Merch System Feedback

This Merch system? I actually love a lot of things about it! I’ve been dying to use it (although not sure if you’d prefer using it for 18+ creators such as I, even though I wouldn’t at all make you print anything that’s not good for a Public post) until I read the fine print.

And by fine print, no, I’m not talking about +3% Patreon cut. That’s more fair than anything. And in fact, let me appreciate this whole system in detail first.

I’ve been looking up ways to reward my long-time big lifetime support patrons, which is something I can’t do on my own (because I’ve been working extremely hard with my content, which doesn’t leave room for any extras). This system of people building up to getting physical goodies, on top of the content I already distribute? Amazing. It is a bit sad that past lifetime records won’t count for this, but it is great for future! This was exactly what I desired out of Patreon! +3% fees? Sure! Manufacture and shipping costs? Sure, as long as you handle the chore of it yourselves! Perfect!

But then, the “tier” language started to seep in. And this is basically why I don’t want to use this.

You want me to have at least a $12 tier: A tier I will basically refuse to have no matter what, as it’s overpricing the content I’m distributing: Several comic book pages every month. I feel bad to be even distributing them for $5 a month - you get an entire comic book with at least 16 pages for less. I’m just glad my patrons are so lovely and supportive, so they find my content special enough to understand the price bump.

I know it’s extremely lucrative to you when we deal with more high-money tiers and less chump-change ones, and something tells me this new system was purely designed around convincing us to hike up our prices. That’s a death sentence for my campaign! That’s too much money, that’ll just make my patrons bail on me! Nobody’s going to stick around to get an extra ONE sticker for $36 every three months! ONE sticker for $36! At least make it a 4 or 6 pack or something! I know you designed this system just so the goodies aren’t supposed to be the actual point of my campaign -they’re just nifty extras. I get that, but when I put my highest tier to $12 from $5 (a 140% increase) - damn sure the merch is going to be the only point!

I don’t know why it’s so rigid and strict that a patron needs to stick around in overpriced tiers for 3 months and EXACTLY three months, when you could also design this system based on annual physical rewards. Someone paid a collective $60 at the end of a year? They get a mug! Someone paid $50? They sadly get the $36 reward. They overpaid on $5 tier to get to the $90 sum? They get a poster! I don’t think you understand the power of conviction this merch deal could have on people to want to pay me more than the maximum amount of what I ask, but instead you’d rather have creators bluntly put up $10-20-50 tiers and arbitrarily justify it with a 3-month interval point system.

I just don’t get what the issue might be, if it’s not to have us raise our tiers. I won’t pretend I have in-depth ideas about your business decisions or hardships of owning a print-store and keeping it afloat. Custom merchandising is hard, and perhaps you need items to be dished out way more quickly than just annually.

Get an extra 5% out of my fees if necessary if it’s what’s required for me, just so $5 tiers can be eligible for this. Hell, I’ll take $8, as an upsell-y merch tier. I’ll even take $10 if i can also get to choose how many months do I want my items to be distributed at the end of it. I have patrons who has been sticking around for over 20 months in a row, I’m sure it’ll work out! I am in love with certain aspects of this idea and it would put my heart in such ease to know they’re getting something extra for their continuous support, especially when we’re talking about how I want to be involved with this platform for years and years to come.

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I would love to see them move towards adjustable tiers/time periods in the future to make things like this make sense rather than be exclusive to certain tiers. I think the current formula is based on research and trying to keep things as simple as possible as they roll out the merch function to more creators.

I too have decided to pass on merch for membership at this time, though for different reasons. That said, it does appear that now that it is in motion, they’re really trying to expand and refine it in rapid fashion to adapt to feedback and the needs of creators.

I would love to see integration with something like reward badges, like Twitch, and when you hover over someone’s badge you can actually see the cool stuff they got from your merch rewards. If there were more visual representations built in that prompted and reminded people that this merch for membership system was in place and they were already qualifying for these rewards, I’d probably be on board.

Basically, I’m doing a pretty good job at retaining patrons as it is, and if there’s not mass awareness and hype about the merch, I’m just giving Patreon my money just for the sake of having merch. I’d love to see where it’s at in a year and then maybe jump on in.

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I see that Patreon started asking for Merch beta testers back in April, and I know the system’s gone through some changes since then. Today I got a ‘do you want to participate!’ pop-up but I dismissed it because while it told me I’d have to agree to the 3% a month fee it didn’t tell me what I’d be getting for that 3% and I no longer know. I’d like to participate, but I need more data before saying ‘yes’.

