How to Start an eCommerce Business with No Inventory

eCommerce is a lucrative business. We’ve all seen the exponential growth of the eCommerce industry in the past decade. In fact,  the industry is still expected to continuously grow in the coming years. That’s exactly the reason why more and more businesses are going online who want to share a piece of the pie.

The main distinction of eCommerce brands is that they are available 24/7. Online brands do not operate within the limits of store hours. Rather, their operating hours are “all day and night”. This setup allows the customers to shop any time they want to. For business owners, this allows them to generate more sales since their income-generating capacity is not limited within store hours. 

Now, if you’re planning to start your own eCommerce brand, then read on as we discuss the kinds of business that you can set up without managing your own inventory.

Why eCommerce?

eCommerce does not require you to have a massive amount of capital to start selling. You only need a minimum investment since there’s no need to physically rent a place, renovate your store, nor hire several store clerks. In eCommerce, you can just set up your online store instantly through signing up with any eCommerce platform. Plus, you can start immediately without hiring a team, especially in the beginning since you can still manage it yourself.

Since your store is open for 24 hours, you get to sell for 24 hours a day without additional costs. This leads to higher sales for your business. Likewise, your customers will enjoy the flexibility to shop anytime at their own convenience.

On the contrary, brick and mortar stores are stuck in a single location and operate within a limited time – the exact opposite of an eCommerce business. With eCommerce, you can easily sell to anyone from anywhere – even to someone from a different state or even to another country. The result is, you get to enjoy a bigger market, which also leads to higher sales.

Make Money Online without Maintaining Inventory

The most common notion is that eCommerce is only about retail. However, that’s not entirely true. eCommerce means purchasing goods or services online – including digital goods, services, subscription solutions, etc.

Thus, technically speaking, anything that you buy online in exchange for money is considered eCommerce. For instance, Netflix, Spotify, NordVPN, and Shopify are all classified as eCommerce, as well as professional service websites like Designmodo, LegalZoom, etc.

Capitalizing on this, it’s now important to understand that not all eCommerce businesses require you to have an inventory. In the next section, we’ll give you the top ways on how you can make money online without maintaining your own inventory.

1.  Drop Shipping Business

One form of eCommerce is drop shipping. Here, you will be selling actual physical items without the need to keep inventory. Sounds interesting? It actually is. With dropshipping, you work as the middle-man between the end customer and the manufacturer, so you’re technically the sales agent.

In this business, when a customer files an order, once you receive it, you’ll just forward the order and customer details to your supplier and in turn, your supplier will handle the product allocation and delivery directly to the end-customer. It’s very simple to set up and easy to maintain, add it to the fact that your operating costs are way lower because you won’t need to spend for inventory, warehouse, production, and logistics.

No Need to Maintain Inventory

In drop shipping, you capitalize on the items of your supplier and you depend on them for fulfillment. Hence, you don’t need to manage your own inventory and logistics.

It’s worth noting however that your lifeline in drop shipping depends on your supplier. Thus, it’s extremely important to only work with reliable suppliers who can support and address your orders 100%. An undependable supplier will only harm your business and lead to customer complaints.

Low Investment and Maintenance Costs

The best part about drop shipping is that it’s relatively cheap to set up and maintain since you don’t need a huge capital to purchase actual stocks. Hence, you only pay for the costs of setting up your website and all other subscription fees – no huge upfront payment. In terms of manpower, you can easily manage the store yourself in the beginning or hire a virtual assistant to help you set up and eventually, you can just scale your team as you grow your business.

Marketing for your Drop Shipping Business

Since you are not spending on anything for fulfillment and logistics, your focus should be on selling. Basically, on the marketing side to attract your audience to buy from you. Here, you must be aggressive on running Google and Facebook ads to constantly drive your target market to your website. And of course, your SEO strategy must also be on point so your web store will rank on your product keywords – making your brand easy to locate for potential customers.

2.  Put Up a Blog Site

Another easy way to make money online is by setting up a blog site. Blog sites offer a great potential of being monetized especially when it comes to affiliate marketing. If you’re a competent content writer and you drive a lot of traffic into your website, then chances are high that brands will come running to you to promote their business – that is exactly how affiliate marketing works.

Leverage on Affiliate Marketing

When you put up a blog site, the only investment that you need is a website and your writing skills. You can write about any topic but it’s important that you have a niche. For instance you can focus on technology, home cooking , health and fitness, or automotive – something that you are interested in. Some examples of great blog sites are Gizmodo, which focuses on tech and gadgets; Shape blog site which highlights health and wellness; and Autoblog, which deals with the automotive industry.

Once you have chosen a niche, the next step is to sign up for Affiliate Marketing. This setup is where you create a promotional article/content for a certain brand and in turn, you get a percentage for every sale that your writeup brings to the brand. Basically, you get a commission for every sale driven from your content.

Killer Content is the Key

For your blog site to work, you need to ensure that you only create compelling content, enough to drive traffic onto your website. There is no point in running a blog site if your content is irrelevant and does not connect with your audience. So, it’s highly important that you only publish great content that’s relatable, informative, or entertaining to your audience. Pair this with a strong SEO strategy and your blog site should be good to go.

Marketing your Blog Site

To attract affiliate brands, your blog site must always be on top of the search results. Meaning, you must have a solid SEO strategy – both organic and paid to achieve a top-ranking website for brands to work with you. If a customer searches for “men’s watches” then your blog site must be on the top search results when it comes to that niche. Otherwise, no brands will want to work with you since your visibility towards their customers is relatively low.

3.  Be a Content Writer

Many businesses are in need of content writers – be it a copywriter, ghostwriter, blog writer, or a generic content writer. Thus, it makes sense to dive into writing if you want to earn a stable income online.

Like in running your own blog site, content writers are paid for their write ups. The main difference is that with a blog site, you get paid a certain commission depending on the price of the product or service you are promoting while as a content writer, you get paid for every word that you write. Basically with a blog site, no matter how long your blog is, you still get the same percentage – the good thing about this thought is that you don’t get paid on a one-time basis only since you still earn a commission even if your promotional article still generates sales/leads months after being published. On the contrary, as a content writer, you have a definite rate depending on the length of your article/content and you only get paid once.

Since you’ll only be responsible for writing, you can even take on multiple clients at the same time, giving you a higher revenue stream.

Marketing your Services

As a content writer, you must be able to effectively communicate your strengths in writing. To do this, you need to maintain a portfolio of your work from different industries or focus areas that you write. Landing a client is easier when you already have a solid portfolio that’s ready to be sent to your prospective clients. Since most clients find it difficult to gauge your writing skill, having a portfolio containing all your written content will certainly come handy.


In general, launching a drop shipping business, starting a blog site and offering your services as a content writer are some of the easiest ways to make money online without maintaining your own inventory. These are different forms of offerings that all fall under the realm of eCommerce and are certain to help you earn money online.

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Trevor Fenner is the founder of, a blog about eCommerce and high-ticket drop shipping. He owns multiple eCommerce stores selling high-ticket items in the USA while living in southeast Asia most of the year while his team of over 10 virtual assistants around the world manage everything from operations and management to research and marketing for him. Trevor teaches entrepreneurs just like you how to start and grow their own profitable online business. If you want to learn more about this exciting online business model, read his article about What Is High-Ticket Drop Shipping. You can also find Trevor on Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram.