Amazon Merch Vs Etsy: Comparing Print-on-Demand Platforms

By Chris Shaffer •  Updated: 12/09/23 •  12 min read

Choosing the right platform for selling custom products can take time and effort, especially when you're torn between popular options like Amazon Merch and Etsy. 

Both platforms have unique advantages and disadvantages, and understanding the differences can help you make the best choice for your online business.

Amazon Merch is known for its vast reach and streamlined processes, catering to sellers who want to tap into Amazon's massive customer base. 

On the other hand, Etsy offers a niche community of creative sellers and buyers who seek unique, handmade products and personalized aspects of their shopping experience.

Understanding Amazon Merch and Etsy

When you're considering which online marketplace to use for selling your unique designs, especially print-on-demand products, two big names come to mind: Amazon Merch and Etsy. Both of these platforms have their pros and cons, and it's important to understand the differences between them before jumping in.

Amazon Merch, a part of the giant Amazon ecosystem, is a program designed for creators to sell their artwork on various products, such as t-shirts, hoodies, etc. Utilizing Amazon's massive user base it offers a great opportunity for you to showcase your designs to a wider audience. Since the platform manages everything from printing to shipping, you can focus on creating outstanding designs for your customers.

On the other hand, Etsy is an online marketplace well-known for its handmade, vintage, and unique products. With its creative sellers and buyers community, Etsy offers you a chance to stand out among like-minded individuals sharing their passion for distinctive creations. Unlike Amazon Merch, Etsy allows you to sell a wider range of items, which can lead to more diversified income.

As you navigate these e-commerce platforms, remember their respective fees. Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee per item and takes a 6.5% transaction fee and a 3% plus $0.25 payment processing fee. 

If your product is sold through one of Etsy's offsite ads, an additional 15% fee (though smaller stores can opt-out) source is applicable.

In comparison, Amazon Merch has a royalty-based system. You set the list price, Amazon deducts their costs, and the remainder is your royalty. After taxes, your profit margins may vary depending on your pricing strategy and the product you are selling. It's important to consider these factors when determining which platform fits you and your business.

To sum it up, Amazon Merch could be the way to go if you're looking for a focused print-on-demand solution with a vast reach.

 Alternatively, Etsy might be the better choice if you prefer to be part of a creative community and have more freedom in the types of products you sell. Whatever you decide, remember that success on both e-commerce platforms requires persistence, quality designs, and effective marketing techniques.

What They Offer

Handmade and Vintage Items

On Etsy, you'll find a wide variety of handmade and vintage items, allowing you to sell or buy unique products. 

This platform specializes in handmade goods, craft supplies, and vintage goods, making it the perfect place for creative, one-of-a-kind items.

Product Categories

Both Etsy and Amazon Merch offer numerous product categories. However, Amazon Merch primarily focuses on custom-printed items, like t-shirts, whereas Etsy offers a broader range of products, including handmade, vintage, and craft supplies. 

This means that Etsy might be a better option for those looking to sell diverse types of products, while Amazon Merch would be great for t-shirt or print-on-demand sellers.

Marketing and Advertising

When it comes to marketing and advertising, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Etsy allows you to promote your products through sponsored listings, giving you the chance to reach more potential buyers. 

On the other hand, Amazon Merch offers integration with Amazon Advertising, allowing you to market your items through sponsored products and advertising campaigns.

Seller Support

Seller support is important for any online platform, and both Etsy and Amazon Merch have their ways of providing support. 

Etsy offers a comprehensive help center, forums, and even direct access to support professionals through chat or email. 

On the other hand, Amazon Merch provides support through the Amazon Seller Central platform, giving you access to support resources like a help center and customer service representatives.

Fulfillment Services

A big difference between these platforms is their fulfillment services. With Etsy, you're responsible for managing the shipping and handling of your products. 

This means that you need to keep track of inventory, packaging, and shipping. On the contrary, Amazon Merch lets you take advantage of Fulfillment by Amazon, which takes care of shipping and order fulfillment for you. 

This can be a major advantage if you're looking for an easier way to manage shipping.

Ultimately, deciding on the best product platform comes down to your specific needs, goals, and preferences. 

Both Etsy and Amazon Merch offer unique benefits, so consider what matters most to you and your business before deciding.

Who Are They For

Artists and Crafters

If you're an artist or crafter looking for a platform to sell your unique, handmade items, Etsy might be your better choice. 

The platform is known for its community of creative sellers and buyers, making it easier for you to connect with customers looking for unique arts and crafts. 

Plus, Etsy offers a more personalized storefront experience, allowing you to showcase your creations and build a brand identity.

Designers

Both Etsy and Amazon Merch can work well for designers, particularly those focusing on print-on-demand products like custom t-shirts. 

With Amazon Merch, you can tap into the vast reach of the Amazon marketplace and leverage their streamlined processes, which may be slightly more appealing to designers in this area. However, if you also have some unique hand-crafted items, Etsy would be a more suitable platform to showcase your talent.

Online Businesses

If you operate an online business with a larger inventory of mass-produced or non-unique items, Amazon might be your better platform. 

You can set up an Amazon account and integrate it with your existing Shopify store, allowing you to benefit from their huge customer base and fulfillment capabilities.

While Etsy predominantly focuses on unique, handmade items, it could still be helpful for small businesses with a niche product offering. 

However, Amazon's massive reach and advanced seller tools are generally more advantageous for businesses with larger inventories and wider market appeal.

Comparing the Platforms

In this section, we will delve into some key aspects you should consider when deciding between Etsy and Amazon Merch. Let's examine these factors under the following sub-sections.

