I’m telling you now research is the number one factor that will lead to you selling a shirt or leave you scratching your head and asking how the hell is this working for “everyone” else. Whilst in tier 10 all your slots are highly precious and to be honest extremely limiting. MBA is a numbers game, the more shirts you have live the more likely you are to make a sale. Think of it this way, who is more likely to sell a coffee on a street with 10 coffee shops, the owner with 1 coffee shop or the owner with 9?
But that doesn’t help you when you are limited to 10 slots does it…… Anyway back on track the key to conducting the perfect research can be attributed to the following factors:
- How much competition is within a niche?
- Is the shirt is selling?
Firstly a niche is a specific segment within a topic, for example we might want to sell a shirt that targets people who like fishing. Our topic would be “fishing” but our niche could be something along the lines of “Alabama fly fishing contest 2017”.
The reason you want to niche down when creating shirts is to reduce the competition, which in turn makes it more likely that your shirt will be seen and bought.
If you are not already using merchinformer go sign up to the 3 day free trail right now, I personally do 100% of my research through it and contribute the majority of my success to the software itself.
Now that you have merchinformer you will be wanting to use the product search tool by typing in niche phrases like “fly fishing t-shirts” to find a niche with low competition (anywhere between 10 – 20 similar shirts) and a BSR between 100k – 300k. BSR stands for best sellers rank and is amazon’s way of ranking an item by its volume of sales. Whilst you are there click the small button on the right side of the page in the shape of a tick to make sure the term is not trademarked.
So you have now found a design idea that has a low amount of competition and a BSR between 100k and 300k, perfect. What you now want to do is plug that phrase into the merch hunter tool. Once one of the shirts in your niche pops up click the little cog (BSR History Button) next to the listing, it will bring up a graph with the shirts complete sales history! This is how we tell if the shirt is actually selling consistently or if it received a once off sale resulting in a good BSR.
That is how you find a shirt that will sell, repeat the same process with another 9 niches and you are ready to either make the designs yourself or send them off to a designer.
- Listing / Keywords
Another major contributing factor when creating a shirt that is going to sell is the listing and the keywords your sprinkle in there. The reason the keywords are so important is because without them your potential customer cannot find the amazing shirt you have created.
Below is an example of what I consider a good listing, a listing can be broken down into the following points, Brand Name, Title name, Product description and Two Bullet points.
First of all the Brand name and title of your listing should be exactly the same. The first bullet point should have all your key words included into sentence form and the second bullet point should be a disclaimer regarding the shirts sizing (as seen in the example). This is just a quick overview of how your listing should look to get you your first few sales, I could write a whole post just on keyword and listing optimization but that’s something I will add in the future
There are a lot of opinions out there on how to price your shirts and why. What I personally did when I was in tier 10 and 25 was price my shirts at just above break even ($11.99) I can’t say if this helped me in the first few weeks or not. Looking back if I was to start another merch account I would not do the same, I would price my shirts similar to the competition. Example if there are 10 shirts within your niche and the average price of the 10 is $16.99 that is what your listing price will be. I say this because as soon as I reached tier 100 I raised all my shirt prices for $11.99 to a minimum of $16.99 and expected a decrease in sales. What actually happened was the opposite, my shirts that were selling actually starting selling more on average each day.
The two big questions I had when I first started my merch account was……
“How long should I keep my initial designs up for?”
If you have a shirt that doesn’t sell within the first 7 days pull it and replace it with a new design that has been thoroughly researched (re-list that design once you have more slots available).
“Should I have Trending or evergreen designs”
I personally think when you are in tiers 10 or 25 the majority of your shirts should be trending. Trending shirts will almost always receive a greater sales volume than evergreen designs.
For those of you who do not know what the difference between an evergreen and trending design read the following.
- An evergreen design is a shirt that will sell all year round for example a fly-fishing t-shirt.
- A trending design is a t-shirt that will sell for maybe a couple of months a year for example a father’s day t-shirt.
- Wrap up
If you follow the advice above you will be ahead of 90% of the other newbies out there. Once you get your first sale you will be hooked trust me! But also do not be discouraged if you do not make a sale within the first few weeks! If you head over to my very first case study you will see how I struggled during my first month of merch as I tried to find my feet.
Once last piece of advice which really changed my perspective when approaching each design is you do not need to create something brand new each time, more often than not you only need to improve on what is already there.