Digital products are some of the most hassle-free items you can sell online. These don’t require any warehouse costs, inventory count, shipping fees, or ongoing overhead costs. These products cover a wide variety of things – images, videos, music, podcasts, eBooks, PDFs, plugins, themes, and more.
In this post, we’ll look at four ways you can sell your digital products through WordPress, and highlight some features of each platform.
Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is a free eCommerce plugin for WordPress specifically built for digital products. Like most eCommerce plugins, EDD adds some default pages – like Products, Checkout, Cart, etc. – and gives you the ability to create digital “downloads”. EDD supports most major file formats that you can upload, create a description for, set a price, and start selling.
You will have to integrate a payment gateway like PayPal, Stripe, or Amazon Payments. Even though EDD is free, you will still incur transaction costs based on the payment gateways that you use. At the very basic level, once you create a “download” and integrate your payment gateway, you can start selling your digital product.
EDD comes out-of-the-box with basic customer management and eCommerce analytics. You can track transactions by each customer and their total spend. You can also keep track of your earnings history, and export all tracking data to a CSV file if you are using third-party analytics software. Take a look at a full list of EDD features on their site, or check out Sell With WP’s most recent review.
In addition, EDD has a vast library of extensions and integrations. Below are some useful extensions that you can use to enhance your online store.
If you sell any type of software, including WordPress plugins and themes, an important part of the process is to keep track of authentic licensed files. For example, if you include a certain period of support when people purchase from you, then you probably don’t want to provide support to someone who didn’t purchase the software and downloaded a pirated copy.
The Software Licensing extension for EDD can automatically create license keys that can be used to activate products and keep track of authentications. The extension also allows you to create license keys that require ongoing renewals.
If you are selling subscription-based products, you don’t have to send a reminder invoice each month to every single customer. You can use the Recurring Payments extension to automate this process. You can set the payments to be daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. You can also allow a single customer to have subscriptions to multiple products. The extension also provides standard emails that are part of the subscription lifecycle – upcoming payments, cancellation confirmations, confirmed subscriptions, etc.
You can set up a recurring subscription to give people exclusive access to certain or all products on your store, to charge people for a service (like plugin support), for ongoing physical product subscriptions (like Harry’s razors), and more. Subscriptions are a great way to generate and forecast ongoing cash flow.
A big part of running an online store is the support you provide your customers. For your EDD store, you can integrate and use forums using plugins like bbPress to manage support. Forums allow multiple customers to see and search answers for similar questions. You can also help build a community where customers can help other customers solve any issues that come up.
You can use the EDD Product Support extension to integrate bbPress forums with your store.
WooCommerce is one of the most popular WordPress eCommerce platforms. WooCommerce can be used to sell both physical and “virtual” products. Similar to EDD, WooCommerce is a free plugin that sets up the basic framework of an online store on your WordPress site. At a very basic level, the only cost to you will be the transaction cost via the payment gateways.
You can install a number of themes specifically designed for WooCommerce, which also gives you basic customer management and eCommerce analytics. In addition, you can use a number of WooCommerce extensions to enhance your store.
For any virtual products that are susceptible to be pirated or illegally downloaded, you can create license keys through the WooCommerce API Manager extension. The extension automatically generates license keys, and does ongoing monitoring of authenticated products.
If you want to create a membership for customers based on their purchase, you can use the WooCommerce Memberships extension. The extension integrates with WooCommerce products to grant access to the membership when a product is purchased. Based on this purchase, the extension assigns a membership to the product, and customer can now access benefits related to that membership, such as viewing products, viewing content, or purchasing members-only products.
You can also use plugins like Paid Memberships Pro to create memberships with discounted pricing, tiered memberships, and more. Use the free Paid Memberships Pro – WooCommerce Add On plugin to integrate the Paid Memberships Pro plugin with WooCommerce.
When you’re using a content management system like WordPress, different types of files are saved under different directories. Now, for your downloadable virtual products, if somebody gets a hold of the directory your files are stored under (while pretty difficult to do), they can get access to all the files for free.
There is a way to secure the download path to your WooCommerce virtual products. Take a look at Sell With WP’s step-by-step guide to creating secure downloads for WooCommerce to learn more.
WP eStore is another WordPress plugin geared towards selling digital products. As of publication date, the plugin costs $49.95 and includes free lifetime updates.
Take a look at the below video to see a tutorial of how to set up the plugin and create products:
Check out the demo store to see the plugin in action, or read up on our full review along with our comparison of WP eStore to EDD.
The plugin allows you deliver products through a download button on the Thank You page, in addition to sending them via email. For security, the plugin creates an encrypted link to this button where customers can download the product. The encryption makes sure that the downloads aren’t publicly accessed if the link is shared.
Something unique about the plugin is that in addition to setting up pricing for your products, you can also allow customers to pay what they wish. This can create a lot of goodwill from your customers and build your brand loyalty.
The plugin also supports membership integrations that can help you create forums, especially for support.
The above three plugins allow you to add and sell digital products on your WordPress website. However, you can use third-party hosted services to sell digital products, and integrate them with your WordPress site instead. Here are a few online store services that have WordPress integrations:
The Gumroad service starts at $10 per month plus transaction costs of 3.5% + 30 cents. You can use the Official Gumroad WordPress Plugin to include Gumroad products on your WordPress site.
Take a look at the full list of Gumroad features including license key generation, “rent” options (like renting movies in iTunes), and currency selection, along with our comparison vs EDD.
You can start using the Selz platform for free, with a 2% transaction fee plus credit card transaction cost of 2.9% + 30 cents. Use the Selz WordPress plugin to include buy buttons for your Selz products on your WordPress site.
Take a look at the full list of Selz features here.
Sellfy is another platform you can use to host and sell your digital products. You can start using Sellfy for no monthly payments, but with a 5% transaction fee plus PayPal fees (2.9% + 30 cents).
Use the Sellfy WordPress plugin to add Sellfy products to your site. Take a look at the full list of features on Sellfy.
If you want to start selling online, digital products can be a good way to enter eCommerce. These products have no inventory or shipping costs, are easily scalable with very low or no overhead costs, and can introduce you to new customers and audiences. These products can include plugins, themes, music, eBooks, videos, and more.
For existing online merchants, adding a digital component to you store can be a great way to sell value-added complementary items – like video tutorials, course materials, eBooks, etc. – and supplementary items to the physical products – like eBook version of a physical book, digital copy of a physical record, etc.
In both cases, WordPress gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing the platform for selling digital products. You can use a number of WordPress plugins like Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce, and WP eStore, or third-party integrations with WordPress from Gumroad, Selz, and Sellfy.
Which platform do you use to sell digital products? What type of products do you sell? Please share in the comments below.