand name.
As we already stated that Amazon is the biggest e-commerce marketplace in the world with the highest amount of potential buyers we must also note that this lures the highest amount of sellers who want to take advantage of the market and make some profits. Because of this, there will be cases where 2 and more exact same titled products will be created by different sellers. Amazon has his own product ranking system which figures out which one of the multiple listings will be ranked on top when someone searches for it. In order to be on top, we need to optimize our listing better than the others who are competing with us.
So, the algorithm we were talking about above is working on ranking factors, combines all of them and depending on them sorts the product listings for a search query. There are probably more than hundred different direct or indirect ranking factors and if I go in details it will take probably another few thousand words, so as we want to keep this clean and simple I will just explain 2 of them and if you want to find more here is a great resource I recommend reading or just wait for our future planned full Amazon SEO guide.
- Account Authority – account authority or as someone wants to call it account health is the history of an account that sells the product. The more products sold, the better reviews it gets and the more people search for the seller the better authority an account gets. The MBA shirts are sold directly by Amazon so there is no such account that can compete with Amazon’s. There is also a filter in the categories to show only products that are directly sold by Amazon.
On the image above you can see the feature where only sold by Amazon products are filtered.
- Prime availability – Prime availability is an indirect ranking factor and to understand it we first need to know what CTR is. Product CTR or product click through rate is a term or variable used to tell how much a listing was clicking per 1000 views(e.g. 1000 listing views and 100 listing clicks means a CTR of 10%).The listings of MBA are sold directly from Amazon’s warehouses and are prime available and have the prime badge next to the listing.
This means that the MBA shirts are available for the next day shipping(only selected areas) or 2 days shipping to the whole USA and have other prime advantages. If we list our shirts with a normal Amazon Merchant account our listings won’t be prime available. Logically, customers are more likely to click and shop prime available products which they receive in no more than 3 days so this means bigger CTR for the Merch above the other POD platforms, higher listing rankings, bigger exposure and more sales!
Alright, so besides the advantage in rankings, the other advantage of MBA and Podalyzer are that unlike the other POD platforms where you need external setup and knowledge and a minimum investment, the MBA and Podalyzer platforms are 100% free and all you need to do is design and earn!
Disadvantages of Merch By Amazon(MBA)
The most annoying thing that I experienced and had to cope with while using MBA(probably others who use it for some time now will agree with me) was the Tiers limit. The tiers limit means that there are account limits on how many designs you can upload daily and what’s your total limit. They are a subject of change and are randomly moved up and down by from my experience they go like this:
Tier 10 / 2 per day
Tier 25 / 2 per day
Tier 100 / 2 per day
Tier 500 / 10 per day
Tier 1000/ 15 per day
Tier 2000 / 25 per day
Tier 4000 / 50 per day
Tier 8000 / 100 per day
Pro (by invitation)
When you start you are in the first tier which means you are able to have a maximum of 10 designs (including the ones in review and rejected) and you can upload only 2 per day. Once you sell 10 shirts you get tired up on the 2nd tier and are able to have a maximum of 25 designs and so on. This is a huge disadvantage of Merch, especially when starting in the business.
I was among the first people that got an MBA account and back then approval was almost instant, but what people complain now is the thing that they can’t get an MBA account even 6 months after their approval, so this is another big disadvantage of Merch.
Another thing I hate about Merch is the thing that they are limited to tees. I really hope to login in my account in the upcoming days and see that they have expanded to Hoodies, Sweatshirts and other apparel products.
Also, Amazon is very strict when it comes to copyright and family-safe policies. You have to be very careful not to use a copyrighted art or phrases or you can get your whole account in trouble. They will reject any product that uses words that belong to the explicit content table.
The last thing I hate about Merch is the thing that it’s Amazon and nothing more than it. I like to expand and test different e-commerce marketplaces and with MBA you are unable to do so.
Because of the things above we created Podalyzer so that you can diversify products, use different marketplaces, be limit free and have the freedom to do whatever you want. The copyright rule applies for us too, so be careful not to get too many rejected products.
Advantages of Teespring, Printful and other POD’s
Before we go deep into the topic I would like to state that here I will only write about the advantages of other POD’s above MBA.
One thing I love the most about the other POD companies is the variety of product each one offers. One thing lots of people don’t understand is the thing that the same design that was mainly done for a tee can also be used on a hoodie, sweatshirt, bags, mugs etc.
I like to split my designs into 2 categories:
- Normal Designs – a basic design which covers a part of the product\
- All Over Prints – design that fills 100% of the product outlook.
Maybe these markets and buyers of other products are not as big as the tees, but imagine if we combine them all together. Where others see some extra work I see a huge opportunity. What I mean with this is that after I find particular niches with demand and need of new products I would design 1 normal design which will be used for t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, bags, skirts, hats ,jewellery(if applicable also pillows, floor mats, yoga mats, mugs and even custom water bottles). I will also create an all over print design from the exact same idea and niche and will use it on all over print shirts, leggings, dresses, skirts, sneakers, tank tops, wall art, socks, phone and tablet cases, aprons, beach towels, bed covers and blankets, shower curtains etc.
I am pretty sure you could feel the difference here, the only thing you need to take care of is to create high-resolution designs in order to be able to resize them and fit all these product categories.
Another crucial advantage of the other POD platforms is the freedom of marketing. As we already stated for Merch you are limited to Amazon marketplace and that’s it.
Another big thing is that there are platforms that don’t care about copyright all. I don’t want to get you in trouble and you need to do your own due diligence about this, but I have seen way to many Facebook ads on my news feed from people promoting their Teespring shirts that have the logo of my favorite football team. If you are reported your design will be probably be taken down but if you are not, you would probably be banking.
Disadvantages of other POD companies from MBA
Unlike the MBA and Podalyzer which gets your tees automatically listed on the Amazon marketplace, these pod platforms require a little bit of knowledge and marketing strategy. There are unlimited marketing opportunities, however, if you are new to all this you may find it hard to market your products and get the first sales. In order to get yourself on the Amazon marketplace, you need to create a Shopify account and connect to Amazon using the Shopify sales channels. To do so you will also need an Amazon merchant account. While there are 60 days free trial for Shopify, Amazon requires you to pay your monthly fee upfront, so you will also need an initial investment to get yourself started. The whole integration will be explained in another blog post which will be coming in the next few days. Teespring was an exception for this since they had a deal with Amazon, but it didn’t end well.
Personal thoughts and guidance on choosing the POD platform
If you are one of the luckiest ones to have access to an MBA account already I would like to recommend you start with Merch first, because usually when people start a new business model they question and doubt it most of the time. If you are still waiting for it make sure you sign up for Podalyzer which offers more products and almost the same features as MBA. Once you get some stable weekly income of few hundreds make sure you reinvest them in integrating the other POD platforms and get the best out of the business model using the maximum from your designs and paid social media campaigns.