You know that I DON’T recommend drop shipping on Amazon and that I am a BIG proponent of product differentiation.
If you don’t know what drop shipping is, it’s a form of selling where you don’t hold any inventory. Once you make a sale and collect money from a customer, you order the product that you sold from your supplier and tell them to ship it directly to your customer. Margins are usually low (less than 20%).
The beauty of drop shipping is that you don’t hold any inventory.
I don’t recommend drop shipping on Amazon, because it’s hard to find reliable suppliers. If a supplier sends a wrong product or misses the shipping date, then your selling account might get suspended.
Downside is that you are not building a brand (asset) and it’s almost impossible to differentiate.
Private label on the other hand is all about making an inventory investment in order to have a custom branded product. Margins are much higher compared to drop shipping (up to 50% in some cases). The downside is obvious, you need to make an investment before you can have any sales.
Finally there is a solution to combine the best of both worlds!
Differentiation potential, ZERO investment, high margins and ease of starting. Dropshipping of private label products is here!
Introducing ThePrintful + Amazon integration.
What is ThePrintful?
ThePrintful is an on demand t-shirt printing company.
Recently they have expanded product selection to include mugs, hats, socks, totes, leggings, phone cases and much more. Take a look at full list of products.
Originally they focused on dropshipping custom t-shirts for eCommerce websites. Basically, you would design a t-shirt, connect your eCommerce store with ThePrintful platform and you are all set.
Once a sales occurs and you have collected the money from a customer, ThePrintful gets automatically notified and gets to work. Everything is automatized!
Same goes for ThePrintful + Amazon integration.
One of my eCommerce sites uses ThePrintful service to sell t-shirts and hats. Pretty automated system where I don’t have to do anything. Literally! Except to promote the website.
How does it work?
The process of integration is pretty straightforward:
- Sign up for a Professional seller account (you probably already have one)
- Get approved for selling Apparel
- Register your brand through Brand registry program
- Register with Amazon Marketplace Web Service (MWS)
- Connect your Amazon seller account with Printful using MWS
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that with Amazon you can have only 1 seller account. If you are opening an account for the first time then go ahead and open it. However, if you already have an Amazon seller account then use that one. Never open any additional seller account without written permission from Amazon.
Once you have connected ThePrintful with Amazon it’s time to design and upload some products:
- Design your t-shirt or any product type that ThePrintful offers, by following their design tutorials
- Sync the products with Amazon using product push generator
Once a sale occurs they print and ship your Amazon orders automatically.
It takes about 2-7 business days to create apparel products (t-shirts etc.) and 2-5 business days for non-apparel (posters etc.) products. Then you should add shipping times on top of that. 97.66% of orders are shipped within 5 business days. More than a half of orders are shipped within 3 business days or less.
You can learn more about ThePrintful shipping options here, so you can know which shipping options to offer to your Amazon customers.
Keep in mind that obviously you won’t be using Amazon FBA program. This is because printing is done once a sale occurs. Product is sent directly from ThePrintful printing factory to your customer. You will use Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM).
How do I calculate profit margins?
Go to this page and select a product which you are interested in selling.
Click on Retail prices tab and you will get a list of product prices. This doesn’t include shipping.
If you were to sell on your own eCommerce store then all of the displayed profit would go in your pocket. However, since you are selling on Amazon marketplace you need to include referral fees, which are in most cases 15% of the selling price.
For example here are the prices for t-shirts.
eCommerce vs. Amazon Profit Margin Comparison
Here is an example of how much profit you would make if you were to sell this particular t-shirt on Amazon vs. your own eCommerce store.
- Selling price: 22$
- Marketplace fee: 3.3$ (15%)
- Transaction fee: 0
- Cost of goods: 13$
- PROFIT: 5.7$
- Profit margin: 25.90%
- Selling price: 22$
- Marketplace fee: 0
- Transaction fee: 2.9% + 0.3$ = 0.94$
- Cost of goods: 13$
- PROFIT: 8.06$
- Profit margin: 36.6%
*Transaction will defer based on payment processor you use for receiving payments. I used PayPal as an example.
But isn’t it better to use Merch by Amazon?
Merch by Amazon is a totally different platform with different purpose. Merch has been launched with intention to offer an ability to monetize audiences off of Amazon.
For example, if you have an app you could monetize it with in-app purchases by offering Merch by Amazon t-shirts to your audience.
However, since Amazon marketplace is huge, a lot of sellers made steady revenue streams by selling solely on Amazon, without any audiences off of Amazon.
Check out my progress with Merch by Amazon here.
Although there are some strong similarities, and both ThePrintful and Merch products are sold on the same marketplace, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Advantages of Merch by Amazon:
- No shipping or customer service hassles
- Set and forget system (unless you want to promote your products off of Amazon)
- No suppliers
- Easy to design and upload
- High profit margins compared to work involved
- Separated from seller account
Disadvantages of Merch by Amazon:
- Can’t upload additional product images
- No traffic statistics
- Limited design possibilities
- T-shirts only (ThePrintful has much more product types)
- Low quality t-shirts
- Not your brand (you are just riding on demand trends)
- Limits to number of design you can have
Downsides and risks
This way of selling is pretty new, so there are not many hero stories yet. However, I believe this is going to create some millionaires in the upcoming years.
Although everything sounds like a fairy tale, there are some downsides and potential risks.
- Shipping and printing delays might pull your account performance down and potentially get your suspended
- Refunds are a MAJOR hassle: customer returns either go to your address or to ThePrintful. Learn more about returns here.
- No shipping advantages to Prime members
- You have to order t-shirt sample in order to take custom photos
Have you used ThrPrintful? What is your experience?
I am curious, let me know in the comments bellow!