When aiming to sell a digital product you might quickly realize that apart from using a digital product marketplace such as Themeforest, an alternative can be to build your own digital product store.
But how to go about building your own digital product store? Currently, you might be struggling in choosing the best solution to use in building your Digital Product Webstore. The thing is that the choice is not always obvious, as each of the solutions available has its own mix of advantages and disadvantages.
Our goal for today is to explain and offer deep insights when deciding whether using a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, selling via a Digital Product Marketplace or a Self-Hosted Digital Product Store such as Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce using WordPress. Our goal is that you obtain a solid understanding of the pros and cons of each alternative.
SaaS Digital Product eCommerce Solution
SaaS eCommerce solutions are also known as on-demand webshops, where you can purchase a subscription of a fully hosted webshop with “everything-done for you”.
Instead of installing and maintaining a website such as via WordPress, a SaaS eCommerce solution allows you to simply log in and manage your store without having to deal with all the technical aspects of operating and maintaining the webshop. The SaaS eCommerce provider manages everything related to the server, hosting, website including security, availability, storage, and performance. SaaS eCommerce solutions free up valuable time for Webshop Operators as they can only focus on marketing and selling their product with the technical operations of the website being taken care of. Furthermore, SaaS eCommerce solutions specializing in selling digital products come with advanced features, managing licensing, updates and also many admin tasks such as taxes and invoicing.
Here are some popular examples of SaaS eCommerce solutions ready to sell digital products
- Gumroad – Gumroad is an online marketplace where you can build your own website or landing page and then display your craft. It is also easy to use shopping cart that will allow you to get started selling your products immediately. It has a decent amount of features and charges you a percentage of the transaction which makes it great for low volume.
- Sellfy – Sellfy is an e-commerce platform for creators and businesses looking to sell their digital and/or physical products online in a simple way. It is also a cloud-based eCommerce platform developed specifically for businesses and professionals that create and sell digital goods—including everything from ebooks to music to illustrations.
- Freemius – Freemius is a WordPress plugin service with a really neat concept: you can sell your plugins and themes through the WordPress dashboard instead of using an external marketplace. You can also collect data about usage, activation, and deactivation that may help development decisions.
- Shopify – Setting up an online store yourself can be complicated and take outside expertise from developers and designers to make it work. Shopify saw the opportunity to create a platform where you could build an eCommerce store and start selling products in just a few hours.
- Fastspring – FastSpring is a full-stack digital commerce platform for software, SaaS, content, or anything-as-a-service. It is also a company that offers a full-service e-commerce platform for companies that sell software and other online digital products.
- Kajabi – Kajabi is an all-in-one platform for digital entrepreneurs and small businesses to sell content and digital products online. It also makes it easy to create online courses, launch marketing campaigns, build landing pages, manage customers, and design the perfect eCommerce website.
Pros and Cons of using a SaaS eCommerce Store for selling Digital Products
Below, we have listed the essential advantages of using a SaaS eCommerce solution for your digital product store.:
|1. Ready to Use – Different from the traditional model, in SaaS eCommerce Solutions, the software is already installed and configured, making it much easier to set up and use. Also, it usually comes with best practices and samples inside it. Therefore users can do the proof of concepts and test the software functionality or a new release feature in advance. |
2. Pay as you Go: Normally, using a SaaS eCommerce Solution can lead to lower costs at the beginning but costs can be quite high, especially when platform operator charges a % of revenues. Costs are better manageable because its a fixed subscription + variable cost normally
3. Less or No Technical Worries – Since a SaaS eCommerce platform is a hosted solution, you may worry less about bugs and updates that will occur on your website itself. What you only need to do is to focus on selling and marketing your products and services.
4. Fewer Compatibility Issues – When using only a basic software solution, there are fewer to no compatibility issues that you need to deal with. But, if you are to use an advanced software solution, compatibility issues might arise if you have a lot of additional plugins or custom code added. Even worse, version discrepancies between members of your workforce can lead to compatibility issues and wasted time.
|1. Lack of control – In-house software application gives businesses a higher degree of control than hosted solutions where control resides with a third party. Typically everyone has to use the latest version of the software application and cannot defer upgrades or changes in the features since you do not hold the platform’s source code. |
2. Security and data concerns – Security is another common concern for businesses mulling SaaS options. Access management and the privacy of sensitive information is a major consideration around cloud and hosted services. Sensitive company data and business processes are entrusted to a third-party service provider, that’s why issues such as identity and access management must be addressed accordingly.
