How to Sell T-Shirts Online Without Inventory

How to Sell T-Shirts Online Without Inventory

Starting a company often requires a large amount of upfront investment. The cost of buying inventory is among the biggest hurdles in the beginning stages, so much so that approximately 50% of new businesses fail within the first five years. Financing is the most common reason for their failure.

The issue is seemingly insurmountable. After all, you need to have something to sell to make money. But you might find that the cost associated with buying and storing your inventory is prohibitive to your business’s early stages of success. In that case, there are ways that you can sell T-shirts without having to invest upfront.

As a new business owner, this article equips you to get set up as a dropshipping company whose initial investment is cut down to the point that allows them to find early success.

Getting Started with Your No Inventory Business Model



Dropshipping is a common order fulfillment method when using a no inventory business model. That means you don’t have to invest in inventory right away. If you haven’t heard of dropshipping companies and are unsure about how common they are, it is helpful to realize that almost half of all products sold on Amazon, an e-marketplace worth $368 billion in 2021, were sold by third parties. In other words, dropshippers were responsible for 50% of the total Amazon sales.

A dropshipping business functions by distributing orders from a wholesaler or manufacturer. The dropshipper takes its cut from the sale price the dropshipper posts. This process allows you to avoid high up-front costs and benefit from numerous other advantages when functioning from an online platform. These include:

  • Don’t have to store inventory which gets rid of the costs of a warehouse
  • Inventory management is in another company’s hands, saving you time to dedicate to product creation and sales
  • No concerns about losing money on unsold stock


Just as there is a positive side to every situation, there are some disadvantages that you need to consider if you work with a dropshipper. One such issue is lack of control over shipment, especially if you find yourself facing a sudden, unexpected order surge. In that case, you might have to rely on the dropshipper to provide the standard of service during the order fulfillment and shipment processes. In other words, quality service is outside of your control. 

And if the dropshipper’s delivery is delayed, or if the wrong item is sent or packaged inappropriately, this could directly affect you. Depending on how the business is set up, it might also affect the reputation of the dropshipper. It is because of this that it benefits you to do your research in the beginning, choosing a quality drophipper that can help you avoid these issues.

Print on Demand

Print on demand

Print on demand companies provide you with another option in which a third-party company handles the heavy lifting associated with product production and shipment. However, in this case, they focus on printing the product instead of stocking and shipping it like dropshippers. It gives you another choice when setting yourself up as a seller with less initial risk. It is similar to the first option in that the orders are still fulfilled through a third party, with the store taking a cut from the main sale. This option works best for clothing like T-shirts since you will easily be able to customize orders as they come.

The most significant difference between dropshipping and print in demand is that you get to create and sell your own designs. When you use dropshippers, you have to select items to sell from their online seller store. Using a print on demand seller, you send your design to the printer, they price it out, print the T-shirt, and then send it to the customer.

The custom T-shirt printing market has gained popularity over the last several years for no inventory online stores. As a result, this market is expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2025, double the amount reported in 2016. 

One of the most important parts of succeeding with your online T-shirt business is to find a reliable and high-quality print on demand partner. They are your ally in business, so they should be the best in the business, like Printbest. Printbest’s prices are on average 15% lower than other print on demand partners. In addition, their turnaround can be as fast as one day, which means you can cut down your delivery time for your customers.

Get started with print on demand
Start selling T-shirts, mugs, bottles and more with your own designs. We'll print and ship them to your customers.

Set Up an Ecommerce Store

Set up an ecommerce store

Another part of selling T-shirts online with no inventory involves setting up an ecommerce store. Selling on ecommerce platforms has become quite popular, as there are now more than 24 million ecommerce stores worldwide

This step comes into play once you decide whether to use a dropshipper or a print on demand service. This is because you will need a website where people can find and buy your products. The order will go to your chosen supplier, which ships to your customer. 

Luckily, an ecommerce store is affordable and generally relatively quick to set up. Depending on which platform you decide to use, setting up the ecommerce store can even be free. 

You have two options when it comes to your ecommerce platform. You can either build your own site, or can work through a third-party platform.

Build your own site

There are plenty of ecommerce store builder sites that offer a great place to start. These include sites like WixBigCommerce, and Shopify. These sites might not be free. However, they give you the ability to produce and publish a professional ecommerce store without resorting to coding skills. 

Use a third-party platform

Another option if you are a potential seller with no coding skills is to open your ecommerce store using a pre-established marketplace like Etsy and Amazon. These will take a percentage from sales, similar to dropshippers and print on demand businesses. 

Any quality ecommerce store builder, including all of those we mentioned above, will equip you with the tools you need to manage your business. These include tools that enable you to manage your inventory, the success of your products, and shipping statistics from your sellers.

Another thing typically available from an ecommerce store builder is a website address and hosting capabilities. Depending on your selection, these might cost you money to maintain for the duration of your website and/or business. If you want to learn more about e-commerce platforms and their associated marketplaces that are great for print on demand businesses, check out this blog article.

Market Your Business

Market your business

Once you decide on the right seller option and your ecommerce store has gone live, it is time to start marketing your no inventory business. If people aren’t aware of your products, they aren’t going to buy them. To make them aware, market your business to potential buyers.

Currently, one of the most popular marketing business methods is to use pay-per-click marketing. This kind of marketing is popular because of its affordability. Not only is it affordable, but it also gives the marketer more flexibility and also tends to reap results quite quickly. Websites like Facebook will put up your ads and you pay for each time that advertisement is clicked. That way, if something doesn’t work, you don’t overpay for it, but can try new things until you find an ad that is popular enough to gain your audience’s attention.

Another option you should work on for the long run of your business is to build up your social media communities. These can significantly impact growing your brand awareness and promoting your products. Other businesses have largely taken advantage of this as almost 36% of all US internet users made at least one purchase in 2021 through a social media/commerce platform. Building your social media community even before you officially launch your brand is a great way to help generate high sales from the outset of your business. 

Finally, another method that works very well when showing up on search engines like Google is creating a blog and utilizing SEO to shape your online content. It can become extremely effective for you but takes quite a while to master and become effective. These issues mean content creation represents a long-term strategy for any online business.

Getting Your No Inventory Online Store Started

It might be surprising to realize that you can run a successful business selling T-shirts and other items online with no inventory. In the days of exclusively brick-and-mortar business, you had to learn how to manage your inventory and have the money to invest in your business upfront. However, now, it’s possible to sell T-shirts online without inventory.

Print on demand can be a great solution to help you sell T-shirts online without inventory. The reason for this is twofold. Print on demand businesses are specifically geared towards efficiently providing high-quality printed products like T-shirts. They are better geared to offer superb products crafted with attractive designs.

The other reason is that they allow you to sell your own designs instead of forcing you to choose from their styles and printed designs. Are you not a designer by trade? Print on demand companies such as Printbest offer you a variety of art styles to print on your T-shirts and other products and you can check out this article to find some design inspiration. What’s more, you get all this without having to invest in inventory up front. 

Use Printbest as your print on demand partner to help create and build your no inventory online store and to make selling more streamlined and less stressful. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help you build a successful business. 

More To Explore
printbest logo

Printbest™ is a print on demand company powered by SinaLite. We help entrepreneurs, artists, and small business owners sell printed merchandise more easily by printing and dropshipping it straight to their customers.