Online Businesses You Can Do With No Inventory and Low Startup Costs
Buying stock, storing it in a facility, picking a particular piece for shipment, packing it and then shipping it out. Inventory requires a great deal of time and commitment when you’ve got a business that runs on the internet.
However, you may be delighted and surprised to discover that there are many companies and opportunities that give you the freedom to focus on your personal business instead of inventory logistics.
There are many low-cost, zero inventory internet companies that can be smart for those starting out and busy people who want an active shot at entrepreneurship without overspending.
You’ll still have the hard work of finding a strong idea, marketing, building your brand and serving customers well. You just will be able to do that without finding places for a ton of items to sit until you personally ship everything.
Check out these low-cost online businesses that will give you freedom from inventory concerns.
Low-Cost, Zero Inventory Internet Business Ideas
Drop-shipping is simple way to sell products without having to worry about inventory. In drop-shipping, you seek out a “drop-shipper”, a third-party retailer. Your job is to get sales, but the drop-shipper packages and ships the items. You never have to keep an item in your house.
Very simply, this business model observes the most basic of business tenets: buy low and then sell high for profit. However, the retailer being purchased from will also deliver it to the customer; you are the middle man.
You can become creative and assemble a number of products from different retailers for your personal online shop. By focusing on a singular theme or niche, such as cat toys or baby clothes, you can offer people a variety of great items. When someone places an order, the order goes right to the drop shipping retailer, who processes it for you. You just need to do customer service.
There are plenty of dropshippers looking to link up with entrepreneurs. You can find some locally or even overseas. Just be sure to do adequate research and build a relationship so that you work with drop-shippers worthy of trust.
Some drop-shipping products aren’t branded because they’re commodities. This means that you have to remain vigilant about competing with other shops that could be selling similar items. You need to really focus on good customer care and excellent marketing. Your sales skills are likely to be the difference between you and your competition.
Drop-shipping remains a low cost way to start an online business and test different products before you make your own. Be certain that you get samples for yourself before you support a particular retailer; you must trust that the products are good and that a retailer is reliable before permitting them access to your customers.
2. Designing and Selling Print-on-Demand Items
In a similar-to-drop-shipping model, printing-on-demand, or POD, asks that you design something and then hand off the inventory, packaging and shipping to another company. A great way to enter the POD field is with your own personally designed products.
T-shirts, phone cases, hoodies, hats, tote bags, skirts and other personal items are there for you to use your imagination. Whatever witty slogan or picture you come up with can appear on a tote bag or tee for your customers. You just need to target a particular customer group and appeal to their pride and passions.
Even if you don’t have any personal ideas, you can still do this business model. Hook up with freelance designers on different websites like 99Designs, Upwork, Dribble or Fiverr.
With POD services, costs could be a bit higher on individual items than if you ordered them in bulk. However, if certain designs don’t sell, you don’t pay for them (unless you worked with a designer, in which case they’ll need to be paid when you get their designs).
You may consider mock-up templates so you never need to splurge on photo-shoots for what you’re selling; the third-party retailer might offer those templates to you.
There are many POD platforms, and many will work with a Shopify store, if you’ve got one. Again, remember to get samples so you’re clear about what an item will look like. Some retailers discount samples, so ask.
3. Writing A Book
Books are just more products to sell. Because of that, when you find a good audience and serve their needs, you can do well.
Children picture books, photo books, comics, cookbooks, novels and simple coffee table books are just some of what you can bring to market. With creativity or knowledge about something, you can write and launch a book.
POD publishing is easy and safe for getting your toes wet in self-publishing. You’ll have control over what your book looks like and its content as well.
Blurb is one of many platforms you can use. It permits you to make, order and then sell your books as both physical products and digital e-books.
If you’d like to order your book in bulk to save costs, you may think about using Kickstarter to generate attention and demand and guarantee a set number of sales.
Writing and releasing a book you’ve written can also be a smart way to make money from a blog if you’ve already got one or would like to begin.
4. Making Digital Items and Courses
Music, templates, forms, letters, and courses can also be produced by you and sold to others. Because they’re not physical, you’ll never need to store them or pay to make them or ship them out to people. Your profit margins should be rather good.
You simply need to determine what would be good to create. What do people need, and will they they pay for downloads of it?
Stock pictures can be licensed to people, information products can teach people things and beats you create can be used for online content for other people.
If you’re creative and can use that creativity to create something digital for people, look into ways to make it into a sellable product.
Shopify is an example of a site that will permit you to offer people your digital creations through their app.
5. Selling Prints, Greeting Cards And Posters
If you realize that you’re artistic and can draw or take good pictures, you can work on drop-shipping with a POD third party so you can create physical manifestations of the work you do. In some cases you may have to prove your right to sell your content so that you’re not using someone else’s intellectual property. However, if you’re selling things from public domain sources, you can monetize that easily too.
This business will work especially well if you’ve got a committed group of fans already. If you’re already a known photographer or cartoonist, this business is especially promising.
Depending on your POD source, you can turn art into greeting cards, wall art or posters. There are mock-up generators and digital template providers like Place.it; these sites allow you to present items without the expense of photo shoots.
6. Starting a Charity-Related Business
If you’d love to start a non-profit business but need income, you can still involve yourself in righteous causes with charity-related businesses. Social entrepreneurs can position their business while showcasing the parts of their business that reveal real issues they care about.
In fact, an overwhelming majority of customers say they would switch over to new brands if they offered similar products and were aligned with a good, charitable cause.
Many social, charity-related businesses have their own products, but you can partner up with any of the charities in the area to come up with something to sell customers. In your marketing materials, play up the good that your customers do when they purchase from you. Show how your business is working within the community or use an impact calculators somewhere on your site.
Shopify’s Give and Grow app helps you find organizations to partner with. You can arrange your storefront to allow customers to give a percentage of their purchase to a charity or you can insert a donation request in the ordering process or at checkout.
7. Selling Your Own Services
When you’ve got a service business, your only inventory is time. You’ve got a day to fill with the kinds of skills people need.
What kind of services can you sell? Fitness training, house cleaning, photographing, software developing, graphic art designing and writing are just a few skills that can be sold.
You can also combine services with one of the other above business ideas for more income.
A fitness trainer, for instance, can offer classes to local community centers and also sell a video workout course through their social media sites. You can also sell physical products that will give you some profits based on something that isn’t reliant on your free time.
Shopify apps like Book an Appointment and BookThatApp permit people to schedule consultations, sessions and time with you and they can do all that through your online storefront.
You might also sell services through different sites like Fiverr or Upwork so that more and more people can find you and hire you for your skills. Service businesses are a great way to run a company without any inventory, at very little cost.