Merch by Amazon is for many by far the most popular and important platform in the shirt business. This is mainly due to the enormous reach that the marketplace offers. But this pro-argument also attracts a lot of competition. MBA has been online in the USA for about 5 years and many niches are now very competitive. But there are also alternatives – for example, the still young German marketplace. Here there is still a lot of potential, especially for newcomers to the merch business. Prerequisite: You invest some time for research in advance. In this article, I will show you how you can research the German market and find lucrative niches.
Before we start:
My name is Nina Klose, I am an entrepreneur from Germany and co-founder of Merchreport – the tracking and analysis software especially for the German Merch by Amazon market. I am not only a merch seller myself, but also have a lot of background knowledge and data about the MBA market in Germany through my daily work. You could say that I know the market almost by heart. In this article I would like to give you some insights and tips for your research for new shirts, hoodies & co. especially for the German Amazon marketplace, so that you can have a successful start.
What is Merch by Amazon?
Before we go into practice, I would like to explain in a few sentences what Merch by Amazon actually is and what makes it so interesting:
Merch by Amazon (short MBA) is a so-called Print on Demand Service (POD) for merchandise items. Users can upload their own designs and create T-shirts, hoodies and other products which can then be sold directly on Amazon. No warehouse, production facility, external manufacturers or a high amount of start capital is required. As soon as an order is received, the items are printed on demand by Amazon’s partners and shipped to the customer via prime shipping.
MBA was launched in the USA in autumn 2015. Initially only as a platform for software and game developers, who should be given the opportunity to create their own merchandise for their products. But the rush for the platform was soon so immense that MBA became known far beyond the developer scene. Since summer 2018, Merch by Amazon is now also open for Great Britain and Germany.
Comparison: Merch by Amazon USA, UK or DE?
Amazon.com is a gigantic marketplace compared to DE and UK. Here is where MBA in T-Shirt Business has proven itself for several years. In the USA, due to the size of the marketplace and of course the population, there are significantly more customers online. But the same applies to competitors. On the other hand there are the new European marketplaces. Both Great Britain and Germany are still quite young in terms of MBA. Although the revenues here are not as high as in the USA, there are still many niches that are hardly or not at all occupied – which can definitely and especially for newcomers be a good opportunity.
Compared to the established US sellers who are already successful in the MBA business, I see an advantage for German-speaking providers on Amazon.de above all in the language and also in the better (cultural) understanding of the target group. But there is also a lot of potential for non-Germans if you invest some time and get to know the chosen target group. On the other hand, the UK market could be a good entry market for providers from all European countries who speak English. However, the marketplace seems to become more and more interesting for many Americans due to the lack of language barriers, which of course can also lead to more competition. Therefore, my favorite is definitely the DE market!
Advantages on the German Marketplace
With the opening for Europe, Merch by Amazon is becoming increasingly popular. And although there are already tens of thousands of T-shirts on Amazon.de, many niches, which have been working well in the USA for a long time and are strongly contested, are still hardly occupied in Germany. For this reason alone, the German market is worthwhile for new sellers.
My personal tip: Especially at the beginning of your MBA career, concentrate on just one marketplace. Why? Well, at first sight, Amazon in Germany doesn’t seem to be very different from the USA or UK. But one mistake many sellers make is the following: They take shirts that sell well in the USA and then copy designs and listing texts 1:1 and publish them for example on Amazon DE. This may work, but is more of a gamble.
Soft factors such as climate, cultural differences or buying behavior of the target group should also be considered. And hard factors and key figures such as the Bestseller Rank, can not be compared between marketplaces. The scope of the product catalog is far too different for this. In theory, you would, therefore, have to research or analyze the potential of all three marketplaces for your design idea. So in the end, you won’t save nearly as much time as you first thought.
If you now specialize in only one market, you build up expertise here. You get a feeling for regional and seasonal characteristics, know what sells well and are therefore far ahead of other sellers.
Research for the German Market
Are you interested to start your merch business abroad? Then I will show you now how to start your research for the German market. We will take a look at how to find niches with Merchreport and prove your ideas.
Of course, you can also work without a tool first and get a feeling for the numbers and the daily business. On the other hand, a software also offers you many advantages, such as significant time savings in research or historical product data and the numbers based on them, which help you to assess the potential of individual products and niches. Such data is hardly or not at all manually ascertainable to this extent, but extremely helpful for a professional MBA business.
But no matter if with or without a tool – in the beginning it’s all about inspiration and first ideas for your shirts. So now we start with the process of idea generation. There are different approaches to this, which I will show you below.
Brainstorming and identifying trends
The first and easiest method is the classic brainstorming. Here the quality of the ideas is not (yet) important. What is more significant is that you go into the thinking process and write down everything that comes to your mind. As a small extension, you can also actively search for trends that might have the potential for new t-shirts.
The following questions can help you brainstorm and search for trends:
- What topics, hobbies or interests do you encounter over and over again in your everyday life and environment?
- Which shirt designs do you personally like at the moment?
- What criteria do you use to choose your own shirts?
- For which occasions could you imagine buying a shirt or giving it away?
- What is currently popular with certain target groups?
- Which slogans, symbols, animals or sports are currently experiencing a little hype?
- What events or happenings are coming up that are much talked about or written about?
You can find trends and ideas for shirt designs on websites like Google Trends or on all-round platforms like Vexels – which I highly recommend. This saves you a lot of time and work and with a little practice you can quickly develop an eye for good possibilities.
