How to Start An Online Store Without Inventory And Experience in 2024

Table of Contents

The topic of this article might sound impossible, especially for an online business but it is. 


Usually, e-commerce stores would require inventory to send to customers. Not always, there are ways of getting around that.


For this to work out though will require that you have an understanding of how to sell online and create an online store


You don’t need a warehouse, stock, or shipping set up to sell products online. Selling without inventory can allow you to concentrate on business growth without the hassle of worrying or managing shipping. 


The online business space provides so many business models for running an online store without a need for inventory, worrying about shipping logistics or having extensive marketing knowledge. 


If you’re keen on selling products without the storage or shipping hassle, read on! Let’s check out how to build a successful eCommerce store while ensuring your time and product quality remain secure.


What is the Success Rate of Selling Online Without An Inventory?


Success Rate


Over the last few years, online shopping has changed a lot, introducing new ways of doing business that shake up how we think about retail.


In the old days, opening a store meant spending a ton of money on a physical shop, buying stock, and dealing with lots of complicated stuff like shipping and storage. 


But now, thanks to ideas like dropshipping, affiliate marketing, print-on-demand, and selling digital goods, entrepreneurs can set up online shops without needing to keep any inventory on hand.


Online shopping is super huge now, with billions of people buying things on the internet. The global e-commerce market is worth trillions of dollars and it’s getting bigger all the time.


 A report by eMarketer says that by 2024, online sales worldwide will top $6 trillion. 


Managing inventory can be tough for regular businesses. It comes with big expenses like renting storage space, handling items, insurance, and the risk of losing money on stuff that doesn’t sell. 


But with a no-inventory approach, all these worries disappear. That means lower costs, less risk, and more potential profit.


These business models have a lot of promise. They give people who want to start their own businesses online a way to do it with less risk and more potential rewards. 


Plus, they don’t need as much money upfront as traditional stores do.


Let’s check these business models out.


Business Models You Can Work Without Inventory or Experience


As an online entrepreneur, you have several options for starting an online store without stocking inventory. 


The key is to choose the eCommerce model that fits your level of commitment and understanding of the online market.


Here are some approaches to selling online without managing inventory, each with its own level of automation:


  1. Print-on-demand service
  2. Dropshipping provider
  3. Selling digital products or services
  4. Affiliate stores
  5. Third-party logistics company (3PL)
  6. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)


These eCommerce models have consistently generated impressive sales for current online retailers, offering low startup costs and the possibility of passive income.


By selecting the right business model that suits your requirements, you can navigate the setup process more smoothly, ensuring your online business has everything it needs for success.


1. Print on Demand (POD)


Print on Demand


Print on Demand (POD) is an excellent option if you are looking to operate an online store without stocking inventory. 


This model is simple: rather than selling pre-made products from a supplier, you market and offer your custom designs on a range of products such as T-shirts, mugs, posters, and more.


These services usually provide a variety of tools and integrations to help you kickstart a successful business. 


Here’s how it works: You create product mockups online using the tools provided by the print-on-demand service and add them to your store. 


When a customer makes a purchase, the print-on-demand service partners with fulfilment centres to produce and deliver the orders worldwide on your behalf. 


Once an item is bought, the print on demand service prints your design on the product and ships it directly to the customer, handling the entire process for you.


Print on Demand offers several significant advantages that make it a compelling choice:


  1. Unique Product Offering: With Print on Demand, you can sell merchandise that is exclusive to your brand. Your custom designs enable your store to distinguish itself from competitors, giving you a distinct edge in the market.


  1. Starting with Print on Demand is cheap. Just like dropshipping, you don’t need to keep any stock or put money upfront for products. 


This means you can get going without needing lots of cash.


  1. Managing orders is easy too. Your Print on Demand service takes care of making, printing, and shipping your products. 


That means you can spend your time designing cool stuff and promoting your brand instead of worrying about logistics.


  1. Easy to Test: With Print on Demand, you can try out new designs easily to see how they do, without having to commit to a big order upfront.


  1. Scalable: Print on Demand services can manage orders of any size, so your business can grow smoothly as demand increases, without any hassle.


Websites such as Printful and Printify can offer you convenient print-on-demand services that seamlessly connect with your online store. 


They offer a variety of products for printing your designs and take care of all the printing and shipping tasks on your behalf.


You can even kickstart a print-on-demand e-commerce store without relying on a printing partner. Just get your own printer and print items as orders come in. 


But keep in mind that you’ll need some inventory, like blank t-shirts and mugs.


Print-on-demand businesses are perfect for creative people who love graphic design. You can showcase your art on printed products and sell them online hassle-free.


2. Dropshipping




Dropshipping is a game-changer in the world of online shopping. It’s one of the easiest ways to run a store without having any inventory, and it’s helped many online businesses take off.


Here’s how it works: Instead of keeping products in stock, a dropshipping store sells items that it doesn’t physically own. 


When someone buys something, the store purchases the item from a supplier, like a wholesaler or manufacturer, who then sends it directly to the customer. 


