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Selling print-on-demand products on Amazon without FBA: My 2021 Mother’s Day Experience

6 min read

We all know that if you want to make decent print-on-demand sales on Amazon, you have to make your products Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) or send them to the Amazon Warehouse.

FBM (or Fulfilled by Merchant) products sell too, but not as well as FBA products.

Why? To make any product an FBA product, sellers need to send their products to the Amazon Warehouse. When the products are in the warehouse, Amazon knows they can control the shipping process and guarantee the product will reach the customer on time.

It’s not like an FBM product, for which Amazon can’t make the same guarantee.

Also, with FBM, you must wait for your supplier to make a print-on-demand product and ship it to your customer. It will take them longer than Amazon, which only has to ship the product (which they already have in their warehouse, remember?).

Also, Amazon gives ranking benefits to FBA products. FBM products, not so much.

FBA is the easiest way to sell print-on-demand products on Amazon. If you want to make more sales from any print-on-demand product you have, just make it FBA.

But the question is, What if we don’t have a product in the Amazon Warehouse because of a supplier’s late delivery or our products had some issues in transit from the supplier?

To buy products in bulk, you need a reliable supplier and must calculate the time your supplier needs to make and ship products to the Amazon Warehouse.

For example, my supplier is in China. It takes one or two months to make and ship products to the warehouse in the U.S.

If I want to sell FBA products for special days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (which happen only once a year), I have to place my order sooner than usual.

If I fail to do this, my products won’t arrive on time, and I won’t be able to make many sales from my FBA products because the best sales period will have passed.

That’s what happened to me in the weeks before Mother’s Day 2021.

I was expecting to sell many coffee mugs for Moms, but my supplier didn’t send them on time. As a result, none of my Amazon FBA products were available on Mother’s Day.

So I couldn’t and didn’t make many FBA sales.

Fortunately, I had some evergreen products in the Amazon Warehouse and many FBM print-on-demand products being shipped from my suppliers in the United States, which helped me make a few bucks.

But I made nowhere near the sales I usually make when I have Amazon FBA products.

My overall sales of Mother’s Day products decreased by around 60% compared to the same period last year.

In this blog post, I’ll share what I learned while making Mother’s Day money on Amazon – without FBA products.


Sending Mother’s Day Products to Amazon FBA is necessary.

As you know, Amazon FBA is the best way to sell print-on-demand products on Amazon. When your product becomes an FBA product, it automatically gains ranking benefits.

Not only that – most people on Amazon are Prime members. They usually look for products with the Amazon Prime Badge, which indicates they’ll get benefits like discounts or free shipping.

FBA products get the Amazon Prime Badge, so if there are two similar products – one with the badge and one without – most people will choose the product with the badge because of the special benefits they’ll get.

On Mother’s Day last year, there were many days in the last week of April and the first week of May when I made over $2,000 a day on Amazon. This is when the clock was ticking down for people who wanted to get a Mother’s Day gift for their mom.

Amazon FBA products are shipped quickly by Amazon. Sometimes, you can even get a product the same day you order it.

So, having Amazon FBA products during the holidays is a MUST-DO thing. Your products will gain many advantages over FBM products.

This year, I had only 28 Mother’s Day mugs in the Amazon Warehouse because my products got lost in transit from China. All of them sold out within a few days in mid-April, so I didn’t have any other Mother’s Day products to sell after that.

My total revenue took a hit because of this.

I learned the hard way that having products in the Amazon Warehouse is critically important.

Anyway, even though I couldn’t make many sales from Mother’s Day products, I still made $300-400 in sales a day from other products.

Let me share a little more about this.


Evergreen Amazon FBA Products can sell a lot, too.

Although I didn’t have Mother’s Day products, I still had evergreen FBA products in the Amazon Warehouse.

Since deciding to focus on selling print-on-demand products through Amazon FBA, I’d sent boxes and boxes of coffee mugs and travel mugs for evergreen niches to the Amazon Warehouse.

These niches are related to professions, dog breeds, cat breeds, and so on. Niche products sell all year long.

In the first half of April, my total revenue increased by 70% compared to last year.

I sold many of my evergreen Amazon FBA products and made around $300-400 a day, even though they weren’t Mother’s Day items.

These products were still selling well in the second half of the month and making $300-400 in sales daily for me.

However, my total revenue for April decreased by 60%. Last year, I made over $2,000 a day, for many days, from Mother’s Day mugs.

But it was fine to sell evergreen products. If they keep still selling well, I’m sure my overall revenue will increase a lot over last year.

Last year, my Q3 revenue wasn’t great. It’s the quietest season of the year. I also didn’t have many products in the Amazon Warehouse.

This year, I plan to send more FBA products – especially travel mugs – to the Amazon Warehouse for Q3.

It’s summer, so I think travel mugs will sell well. Plus, the profit margin from these products is a lot higher than it is for white coffee mugs.

Again, it’s crucial to have evergreen products in the Amazon Warehouse as a backup because they can be sold at any time of the year.

Have a late-delivery issue with your evergreen products? No problem!

They’ll start selling when they reach the warehouse.


Don’t Overlook Evergreen Print-on-Demand Products

Print-on-demand products made to order by U.S. suppliers also sell well.

Although the sales volume is less compared to Amazon FBA, they’re still a good way to make money – and you don’t have to pay money upfront to make the products.

I checked my sales stats and found that around 40% of my sales came from print-on-demand products in my Amazon account.

There were many Mother’s Day coffee mugs in my account that I could sell without making them FBA.

As of now, I have around 100,000 products in my Amazon account. The number increases every day because I’ve been using PODtomatic to upload new products.

Also, it’s not only coffee mugs that can sell. I just realized that there are many ‘untapped’ products with fewer competitors.

Previously, I hired virtual assistants to upload products for me. They only listed coffee mugs, shot glasses, and travel mugs in my accounts.

But I just found that other products – like tumblers or wine glasses in different colors – can also sell well. PODtomatic listed them for me.

It’s much easier to sell these products than white coffee mugs, which are quite competitive right now.

So, don’t forget to keep listing new print-on-demand products to your account every day.


Conclusion

Okay, this is was my experience with selling print-on-demand products on Amazon without Mother’s Day products in the Amazon Warehouse.

I discovered that Amazon FBA is crucial if you want to make many sales.

When people on Amazon see two similar products, they will choose the FBA one.

So here’s what you should do to build a print-on-demand business that can make lots of sales over the long term.

Keep listing new print-on-demand products in thousands of niches. You have to know which products can be sent to the Amazon Warehouse.

Not all products can or should be sent there. If it arrives at the warehouse but doesn’t sell, you’ll have to pay storage fees. They add up.

You have to find your winning products and make them FBA.

If you find a winning seasonal product, make sure to send it to the warehouse well in advance so it can sell during the holiday.

Also, you don’t have to sell only seasonal products. Many evergreen products sell at any time of the year.

The more evergreen products you have in your Amazon Warehouse, the more stable passive income you’ll be able to make all year round.

—Bank K.

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