3. Performance – With a SaaS eCommerce Solution, you have less control compared to a Self-hosted solution where you can do anything you want with the source code of your webshop. Also, SaaS may run at somewhat slower speeds than on-premise client or server applications, so it’s worth keeping performance in mind your software isn’t hosted on a local machine.
4. Scalability- For large websites, having 100’000 of users or more, normally you will run into limitations of scaling up your website as there are always limitations within the scope of the SaaS hosted eCommerce solution. We know cases where successful stores with 250’000 users and more actually changed from a SaaS store to a WooCommerce store.
SaaS eCommerce Solution has actually a lot to offer. Using an out-of-the-box, hosted solution may give you more time to focus on creating, selling and marketing your digital products. It can help your business save money, time and human efforts. By eliminating problems like software maintenance and incompatibility, SaaS can actually provide you with a streamlined focus and greater productivity but with the cost that you do not have full control over your website.
Self-Hosted Digital Product Store Solution
A Self-Hosted Digital Product Store Solution is a system where your website is most likely built mostly from scratch, which lets you log in and make changes yourself, such as publishing, editing, managing and deleting content. Simply it allows webshop owners to have total control over the majority of your eCommerce Digital Product store, mainly because you have access to the platform’s source code.
Self-Hosted Digital Product Store Solution also provides further capability with out-of-the-box software and tools. They allow for more advanced things like contact forms, search engine optimization (SEO), statistical analysis, and others that will help you turn and manage your website as an eCommerce Digital Product Store.
But also, it provides this functionality through what is known as a “plugin.” These are easily installable programs that enhance your CMS websites and provide additional features.
WordPress is one of the best open-source CMS platforms available on the market. You can make any kind of website with the help of this excellent and flexible content management system like news publishing site, blog site, e-commerce site, forum site, any more.
Examples of eCommerce plugin that helps turn your WordPress website into an eCommerce webstore is the Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce. These plugins help you sell products and services from your WordPress site. It’s a free WordPress plugin with additional features available as extensions.
Pros and Cons of Self- Hosted Digital Product Stores
Below are some of the advantages of using a Self-Hosted Digital Product Store Solution.
1. Full Control: Freedom and Flexibility – These two are without a doubt, the most important advantages that an open-source content management system has to offer. By having access to the platforms’ source code, there are virtually no limits to what you can do with your website.
2. Rich Eco-System – Open-Source Digital Product store solution attracts many developers contributing with a rich universe of plugins and add-ons to enable additional and creative functionalities (e.g. on WordPress you can benefit from more than 50’000 plugins).
3. Cost-Effective – Open Source CMS is free and available to everyone, with no licensing fees. This is extremely beneficial for companies with lower budgets, as it cuts the cost of developing it down significantly. For this reason, open-source platforms can be quite affordable.
4. Widely-known and Used – There are literally millions of users all around the globe that use various open-source CMS to run their websites. There is also a huge number of expert developers that have a deep knowledge of how these systems work, which presents a lot of flexibility for a person looking to hire a programmer. For example, currently there are 3.3 million live websites that are powered by WooCommerce, while there are less than a million live websites that are powered by Shopify. This alone shows that there are more people using a self-hosted eCommerce solution and further use and expand their capabilities.
5. Can optimize better for SEO – All this flexibility and access to tons of plugins available, means you can easily make the necessary adjustments to optimise the totality of your webshop for search engines. If you get your SEO right, search engines can bring in really amazing levels of traffic – meaning greater potential revenue. A great plugin such as the Yoast SEO Plugin is an incredible FREE plugin that will help you optimise your blog and improve your search engine rankings.
1. Technical Aspects – We already know that using a self-hosted eCommerce solution encompasses the responsibility of dealing with technical aspects of your website. Such as updates, configurations, management and maintenance which makes it to be highly complex than using a hosted solution.
2. Customization can be costly – While the software itself is free, making specific and unique customizations will usually require a developer, and tell you, it will cost you a lot. So if you want your open-source site to have a very specific design or functionality that isn’t offered by a default template or plugin, the cost can actually be higher than using a proprietary CMS that offers the built-in functionality and features you require.