(Getting this invitation via email would have been a lot better.)

(Also, I’m not sure asking people to beta-test things and then charging them is a great idea. If you want to limit your loss while people are beating on it, you might make the trial a time-limited thing, or only offer parts of the system for testing.)

Anyway, I’m trying to decide whether to try it and I no longer have information on what exactly I’d be paying to try. Is anyone using the merch system? Is there an updated breakdown of what’s available with it somewhere I haven’t found yet? Advise me, please! :sweat_smile:

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Hey @cuisine, thank you so much for the feedback and for making this post. We’re happy to hear about the positive points and the merch team are following this thread to take into consideration your thoughts. We wanted to let you know that the $12 is just a recommendation- you’re welcome to put the item on a tier priced as low as $6 if you would like.

@YuuriVoice we’re looking into other ways to reward patrons, including after they’ve paid a certain amount in their lifetime. It’s all work in progress and thanks so much for the feedback!

@haikujaguar You can find out the latest about the merch program here: https://www.patreon.com/merch

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@mindy The ‘available products’ link does not take me to a list of available products, but to a ‘let’s get started’ page.

Also, the Membership Terms page continues to be vague, because it says that on top of the fee you’ll be charged for the cost of the merchandise but I still don’t know what the merchandise is and how much per-unit you’re charging for any of those particular pieces.

Having the ‘also, the per-item cost is going to be deducted from your balance on top of a fee’ bit hidden on this page feels kind of skeevy to me. I am sorry to say that. :confused:

This page you’ve show me is an advertisement. It’s not a “I need data to make an informed decision” page. That’s why I asked.

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When I click on “see available items” and scroll down a little, I see this - is that not what you’re looking for?

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@brandybingham Thank you! That’s what I was looking for.

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Thank you mindy! That does clear things up… a little bit.

Does putting my tier lower than 12 also give me the opportunity to have the pledge amounts counted from a bigger time interval than 3 months? Because I feel it won't make any sense to associate merch to a 6 tier - other than if people want to overpledge just to get the goodies. I’m just asking because I don’t think people will end up putting down extra 6-7 bucks on top of the 5 bucks for just a sticker. This would help me out more if I could choose to have my merch rewards be distributed every 6 months instead.

The language in the site does not reflect to anything at all, in one way or another. Just the way how adamantly “3 months” clause is worded, makes me believe you just only count the most immediate 3 months of pledges together. I know this is very obtuse and convoluted, and I’m sure this was really hard to even explain in the current condition it is explained. But if this system is more flexible, even a simple enunciation of “AT LEAST 3 months” would resolve lots. Instead, the “At Least” is placed before “$12”, which is at odds with the new information I was given. That all being said, currently, it feels like I can only properly learn the key elements of this system, after putting down my +3% on the line.

I would also love if we could have a “sticker pack” option. I happen to have a lot of sticker designs, each of them appropriately fitting inside a 4’’-4’’ area! Perhaps even a “rotation” option where people get random stickers from a pool. But I guess that’s more of a fancy request.

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Part of what I find to be the biggest obstacle of the merch system in general is if we’re sitting here doing mental gymnastics trying to figure this out ourselves while having handy blog posts and Patreon staff at our disposal, how are individual creators supposed to express how merch on Patreon works in a concise and effective manner that translates to patrons going “Oh! This is really valuable! I want this!”

Because right now I’m not seeing any visual representation that shows something like a merch for membership timeline, where people can see how close they are to getting things or what things they might be able to get in the future. A graphic would convey that a lot better than additional walls of text.

And basically, if I’m already retaining these patrons and they don’t even realize they’re going to get the merch, what value is the merch actually giving me? Especially when I can create a special offer instead and push push push and convert a ton of non-patrons and get a boat load of increased pledges.

So not only do we need clarity on our end, we need some serious tools in place to establish Merch for Membership as a thing, in a way that excites patrons and makes them think twice about reducing a pledge or encourages them to maintain an increased pledge for a period of time.

