I ordered my family’s vacation shirts this week through Merch By Amazon. I haven’t received them yet, but I was excited to be able to design my shirts, upload the design, and then purchase my own items. I’m looking forward to seeing what the quality is like and I will write about it once they arrive.
The concept itself is pretty great. The execution, however, still needs a little work.
Unlike selling through Seller Central, Merch by Amazon does not give sellers the ability to add keywords to their listings. Keywords being defined as the terms sellers hope customers will use to search for an item, and hence, find their item to buy. As a result, sellers are left to their own devices to generate traffic to their t-shirt designs. For most sellers, this is a problem that can easily be overcome. Instead of using a designated spot to input keywords, smart Merch By Amazon sellers write thoughtful bullet point descriptions that make use of long tail keywords.
A small percentage of Merch By Amazon sellers simply spam the listings to generate traffic. Unfortunately, the small percentage ruins the customer experience for Amazon shoppers.
Below are pictures of a particular listing found as of today on Amazon.
As you can see this shirt has a golf theme. If there was any doubt whatsoever, the “brand” makes it obvious the theme of this shirt is golf.
I’m pretty sure “TIME – GOLF HEARBEAT – so get yours TODAY SHIRT” is not an actual trademarked brand. The title then goes on to shout at you again that you must get this golf shirt today. (It’s against amazon policy to “yell” at people in the title of an item, but that’s the least of the issues in this listing.)
Then we get to the bullet points.
The first three bullet points are populated by amazon and contain actual details about the shirts. Then we get to the fourth and fifth bullets:
- Fishing T-shirt If You Can Read This You’re Too Close to My Fishing Hole Fishing T-Shirt Eat Sleep Fish Repeat Keep Calm Fish on Funny Tshirt Hunting Tshirt fishing shirt camping Life Is Full Of Important Choices – Fishing Poles T-shirt Daddy’s Fishing Buddy Cute Fish Kids Dad Outdoor Camp Boat Toddler T-Shirt
- I Hold My Rod Wiggle My Worm Funny Fishing Fisherman T-shirt I Love a Good Pole Dance – Fishing Pole That Is T-Shirt Mashed Clothing I Love It When My Wife Lets Me Go Fishing Adult T-Shirt Funny novelty t-shirt says ” I love it when my girlfriend lets me go fishing ” This tee shirt makes a great gift for a girlfriend to give to her fishing loving boyfriend or girlfriend.
These bullets seem to be mostly comprised of other t-shirts available on Amazon. A quick search will show that most of shirts referenced in the bullet points are branded shirts with rightful intellectual property owners. The Merch By Amazon seller who uploaded this design decided it would be a lot easier to drive traffic to his/her t-shirts by keyword spamming rather than writing thoughtful product descriptions.
The Amazon customers looking at this shirt will assume all is well since it says “Ships and sold by Amazon.com.” In fact, other sellers may think this is a perfectly acceptable way to build a product detail page since many of them won’t even realize this is a Merch By Amazon shirt.
Another variant of keyword spamming in the bullets can be found in the listing below.
Again, the first three bullets are information about the shirt and sellers cannot change them. Then on the next bullets we find:
- quilting, quilting grandma, quilting queen, quilting chick, quilting mom, quilting diva, quilting mugs, quilting bee, quilting tote, quilting gifts,
- Lightweight, Classic fit, TearAway label, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem
- sewing, quilting, quilter, sewist, quilt
As a customer, I’m looking at this wondering what is going on and trying to decide if I am buying a shirt or a “quilting tote,” “quilting mug,” “quilting grandma,” or a “quilting chick.”
I don’t think Amazon expected this. I think they assumed sellers would be reasonable in their descriptions. While looking around, I found that many sellers do write thoughtful bullet point descriptions, but a steadily growing group does not.
This hurts the customer experience, which in turn, hurts sales across the entire Amazon.com platform. Only time will tell how/if Amazon chooses to address this. I do know they care about the integrity of their product detail pages, so it will be interesting to wait and see how this evolves.