How to Sell Products Online without Inventory

How to Sell Products Online without Inventory

Are you an artist or a small business owner looking to sell your products online but don’t have the space or budget for inventory? If yes, then you’re in luck! There’s a way for you to sell products without the need for inventory, and there are two options. They are called drop shipping and print-on-demand. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of both, and how to sell products without inventory in your online store.

What is drop shipping?

Drop shipping is a retail fulfillment method where you don’t keep the products you sell in stock. Instead, you purchase the products from a third-party supplier and have them shipped directly to your customers. This means you don’t have to worry about storing inventory, packaging, or shipping products yourself. This works best for a product that requires no changes, customization, or personalization from your online store. It will typically ship out faster since the product is already made.

How does drop shipping work?

To get started with drop shipping, you’ll need to find an e-commerce business that offers drop shipping services. You can do this by searching for products on platforms like AliExpress, Oberlo, or Spocket. Once you’ve found a supplier, you can import their products to your online store and start to sell online.

When a customer makes a purchase on your online business, you’ll place an order with your supplier. Your supplier will then ship the product directly to your customer. You’ll pay your supplier for the product and keep the difference between the product cost and the price you sold it for.

What is print-on-demand?

Print-on-demand, or POD, is similar to drop shipping but with one major difference: you have a degree of control over the product. Instead of reselling pre-made products from a third-party supplier, you create your own designs and then have them printed onto products using specialized printing technology. You can use print-on-demand for apparel, accessories, home decor items, and more.

How does print-on-demand work?

To sell online with print-on-demand, you’ll need to find a POD provider who offers the products you want to sell in your online store. Popular providers include Printed Mint, Printify, Printful, and Zazzle. Once you’ve chosen a provider, you’ll need to design the products with your own artwork.

Examples of POD products you can customize are t-shirts, mugs, hats, and phone cases. When a customer makes a purchase in your store, you’ll place an order with your POD provider. Your provider will then print and ship the product directly to your customer. You’ll pay your supplier for the product and keep the difference between the product cost and the price you sold it for.

How to sell products in your online store without inventory?

If you’re interested in starting an online business without inventory, here are the steps you should follow:

Choose a platform: There are plenty of e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce that offer drop shipping integrations. Choose one that suits your needs and budget.

Find suppliers: Once you’ve chosen your platform, find drop shipping suppliers who offer drop shipping services for the products you want to sell. You can use platforms like AliExpress, Spocket, or Oberlo to find suppliers quickly.

Customize your online store: After you’ve imported your products, it’s time to customize your store. Choose a theme that reflects your brand, write compelling product descriptions, and upload high-quality product images. You want your store to be visually appealing and easy to navigate.

Market your e-commerce business: Once your store is up and running, it’s time to start marketing. Use social media, SEO, or paid advertising to attract potential customers to your online store.

Start selling: After you’ve completed the above steps, you’re ready to start selling! Monitor your sales, adjust your marketing strategy and shipping costs if needed, and keep track of your profit margins.

Pros and cons of drop shipping/ print on demand

Like any business model, drop shipping has its pros and cons compared to your traditional online store. Here are some of them:


  • No need to worry about inventory management
  • Low startup costs
  • Access to a wide variety of products
  • Flexibility to sell products from anywhere
  • Not many customer service issues


  • Less control over product quality and shipping times
  • Lower profit margins due to production costs and shipping fees
  • Reliance on third-party suppliers
  • Quality control if not familiar with the print-on-demand service
  • Upfront costs

What about an affiliate store?

An affiliate store is similar to drop shipping and print-on-demand, but it’s slightly different. Instead of buying products from a supplier or POD provider, you earn commissions for referring customers to other websites.

For example, if you have an online store that sells outdoor apparel and equipment, you can sign up for affiliate programs with outdoor brands. When your customers buy items through your affiliate links, you receive a commission on the sale. Affiliate stores are great for those who don’t want to invest in inventory or design products themselves – but they also tend to have lower profit margins than drop shipping or POD businesses.

How do I start an affiliate store?

To start an affiliate store, here are the steps you should follow:

1. Choose a product or niche: First, decide what type of online store you want to create. Do some research and come up with an idea for a product line that will appeal to your target customers.

2. Find affiliate programs: Once you have an idea of the products you want to sell, look for merchants who offer affiliate programs in your chosen niche. Make sure they have a solid reputation and good customer service policies before signing up.

3. Create your website: Use a platform like Shopify or WordPress to create your online store quickly and easily. Add essential features like payment processing, shipping options, and customer support tools.

4. Promote your products: Now it’s time to get the word out about your store. Use social media, SEO, and other marketing strategies to attract potential customers to your site.

5. Track your commissions: Monitor your affiliate earnings regularly to make sure you’re getting the right amount of commission for each sale. This will help you maximize your profits and adjust your marketing strategy if necessary.

By following these steps, you can easily set up an online store without an inventory that offers a great selection of products from reliable suppliers or merchants – all while earning some serious cash through affiliate commissions!

You could also look at selling digital products in your own online store:

Selling digital products in your own online business has many advantages. Firstly, it eliminates the need to manage inventory, package, and ship physical products. Secondly, you have full control over how you market and promote the product, as well as what customer service policies you put in place. Thirdly, since there are no manufacturing costs or shipping expenses associated with digital products, your profit margins can be significantly higher than with traditional goods.


Drop shipping can be an excellent way for artists and small business owners to start selling products online without inventory. Like any new venture, starting an online store without inventory requires research, hard work, and patience. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you’re on your way to starting a successful online store!

If you are curious about the pros and cons of selling on Etsy before you start, check out this post!