How To Find “Not Buyable” Merch Products In Your Merch by Amazon Account
Merch is turning back on! ASINs are becoming available to purchase, and people are starting to fire up their business and start running traffic (free or paid).
The one glaring issue though is that Merch is turning on ASINs one at a time, and it can be really hard to figure out what ASINs are actually available to start running traffic to.
So in this guide, we want to go over how to find these ASINs that are NOT turned on yet, so you can keep an eye on them moving forward.
But first, let’s talk about keyword rankings!
ASIN Keyword Rankings – What’s Changed
It looks like all of the Merch ASINs are actually coming back incredibly quickly. Over 50% of my personal ASINs are already back online and sales have started flooding into the account.
So, I did what any keyword savvy Mercher would do, and started looking at my keyword rankings.
What I have noticed is that RANKINGS (where your product shows up in the search results when typing in a keyword as a customer would do), have not changed much at all.
In fact, almost all my rankings are very close to where they were previously.
The “long tail” keywords that I was previously ranking for are 90% UNCHANGED!
The “main niche” keywords that I was previously ranking for have been pushed down to about the middle of the page.
Let’s go over an example to highlight this.
Say you have a political shirt about Joe Biden.
The “main niche” keyword that you could have been ranking for could have been “Joe Biden T-Shirt”.
The “long tail” keyword that you could have been ranking for previously could have been “Just Biden My My Time 2020”.
What I am seeing is that the long tail keywords are exactly the same for most shirts. If you were ranking #1 for a phrase previously and it was a longer tail keyword, that shirt is exactly in the same place. For the “main niche” keywords, chances are you may have dropped down the rankings a bit. In my case, this is typically down to the middle or the end of the first page results.
Speculating why this is, it is probably because for the “main niche” keywords, there are still other FBM (Fullfillment by Merchant) shirts available that continued to sell during the shut down, but your long tail keywords may not have any any sellers with that phrase in them during this time. That would be the only thing that makes sense, but is also good news for us!
If you can kick start our sales again with running traffic and getting sales on our LONG TAIL keywords, then the main niche keyword rankings should come back as well!
So yes, you should be able to just wait it out, but this process can be made a LOT faster by running AMS ads or driving traffic through social media. Just the other day we released a guide on how to do this. If you missed it, make sure to read through this article:
How To Kick Start Your Merch Account After The Printing Pause
In order to properly do this though, you should be running traffic to shirts that are….buy-able! If you have a large account, how do you even begin to start finding that information out?
You find the shirts that are NOT buy-able (meaning the ASINs have not been turned on yet). So let’s go over how to do that.
How To Find “Not Buyable” Merch Products In Your Merch by Amazon Account
There are a few simple steps that you can do to find this information out. This is the easiest way that I know of to find the products that you should monitor before they come back online. It sure beats “clicking randomly” and “checking bigger brands” in your Merch account which we were doing all of yesterday.
Step 1: Download Productor
Productor is a FREE Merch by Amazon plugin that has a lot of really useful tools inside of it.
You can download that here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/productor-for-merch-by-am/almiakmbepejhcjnfhhjkcfabeepefno?hl=en
Once you have installed it, make sure it is active and log in to your Merch by Amazon account. If you are already logged in, you may need to refresh the page for the information to show up.
Step 2: Update the Productor Database
If this is the first time you are using Productor, it will need to go through your account and figure out what shirts are live and which shirts are not. This is done client side (which means on your computer), and not on the creators computer so all of your information is safe.
On your Merch by Amazon account, click on the “Productor Dashboard” tab at the top.
In the top bar, you will see “Database”. Click on the little icon to the right of that bar to refresh the database so that it goes through your account.
This process can take a long time! Just sit back and let it do its thing! For large accounts, you could be waiting several hours or even longer, but what it is doing in the background is going through each product 1 by 1 to figure out what products are available and which are not.
Step 3: Change Productor Filters
Once the database has been updated head on over to the Productor Manage tab. In the top menu bar, on the right hand side, you will see what looks like a little funnel. Click on this and there is a drop down menu to sort your products by when they expire.
Use that drop down menu and at the bottom, click the “Not Buyable” button.