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I agree with @YuuriVoice about the lack of visually attractive representations of Patreon’s support over time. the Goal progress bar on the home page is good, but kinda detached from the individual experience, I guess? Personally, I’m very excited for the lifetime reward possibilities mentioned by @mindy :smiley:

On another note, I wanted to point out that the Description box for Merch is only 60 characters long, not even half of the tooltip of the textbox itself :stuck_out_tongue: Not much way to be descriptive AND mention the 3 months thing.
I can barely write “US residents will get a cute Sticker after 3 months pledge.” and that’s 59 characters :sweat_smile:
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Something that I personally would prefer is a “Redbubble” type system where Patreons have an online store within my Patreon that they can access and select the items they want to order (at any tier). And have it printed and paid for on demand. Patreon can take the bulk of the profit here and give me little to no profit. Or maybe give the creator the ability to chose how much they want “make” off transactions. I dont personally want to make any money off merch, I just want to have it available. But, I do not want to give up 3% of my earning to make it available either.

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I would love to have a built in storefront that’s a part of Patreon. I think there could be some really cool ways to present merch as “add ons” to the monthly fee, sort of like package upgrades if you were subscribing to a streaming service for example.

I understand the need to create some interesting ways to promote patron retention, so lifetime rewards are cool and all, but I think the pitch for the current iteration of Merch for Membership is convoluted and when it’s hard to explain it to people, it’s hard for them to see the value, and if it’s hard for patrons to see the value, it’s hard for you to feel good about Patreon taking 3% of your earnings.

So I’m very much on board with an idea resembling what you’ve pitched here!

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Merch for Membership Questions

Just want to toss my 2 cents in there.

  1. merch doesn’t offer any shirt print if I saw it correctly, which is a no go for me personally.

  2. 3% sounds fair, but those 3% also apply to those that don’t select a merch tier, right? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, unless you really have a huge percentage that wants your merch. I rather want to make a Tier especially for merch where patreon takes a cut per patron rather than 3% overall.
    It just makes it very unattractive for me.

  3. Waiting 3 months for merch? Ok, I understand you want to make them stay as patrons as long as possible, that’s just how business people think. But I think that’s just a very annoying thing you do to your patrons and can backfire. Just think it like you ordered a package on amazon and it tells you you have to wait 3 months till it arrives? That’s insane, even waiting 1 week is a lot for many people.

So yeah, just my thoughts after getting picked for this merch membership. As it is right now, I just don’t really see that I’d do anything good for my patrons. And patrons come always first for me.

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merch doesn’t offer any shirt print if I saw it correctly, which is a no go for me personally.

Definitely agree. People would adore shirts.

I rather want to make a Tier especially for merch where patreon takes a cut per patron rather than 3% overall.

I feel if that’s how it worked, then they’d definitely want more percentage overall. A successful campaign I think makes 2k on the low end, where 3% just means 60 bucks extra. It’s still not insignificant or anything, but I’d expect much worse in a system where they handle the production and shipping chores of physical goods.

But I think that’s just a very annoying thing you do to your patrons and can backfire. Just think it like you ordered a package on amazon and it tells you you have to wait 3 months till it arrives? That’s insane, even waiting 1 week is a lot for many people.

I think the “merch rewards” language is the key here. Merch is never supposed to be the actual point of your campaign - your own content is. Merch works more as a reward for continuous pledges, which makes a lot of sense. Nobody would’ve bought a $36 sticker otherwise to begin with. We’re not selling these merch (we’re not “selling” anything on Patreon, they’re all donation incentives). Your example is a bit too far removed from the reality of this situation. It’s more like, you get coupons for each month’s pledge, and when you get 3 coupons, you get a prize. THAT takes a week to ship.

I, on the other hand, think 3 months is too little. I’d rather have it 6 months or a year (just so i don’t have to make $12 worth tiers so people fulfill the conditions to get a sticker in 3 months).

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I think the “merch rewards” language is the key here. Merch is never supposed to be the actual point of your campaign

Yes I agree I thought it like this in my case -> 10$ get’s you the game but like 30$ gets you the game + a cool shirt with it… like those special edition/limited editions you see that AAA Game studios do.

I still don’t like the 3 month thing, when I pledge I want my reward, that’s just how I feel.

And besides all that, I would also welcome merch in form as a standalone product, like something next to the tiers that you can purchase like in a shop, especially great for people that want to support you only for one time.

But I get it that my ideas are not benefiting if you want patrons to stay as long as possible, I rather want something very easy for the patrons as possible.
And honestly I can already smell the confusion and people sending messages why their merch hasn’t arrived after pledging :grin:

Almost didn’t join because I’m on vacation from my Patreon but…!

I’m taking a gamble by joining this Beta because I’m actually on break from my Patreon and I return in January and so many of my followers have either lowered their pledges or left. Although, I have enough crazy fans who are still hanging around and might be interested. I have been eagerly waiting for merchandise since it was first announced ages ago so like hell am I going to pass it up.

