So you want to start a store or sell products online without inventory but don’t know how? Great! You found the right article.
A common misconception about eCommerce and other online ventures is that it requires a lot of startup capital, connections, and so on. In 2020, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, there are hundreds of options to start selling online. But sometime it’s hard to find these options.
In this post, I will sum up all your options and tell you the pros and cons that go with them.
Start Dropshipping Without Inventory
If you’ve been looking for no inventory business models, you have likely encountered the term ‘drop shipping’ before. Heck, you’ve probably got many ads on youtube and other social platforms where “successful” drop shippers want to share with you their secrets.
But what is dropshipping and why are entrepreneurs raving about it so much?
Simply said, dropshipping is selling someone else’s inventory. It’s a process where you (the seller) set up a webshop and push products to customers that don’t belong to you. These products are sourced from a wholesale provider that drop ships them for you.
Once someone orders from your store, the supplier will fulfill that order for you to your customer. This is done in a fashion where the wholesaler’s branding and invoices are removed to make it seem as if the product came directly from you.
This makes dropshipping a great way to make money online selling products without inventory.
The most common form of dropshipping is AliExpress dropshipping. This is done by ordering products from AliExpress and shipping them directly to your end customer. The AliExpress supplier will remove all branding and invoicing from the package.
To easily set up this kind of configuration, sellers use the Oberlo app in combination with a Shopify store.
Oberlo is an app that allows you to easily upload AliExpress products to your store at the click of a button. The same app also takes care of the order fulfillment for you in a semi-automatic fashion.
AliExpress dropshipping is so commonly advertised because it’s a very simple way to get started with online business, without investing in an inventory or needing technical abilities. All you have to do is drive traffic, provide customer service, and fulfill orders at the click of a button.
- No inventory needed.
- Very easy to set up, especially when using Shopify and Oberlo.
- Very little upfront investment needed.
- You can sell just about anything online.
- You can sell and ship products all over the world.
- Profit margins can be thin depending on your traffic source, those who use paid advertising often see profit margins as small as 15-30%.
- Delivery times are long when working with cheaper overseas supplier such as AliExpress (1-3 weeks).
- Many niches and products are saturated due to the business model being so popular.
- Limited branding options.
Sell Shirts Online Without Inventory With Print On Demand
Next up is print on demand. Print on demand is a form of white-label dropshipping. With this no inventory business model, you are selling your own designs on a print on demand drop shippers products.
For example you create a logo for your brand and slap it on a white t-shirt. This t-shirt you offer for sale on your Shopify store. Once a customer makes a purchase, the print and demand supplier will take care of everything for you. This entails printing your logo on that exact t-shirt, packaging it in a box (often with your logo and store name on it as well), and shipping it directly to your customer.
And this isn’t just limited to shirts. Print on demand providers offers a wide array of products ranging from other apparel items such as hoodies, tank tops and leggings to home decor products such as pillows and wall art and some even offer micro-niche products such as dog bowls, car seat covers, and yoga mats.
Print on demand opens an infinite world of possibilities when it comes to selling online without inventory.
You can sell print on demand products by integrating a POD provider to your Shopify store. Our complete print on demand guide covers this entire process. But you can also integrate print on demand providers to other marketplace platforms such as eBay, Amazon, and Etsy.
And you can even upload your designs to print on demand marketplaces such as Redbubble and Zazzle to sell directly to the built-in audience of these marketplaces. This creates the opportunity to sell online without inventory and without a website.
- No inventory needed.
- Very easy to set up and manage. No technical capabilities needed.
- A large variety of products you can place your designs on.
- You can establish your own brand.
- Thin profit margins, especially when using POD marketplaces such as Redbubble and Zazzle.
- Long delivery times as products are printed on demand.
- Not as easy to find winning products as AliExpress dropshipping.
Selling Products Online For Other Companies With Affiliate Marketing
And last but not least on this list is affiliate marketing.
You have probably heard of this term before as it’s relatively simple: you advertise products on your blog, website, social media and so on and in return receive commission on them when someone purchases through your link.
This is commonly done by Youtubers, influencers and anyone with access to an audience.
But you don’t need to have an audience to get started with affiliate marketing. It’s a myth that many of these affiliate programs are only for influencers. While there are some elite program, the majority of affiliate marketing programs actually let anyone join them.
Some of these easy-to-join affiliate programs are:
Personally, I got my start with affiliate marketing through Amazon. Back in the day, I was getting up to 8% commissions on high-end products. Nowadays, Amazon is a lot less profitable as commission rates have dropped to less than 5% for most products.
That being said, Amazon affiliates is still very profitable as Amazon has a huge reach. Their affiliate program allows you to take a commission on EVERY order that is made through your link within 24 hours of clicking it.
- Many affiliate programs to pick from. Almost every reputable app, service, or e-commerce store has an affiliate program.
- Advertising to the right audience is easy. For example, if you are a makeup influencer, your audience is likely to purchase the products you recommend. The same thing goes for blogs, if you have a helpful blog about eCommerce, readers are bound to use the products that you use.
- Great source of passive income. With affiliate marketing, you can literally make money while you sleep. You don’t have to worry about customer service, order fulfillment, or anything else.
- Almost no investment needed. You can get started with affiliate marketing almost completely free.
- Little control over your income. The affiliate program that you use, can be disbanded at any time. Just like what happened to me at Amazon, can happen to you. Always make sure you have an alternative ready for when things go awry.
- Lot’s of competition. There is a lot of competition in niches with many affiliate marketing opportunities.
- The customers aren’t yours.
The Advantages Of Selling Online Without Inventory
Here’s why I love selling online without inventory and would never switch back to selling products from my own place.
- You get to sell products online from anywhere in the world. This means you can travel the world or move to a country where you have to pay fewer taxes. 😉
- You never have to print out shipping labels, package products, or worry about inventory management.
- You can test out any product or market at any time, without risk as you don’t hold your own stock.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with a no-inventory method or two to test out and start selling online.
I want to end this article with a word of advice: never stop testing. Those are the three words I live by.
I truly believe that anyone can make it online, they just have to find exactly what fits for them. And no you won’t find it overnight or even within a year of trying (sadly, It took me a lot longer than that). The road to success is long, but the motivated few will always get there.
Let me know belong if you have any questions. Good luck!