This will then sort the list by products that are currently not buyable (EXACTLY what we are looking for).
However, this does not do us much good sitting in the account, so on the left hand side, click on the “Select all filtered” button:
Now that they are all selected, we can finish off this guide!
Step 4: Download The “Not Buyable” List
In the top menu bar on the same page, after you have selected all of the filtered options, you can now click the little download button:
You can download a CSV, ASIN’s Only, Amazon URLs, or by product and design.
This will come in handy to make sure you are monitoring your products to see which ones are coming online (Amazon URL’s), or which products you should not be driving traffic to yet when setting up ads (ASINs).
Wrapping It Up
Once you have this list downloaded, check up on it every couple of hours. You will be surprised at how fast they are restoring ASINs to your account. It will also give you a good idea of what products that you should be running traffic to. I noticed that as soon as my products are getting up and restored, you can then begin to run AMS ads to them. Shipping times are about a week or two out, but they almost instantly start selling if they have reviews on them.
For the other products WITHOUT reviews, those are the ones that we are focusing on running more traffic to as they lack the “social proof” that the other designs currently have.
Whatever you do, making sure you know how to filter out your account is always good to maintain a great understanding of how your Merch business is running.
If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below!
How To Kick Start Your Merch Account After The Printing Pause
It has finally happened! Merch by Amazon is turning the printers back on and our ASINs are being restored. We are back in business!
Well, most of us are, that is!
In this article, we want to go over the change that just hit everyone’s Merch by Amazon dashboard, and give you what we think is the easiest way to get ahead of the crowd when it comes to kick starting your business from an even playing field.
So, let’s get started!
What We Know About The Printing Pause
On 3/19/20 we got an update in our Merch dashboards letting us know what almost everyone had already seen…Amazon was experiencing increased demand and order volumes so delivery times for Merch products were extended. In some cases that we saw, this extension was up to a month out!
We had already seen sales tanking, but this was the writing on the wall.
Less than a week later, it finally hit our dashboards: Merch by Amazon was going to temporarily close US Print facilities to focus on high priority items and essential goods at their FBA warehouses.
After all, not many people would be willing to buy graphic tees when they were stuck at home. The point of so many of these pieces of clothing is to show it off to other people. If you are stuck at home, no one else is seeing it!
This hurt so many small businesses that depend on Amazon, but the safety of the employees printing and shipping our shirts comes first. Remember, there are real humans on the other side of your computer screen that makes this entire process function. There are people running around a warehouse picking the blanks, there are people running the printers (I believe its actually a small team per printer), and there are people running your shirt to be packed and shipped. Then there are customer support people, developers to make the backend stable, the team who work on the platform.
There are a lot of people involved in making sure our shirts get to our customers and since Washington (USA) was hit so hard with the virus, it is no surprise that they temporarily closed.
When they were closed, the EU printing facility for the UK and DE markets continued to operate. This was great news but for most of us, the earnings from these markets pales in comparison to the US market of customers.
The main issue though, was that even though these facilities remained operational, there was NO WAY to even work on your Merch business or prepare during the down time.
We have been in contact and they enabled submitting drafts to the Merch dashboard which was excellent news (not perfect, but something to occupy our time with the business). We urged everyone to take advantage of this, but if you did not, your business is still intact!
Today, (or yesterday depending on when you are reading this), we got news that the US printing facilities would be opening back up and ASINs would begin getting restored on the Amazon platform.
This process should take a few days and once the ASINs are restored, publishing will then become enabled.
Once publishing is fully enabled, there will be another update to the dashboard, so make sure to keep an eye out for that!
So, that about gets us to the present day of the reopening. Let’s talk about what it is going to take to get ahead of all the other Merch products about to hit the market.
Getting Ahead Of The Market
There is really no other way to put it. All of our Merch products have not been selling for a solid month now. This means that the sales ranks have probably drastically dropped, the sales VELOCITY is all but gone, and the only thing we can really count on is the reviews a product has.
So, what exactly can we do about it?
In our opinion, most products that do NOT have reviews are going to be starting on an even playing field. The sales velocity is gone and the sales ranks are down. There has been a month of other products in the clothing category selling without our products even being shown.
