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Blog / Style & trends / Amazon Merch on Demand vs. Printful

Style & trends

Amazon Merch on Demand vs. Printful: What’s Your Best Fit?

Amazon Merch on Demand vs. Printful: What’s Your Best Fit?
Lilija Karpjaka

By Lilija Karpjaka

9 min read

As you traverse the landscape of print-on-demand (POD) services, you might find yourself at a crossroads. 

Amazon Merch on Demand or Printful? Both stand as towering titans in the industry. Your choice between them can significantly impact the trajectory of your online business.

Whether you’re an artist planning on monetizing your work, a brand looking to offer custom merchandise, or an entrepreneur seeking passive income streams, understanding the nuances between these two POD platforms could make all the difference.

We’ll dissect the pros and cons of Merch by Amazon and Printful, but before we dig in, let’s play ‘spot the differences.’

a logo with triangles and letters

Amazon Merch on Demand vs. Printful: the key differences

The key differences between these print-on-demand services can be seen in product quality, pricing structures, and ease of use. Another notable distinction—Printful is a white-label company, while Amazon Merch on Demand (aka Merch by Amazon) lets you create merch that’s sold under the Amazon label.

Amazon Merch on Demand is renowned for its seamless integration with the Amazon marketplace. It offers a vast customer base and simplified logistics. Choosing this POD method means you don’t have to create a storefront or a brand.

Printful, on the other hand, offers a broad product range and high-quality printing and embroidery options, favored by many who wish to build their brand from scratch. 

Here’s a brief overview.

Feature

Amazon Merch on Demand

Printful 

Registering

Invitation-only (can be lengthy and include an interview)

Anyone can create an account

Profit 

Royalties based on sales

Based on your pricing (above Printful’s costs)

Product count

14+

330+

Product upload limits

Tier-based system (beginners start with 10 uploads)

Unlimited

Branding

Products are owned and handled by Amazon

White-label company

Design tools

Basic image drag tool

Design Maker

Platform

Amazon

Multiple platforms and online marketplaces of your choice

Product samples

Unavailable

Discounted product sample orders

Let’s explore further to help you decide which service aligns best with your business goals.

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Amazon Merch on Demand

Merch by Amazon operates on a print-on-demand dropshipping basis, allowing you to sell your product designs without managing inventory or handling shipping. Just like Printful, Merch by Amazon takes care of the printing and production process for you. 

This platform is great for those looking to earn profit without dealing with customers and investing in building a brand or a storefront. 

How does it work?

As a content creator on Merch by Amazon, your role is to design graphics for various platform products. Once a customer purchases an item with your design, Amazon takes care of the production, fulfillment, and shipping, allowing you to focus on creating designs. 

a computer on a deskSource: Amazon Merch on Demand

To join Merch by Amazon, you need to apply for an invitation. The approval process can sometimes extend up to six months, and Amazon does not publicly disclose the specific criteria for acceptance. Once you’re in, you become a content creator and can earn royalties (commissions) from the merch you design and sell. 

The system operates on tiers, with new sellers typically starting at tier 10. This tiered structure dictates the number of designs you can upload and sell. You can progress to higher tiers with fewer restrictions as your sales grow.

Royalties are calculated as a percentage of the sale price. Still, the actual amount may vary depending on factors like the product category, the selling price you set above the base cost, and any applicable tax and shipping charges.

a screenshot of a phoneExample royalties. Source: Amazon Merch on Demand

Amazon predetermines the royalty rate, which is transparent. However, you need to understand this rate structure to price your products right, depending on the demand, and estimate your potential earnings.

For example, if you offer the lowest possible price for a t-shirt, $13.07, Amazon will keep that money, and you’ll get $0 in royalties. That means you must balance competitive pricing with a desirable royalty. If you see competitors selling similar t-shirt designs for $19.99, you can choose a slightly lower or higher price point.

When you decide on the price, you’ll see a table showing the royalty for each sale you’ll get.

a screen shot of a t-shirtSource: Amazon Merch on Demand 

Pros

1. Passive income stream. Once your designs are uploaded and approved, you can earn royalties from sales even without marketing effort. Once you upload a product, it’ll stay on Amazon as an evergreen listing.

2. Amazon handles customer service, efficiently addressing any queries or issues that may arise from your product buyers.

3. Creative control and niche targeting. Your success is influenced by the uniqueness and appeal of your designs and your knack for identifying and catering to profitable niches, which is perfect for creative minds. 

4. Global reach and a huge audience. Merch by Amazon gives you access to multiple international marketplaces, expanding your potential customer base beyond your local region.

5. Brand association. You benefit from Amazon’s brand recognition and trust, which can lead to higher conversion rates without the need for you to invest effort in showcasing your trustworthiness.

6. Seamless integration with Amazon’s ecosystem. Being a part of Amazon, Merch on Demand products can benefit from Amazon Prime, which offers customers expedited shipping options and a sense of security in their purchases.

7. Analytics and insights. Amazon provides detailed reports and analytics, helping you understand customer preferences and improve your designs for better sales performance.