Reach and Traffic

When it comes to reach and traffic, there's no denying that Amazon Merch has the advantage of a massive customer base, which could mean more potential sales for your business. 

On the other hand, Etsy's niche market of creative buyers and sellers can provide a more targeted audience for your custom t-shirts and offers more opportunities to build a brand.

Fees and Pricing

The fees and pricing for both platforms can significantly impact your bottom line. Etsy has listing fees, transaction fees, and payment processing fees, while Amazon Merch charges a referral fee on sales. 

Etsy's fees can add up, particularly if you have many products, whereas with Amazon Merch, you just have to consider their referral fee. It's essential to carefully evaluate each platform's fees to determine which aligns best with your financial expectations.

PlatformEtsyAmazon Merch
Listing FeeYesNo
Transaction FeeYesNo
Payment Processing FeeYesNo
Referral FeeNoYes

User Experience

In terms of user experience, both platforms offer user-friendly websites and seller portals. 

As a platform specifically designed for creative sellers, Etsy provides a supportive atmosphere and a more personal connection with buyers. 

Contrarily, Amazon Merch offers a streamlined process that makes selling your products relatively simple within their vast market. Evaluating which platform's interface and user experience align better with your preferences and target audience is crucial.

Seller Policies

Lastly, seller policies play a crucial role in your decision-making process. Amazon Merch has more rigid seller restrictions and return policies than Etsy. 

Dealing with Amazon's Seller Central and its policies can be more demanding, as they are focused on customer satisfaction. 

On the other hand, Etsy may offer you more flexibility in managing your store and handling return policies. Understanding each platform's policies will prepare you for handling customer inquiries and returns professionally.

Pros and Cons of Amazon Merch and Etsy

When deciding between selling your custom t-shirts and other print-on-demand products on Amazon Merch or Etsy, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of each platform. This will help you make an informed decision based on your needs and goals.

Amazon Merch

Pros:

Cons:

Etsy

Pros:

Cons:

As you can see, each platform has its unique advantages and disadvantages. 

Consider alternatives like Redbubble, another popular print-on-demand platform that caters to indie artists and attracts customers looking for unique, customizable items. 

So, consider your goals, target audience, and the level of control you want over your business before deciding. Good luck with your online venture!

Quick Recap

When it comes down to choosing between Amazon Merch and Etsy for selling custom t-shirts and other products, it all depends on your goals and preferences. 

If you're looking to reach a broader audience and increase sales, Amazon Merch offers a vast reach, with its platform attracting nearly ten times more traffic than Etsy. 

However, it's worth noting that Amazon also faces higher competition and oversaturation.

On the other hand, if your focus is on selling unique, handmade, or vintage items and connecting with a community of like-minded individuals,

Etsy is the way to go. Known for its community of creative sellers and buyers, Etsy serves as a perfect platform for targeting potential customers who are specifically interested in these types of products.

So, which one should you choose? 

Consider your products, your target audience, and your personal preferences. Both platforms have their pros and cons, but in the end, the choice is yours. Take your time, weigh the options, and dive into the world of online selling with confidence. Happy selling!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences in fees between Amazon Merch and Etsy?

When considering the fees, both platforms have some differences. Amazon Merch doesn't charge any upfront fees, but they do deduct a cost per product based on their production costs. Etsy, on the other hand, has a listing fee of $0.20 per item, a 5% transaction fee, and 3% + $0.25 for payment processing. So you'll need to consider these costs while choosing the right platform for your business.

How do Amazon Handmade and Etsy compare?

When it comes to Amazon Handmade and Etsy, both cater to handmade goods and showcase creative sellers. Amazon Handmade has the advantage of Amazon's vast customer base; however, Etsy is better known for its tight-knit creative community. Amazon Handmade may also have stricter guidelines and approval processes than Etsy, so you'll need to be mindful of these requirements.

Should I choose Amazon Merch or Etsy for print-on-demand?

Choosing between Amazon Merch and Etsy for your print-on-demand needs depends on your unique requirements. Etsy lets you partner with print-on-demand companies, enabling you to have more control over the process, while Amazon Merch offers a more streamlined approach to creating and selling custom products. Weigh the pros and cons of both platforms and see which matches your business goals better.

Which platform has better earnings potential: Etsy or Amazon?

The earnings potential on both Etsy and Amazon is contingent upon various factors like competition, pricing, and marketing strategies. However, Amazon's overall earnings potential may be higher due to its vast reach, while Etsy's niche audience could lead to higher conversions within that specific target market. Your success on either platform will be heavily influenced by your efforts and strategies implemented.

Are there any drawbacks to using Amazon Merch compared to Etsy?

Despite its vast reach, Amazon Merch has some drawbacks compared to Etsy. For instance, Amazon Merch accepts designers on an invite-only basis, making gaining access to the platform harder. Additionally, your designs may need to be noticed due to the many sellers on Amazon. Etsy, with its focus on handmade and creative goods, can provide a more specialized marketplace to showcase your work.

How does Etsy hold up against competitors like Amazon and Shopify?

Etsy has built a strong reputation as a leading marketplace for handmade and unique items, making it a popular choice for artists and crafters. Although Etsy faces competition from Amazon and Shopify, it still holds a distinctive place in the market due to its community-focused approach and targeted audience. Determining which platform aligns better with your specific audience and business goals is up to you.

Chris Shaffer

Chris lives at the intersection of business strategy and growth tactics. Having consulted with dozens of different businesses (as well as building several of his own), he brings a unique perspective on what's working across the eCommerce world in businesses of all shapes and sizes.