So, when Merch is fully turned back on, we are ALL going to be fighting for those same positions.
“Sales Cures All” – I think Mark Cuban said this
In order to get back on top, we are going to have to drive sales! Relying on organic traffic is still a great way to make sales, but sitting by the wayside hoping to make sales off organic traffic like everyone else if we are all “starting over” is not what you should rely on.
We need to drive traffic, and we need to make sales from that traffic.
So, in our opinion, there are 2 easy solutions:
- You have $0 to spend – drive traffic through Social Media
- You have a little bit of money to spend – AMS Ads!
We have written extensively about Pinterest marketing before, so if you do not have any money to spend on kickstarting your business, your best bet would be to get set up on Pinterest and get started NOW.
Leverage Pinterest Marketing To Sell Your Merch by Amazon T-Shirts
However, if you have any amount of money to spend and you are lucky enough to have an account… there is only one thing we think you should be focusing on…
AMS Ads For Your Business
AMS Ads or Amazon Advertising as it is now called is probably the single easiest way to get ahead of everyone else that has products reappearing on Amazon.
Think about it, how do you end up making sales on Merch (besides have great images, optimized titles, and great bullets)?
You get ranked on the first page so buyers actually see your products!
This is what AMS will do for you.
You don’t even have to spend that much money. As long as there is room for your ad… and there will be since everyone turned theirs off, you can bid CHEAPLY for every click and get your position at the top of the search results.
So, let’s go over quickly how to set one of these up.
Step 1: Log in to AMS
The first step is to actually log in to AMS. Head over to https://advertising.amazon.com/ and click sign-in.
If you have an account from previously, click on the advertising console link:
Once you are logged in, you will see all your campaigns, spend, sales, ACOS and impressions.
Step 2: Create Campaign
The second step is to actually set-up the campaign!
Click on the Create campaign button under the graph:
This will bring you to the page to pick your campaign type.
Remember, the name of the game here is making sure that when a customer searches for a keyword, that you show up FIRST!
Therefore, make sure to select the sponsored products campaign type and click on continue:
After you click on the continue button, you basically have just a single page to set up the campaign.
Give your campaign:
- A name – so you can find the campaign in the future
- An end date – So you do not spend thousands of dollars by mistake
- A daily budget – We suggest around $5
- Automatic/Manual Targeting
For this campaign I am going to quickly set up, I am going to give it a name so that I know what the campaign is. Keep in mind that if you really want to track these and make sure they are working, you should probably set up a campaign for each of your t-shirts. This can take a lot of time but can be very well worth it.
We are also going to select an end date (about a month out). This will ensure that the campaign has time to run but that it will also have a date where it will end. There have been times when we set up campaigns without an end date and logged in 6 months later to see that we ended up spending thousands on a campaign that did not convert like we thought it would.
We like to keep the daily budget pretty low (we will go over this in a bit) and we set the targeting to AUTOMATIC targeting. This will let AMS run ads against our title and bullet points. Remember, we simply want to get it in front of as many eyes as possible so we can kick start some sales and get our original rankings back.
Next, we will need to select a bidding strategy. This part is important!
For this, we will set it at Dynamic bids – down only. This basically tells Amazon that whatever you set for your bid, it can never go ABOVE that per click that you get to your product page but that they can lower the bids where it makes sense (saving your money).
Next, give your ad group a name and simply add your ASIN and add it to the group. I like to do one product at a time, but you could set up more than one.
If you have an issue finding your shirt when you enter in the ASIN, use the drop-down menu on the right of the search box to select “All Amazon products”.
Finally, we get to set up the most important part, the CPC bid (CPC stands for cost per click). This is how much you will pay at a MAX each and every time someone clicks on your ad.
Amazon will give you a suggested bid. In the screenshot above, they suggest a bid of almost $1 per click! This is insane seeing as how I could get 3 clicks, not make a sale and be losing money.
Think about this, lots of people do not have access to AMS, and the ones that do, are not running ads to their Merch because Merch has been shut down for over a month.
What does that mean?
It means that Amazon is going to have a LOT of ad inventory to display with hardly anyone bidding on those slots.
