Design Rotation While Waiting To Tier Up

Amazon Merch can sometimes be very confusing and often times frustrating when you have figured out what is going on. With all the faults that the program has, we all love it, and for good reason. We can all take advantage of the biggest marketplace in the world and sell to all their customers with no up front investment.

With all the tier ups that went on yesterday (congrats to each and every one of you!), there are still a lot of people out there feeling frustrated. Here we are in Q4, sales are picking up, and many of the lower tier accounts that have far outsold their tier level, got passed up for a tier up. Do we know why? Of course not! There are some things that you can do to ensure you have the best possible Q4 until another account upgrade happens.

Quick Note: I am aware of many 10/25 tier accounts getting skipped over for a tier up. It seems that if your account was at a higher tier and you were eligible, then you should have been tiered up. Let me know in the comments if this is true.

Design Rotation

One of the most basic, yet powerful techniques for getting out of the lower tiers is design rotation.

Think about it. If you have 10 slots, or 25 slots available, the first thing you need to do is have all of them filled to the max by uploading each and every day. These should be excellent designs and based on sound research.

What if they are just not selling though? If they are not selling, all they are doing is taking up a slot of a shirt that COULD be selling. Now, at this stage, you have 2 possible options. You can either go out and market your shirt if you believe in it (and if you do not believe in it, why is it even on Amazon?), or two, you can start the design rotation. Since most people have no interest in marketing their shirts, we are going to focus on design rotation today.

Set A Rotation Schedule

When I help other people in the lower tiers, the first thing we usually do is a set a rotation schedule.

What do I mean by this? Well first, we need to take a look at the account. How many slots are available? How many shirts on the account have actually sold?

I always recommend that people have about 4X the amount of shirts than slots available in their Merch account. So for example, if an account is brand new and has 10 slots available, I would recommend that person get 40 shirts created based on solid research. If the account has 25 slots available, then they should have 100 good designs ready to go.

The reasoning for having 4X the shirts for the slots available is so you can rotate them out on a schedule. Think about it this way. This is a business and you WILL end up using all those shirts once you get tiered up anyway right? It is just an investment, and you can write it off on your taxes once you file (if you are outsourcing). So get a bunch of excellent shirts designed that are evergreen. The shirts you have in your rotation should not be seasonal and they should not be trending.

If they are seasonal, you may rotate out designs but not get a sale and then those seasonal designs are no good until next year. This does not really help your tier up cause. If they are trending, well… we will talk about that in a moment.

So after you have 4X the shirt designs, it is time to set your actual rotation schedule.

If you are patient, I would recommend at least 2 weeks in between switching out your designs. It can sometimes take Amazon up to a week to properly index the results and get them ranked for the keywords you have used in your title and bullet points. If you are not patient, you could try a week but this is pushing it a bit.

To make this process a lot easier, make sure you upload every single shirt. If you have 10 slots available, upload your 10 slots, but also upload the 30 other designs you created as drafts. This makes it an extremely easy task to delete one of your live shirts and put the others in draft to live. Always make sure you keep a folder on your local computer that has all the designs though. This will help you in the future. If you have to bring a shirt down to rotate in a new design, upload this shirt immediately to a draft status. This ensures that you will not forget to reupload this shirt in the future, since once you get tiered up you can make use of those extra slots.

The TL:DR version is this: Create 4X the designs you have slots for, rotate the designs out that have not sold every 2 weeks with new ones, and upload all your shirts in draft as soon as possible.

How To Deal With Merch Trends?

One of the questions I get all the time is how to deal with trends when you are in the lower tiers. Since working with lots of smaller sellers, I can tell you that hitting trends is absolutely worth it.

When a trend pops up, hit it! Even if you have 10-25 slots available. If they are all full, I am willing to bet you have at least one shirt which has not sold. Remove that one, upload it as a draft and get a trending topic design up!

Recently, a friend in the 25 tier did just that with a trending topic. He uploaded a single shirt in the niche, and look at this:

17 sales on a single trending design, enough to have him tier up from 25 up to 100. In fact, during the tier ups that just happened, he did NOT get tiered up yet and was skipped over, which is why I am writing this article in the first place.

That being said, the trending niches that you can scratch out some sales with, will easily help you tier up in the future and is a great way to make some extra money at the smaller tiers. When the trend is completely over, simply swap it back out with your design that is evergreen, and continue the journey.

Wrapping It Up

No one is really sure if we will get another tier up before the end of this year. Some people are stuck at the lower tiers which is disappointing, but on that note, there is still things you can do. Make sure you are rotating your designs and that you are building out your shirt portfolio now rather then later. Hit trends hard, market your shirts, and get onto other platforms to diversify!

Good luck with Q4 and grabbing more sales!

  • I’m at tier 500. I’ve sold 1600 shirts this month and didn’t get tiered up. I still have 250 slots so biggie but hopefully next time.

  • Hi Neil, thanks for the advice. If I have a shirt that has sold but has not sold in two weeks, should I remove it even though it now has a ranking? Second question, how long do you hold on to trend shirts that have sold? I guess that question is similar to the first, wait two weeks?

    • I would keep any shirt that has sold up on the marketplace. I tend to get rid of trend shirts about a week after I see that the trend is dying down. This is going to be different for every niche as I still know people making sales on Eclipse shirts.

  • Hi Neil, I’m so glad you wrote about us in low tier. I’ve been very frustrated about only having 10 slots. I’d like to know how much of a disadvantage it is to be at the low end. Surely we can’t compete with those who can upload 100s to dominate a niche and we may only have a few. I’ve only been on Merch for 3 months but in that time had 1 sale in July, none August, 1 Sept and 1 in Oct so far. I know the designs are good because I’ve had a lady with 6 years POD experience look at my designs and gave me tips to make them better. But still I’ve only sold 3. I have been creating new and switch with those that have been up for a few weeks but nothing is happening. I just don’t understand. All the design up at the moment are Halloween. Not sure if I should bother uploading any Thanksgiving or Xmas. I enjoy being on this journey but it’s so disheartening when your not selling. I would really appreciate your professional tips, opinions on how I should proceed from here. Thanks again for writing this article.

    • I would look at more of the evergreen side of things and ask someone who is into Amazon Merch and doing well to look over your keywords. Start with niches that are NOT super saturated like Halloween. Think 300-400k BSR. Once you have some of those designs up, again, ask someone to take a look at your keywords who knows what they are doing.

  • “This is a business and you WILL end up using all those shirts once you get tiered up anyway right? ” When someone gets tiered they lose all the designs they have up? Is that what you mean by this ?

    • No no, I mean when you get tiered up, you are going to be filling all your slots anyway so getting more designs ready than you currently have slots for is a good idea.

  • Yep, skipped over during tier up. Had 27 sales and all slots full. Stuck at 25, it’s frustrating to have to keep deleting designs to upload new but.. hanging in there.

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