New Products Not Selling Through on Merch by Amazon? Here’s Why!

If you have been part of any Facebook groups or heard the chatter around the block, chances are you have heard some of the conspiracy theories of Amazon changing something, sell through rates tanking, or not being able to make many sales.

So what exactly is going on with Merch by Amazon? Did the algorithm change? Why is it that you can only find your shirt in search if you use an exact match full title string?

Let’s talk about it, explain why your new shirts aren’t selling, and figure out what to do about it!

My New Merch Shirts Aren’t Selling!

This is something we have seen come up over and over again.

If you head over to, and enter in a large niche as the keyword and click on search, this should become apparent as to what might be happening.

The first thing you will see when you open up this Amazon page is the number of results:

This can often times be misleading, so scroll to the very bottom of the page, and you will see that there are 400 pages of dog shirts!

Let’s take another example. Say you found a phrase that is popular around the Halloween niche: “I’m just here for the boos”

Enter that into, and you get this:

But again, this is not the full story! Scroll to the bottom of the page, and you will see there are 7 pages:

Click on the 3rd page and go deeper!

What do you instantly see at the top of the page now?

There are now over 3 THOUSAND shirt results that all say the EXACT…SAME…THING!

Scroll to the bottom of the page and what do you see?

There are now 80 pages of results, which again, say the exact same thing on them.

Let’s Do The Math!

The average Amazon search results page has 48 listings on them. Now depending on how a customer is searching, this number can actually go DOWN because some of those spots are sponsored listings (people are paying Amazon to show up at the top of search).

So, if you say there are 48 listings on the front page, and there are over 3,000 shirts you can just do a quick equation.

48 shirts / 3,000 listings = 0.016

Move the decimal over 2 spots, and you get around 1.6% of these designs, are sitting on the front page.

This gets even WORSE when you start looking at Amazon like a customer would. Remember, is looking at Merch related clothing, and not their entire catalog. Head back to and this time search for the same phrase:

Again, the first page can be misleading, so scroll to the bottom and click on an internal page (we picked page 3).

It now looks like this:


Now there are over 10,000 results but each page in a normal Amazon search results page seems to yield 60 results per page.

Of those 60 results per page, 10 of them were sponsored product ads.

So that gives us 50 organic listings per page (not all of which are merch shirts).

Of those 51 organic listings from the time we did this search… 34 of them were Merch by Amazon shirts.

So do the math again.

34 Merch by Amazon Shirts / 10,000 listings = 0.0034

Move the decimal over 2 spaces, and only .34% of Merch shirts for this phrase are showing up on the first page. 

In a normal Amazon results page, there are only 7 pages that are viewable to customers. At 60 results per page, they are only showing 420 listings out of 10,000!

This is all just a really long-winded way to say that old designs continue to sell because they have had the time to get sales velocity, reviews, and purchases for years. Your new designs that are going up with the same phrase, are getting lost because of your tiny .34% chance of being front page.

Change The Way You Think About Research

So after reading through all of that, if you have made it this far, you might be thinking that this looks pretty grim. Merch by Amazon is dead you scream!

Not so fast.

The issue is the way you are thinking about research!

Research does NOT mean finding a phrase (like we did above with “I’m just here for the boos”), and seeing that it sells extremely well.

Research is NOT finding that phrase, and creating the exact same phrase but making it look different (even if it was a completely different design, you aren’t going to be seen, found or purchased in 10,000 listings when only .34% of those are first page).

If people keep this same type of thinking up, things will just get much worse.

However, we ARE off to a good start with our research here.

Why? Because we found a few crucial pieces of information.

  • 1: We found a keyword/phrase in a niche that has a LOT of shirt designs in it
  • 2: We found a keyword/phrase which people are purchasing shirts in

This tells us that there are sales in this niche. Why else would so many people try to put up a shirt here? It also tells us, that puns are extremely, extremely popular on Merch.

We know:

  • Halloween is a big niche, where lots of sales occur
  • Puns/play on words in the Halloween niche sell extremely well
  • Alcohol is also a popular merch topic
  • The Merch Catalog does NOT need a 10,001st rendition of the same phrase on a shirt

You need to be UNIQUE in your Merch business.

You can use the research to validate a niche, and come up with your own SPIN on what you have learned, with unique phrases, designs, and sayings that are not currently on Amazon.