So realistically, we think you can set the bid very low (between 10-30 cents per click) and still see impressions and clicks that lead to sales!
For this example, we set the bid to 0.20. So each time someone clicks the ad, it will spend at the most, 20 cents.
Remember, you can ALWAYS edit this later as you watch how your ad is doing. If you start getting impressions and sales at a low bid, leave it be and watch your rankings on organic Amazon start shooting up.
If you are not getting any impressions after a few days, chances are you set your CPC way too low and you can go in and bump it up a bit.
The name of the game here is visibility (this is what we are all fighting for on Amazon in the same niche anyway).
Play around with your CPC and see what happens.
Note: Allow your ads to run for 1-3 days before you make any changes. Sometimes Amazon can take a bit to launch the campaign and start bringing back stats that you can look at. So, if you see nothing after the first 8 hours, nothing is wrong! Just be patient and give it some more time!
Wrapping It Up
At the end of the day, you do not have to run AMS ads at all. In fact, there is no need to actually drive any traffic for any amount of money or free through social media. We just think that using AMS or social media is the easiest way to get a head start when everything is working as it should again.
You CAN sit around and rely on organic, but if everyone else is doing the same thing… you are in the same boat as they are.
Take action now, and make it work for your business.
Drop a comment below if you actually followed through and are working on your business!
Good luck out there.
How To Use Rank Tracking To Optimize Merch by Amazon Listings
This post is also available in: German
The vast majority of Merchers use a spray and pray approach when it comes to uploading shirts. You upload your limit of shirts, and hope something sells.
This CAN work, but over the years it has gotten hard and harder, making research even that more important.
Let’s say that you went through all the research steps, found a good subniche where there are buyers for your shirt designs, and you know what makes up a good design! All that is left is to list it right?
Yes and no!
The first step is listing it, using keywords in your title, bullet points and description to make a great listing for a customer. However, if you want to have a design catalog with thousands of designs that are selling monthly (and not just hoping someone buys it), then you NEED to keep an eye on your listings to optimize keywords in order to push your shirt up the rankings. The higher ranked your shirt is for specific keywords, the more sales you will make and the more royalties will flow into your account.
This works great for new listings, but also is important and something to keep in mind with sellers that you think you can grab some more volume from.
If you want to follow along in this guide and do NOT have Merch Informer, make sure to grab the 7 day free trial here: https://members.merchinformer.com/trial (no credit card required) so that we can start optimizing your shirts.
Optimizing a Merch T-Shirt Design
Keywords are what make this business go round! The better placed your keywords are, the more visibility they will have with the audience that will buy your shirts.
If you have a great design but do not take the time to optimize anything, you might be stuck at the back of 50,000 other designs with no way to get seen. The best thing for you to do if you are in this position is actually go watch the video in this post which lays out how to get started:
How to Keyword Merch Listings
Once you have a good understanding of how this all works, we can start actually optimizing the listings.
Step 1: Adding Designs
The first thing you want to do is make sure you have a Merch Informer account, so go ahead and log into that.
From the left hand corner menu, select the Merch Tracker. This handy little module will let you track your designs and keywords across Amazon. This will allow us to figure out where we are ranking so that we can make the appropriate changes in order to boost our position.
Go ahead and add the ASIN of one of your designs to the ASIN box. If you do not know where to find this, you can open up any Merch by Amazon t-shirt, scroll down to the product details, and then copy and paste the ASIN inside of Merch Informer:
I have selected a trump design to illustrate how this works for example purposes. We are using this design because the seller is missing out on a lot of opportunity here. Enter in the ASIN into Merch Informer:
Go ahead and click save and you will get a notice that it has successfully been added:
Step 2: Adding Keywords
The second step to this is adding some keywords. First though, lets break down all the functionality to get you used to using the tool.
When you first add a design to the tool you will see the design itself, a little clock, a trashcan, and the title, ASIN and keywords slot.
The little clock icon will track this design over time to show you sales rank and pricing. The trashcan will remove it from the list. The longer you keep tracking your designs, the more data you will have to actually optimize your listings!
What is really important here are the keywords.
