• E-commerce is a growing sector of retail, as well as a burgeoning market for individuals looking to make money by selling products online.
  • Dropshipping is a form of e-commerce selling in which the seller doesn’t have to invest in inventory, so the start-up costs are low.
  • Dropshipping can be done from anywhere, as a side-hustle or a full-time career.
  • Business Insider has spoken to and vetted various e-commerce experts to put together a list of resources for people interested in starting dropshipping, or growing their existing business.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

E-commerce is bigger than ever and it’s only getting bigger. Today, it’s not uncommon to shop on Instagram or buy products from companies you’ve never heard of directly off your phone. These trends aren’t just good news for retail companies, they’ve also created an exploding market for individuals looking to make money through e-commerce, either as a side gig or full-time job.

Many entrepreneurs use a product fulfillment method called “dropshipping” where they don’t have to invest in inventory in order to sell items online. Dropshipping successfully can lead to six-figure sales — in fact, Business Insider has spoken with sellers who have sold more than $1 million of a single product.

So what exactly is dropshipping? 

Dropshipping is a fulfillment method for online sales. It means the seller doesn’t hold any inventory and essentially acts as a middleman between the customer and the supplier or manufacturer. 

The role of the seller — or dropshipper — is to market retail products and find potential buyers. First, they create an online store for the product (many dropshippers use Shopify to do this), and then they design ads and buy ad placements on social media platforms.

When a product is sold, it gets shipped straight from the supplier to the customer. Often, dropshippers work with suppliers in China through wholesale marketplaces like Alibaba. Because the seller doesn’t have to spend money on inventory, they can run their business from anywhere and the startup costs are relatively low. To start selling a product, dropshippers need to pay for a Shopify subscription, as well as for the product ads they run on Facebook or Google that drive shoppers back to their Shopify store.

how dropshipping no inventory selling works

Samantha Lee/Business Insider

There are tons of dropshipping tutorial videos on YouTube. But some dropship “mentors” out there make more money from selling courses than they do from actual dropshipping — and use YouTube content to portray a false sense of success. Luckily, Business Insider has interviewed and vetted dropshippers and industry experts to give our readers only the most trusted, useful information on the topic. 

Below are some resources that guide e-commerce entrepreneurs through everything from setting up a store and scaling their business to the overall global impact of dropshipping.

This is how dropshipping works, its advantages, and how to set up your own store:
A 21-year-old is ‘dripping in dropshipping money,’ selling $1.7 million in products on Shopify this year. He shares his biggest tips for making e-commerce work for you.

Here’s how to identify a good product and make it go viral:
Two brothers spotted a toy hamster in China and figured out how to make it a viral hit in the US, sparking over $1 million in sales. Here’s the inside story of how it happened.

Why working with vetted suppliers can improve customer experience:
How dropshipping marketplace Spocket vets suppliers to help entrepreneurs gain repeat customers and compete with Amazon

Advice on smartly scaling your business from side hustle to full-time gig:
This dropshipping duo sold $12 million in goods during their first full year in business. Here’s what they say about scaling from a side hustle to a money-making machine.

Why dropshipping products you’re passionate about can help with long term success:
An e-commerce mentor shares his top 5 strategies for sustaining a dropshipping career

Why major retailers are also adopting dropshipping:
At least 40% of retailers use dropshipping to expand their online inventory and compete with Amazon — and those numbers will only grow, experts say

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