Navigating the Merch By Amazon Tier System

POD Post #57

Navigating the Merch By Amazon Tier System

Note: Starting this week, the name has been changed to from POD Weekly to POD Post.  

What Is The Tier System?

Unique among current Print On Demand platforms, Merch By Amazon uses a tier system for its sellers. Your current tier determines how many products you can offer concurrently on their platform.

You advance in tiers by making sales, subsequently allowing you more slots to fill with products, giving you more opportunity to make further sales.  You are allowed to remove designs and replace them with new designs, but you will be limited to the maximum number of active designs determined by your tier level.

Current Tier Levels

The framework of MBA’s tiers hasn’t changed for approximately 2 years, though recent reports indicate that for Tiers 10 through 500, people are often moved up to the next tier when still well short of the stated required sales.

The current tier levels as as follows:

  • 10
  • 25
  • 100
  • 500
  • Pro (by invitation)

Moving Up Through The Tiers

Critically, Amazon looks at two data points when tiering up sellers:

  • Current number of sales
    To move up to the next tier, the requirement is to sell the number of products of your current tier. Hence, once you make 10 sales, you will move up to tier 25. Make 25 sales and you will be moved up to tier 100, and so on. As mentioned above, many times you may be promoted early. I’ve seen reports of people being moved up to tier 25 with 3 sales, to tier 100 with 20 sales, and so on.
  • Number of slots filled
    Amazon’s current Modus Operandi is to advance a seller to the next tier only when they have met the requisite number of sales and have filled 80% of their available slots. If you are Tier 100 with 120 sales, you will likely need to have 80 products for sale – 80% of your slots filled – before you see a tier up to T500

Getting Out Of The Lowest Tiers On MBA

When you are first beginning on Merch By Amazon (MBA), you are on Tier 10, which means you are allowed to have 10 products on display at one time. This gives you a very small slice of the MBA pie, and it can be difficult for some to make their way out of Tier 10 with only these 10 slots.

It’s generally accepted by those in the POD industry that 20% of your products will gain you 80% of your revenue. Of course, this is a vast generalization and your experience may be slightly – or drastically – different, but it is a good heuristic to use to plan for your success.

In some ways, moving up out of the lowest tiers may be the most challenging.

Consider that, following the 20%/80% heuristic, you only have 10 slots at T10,  and you would expect to have 2 sellers among your 10 available products. This is a tiny slice of the available products on Amazon. People generally use one of three schemes to advance out of the lower tiers:

  • Purchase your own products – wear them yourself (marketing!), utilize giveaways, or give them to friends or family as gifts.
  • Chase trends – try to get that home run right away by chasing a current trend and hoping to get noticed (using a custom t shirt design service can help you get a great design out quickly, if you are a beginning illustrator).
  • Rotate your slots – Constantly rotate your designs and products in and out of rotation, allowing you to get a little more exposure with your limited slots

 

Exceptions And Specifics To Moving Up Tiers

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. If you were selling on MBA in Q4 during 2015/2016 or 2016/2017, you are familiar with the freeze. All MBA sellers were temporarily disallowed from uploading or changing any of their listings for weeks during the busiest sales period of the year. Thankfully, this past Q4, MBA did not implement this freeze.

At the same time, they temporarily paused Tier-Ups, leaving many sellers to flock to the Facebook and other MBA groups to find out why they had made 200 sales but were still tier 25.

Keep in mind that this is Amazon’s playground and they are often inscrutable. They may temporarily pause Tier-Ups again at any time – in fact the Tier-Ups seem to come in waves – but in general Amazon seems to stick to their tier system fairly closely, with the common exception of moving people up quickly through the lower tiers.

Pro Level Tiers – T500+

Once you get into T500, the tier game changes. The sales number and slots filled requirements are still in effect, but advancement to the higher tiers (T1000, T2000, T4000, and so on) is also based on your design quality, which means that an actual human being working at MBA is likely to peruse your products and either recommend you for advancement, or not.

If you find yourself in the position of not being moved up in to the higher tiers, your game plan should be the same as ever: create stand out designs that people want.

In Summary

Amazon makes it a little difficult to get started on their platform, but it is actually a good way for sellers to learn good POD business practice. Manage your portfolio well, find your markets and serve them, and use designs that stand out and grab attention, utilize good copywriting and product descriptions you will make sales, move up tiers, and be on your way to Pro level.

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED LINKS

Each week, we share content from a variety of sources intended to help print-on-demand sellers. Get even more links by following us on Facebook or Twitter

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  1. https://www.printful.com/blog/email-marketing-trends/
  2. https://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/85797.html
  3. https://www.kite.ly/blog/print-on-demand-for-charities/
  4. https://www.kite.ly/blog/the-importance-of-email-in-selling-custom-merchandise/
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateharrison/2019/01/28/7-profitable-side-hustles-you-can-start-in-your-apartment/

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