So, you want to start an online store without having to buy expensive inventory. It’s not a surprise that buying a lot of inventory for an online store costs a lot of money.
So is it possible to sell products online without any inventory? Can you really do it?
Good news is YES, it is possible!
In this article, I will teach you 3 methods on how to sell products online without an inventory.
If you were to start an online business with having to buy inventory, that would certainly be a large up-front cost to bear. Because not only do you have to buy the inventory, you have to pay fees to get it delivered to you.
You will probably have to let go of a large chunk of your savings or get a bank loan to cover those costs.
When you carry inventory you also have to deal with:
- Space to stock your inventory
- Time dealing with Sales and Shipping
- Revenue hit if your inventory don’t sell
This is where an online business is more special than your regular brick and mortar store.
You can absolutely build a successful online business, without ever having to touch the inventory you sell.
This is truly a risk-free approach because the failure of your store is not going to be a huge financial worry. You just scrape it and start new.
Not only that, but you can also work on this business on your own time while working on another job and if you do it right, it can replace or exceed your current income.
Here are the 3 methods that I personally recommend:
1. You Can Dropship – You Don’t Need to Buy Inventory
Dropshipping has been around for many many years. And many people have been dropshipping successfully to earn money. Dropshipping became even more popular, quite recently around 2015/2016 with Aliexpress dropshipping.
So How Does it Work?
Dropshipping is basically driving traffic to products you list on your website and when the customers buy the product and pay for it, you send the order out to the wholesaler or manufacturer. They then ship it to the customer.
It’s a very easy concept and using a platform like Shopify to build your eCommerce store can make things even easier.
You can dropship without a website, on a site like eBay, but you will need to accept eBay’s terms and conditions if you are choosing to go this route. But having a website is pretty much a requirement for this or for making money on the internet in general. Since it’s so easy to do nowadays, you have no excuse.
Anyone Can Learn to Dropship. And it Goes Something Like This:
You create an online store, preferably on a platform like Shopify. Using Shopify to create an eCommerce store will make it easy for you to customize your store. But there are other platforms like WooCommerce that you can use for cheaper as well.
Then you sign up to a wholesaler who allows dropshipping, right now a lot of people use Aliexpress.
Just vary when using Aliexpress products, as some of them are just junk. You should order the products to check for quality before you put them up on your store to sell.
Then you drive traffic to your store via free or paid methods.
Most people I know use Facebook or Google ads to drive traffic to their dropshipping store. And these two will cost you money. So you will need an advertising budget.
The good thing is your advertising budget won’t cost 10,000’s like any other business. And once you get the hang of paid ads, you will get your money back and a profit on top. But it is something to keep in mind.
It is entirely possible to do dropshipping using only free traffic methods. This involves learning some SEO skills. Which I will touch on later.
What Do You Need In-order to Start a Dropshipping Store?
If you have basic computer skills that will suffice
Be willing to dedicate a portion of your time
Be willing to learn in’s and out’s of this model
Is Dropshipping For You? Are There Any Cons?
Of course, there are cons to any form of business. Dropshipping is popular because of the low cost of entry into this business model and a lot of people take advantage of that. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any cons or all of them succeed.
Since Dropshipping just means that you don’t have to ship the product or keep inventory yourself doesn’t mean the customer knows that. You are still responsible for the timely arrival of your product to the customer. So you need to deal with customers and the logistic issues.
And sometimes things aren’t in your control. Like speedy delivery of your product. So you will need to vary when choosing which suppliers to partner with.
Also, your margins as a dropshipper are low. And there will be competing sites with similar or the same products as you.
If you decide to go with advertising with Facebook ads, you’re looking at a learning curve that will cost you some money at the beginning.
All in all… dropshipping can be very profitable if you do it right.
2. My Recommended Method – Set-up an Affiliate Website
Do you want to build an online business that is even cheaper to create and run than a Dropshipping Store?
Enter Affiliate Marketing.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
Affiliate marketing is where you promote products via your website to receive a commission when the reader clicks your product links and buys.
Affiliate marketing is not a new concept. It has been around since the birth of the internet. And that’s a long time.
First, you need to choose a niche you are passionate about. Because You are going to be writing content.
Don’t let the word “content” scare you. I was no expert at writing articles, still aren’t, can’t you see? lol.
