How to Build and Run an eCommerce Website With Zero Inventory


Creating an eCommerce website has become imperative for modern businesses. Whether you’re selling premium jewelry or handmade home decor items, you need an online store to build your brand.

As blogger Leigh-Anne Truitt points out, an eCommerce website plays a key role in expanding your reach to new markets. Also, it helps you showcase and sell your products to customers across the globe, as it gives you strong insights into your target market and customers.

If you want to take your business to greater heights, there’s no alternative to building an eCommerce website.

The Challenges of eCommerce

Modern eCommerce website builders have made it easier than ever to launch an online store. You no longer need to hire a professional designer to build your eCommerce website. Instead, you simply have to find an easy-to-use online store builder that supports integration with third-party apps and payment gateways. 

But it’s worth remembering that running an online store isn’t simply about creating an attractive website, which is why so many fail within two months of launching. Once you build an eCommerce website, you need to attract traffic through various digital marketing campaigns. Also, you need to constantly improve your website to boost conversions.

Then there’s the hassle of developing, procuring, and storing products. You need to take care of order fulfilment, product returns, and customer support as well.

While most entrepreneurs manage to build an eCommerce website, they often struggle with inventory management and order fulfilment. Things become even more difficult when you’re operating a new business with a “cold start.”

But that shouldn’t dissuade you from venturing into the world of eCommerce.

The good news is that there are various ways to build a successful eCommerce website without any inventory. It’ll go a long way to help you minimize the cost and risk of starting an online store.

Let’s delve deeper into a few of these techniques to understand what’s the right fit for your business.

1. Build a Print-on-Demand Store

With a print-on-demand store, you don’t have to worry about manufacturing or stocking products in advance. Instead, you wait for a customer to place an order before procuring inventory.

From customized T-shirts and wall art to corporate gifting – you can sell a wide array of products on your print-on-demand store.

You can get a specialized printer to manufacture your products in-house. However, that’ll require you to buy and store raw materials. Also, you’ll need an adequate workspace to store and operate the printer.

Alternatively, you can outsource product manufacturing to a third-party printing service. Or you can partner with established brands that let you build your own online store, and drive customers to their websites. Popular examples include Teespring, Teemill and CafePress.

However, you’ll need to pay a fee to these companies for using their services. That, in turn, could put a significant dent in your revenue. Also, you’ll have less flexibility in terms of the products you can add to your online store.

2. Sell Digital Products

Developing and selling digital products is one of the most effective ways to run an online store with zero inventory. The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to worry about sharing your earnings with third-party manufacturers or logistics partners. 

Also, you can create a wide array of products that’ll appeal to your target customers. The most common types of digital products you can sell on your online store include:

  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Courses
  • Templates

However, you must ensure that your product is of superior quality. Also, you need to take suitable measures to protect your product against piracy.

3. Start a Dropshipping Business

Dropshipping involves partnering with a product manufacturer or distributor who takes care of fulfilling customers’ orders. You simply have to build an eCommerce website and redirect orders to the manufacturer/distributor.

Dropshipping eliminates all the challenges associated with inventory management, such as product procurement, storage, and delivery. However, your business will be limited to the products offered by your partners.

You can work your way around that challenge by partnering with multiple manufacturers. But that’ll complicate the process of tracking and managing multiple orders.

The Final Verdict

It’s possible to run a thriving eCommerce business with zero inventory. From starting a print-on-demand store to leveraging dropshipping – there are several ways to venture into eCommerce with minimal investment.

Similarly, you can also sell digital products, such as eBooks, industry reports, and templates, on your online store. The important thing is to understand your niche and target audience and choose the most suitable technique.

Tech Digest Correspondent