This works because the market for funny, play on words designs in Halloween is already a hot seller. You can feed that same market WITHOUT competing with the same overdone phrase again.

How To Do Your Research So You Get Seen On Merch by Amazon

We have a popular holiday, we have a play on words/pun, and we have a topic that are all combined together (in our example above, Halloween, boos/booze, and alcohol).

We can use that SAME method, to come up with something unique.

You need to keep the main overarching niche the same when it comes to doing research this way.

Halloween is what we are not going to change (since that was what our research showed is popular).

So, we have:

  • Halloween design

Now we need to come up with a popular merch topic, and then use a play on words with that.

There are a LOT of popular Merch topics, some include:

  • Healthcare
  • Drinking
  • Cars
  • School

…and the list goes on and on. Remember, we are not looking at something specific here, just broad ideas.

Do your research and you will come up with some ideas. We know that cars are popular on Merch, so let’s take that idea and run with it.

So now we have:

  • Halloween design
  • Cars as the main topic

Now we just have to come up with a play on words.

Thinking back at the example above, we know alcohol is popular on Merch, and people are flooding the market.

Wine is a type of alcohol.

Turbos are a type of car part.

Turbos have something called a turbo “Whine”.

Do you see where we are going with this?

So now we have:

  • Halloween Design
  • Car Turbos for the main topic (Turbo Whine)
  • Play on words with Wine/Whine

Boom! Put this all together, and you can come up with a few fun variations that will compete with the same NICHE, but not the 10,000+ EXACT same designs!

  • Halloween Witch holding a turbo charger in their hand that says “Here For The Whine”
  • Halloween Witch sitting on a broom that has a turbo on it that says “Here to party and drink/drive Whine”
  • Halloween Witch sitting on a broom that has a turbo that says “Turbo Whine Time”
  • Halloween Witch sitting on a broom that that has a turbo that says “You can’t scare me, pass the whine”
  • Halloween Witch sitting on a broom that has a turbo that says “Drive Stick, Whine Time”

These are all random ideas that we came up with in 30 seconds. You will want to take some time to explore them, research what is out there, and then put a few things together.

Let’s just take “Turbo Whine Time” and run that through Look through the results and not a single t-shirt in sight!

Take “Here for the Whine” and run that through

2 pages of results and yet again, not a single t-shirt or Merch product.

You can repeat this process with everything that we just came up with above, and you will soon realize that there is ZERO competition for this on Amazon, because this phrase does not exist on a single Merch product, but it does also NOT exist on ANY product on Amazon.

That is not to say there is no buyers though, because all of those potential product ideas we just gave you, are appealing the same exact audience that the first example was. It it appealing to buyers in the Halloween  niche, that like funny phrases, and we mashed up this idea with another big seller on Merch…cars.

Wrapping It Up

If you made it this far, congratulations!

Now it is up to you to put in the time and effort to come up with unique designs for Merch by Amazon or any print on demand shop you are running.

Anyone can copy an exact phrase and throw it up on a shirt, but that does not mean you will make any sales. In fact, it is more than likely a waste of your time.

Take the time to learn how to research, what your research is telling you, and then use those key pieces of information to actually put quality, unique and great designs into the Merch catalog.

This it the way to sales, and if you don’t start doing this now, sales may suffer in the future.

Good luck!

  • Neil, thank you very much for taking time to put together this article. The details in this article are very instructional and actionable.


  • But how will it show up in search results? Surely people aren’t going to put in your phrase so aren’t they just searching thousands of halloween T-shirts still?

  • Good advise and it all sounds great, however, many of us already do what you suggested. Amazon used to push our Merch shirts out there to see and I don’t believe they do that any longer. In fact, I actually believe they just want people now to pay for sponsoring. They’re counting on our frustration being the catapult to paying for our designs to be seen. I always got bites on new uploads in past years with no problem and now NOTHING new at all sells. Just the same stuff from years ago like clockwork not to mention the lowering of our royalties. I get that they handle most of the costs but if we’re not getting the shirts to be seen without paying a fee then we’re just using our royalties to pay for that sponsoring. I’m sure there are still many who are selling top $$, especially if they got into Merch early on, and got the first best sellers before being copied, but it’s so saturated now. And?…If folks don’t type in your “unique phrase” in a niche, word for word, and just type a general search, it will ultimately not show up on the first few pages. In fact some of mine run out of pages even though there are many more shirts uploaded to that brand. Very frustrating.

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