Sunday, July 03, 2016

Merch by Amazon, some observations

This is an email I sent to Merch by Amazon after creating the first 20 of my T-shirt designs:

I'm really glad you've made this outlet available for designers. Thanks very much.

In the Analyze section, I would like to see how many views each product has had, not just the number of sales. That would tell me which designs potential buyers find more eye-catching. It would also indicate to me whether or not my designs are appearing in search results. If there are never any views, that would indicate that potential customers aren't seeing my designs. Partly that would be the result of my not having enough appropriate keywords in my description of a product. But it would also partly be because of Amazon's policies regarding search results. Amazon is absorbing the cost of hosting these designs on their servers; it would be in Amazon's best interests for these products to sell to compensate for the cost of their hosting. The higher they appear in search results, the more likely they are to sell.

The Promotions section of the website should include setting up promotions on Amazon, not just offering tools for creating promotions on my own website. I know that promotional space on Amazon's product pages and landing pages is prime real estate and sellers compete for impressions there, but if Amazon is interested in deriving revenue from the servers hosting Merch by Amazon, they would benefit by allocating some of that real estate to items hosted on those servers.

A while ago I looked into the cost of ads on Amazon and found that the fees were out of my price range. I don't know what the fees are now, but the problem I have with the business model of paying for clicks on ads is that once there is a click, the responsibility of the company selling the ads is completed. Customers can click on ads for any number of reasons—curiosity with no intention of buying, accidental clicking, sabotage, or any other reason besides intention to buy—and the buyer of the ad pays for the click regardless of whether there is a purchase or not. There really is no incentive for the seller of the ad to precisely target the impressions of the ad, and so the product can end up being promoted to the wrong demographics. When I tried Google Ads a while ago to promote my book, written in English, and clicked on "show only on English-language sites," I still found my book's ads appearing on websites that were in Asian languages. I anticipate the same thing happening on Amazon. I'm willing to spend money on promoting my products on Amazon, but only if Amazon waits until there is a purchase before collecting the fee for the click. Amazon would benefit from that by collecting their percentage of the item's selling price as well as the fee for the click. It's possible that the lost revenue from the no-sale clicks would be compensated for by the revenue from the purchase. Accounting would argue that offering free clicks until a purchase is made would produce too little revenue, but that argument ignores the revenue from the purchase, which could be more than that from the clicks. It would also motivate Amazon to promote an item efficiently since their revenue would only come from an actual sale.

Limiting the number of T-shirt colors available to both the designer and the customer is a little odd. I understand the conservatism of wanting there to be fewer colors for designs to look lousy on so that there are fewer returns, but it seems that more customer interest would be generated with a wider range of colors and, with the previews as clear as they are, the customer should be able to see which colors wouldn't work with a design.

The customer should be able to decide between regular-fit and slim-fit. That choice shouldn't be made by the designer. The printing areas of both types of shirts should be coordinated to allow for the design to be scaled to appear appropriately on either style.

Please consider expanding the line of products available. On Zazzle, I have had some success with clock designs. And of course mugs. Stamps and greeting cards have also been good sellers. Even ties do pretty well.

When a design is printed only on the back, the default view of the shirt should be the back. The view currently defaults to the front view, which would be blank in this case, and a customer wouldn't see any design until they clicked on the back-view thumbnail.

The designer would like to choose which color and style T-shirt is the default because s/he knows which color/style displays the design to its best advantage. Basing the default color and style on the currently most popular choice is haphazard and can result in almost all the shirts displayed in the same color. More customer interest is generated when a line of shirts is displayed in a variety of colors. Having a shirt displayed with a women's style as the default would indicate to most men that it's a feminine design, and they would overlook it, even if it's targeted for both men and women. The opposite seems not to be true. But it is the same with children's styles; if the default is a child's style, adults would assume it's a design for kids and would overlook it.

Thanks again for creating Merch by Amazon.

John Garvey

No comments: