Back in November when I was getting ready to launch Northern Sunshine Tees I applied for an Amazon Merch account (or invitation to join as they put it) and learned how mind-boggling bad of a system Amazon has in place for account requests.
What is Amazon Merch?
Amazon Merch is a print-on-demand service where people can upload artwork, choose what products it should be printed on (like t-shirts and mugs), set a price and then let Amazon handle the rest.
Like Printful, which is what I ended up using in the end (combined with an Etsy storefront), Amazon takes a cut and sellers receive royalties for every product of theirs sold without having to manage inventory or the hassle of shipping items. The benefit of using Amazon Merch on Demand compared to others is that you get your products listed on Amazon and have a much better chance at selling and making money (it is the world’s largest online retailer after all).
The Amazon Merch approval process
Requesting an Amazon Merch invitation is fairly straightforward. You login to merch.amazon.com with your existing Amazon account and fill out the request form. Then you wait to find out if you’re approved or not. This can range from a few days to a couple of weeks. As I was doing this under a registered corporation I gave a lot of details about why I wanted to be an Amazon Merch seller, thinking it would help expedite my approval (it did not).
It took about eight days for me to get a response after I applied. I was declined and there was no reason given. I then discovered that if you are declined there is no way to reapply. And that didn’t seem right to me.
Being declined an Amazon Merch account
Once declined for Amazon Merch you’re directed to other selling options on Amazon, which all have hefty fees associated with them. I could still sell via Printful on Amazon if I wanted to pay a $40 monthly fee on top of a referral fee and fulfillment fee among some potential other fees. This is not a good option for someone trying to sell t-shirts as a side hustle. Logging back into Amazon Merch after being declined only displayed a similar message to the e-mail they sent telling me I was declined and had no other options available.
I reached out to an Amazon Merch support e-mail I found to see what I could do and that’s when they confirmed “If your application to Amazon Merch on Demand was rejected, there is no path to reapply.” They also directed me to other selling options on Amazon, which made me feel the entire Amazon Merch on Demand system was a scam to get people using Amazon’s business offerings.
After the support e-mail I tried to get answers via the Amazon PR department as to why they don’t give a reason for being declined or why they don’t allow people to reapply. I received a response to my first, replied with the info they requested and then I was ghosted a further six times until I finally gave up trying to get an answer from them near the end of January (I figured they must know it’s a bad system and they just couldn’t give me a reasonable answer).
How Amazon can fix the Merch on Demand approval process
If Amazon doesn’t want to give a reason why someone is not approved, that’s fine, but it’s absurd to block people from reapplying. I’d like to see Amazon follow their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) model, which is easy to access and use to sell books you write. Following the KDP model would help Merch on Demand be more accessible and inviting, which in turn would help Amazon have a better variety of products available to purchase via the service.
Do you use Amazon Merch? Have you been declined an invitation? Have a good idea on how it can be fixed? Share your experience with Amazon Merch on Demand in the comments below.