3. Higher Risk – Dealing with your eCommerce store’s technical aspects, usually you are starting to do some trial and error tests to see which of your updates can actually work well. This in turn carries more risks that something can go wrong on the overall of your website.
4. Hiring third-parties to deal with technical stuff – If you wanted to use a self-hosted eCommerce solution but you lack the appropriate technical and coding skills, you might need to hire a developer or an agency of your choice to customize and work on your website. This exposes you with a greater risk since you are working with someone you don’t know, as well as the risk of them abandoning the project at any time. Best is you need to look for someone that can work for a long-term with you.
5. Your Website is only as Good As your Hoster – Before creating your Digital Product Webstore with a self-hosted solution, one requirement is to look for the best hosting solution to work with. There are three kinds: VPS, Shared Hosting and Cloud VPS. Choosing your hosting solution has a lot of impact on the performance of your webshop, such as it affects your page speed and website availability.
6. Limited Support – Another very significant drawback of open source platforms is the lack of support. This means that your own staff must carry out any development or support work as it comes up. For community-based CMS systems, direct support may not be easy to find, and you have to rely on user forums and existing documentation.
Consider using WordPress in building your Digital Product Webstore
About 75% of websites that use a CMS are built on an open-source platform such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. WordPress is by far the most popular open-source CMS—it has 59% CMS market share and powers 27% of the entire internet. Also, WordPress offers more than 48,000 free plugins, over 1,000 free themes, and is available in 65 languages. These are just points you should consider in using WordPress as your website platform.
Below are some reasons why among the top open-source CMS platforms, that you should choose WordPress in building your digital product website:
- According to W3techs, WordPress controls 58.55 percent of the CMS market share and currently owns a quarter of all websites making it the most popular CMS. It generates thousands of job opportunities around the world, and there are millions of websites making money using WordPress. This means that many people are already familiar with WordPress including developers, virtual assistants and marketing personnel which you will need to recruit.
- WordPress is the easiest to use of the three CMS tools. WordPress requires the same information as the other two, but this is broken down in only two stages of installation. The first part is the creation of config.php file and the one click installation of WordPress.
- In terms of plugin and theme availability, no doubt WordPress has the most on-the-shelf solutions. With tons of themes and plugins available on WordPress Repository, it quite clearly shows the huge and active community behind WordPress. Even the largest digital product marketplaces and other independent websites have tons of available WordPress themes and plugins.
- WordPress is mostly known to be simple and easy to use. WordPress is incredibly easy to learn, which is one of the many reasons for its extreme popularity. You would need some basic search skills, the ability to follow instructions and the capacity to self-learn by using various free online courses and videos throughout the internet.
- The main reason why to opt for WordPress is that as a great content management tool, it can also be easily optimized for SEO purposes and be of essential help to attract traffic. By design, WordPress is very SEO friendly out of the box. You can also use WordPress SEO plugins to further optimize your website.
- WordPress also supports online updates via the admin user interface. WordPress alerts you whenever there is an update available if you want to update, just click on update now and WordPress is updated to the latest version.
Easy Digital Downloads Vs WooCommerce
Basically, setting up your Easy Digital Downloads stores could be your smartest move if you are into eCommerce and have excellent digital products readily available for sale. Unlike platforms like WooCommerce that are better known in selling physical products, you don’t have to deal with inventory or shipping costs with EDD.
We choose EDD because this is basically more user-friendly than WooCommerce in terms of selling digital products. You can simply build your webstore and present all types of downloadable software in there without any clutter, no shipping needs, no waiting time and payment options is not a hassle. If you like to add functionalities, EDD developers will support you as well and it is easy to add additional plugins to increase the functionality of your WordPress webstore.
The most important thing, however, is its product reliability. You purchased plugins from an EDD store and you can always have your peace of mind because creators of these plugins in our experience are committed to fix the bugs and keep developing the software further. Overall, Easy Digital Downloads is a great WordPress plugin to choose and allows you to easily enter the world of digital eCommerce properly equipped.
Conclusion: WordPress is the best choice for building your Digital Product Webstore!
With all this information we just explained to you, it is without a doubt that a self-hosted eCommerce solution, specifically WordPress using Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce, is the best choice for building your Digital Product Webstore.
Of course, the disadvantages will remain, but we assure you that if we are to look at the brighter side and the advantages that WordPress alongside tons of WordPress Plugins can offer, it surely will give you the best features and benefits that will better help you in creating and managing your Digital Product webstore.