Research directly on Amazon
Of course, it makes sense to search directly where you want to be active as a seller later – directly on Amazon. You can have the bestsellers from the various categories displayed directly on the website in the list of the Top 100. The option is somewhat hidden, however, as it is not linked on the website. You can find the bestsellers via amazon.de/gp/bestsellers.
Now you can have a look at the top 100 articles of the respective main categories and see directly which topics and articles are currently popular. The most interesting category for your shirt business is, of course, the clothing category, as here you can find the MBA shirts. Have a look at details like prices, designs and the listings of different products that are interesting for you. Instead of the bestsellers, you can also view the new releases or movers and shakers of the respective categories.
Filtering the bestsellers only by MBA shirts is not possible on Amazon directly. If you want to search intensively, it is worth using a tool that not only sorts by MBA products, but also shows you all relevant details about the shirts without having to open the listings individually.
If you would like to test whether a niche is potentially lucrative when generating your ideas, make sure that your favorite shirts have both width and depth in the market and that there is already some competition in the niche. For example, use various search terms to test how the product can be found on Amazon. If you have found several articles for a main keyword, check also how much the bestseller ranks of the first 5-10 hits drop. In this way, you can ensure that not only the first result has established itself as a top seller, but also that the other listings are still selling well.
Becoming visible on the Amazon Marketplace
The biggest advantage – the range you can get through Amazon – can also become a disadvantage. This is when you try to place yourself out there with too superficial ideas. Because then you are faced with an enormous number of competitors on the German market, who may already have established themselves with their products. In other words: You are going under because no customer even sees your products.
To prevent this from happening, you can use two powerful tools:
- The power of the niche
- The knowledge about Amazon SEO
In the following, we will look at both points in detail.
Finding a Fitting Niche
With the countless items on the Amazon marketplace, you’ll quickly go under with an idea that is too superficial. The competition is giant, big players are already established and to become visible as a new provider is almost impossible. The success of a new shirt is therefore very much dependent on choosing a good niche. The art here is to find a niche that is not too small, but not too big either. There should already be some shirts with a good sales rank (BSR), but not too many, so that you get a piece of the cake.
To further specify from a first rough idea, you can use a simple brainstorming technique for the Niching Down. This is a process of asking you more questions about your initial idea, collecting and then checking them.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself:
- Who was the shirt designed for? (e.g. fathers, students, motorcyclists, programmers etc.)
- Which target group should be addressed in general? (e.g. young women between 18 and 30 who eat vegan food)
- Which adjectives describe the potential interested parties? (e.g. sporty, nerdy, humorous etc.)
- When and where can the shirt be worn well? (e.g. in the gym, at parties, at school)
- Is there a special occasion for which the shirt can be worn or given as a gift? (e.g. birthday, schooling, bachelor party etc.)
The Niching Down then looks like this in theory:
First, you can search for shirts for the keyword “dog” in general and get inspiration for possible niches and long-tail keywords (word combinations of two or more terms) via the articles you find via Amazon search.
If you want to use a tool for your research or to check your ideas, you can quickly and easily get an overview of how worthwhile your targeted longtail keyword can be in the niche analysis function of Merchreport. Using the Merchreport Score (MRS) – our internal indicator, which we calculate from historical data and practical criteria – you can see the potential of your input as a percentage value, compare it with other niches and get direct suggestions for lucrative sub-niches.
Amazon-SEO: With the Right Keywords and Good Sales Copy to Success
The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization in online marketing. Amazon is one of the most important search engines on the Internet besides Google. Customers increasingly prefer to search the marketplace directly when it comes to search queries that are linked to a purchase intention. The idea behind optimization for Amazon is therefore similar to that of Google SEO. The idea is to create the sales texts for your listing in such a way that it appears as high up as possible in the search results on the marketplace for certain keywords and can be found quickly by customers.
Ideally, you should now have worked out the most important keywords for your new shirt from the preliminary work of finding a niche, which will be integrated into the listing in the next step. With MBA, you have the possibility to spread your keywords in several areas of the listing:
- In the brand name
- In the product title
- In the Bullet Points
- In the product description
The individual areas are weighted differently. Amazon allows you to use the bullet points and product description as optional. However, you should always use at least the bullets. Your main keyword should appear at minimum there and in the product title. Bullet points are also a good choice for other important keywords. In the product description, where you have a little more characters available, you can give the customer more detailed information about the design or possible uses. In addition to the keyword distribution, it is important to know that you only have to use each keyword once. Keyword stuffing does not have a positive influence – on the contrary!
How you design your brand depends on what you want to do in the future. The brand name is clickable. You can use it to summarize similar designs, which are all listed on a separate page after clicking on them, making them easier for customers to find. Using a single brand name can be useful if you offer many shirts for the same niche and want to build a label around it. However, the protection of your ideas speaks against using a single brand. Finding a lucrative niche involves a lot of work. Merch-users keep their own designs secret mostly because of copycats. By the way, you don’t have to register a real trademark for the brand, you can usually use any fantasy name you like, as long as you don’t infringe any rights of registered trademarks.
If you need even more inspiration for your texts, then have a look at different shirts that sell well and watch how other sellers design their listings.
Merch by Amazon in Germany is worth a try
The whole business model around Merch by Amazon cannot be explained in a single blog post, but I hope I could give you a good overview of the Research for the German Market. Even if it means a little more work – give this still young marketplace a chance. There are still some good niches that are worthwhile. If you want to use a software for your research right from the start, then have a look at our tool Merchreport and register for a free account.
I wish you success and good sales on MBA!