In these challenging times, it’s not enough to rely on your regular income to cover all your expenses. You have to find other means to earn money to sustain the daily needs of yourself and your family. Fortunately, electronic commerce platforms enable enterprising individuals to supplement their income with side hustles.

By offering specific merchandise like clothes on the side, creatives can pursue their passion and earn simultaneously. But what if you don’t have deep pockets to build a product inventory?

Luckily, online marketplaces offer a few ways to sell products like clothing and apparel. These methods can launch an online store without compromising your savings. Read on to learn more.

1. Sell Print On Demand Merchandise

Print on demand (POD) is a business model where an online seller collaborates with white-label product suppliers to customize these products. White label merchandise comprises goods manufactured by another entity and doesn’t carry a specific brand. They are customizable by placing a buyer or a brand’s logo to make it their own.

If you want to start your own t-shirt company, create your online store and brand name and add your designs on each shirt to start selling. With POD, you don’t have to build an inventory or purchase printing machines because your supplier will take care of the fulfillment process, including printing and shipping the products to the buyer. Additionally, you only have to pay your partner after the purchase. Online sellers interested in understanding how the POD scheme works can learn more here.  

There are multiple sites where you can sell bespoke clothing and apparel. However, note that they take a certain percentage of your sales, so you must consider this when pricing your products.   

2. Be An Authorized Apparel Company Reseller

Some multinational companies recruit resellers and dealers to do their business for them. This marketing scheme often comes in multi-level marketing and encourages dealers to attract additional resellers to gain discounts and improve their income.  

Under this marketing scheme, authorized resellers sell their goods, which often include apparel apart from personal care products, and cosmetics. These products are kept in the company’s warehouse, ready to be dispatched once a reseller receives an order.   

In the past, products were done face-to-face or door-to-door. Because of technology, dealers can open their digital stores and start selling using the proper digital marketing and social media strategies.  

3. Tap Third-Party Fulfillment Centers

Third-party fulfillment centers have become an integral component in the global eCommerce industry. These companies, called 3PL, make inventory management and fulfillment way easier for prominent manufacturing companies and small-scale retailers.    

Under this business model, online sellers outsource their inventory, packing, and shipping processes to 3PL centers. The latter firms take charge of storing the goods in their warehouses and shipping them to their intended recipients. Thus, digital retailers don’t have to make space for storage. Besides expansive warehouses, 3PL companies also automate the fulfillment processes, so sellers and buyers can track their goods quickly.     

4. Drop Shipping

Drop shipping involves tapping a third party to take charge of your entire fulfillment process. It may sound like 3PL, but there’s a slight difference, as drop shipping may offer fewer opportunities to sell your products.   

For instance, with a fulfillment center, you can stock your merchandise, including clothing, and have these sent to your clients. In drop shipping, you’ll choose specific products from a direct manufacturer, post them on your online store, and earn a commission for every merchandise sold.   

Often, an online retailer’s account is linked to a drop shipping partner. Once a purchase is completed, the partner will perform the fulfillment process by packing and shipping the item. In some cases, a drop shipping company may accommodate customized packaging. Drop shipping covers manufacturing and fulfillment methods, while 3PL focuses on the latter.  

5. Offering Made-To-Order Products

Online sellers can also market their clothing line by offering made-to-order products. This scheme works similar to the print-on-demand business model but without necessarily tapping a third-party partner to print and ship customized clothing.   

Instead of keeping an inventory, merchants will have to wait for orders to come in before making them. In utilizing this digital selling method, you’d have to inform potential buyers that the items can’t be shipped immediately and are on a pre-order basis. This gives you ample time to gather the raw materials and print the design on your apparel if you’re doing everything independently. Just identify your cumulative lead time and post the creations in advance on your website. You may want to look at these design inspirations to build your product arsenal.   

Once the clothing products are ready, you can ship the item right away, thus eliminating the need for a storage facility or maintaining an inventory.   

The Bottom Line

The five abovementioned suggestions are the most common methods to sell various apparel online without inventory. And with inventory taking up a considerable portion of the investment for retailers, these business models can help minimize your capital expenditures immensely. You can streamline your fulfillment processes and workflows by offering print-on-demand and made-to-order clothing and tapping third-party providers and manufacturers.