3 Steps to Start an Online Store Without Inventory
In this article, we’ll share how you can start an online store without inventory in 3 simple steps.
As the world has shifted, many people are seeking additional income streams. One way of doing that is to sell merchandise online. But, with traditional online retail, you need to buy and store inventory until orders come in. That’s expensive and risky. But, there is a way you can start an online store without inventory. In fact, you never have to purchase inventory.
1. Set Up a Free Account with a Print-on-Demand Vendor
Companies like Printful provide print-on-demand services for a variety of in-demand items like t-shirts, coffee mugs, home decor and more. You don’t have to buy anything up front and it’s free to set up an account. You simply upload designs you create. When you receive an order, you simply place the order with Printful and they take care of printing and shipping it to your customer. It’s fully white-labeled so it appears to be coming from your store, not Printful. You establish your retail prices that your customer pays. Printful charges you a wholesale price for each item. You keep the difference.
When you set up a product on Printful, their system will generate mockup images and even transfer them directly to your online store, so you don’t have to invest in photography and other up front resources. You can typically choose from a variety of product shots and, if it is an apparel item, they can be realistically shown on models.
2. Build Your Online Store
You’ll need to set up an website to show off your merchandise and take orders. Companies like Printful integrate directly with many ecommerce platforms so your order to fulfillment is completely automatic. When a customer places an order on your website, it is automatically sent to Printful where it is printed and shipped to your customer.
You can use a variety of ecommerce platforms to build your store. We prefer WordPress integrated with WooCommerce. Both WordPress and WooCommerce are free for basic ecommerce functionality. You can have a web designer build out your online store for you, or you can do it yourself with a template. You’ll need to pay for a domain name and hosting but that’s very reasonable. We recommend Network Solutions for domain names and we recommend Dreamhost for start-up level hosting.
3. Promote, Promote, Promote
Once you have your store online and are ready to take orders and send to Printful, you need to tell the world about it. There are many ways to promote your online store but a great (and free) way to get started is social media. Share mockups of your designs (which Printful will generate) and link to your store. You can also create some amazing mockups by using a service like Placeit to upload your designs and show them realistically on products. You can also experiment with paid ads on Facebook or Google. Also, ask your customers to refer their friends and offer a discount for those referrals.
You should also set up email marketing and build a mailing list by encouraging people to subscribe in exchange for a small discount. Services like MailChimp will even integrate directly to your online store and send order shipping notices and suggest products in automated follow-up emails.
You can start an online store without inventory and start generating revenue pretty easily. You can build your store on your own, however, if you’d want a professional touch and to get up and running more quickly, please reach out and let’s see if we can help you. Either way, we wish you great success in your new online venture!
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