The beauty of selling goods/services online is that you do not need to distribute your product to very store or outlet that would potentially stock your product; this of course keeps inventory costs low. By partnering with suppliers, you can have full automation of the ordering process and have a good pipeline of goods flowing between; the supplier, you, and the consumer.
Customers who buy online do not expect to be able to touch and feel a product in the flesh, in the early days of e-commerce this took sometime to sink in for consumers but now we take it as how we do business. They make an informed decision based on the information the company provides. What this does is open the door for a pre-sale. Thousands of goods are pre-sold on the web these days from books to video games to special offers on wine. The key is capture the customer before the product in question hits the shelves in the local mall, then you can beat your competition without even having the physical product.
Retail stores in comparison to the online world have a slow supply chain. They have to get the manufacturer to physically make the product then ship to a distributor, then the distributor ships the goods to the store and finally they have to get someone to make a display, price it and then put it on the shelf. You see the advantage now of getting your products online?
With a web business your main advantages are; as soon as the product is available you can sell it, (or before if available for pre-order) you do not even need to have it in stock.
If you are looking to adopt the above in your business you have to be aware that speeding up the supply chain will require effort and cooperation between your business first and foremost and the shipping company and supplier. So in other words you need to integrate your technology into your business to pull it off to its full potential.