Against the backdrop of rising uncertainty and high expenses attached to global supply chains, apparel brands’ real challenge now is to get their merchandise closer to the point of sale.
Amazon Inc’s t-shirt printing service currently seems to be the go-to solution for many of them. Entertainment companies like Walt Disney (DIS) and Dr. Seuss are increasingly turning to Amazon’s platform are following this strategy where instead of approaching traditional stores, they are working by on-demand printing T-shirts that do not warrant wide distribution. They can now list overnight on Amazon all the merchandise on sale and then post booking they are ready to make it and ship it. This completely cuts out that whole traditional supply chains cost.
The benefit is mutual, as Amazon also gets to become a major player in the clothing industry in the process. When garments are produced on-demand, it prevents the pile-up of unsold products allowing brands to sell more stock at full price.
This format is called ‘Merch’ by Amazon that rids brands and content creators of maintaining an up-front inventory.
This model has succeeded in bringing royalty revenue from sales of licensed merchandise and services globally to $14.5 billion last year, up 2.6% from 2017.
For example, Dr. Seuss helps Amazon with design, but Amazon sources the clothing and handles the sales and distribution. Dr. Seuss Enterprises has increased sales through ‘Merch’ by 40% since opening its store on the site around 18 months ago. The on-demand service also allows brands to give frequent design updates and offer secondary characters that may not be available in traditional stores.
Beyond the United States, Amazon has launched a ‘Merch’ printing facility in Poland in mid-2018 that serves the British and German markets.