Commentary on the Prices

So as someone who has shipped physical items and knowing how expensive it can be form production to shipping. I’m fine with the rates and I can personally take the extra +3% for labor costs.
I see some creators complaining about the 3 month wait, but I personally don’t mind because Patreon is not a shop and a physical good is a pain to organize and ship. I see the merchandise program as a loyalty rewards program from long-time patrons not for regular monthly rewards. It would be nice if there was an option for patrons to get it on a monthly basis, but I’m sure Patreon is doing it this way to ease the burden off of them. I really want this program to work so I don’t want to make demands that could essentially cause the whole merchandise program to collapse by putting too much burden on Patreon’s end.

Comments on UI

I haven’t fully explored all of the UI, but it looks really easy to navigate, and everything is explained clearly. So far no issue managing things.

I do have one important question?

You say patrons get a reward once every 3 months? I have patrons that have been subscribed to me for 4 years and I temporarily had a tier where patrons got a new poster every month (I dropped it because it was too expensive to print). I’m not sure if it’s an option, but will it be possible to rotate out the merchandise design every 3 months? It would be nice for patrons to collect different designs, stickers, mugs etc. Instead of only getting it once ever (Which is what it sounds like with the wording). If that was possible it would definitely help keep patrons pledging longer.

Consider rolling this out in Europe soon
After Patreon gets the merchandise program working well in the USA, please have an eye on Europe. My patrons with the deepest pockets are mostly from Germany and other countries in the EU.

Side note

So I think the merchandise program will be really good for me as an artist. My artwork gets leaked all the time, and I have people who pledge once, get a bunch of my content then upload it to forums and websites. Having something cool that can’t be leaked or pirated is nice. The questions is, how many of my patrons would be interested in the specific products offered, I guess we will have to see.

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Hey just jumping in with a quick thought but what about just using merchandise to reward longtime patrons. I can’t really see the advantage of offering it as a tier reward. I’d rather just sell through another online store which seems more fair and transparent to the fan.

But say, if a Patron has been part of our channel for a year then we ship them a bonus at the end of the year. Maybe it’s a Christmas thing.

If you can readily quantify how many fans qualify for a reward early and ship at only one point during the year, then you can use economies of scale to reduce the price on printing and designing.

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I was excited to be invited to this beta, but the problem for us is that the merch is too generic. We would be happy to substitute $300/month as part of our 3% fee if it meant we didn’t have to spend 2 days every month getting tshirt sizes (hunting down folks who don’t give a tshirt size), packing up rewards, printing shipping labels, applying labels, inventory planning, etc. However when looking at the rewards, it doesn’t make sense since we offer more unique physical rewards and at a lower cost per tier. After 6 months at a $10/tier we ship out a tshirt, tote bag, koozie, and stickers along with a thank you letter. The material cost for all of these is around $16-$18 with shipping at $4 on average (not including our labor). We have a good success rate of keeping folks around after this 6 months as well for other rewards that we don’t have to ship out. I don’t know if that means we are cheap compared to others but $36 for a 4x4 sticker seems outrageous. If it costs Patreon $5.60 to do a single 4x4 sticker, then you all need to find a better sticker manufacturer.

We would also like to see the inclusion of “tenure” after the first reward is shipped. For us, after 6 months we ship the reward, but we want to send a thank you email after another 6 months or an additional year.

If Patreon could work out a deal with a promotional company to have their entire catalog available after uploading a logo or design, then that would make this process easier because you have hundreds of different merch options available. I understand Patreon’s issue here (because we face the same) is with inventory planning and knowing how much of what to order since it can’t be done on-demand.

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Hey @cuisine, I’ve been able to find you some more info to your questions. A lot of your ideas for it to be more flexible just aren’t possible at the moment as this feature is still very new, but thank you for the feedback! We really want merch to be able to do all those things you mentioned too :slight_smile:

At the moment, it’s 1 item after 3 months, so you would not be able to change the interval to 6 months. It’s a recommendation. so we recommend at least $12 but it’s up to you ultimately. We do not have any sticker packs yet, but thank you for the suggestion!

@YuuriVoice thanks for that feedback, that’s a really great point. I love the idea of a timeline and the merch team did too when I shared it with them. We are in the process of revamping all our merch pages to provide you with more info you need to make this choice, plus anyone can have a consult with our merch team to find out if it’s right for you. Simply send @apuig a DM if you would like that!

@supersatanson That is a great catch about the character limit! It seems like an odd constraint our end. I will pass that feedback long.

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