I just wrote so many and here I am. Progression of many hours writing and improving. The bottom line is if you can get your message across to the reader, that’s all that matters.
Then you need to create a website. And don’t worry as I said before, it’s so easy to do nowadays if you haven’t made one before.
Remember you should create a website in a niche that you are passionate about. If you like golf, make it about golf, if you are into guitar, then make your site in the guitar niche. You get the idea.
Writing about something you’re passionate about or have a liking to learn a new field can help you build a long-term online website that will work and earn money from for many years to come.
And you don’t have to be an expert on the subject. You learn through research and you convey what you learned via posts on your site. Just like this post.
Where Do You Find Products to Promote on Your Site?
Now, you’re probably wondering where you can find products to promote on your site.
You need to join a program called an Affiliate Program. It is basically a partnership between you and a company to promote their products in exchange for a percentage of the sale.
And there are SO MANY.
No matter what your niche is, there is definitely an affiliate program.
Amazon has one of the biggest and oldest affiliate program
Nike has an affiliate program
BestBuy has an affiliate program
Walmart has an affiliate program
Uber has one
You see, the companies that you use on a regular basis, all have an affiliate program.
The last part of this is using SEO (search engine optimization), to drive traffic to your website. SEO can be learned by anyone. It is not complicated.
SEO just means you are increasing the quality and quantity of free traffic by optimizing your website and pages you write. I know it’s a mouthful, and don’t let the word scare you.
I will show you the exact place where I learned SEO from scratch. Deal?
You can use paid methods too like the dropshipping method to drive traffic to your affiliate website. But unlike dropshipping stores, a good majority of affiliate sites only focus on organic free traffic.
And organic free traffic alone is more than enough to build a profitable affiliate business.
I knew nothing about affiliate marketing when I started. I never created a website other than a really basic site, saying “hello world” as my homepage, using HTML code, in my IT class, back in the early 2000s.
I learned all of this from Wealthy Affiliate. A company that I am still part of for over 9 years. If you want to learn how to do affiliate marketing step-by-step. This is the place for you. They have a free membership for you to see how everything works. No CC required.
They teach you from the very beginning on how to create your site to, how to write articles to how you get the traffic to your website. As a Wealthy Affiliate member, You also get free hosting, So you don’t need to pay anything to host your website.
3. Be Part of Amazon FBA or Other 3PL Service
I have to admit.
This method requires you to buy your inventory, upfront. It’s that you are not keeping the inventory with you. You are using a third-party service to worry about the logistics. So 3PL means Third Party Logistics.
So How Does it Work?
You have heard of Amazon, right? Well, Amazon has this program called Amazon FBA. Meaning Fulfillment by Amazon.
Basically you ship your inventory to Amazon, and instead of creating a website, you use Amazon to list your products and let them worry about logistics.
Using Amazon’s FBA program can be very profitable once you’re established. Amazon’s brand drives millions and millions of visitors to its services every month. And they are trusted and known worldwide.
Now Amazon is not the only company doing this. They are just the most popular.
Benefits of Using a 3PL
- An obvious one is fewer headaches. It’s one aspect you don’t have to worry about
- It saves you time. And time is money
- It saves space. Rather than stocking products at your home
- Your profit margins are higher than dropshipping as you own the inventory
Why You Shouldn’t Use 3PL
- You have to buy the inventory upfront
- You have to pay monthly and transaction fees to the 3PL company
This method isn’t truly a no inventory model like the first two I wrote about. And using Amazon FBA or 3PL isn’t the most cost-effective or beginner-friendly method to start your online business on.
If you haven’t made your first dollar on the internet yet, I recommend learning to build your affiliate website is the way to go forward for you. It is a low-cost model. It is also low-risk because if you fail, you are not losing a ton of money.
Dropshipping on the other hand is also a fairly low-cost way to build an online brand as well when you consider other types of businesses. Yes, if you go with paid ads for traffic. It will cost you money. But it’s not going to cost you an arm or leg. If you have the cash, and this type of business appeals to you then I say go for it.
3PL in my opinion is not noob friendly. If you do things wrong it can cost you money and if you are new to this, your chances of messing up are much higher.
What do you think about these 3 methods? Have you tried any of them? And do you have any questions? Leave a comment below.