Valuable read: How to Be a Successful Amazon Seller

Cons

1. Product earning restrictions. Merch by Amazon has a royalty structure. When you set the price of your products, Amazon determines what royalty you’ll be paid if that product sells at that price point. 

2. You start at 10 product capacity. The number of product uploads is restricted by your tier level. This limitation can hinder the ability of new sellers to quickly expand their product offerings and test different designs in the market.

3. Amazon owns all the listings. You can’t add your brand or name to Merch by Amazon product listings. This limitation is a significant drawback for sellers looking to establish and grow their brand identity.

a screenshot of a shopping listSource: Amazon store

4. Complex sign-up process. Not everyone who applies for Merch by Amazon gets approved. The opaque nature of the approval process can lead to uncertainty and frustration for creators who are eager to start selling but find themselves stuck in limbo.

5. Competitive market. To thrive on Merch by Amazon, you’ll need to discover keywords that shoppers are searching for yet aren’t swarmed by competitors. It’s a delicate dance of dodging copyright and trademark landmines and adhering strictly to Amazon’s regulations.

6. Limited promotional control. As a seller on Merch by Amazon, you can’t create your own promotions, discounts, or coupons. That makes it challenging to run marketing campaigns to help increase your products’ visibility and boost sales, especially during crucial shopping seasons or events. Note that this doesn’t mean you can’t promote your products on social media channels.

Printful

Printful is a global print-on-demand company that lets you create and sell high-quality custom products online without upfront costs or minimum order requirements. It operates as a white-label solution, meaning the products you sell will carry your brand, not Printful’s. 

This platform is ideal for entrepreneurs, artists, and small businesses looking to expand their reach without the burden of inventory management.

preview play-button

How does it work?

Printful integrates seamlessly with various ecommerce platforms, including your Seller Central account on Amazon

 The integration process is straightforward and only needs to be completed once. After the initial setup, you can easily push your entire catalog of print-on-demand products to your online store from Printful’s Dashboard.

 When a customer buys one of your products, Printful is automatically notified and begins the fulfillment process. That includes printing or embroidering your custom designs onto the products and preparing them for shipment. As a seller, you’re only charged when an order is placed. Printful’s fees include the cost of fulfillment and a flat rate for shipping.

a group of people sitting on a benchSource: Printful

Pros

1. Wide choice of products. Printful has a growing catalog of 330+ premium-quality products ranging from apparel to home & living items, accessories, and more. 

 2. White label. Printful offers branded dropshipping. You can personalize your packing slips and add branding to your apparel with inside and outside labels.

 3. Choice of ecommerce platforms and marketplaces. Printful seamlessly integrates with popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Etsy, and WooCommerce, making it easy to sync your products with the platform that suits your business needs. 

 4. Scalability. You can integrate Printful with multiple online stores and add as many Printful products as you want. There are no limits.

 5. More control over your business. You pay the production and shipping costs, set prices, sell at your own pace, and withdraw your profit anytime.

 6. Intuitive Design Maker. Create your own designs for printing or embroidery without professional experience. 

 7. High embroidery and print quality. Each custom product is made with industry-leading technology and undergoes a 3-step quality control process.

 Learn more: 10 Things to Look for in Every Print-on-Demand Service

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Printful logo
Create and sell custom products online
Let’s go

Cons

1. Higher cost per item. Printful’s product costs can be higher than purchasing bulk inventory, which may affect your profit margins, especially if you’re competing with lower-priced items.

2. You handle customer service. Unlike Amazon Merch on Demand, you’re responsible for handling customer inquiries, complaints, and returns, which, without the right tools and strategies, can be time-consuming.

3. Learning curve. Understanding POD platforms, owning your online business, and marketing takes time to master. That can be difficult for sellers who expect to see profits right away.

4. Dependence on third-party platforms. If you sell on platforms like Etsy or Shopify, you’re subject to their rules and fees, which can change and impact your business.

5. Limited control over fulfillment times. While Printful handles the production and shipping, you have limited control over fulfillment speed, which can vary depending on product type and volume.

Frequently asked questions

 

Wrapping it up

When deciding between Amazon Merch on Demand and Printful, weigh the pros and cons in the context of your business goals and resources. 

If you’re looking for a passive income stream and want to leverage Amazon’s vast marketplace and customer base with minimal hassle, Merch by Amazon might be the right choice. 

However, if you aim to build a brand and have more control over your product offerings, pricing, and branding, Printful’s white-label service is the better fit. 

Both platforms have unique strengths and limitations; what works best for one seller may not work for another. 

Carefully consider your priorities and choose the path that aligns most closely with your vision for your online business. 

Cheers to your entrepreneurial spirit!

Read next: 50 Surprisingly Creative Merch Ideas + Examples

 

author

By Lilija Karpjaka on May 17, 2024

Lilija Karpjaka

SEO Content Writer

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.

Lilija is an SEO content writer at Printful. She's passionate about ecommerce, and in her spare time, she's an avid reader of various book genres.