What to do if a design gets rejected by Merch by Amazon

Recently, we covered a bit about how we handle trademark and copyright issues when it comes to our own design and copy writing services. In that post, we mentioned that we are happy to help with any listing that gets rejected when using our design or copywriting service. This past week, we heard from a few members that had designs rejected where the problem wasn’t with anything we created, but we were happy to help anyway. We wanted to share our recommendations of what to do if a design gets rejected by Merch by Amazon.

What to do if a design gets rejected by Merch by Amazon

First, recognize that anyone that’s been selling on Merch with any degree of success has likely had one, if not several design rejections in their time selling on Amazon’s print on demand platform. Intellectual property laws, as well as Amazon’s own content policies, contain a lot of vagaries and criteria that may be open to some degree of subjective interpretation. Unless your design is a blatant, obvious ripoff of someone else’s property (i.e. the Coca-Cola logo) and full of vulgarities, it’s unlikely a first offense will cause any harm to your account.

The next thing to do is to carefully review the email from Amazon. In their rejection emails, they typically give one of the following reasons:

Once you identify the issue, check for more details in the Merch by Amazon Content Policies. Then open the listing you submitted and look at what need to be changed.

In the case of numbers 4 or 5, the issue is pretty straightforward. Find the text that refers to non-profits, charities, or about the quality and fulfillment of the product and remove it. Amazon already includes factual text about the materials, fits, etc, and that is subject to change anyway depending on the blank shirts being used by Amazon at any given time.

Designs rejected for reason 3 are also pretty easy to identify the issue, though may take a bit extra work to fix. These can be triggered by inaccurate copy, poor quality designs, or asking for positive reviews, including other non-permissible info in the copywriting.

When designs are rejected for reason #2, the problem is typically pretty clear, as this rule prohibits profanity, nudity, hate messages, etc. There can be some gray lines, though the problem is often a disagreement in opinion rather than a misunderstanding of the reason for rejection.

The most common reason for rejection is reason number one listed above. In these cases, the issue can be either the image or the copywriting, and Amazon doesn’t usually indicate where the problem lies. To check on your own, do a search in Tineye.com using your original PNG file to look for potential problems.

Then, carefully read your text, including the brand name, product title, bullet points, and description. Pay close attention to any proper nouns of organizations that may hold the rights to the term. Many seemingly generic terms, such as “VFW”, cannot be used in any copy on Merch by Amazon. If you’re unsure, check the USPTO.org site. Be sure to break up phrases that are in question.

Once you’ve identified the problem, fix the problem by editing the design and/or copy, and resubmit the listing.

Of course, if you’re a member and have any issues with designs or copy we provided, please reach out to us so we can help.


Have questions about what to do if a design gets rejected by Merch by Amazon? Leave a comment below. 

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