Here is the listing of the design that we added:
You can tell it has some decent keywords in there, and it looks like the design in question has 10 customer reviews (ASIN screenshot above). However, this seller is leaving a LOT of money on the table by not actually optimizing this listing.
Head on over to the product search inside of Merch Informer and look up the keyword “Trump” and you will see what I mean.
You can get to this screenshot by clicking on the little “i” icon under the product.
You will see that this shirt not only is priced higher, but it is selling a LOT.
Take a look at their listing:
What you should be doing is figuring out WHAT keywords in these other listings are doing well for these designs, and we will try and incorporate them into our listing after we track them to figure out what is going on.
So now, let’s add some keywords to the original listing that we put into the tracker.
The first thing I like to do is actually look at any reviews and see if there are any keywords THERE that we could possibly add to the listing.
It looks like there is:
Right there in plain site we see the keyword “president trump”, yet somehow this is NOT included in the listing for the shirt we are going to track. I also notice in these other listings the following keywords:
- donald trump shirt
- president trump
- trump 2020
- trump is my president
- trump supporter
So start by adding these to the keywords inside of Merch Informer.
When you first add them, they will look like this:
If a keyword has not been tracked, you will want to click on the “not tracked yet” button which will give you a rank for the design on Amazon.
After adding all the keywords, we have this:
Only a single keyword out of the ones we are tracking is ranking (and not very good ranking at that). The rest are not even in the top 100 results! This means that this seller is leaving probably a good $1000+ a month on the table, because they are not taking the time to optimize the listing.
So, lets optimize!
Step 3: Optimizing the Merch by Amazon Listing
Here are the two bullet points in the design we are tracking:
- Haters gonna hate! This funny trump tee is the perfect shirt for any conservative or republican who loves seeing liberals get up in arms about the president. Support Donald and the cause by rocking out this political gift tee today!
- Funny Haters Gonna Hate Donald Trump T-Shirt President Tee makes a great gift for friends and family.
These are “okay” but the goal here is to actually get some of the keywords that we are tracking into these bullet points AND the title where it makes sense. If Amazon sees these keywords in the right spots (where it makes sense of course) then they will slowly move the shirt up the rankings.
Here is the title of the design:
- Funny Haters Gonna Hate Donald Trump T-Shirt President Tee
First, let’s tackle the title.
The title by itself is good, but I want to put 1 keyword in there.
From our list of tracking, we see that we have the keyword “president trump” but that is actually not together in any of the listing.
So, if I was this seller, I would make this small change to the title:
- Funny Haters Gonna Hate Donald Trump T-Shirt President Trump Tee
As you can see, all we did was add “trump” to the title, to make the full keyword president trump show up.
Now that the title is taken care of, lets move on to the bullet points. We have 4 more keywords to POSSIBLY use (there is no need to always use all of them. Using too many could make your listing look spammy).
- donald trump shirt
- trump 2020
- trump is my president
- trump supporter
Lets see if we can fit these into the bullet points. Look for the bolded text to see what was added:
- Haters gonna hate! This funny trump tee is the perfect donald trump shirt for any conservative or republican who loves seeing liberals get up in arms about the president. Show that you are a trump supporter and the cause by rocking out this political gift tee today!
- Funny Haters Gonna Hate Donald Trump T-Shirt President Tee makes a great gift for friends and family. Show your activism for trump 2020 by wearing this design so that you can proudly say trump is my president!
and there you have it! With just a single sentence and a few slight changes, we have optimized the bullet points to include some extra keywords that other designs are pulling in the sales with.
The next step would be to change these on Merch by Amazon and then watch your ranks inside of the Merch Tracker every day. I would personally give them about a month or so to see some movement. After 30 days, you may wish to revisit your design, or start looking at putting some ad spend behind your shirt!
Wrapping It Up
This method DOES require a little bit more effort – about 5 minutes more.
However, if merchers actually took the time to optimize their account and keep tabs on their designs, they would easily grow with the platform and see increased sales.
All it takes is a few minutes a day or one big day of optimizing to start seeing some returns. After all, it takes a while to get ranked, but even if you are ranked, you could STILL be missing out on some of that Merch Money.
Let me know if you have any questions or how we can help you to optimize your designs even easier in the comments below!
To your success!