Amazon is getting into the on-demand t-shirt game with Merch by Amazon, a new program announced today for companies and individuals who want to offer fans branded gear and get a little cash in return.
The self-service program lets users upload a t-shirt design and set a list price. After Amazon takes out the cost of producing, listing and shipping the shirt, the user gets a royalty. As more shirts of a particular design are sold, Amazon’s costs go down and the user’s royalty goes up.
Merch by Amazon cuts out the risk of ordering hundreds of t-shirts ahead of time — which may or may not be a hit with fans — and the complication of delivering those shirts.
Amazon is going up against some established players like Teespring, which has raised $56 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator; and CafePress, which sells designs printed on more than 450 products including mugs and phone cases. CafePress has seen their stock price nearly double this year.
Merch shirts are sold on standard Amazon pages, and come with free two-day shipping for Prime members. Designers can promote the shirts themselves through their existing channels and users of the Amazon Mobile Ads API can target in-app t-shirt sales.
The new program is open to anyone, but Amazon is gearing the program toward app and game developers. T-shirt designs are submitted through Amazon’s developer portal, but don’t require an Amazon Appstore Developer account. Even those with a developer account will need to create a specific Merch by Amazon account. Shirts should be available on their own Amazon page within hours of submitting a design.