Digital products are any files that can be stored on a computer. Just to name a few: a book (PDF, MOBI/AZW3 or EPUB), a picture or image, an audio or a video. This is different from selling physical products (physical e-commerce): physical products need to be shipped instead of being transmitted electronically. This requires collecting a shipping address during checkout.
Digital e-commerce tools do 2 things:
- Store the digital files you want to sell.
Let the customers download the file(s) they paid for.
There are usually 2 ways to do this:
- Send an email to the customer with a link to download the file(s).
- Redirect the customer to a download page right after the payment.
My top 5
- Payhip and Gumroad
Note that there are many other tools.
Criteria to compare tools
Here are some possible criteria to choose the right tool:
- The design/experience offered by the tool to sell your files. This is a subjective criteria, but it's important to choose a tool that looks good and pleasant to you.
- The number of years the tool has existed. Payments imply regulatory compliance, and new tools don't necessarily have the experience of dealing with issues with payment processors (mainly Stripe and PayPal). To minimize the risk of any surprises, pick a veteran tool. For example, Flurly, launched in December 2020, shut down on February 11th, 2023. for a compliance issue with Stripe.
- Compliance to legal and fiscal constraints. In particular, countries of the European Union have very strong constraints: GDPR and VAT. European VAT is bureaucracy at its best. The best tools in regards to EU constraints are Gumroad and Payhip.
- Affiliate systems. Some tools let you run directly an affiliate system. You can reward people who help sell your products.
- Coupons and discounts. Can you create coupons and offer discounts?
- Emails to customers. Can you inform your customers about updates or new products by email directly within the tool?
- The price. The pricing structure varies from tool to tool, and it often quite hard to compare prices. I created the digital e-commerce cost calculator to help you compare.