This means the seller never actually touches the product.


Here’s an example: Let’s say someone buys a puzzle from your online store. With dropshipping, the order placed on your e-commerce site would be sent to the puzzle manufacturer or distributor, who would then ship the puzzle directly to your customer.


Dropshipping differs from the traditional retail model because the seller doesn’t keep any inventory. 


Instead, they buy products from a third party, like a wholesaler or manufacturer, only when they have orders to fulfil.


Dropshipping is popular for several reasons, especially among new online entrepreneurs. 


Here is why:

Here’s an easier-to-read version:


  1. Lower Startup Costs: Traditional retail requires a lot of money to buy inventory. With dropshipping, you don’t need to do that, so it’s easier for people with limited funds to start.


  1. Work Anywhere: With dropshipping, all you need is a good internet connection. That means you can run your business from anywhere, giving you more flexibility in where you live and work.


  1. Variety of Products: You can sell many different products to your customers without stocking them yourself. If a supplier has an item, you can list it on your website without extra fees.


  1. Easy to Grow: In traditional business, if you get three times more orders, you usually have to work three times harder. 


But with dropshipping, suppliers handle most of the extra work. This makes it simpler to expand your business without as much extra effort.


One issue with dropshipping is that you can’t customize packaging or create branded products with your logo. 


Usually, your dropshipping partner will use their branded packaging, which restricts your brand visibility. 


Additionally, dropshipping can be costly as the service provider handles most of the workload for you. Especially if you use the wrong service.


Globallyfulfill can help with this. With its dropshipping service, you gain access to a variety of reliable and cost-friendly suppliers who can help you succeed in your online business. Learn how to dropship here.


3. Affiliate Marketing


Affiliate Marketing


Affiliate marketing is a fantastic choice for you to launch an online business without needing inventory. 


Instead of developing and selling your own products, you promote and sell products created by others. 


You earn a commission for every sale made through your referral. This is tracked by an affiliate link.


Affiliate marketing can offer tons of advantages to you:


  1. No Product Creation: As an affiliate marketer, you’re promoting products created by others which means you do not need to go through the entire complex and time-consuming research and product development other businesses may have to go through.


  1. Low Overhead Costs: Launching an affiliate marketing business doesn’t demand a ton of financial resources. 


All you need is basically a functional website or social media account, which can be set up inexpensively, and the loyalty fee for registering to the affiliate program.


  1. Work Anywhere: With affiliate marketing,  you can run your business from anywhere, giving you more flexibility in where you live and work. 


You’re not bound by conventional 9-to-5 constraints and have the liberty to select the products you wish to endorse.


  1. Passive Income Potential: With an established and smoothly operating marketing system, affiliate marketing can generate a consistent income stream, even during periods of inactivity.


You can here to see which is better for you between affiliate marketing and dropshipping.


4. Third-party logistics (3PL)


Third-party logistics


Using a third-party logistics (3PL) company is just like dropshipping because they take care of everything from managing inventory to order fulfillment. 


Third-party logistics involves outsourcing logistics tasks to specialized companies.


3PLs manage various aspects such as warehousing, packaging, and distribution, which can be particularly beneficial for companies with limited financial resources or excess inventory capacity.


They also provide space leasing and tracking technology to facilitate order fulfilment for potential customers, offering convenient logistics and fulfilment solutions for online retailers.


You will still require inventory but are relieved from the burden of keeping stock on hand or managing your warehouse. 


Utilizing a 3PL service grants flexibility in the range of products you can offer, although you are responsible for sourcing your own items.


However, this convenience comes at a cost, as 3PL services handle all aspects of logistics and fulfilment apart from sourcing, which can make it relatively expensive. 


Typically, there are flat fees for storing products in their warehouses along with additional fulfillment expenses.


Globallyfulfill can help you with this. They provide affordable warehousing, fast and efficient delivery logistics, and product tracking. 


Globallyfulfill also provides a plethora of value-added services from custom packaging that reflects your brand identity to re-labeling, ironing, and other secondary processes. 


The company ensures every detail can add value to your brand.




Thanks to options like dropshipping, print-on-demand, affiliate marketing, and selling digital products, launching an online business requires little effort and investment.


Each of these business models comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. 


For example, when you dropship through a platform like Globallyfulfill, you can sell products without worrying about producing, storing, or shipping them. 


With print-on-demand, you can sell custom-designed items such as clothing and mugs. 


Meanwhile, affiliate marketing lets you earn money by promoting products from other companies, all without leaving the comfort of your own home.


Deciding on the best model depends on your skills, interests, and business goals. However, regardless of which route you take, know that your business won’t just succeed overnight, it takes time, dedication, and patience.

0 0 votes
Notify of
0 评论
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Want to get the manufacturer’s best price from China? And fulfill your orders to your customers in the most prompt way?

Author picture

Hi, I'm Eman, I've been in the e-commerce industry for twenty years, and I'm very glad that my team and I have helped many people build and grow their businesses. Will you be next? Welcome to talk to us!

Get a Free Quote Now


Table of Contents