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.
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.