I apologize in advance if this question has already been asked a thousand times. I did a search and couldn't find anything, nor did the related questions provide any answers to my question.
I tried to order a snowboard from an online store recently and it turned out the store didn't actually have it in stock. So they told me they called a rep for the company that manufactures the snowboard and had the rep send me a snowboard from the manufacturer's inventory, but I still paid the online store. The online store has a brick-and-mortar store where they hold all their inventory, but is that even necessary? Obviously the store gets more business from local residents who enjoy the convenience of visiting and buying from within the store, but could anyone start an online store selling the same equipment without any inventory?
Another example would be the business owner mentioned in Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week that sold Sound Effects Libraries on DVD. He setup a website, collected orders, and sent those orders directly to the manufacturer, who then shipped the DVDs directly to the customers. No inventory needed.
Thanks so much in advance for your wisdom!