In these blog posts I intend to share everything inside my Merch By Amazon analytics, from designs to product sales statistics, with complete transparency, so why not start with my Merch by Amazon best seller.
Full disclosure, I have an Amazon Merch account. I don’t have time to devote to it fully, because of my day job, which turns into a night job half the time, plus a 3 year old and 9 month old at home, plus MerchPilot — it’s a lot. That being said, I love Merch. It’s an amazing opportunity. It’s a creative platform for me and helps me to keep my design chops alive.
The Crowded Hockey Niche
Keep in mind that I’m not a trend chaser. That requires time and attention that I don’t currently have. I design what I like and what I know, so my best seller might seem like small change compared to some sellers, but I still consider it amazing since it was relatively simple to pull off.
In this case, I came into the design knowing that I wanted to drill-down into the defensemen aspects of hockey, an under appreciated position in hockey and an under served area of the niche. The tough-guy and goon themes are sort of played out and I wanted to standout with something that would immediately resonate with those who spend their time preventing break-aways, keeping the puck in the opponents zone, blocking pucks, and generally being a bad-ass.
This Blueline Is Mine
It requires knowledge of the sport to recognize the blueline as something meaningful. Best of all, the phrase was short, and it rhymed. It was perfect.
- I chose a flat blue color (#446cb3) for the line.
- I added a white grunge texture to emulate an icy/snowing blueline.
- I used DCC Sharp Distressed, which is an absolutely amazing distressed font that I’ve used on several shirts.
Note how I intentionally spell defenseman in two different ways to hopefully catch both variants on search.
- Brand: Drop The Puck Hockey Tees
- Product Name: This Blueline is Mine Hockey Defenseman Tshirt
- ice hockey defenceman t-shirt
- he shoots he scores with this great hockey themed blue line defense shirt
Dive into Sales Numbers
Not only does this shirt represent 25% of my total sales, but since it was posted it’s become a daily seller. There was a time in November where it was selling 4-6 times a day! And then…throttling.
Obviously I believe this tshirt will be a seasonal shirt, however I expect sales all year due to the popularity of hockey even throughout the summer months. You can see how it started to catch on in October and even more in November.
Unexpected Youth Market
When designing this, I assumed men were the buyers. But gradually I started seeing several kids sizes get purchased and towards the holiday season, the youth sizes really took off. I didn’t expect that, but it makes a lot of sense now and possibly that could have been driven by a large affiliate that I’ll get into later.
As far as colors, you can see below the relative weighting of color purchases with Black and Navy being the predominant colors. The hockey niche prefers the black, grey and blue tones.
Should Have Raised Prices Faster
I really screwed up with this one and left money on the table. You can see my pricing changes below and the number of sales at each price. Early on I was in tier-up mode and had a $12.75 price just to get some momentum. I quickly started to raise this up, but hit long delays with price changes getting stuck in processing for days and even weeks. The MerchPilot pricing chart is a great tool for finding that sweet spot, especially in price sensitive niches.
Where My Copycats At?
It didn’t take them long actually. I try not to let it bother me, but it does. I know the whole ‘copycat’ or ‘improvecat’ method is a legit business strategy, but it bothers me to no end. Now this tshirt isn’t all that, but I’ve had some that took me hours to design, and to see shitty copies, really bugs me. I should just close the browser tab instead of looking at the BSR for these copycats, but I’m sad to say, they’ve gotten sales.
Mr. 83 Variants
I listed a single shirt, with the requisite 5 colors. So of course someone shows up with the same phrase, same elements, same keywords, and listed each color and style variant as a separate listing — 83 listings to be exact. And somehow they managed to make the design look worse.
A couple others showed up, using the phrase and keywords, but with different designs which didn’t bother me as much. Should I be trademarking this phrase? Maybe, but then I’d have to care about trying to enforce it and spending time policing that.
In no time, my design was on Teezily. I don’t know much about their platform, but it’s pixel for pixel copycat and for some reason this one bothered me more that Mr. 83 variants.
One unlikely place where I found this shirt was on parenting.com. I’ve found a few of my shirts there, and I believe this is driving my youth sizing sales. Parenting.com is a huge site, over 5 million views a month so having your listings there on their affiliate page is a good thing. It drives your shirt up in google rankings, and I believe this kept a few sales dribbling in during the holiday season throttling.
The Bottom Line
Because of this Merch by Amazon best seller, I’ve delved into the Hockey niche a bit more with further unique and creative designs with decent success, even with the onslaught of copycats — but that’s a story for another blog.
Update: Dec 29, 2018
With the Amazon Merch throttlegate in full effect, I’d had some time to reflect on the importance of this design and decided to see what the process of copyright is. It’s definitely net profitable to protect this one as it’s quite a seller. I’ll write about it further if the copyright is approved.
Also published on Medium.