These days, online shopping is big. About 69% of Americans have shopped online, and 25% of those buy things online at least once a month. That means ecommerce represents a huge opportunity for small businesses.
But selling things online doesn’t have to mean dealing with shipping costs and managing a large inventory. Digital products are a popular (and lucrative) way to sell online without the complications that come with physical products.
With information about what kind of digital products customers are looking for and the best ways to offer them, you can start making more money and delivering more value to your customers.
Get all the tools you need to quickly find new customers and grow your retail store’s sales.
What is a digital product?
Digital products are any products that can be sold and downloaded online. These products aren’t physical items and people usually experience them entirely through a digital device like a tablet, smartphone, or laptop. Some digital products can be turned into physical products — for instance, eBooks and digital art can both be printed into physical copies — but in general, digital products remain in the virtual world.
Like physical products, however, digital products must fill a need and offer benefits to your customers in order to be successful.
Popular digital products
There are plenty of options available for business owners looking to start selling digital downloads. Here are just a few of the most common digital products you’ll see on the market.
Writers can create books on any subject and sell them as digital downloads that anyone can read on a laptop or mobile device. If you’re passionate about sharing your knowledge or stories through writing, creating eBooks may offer you a lucrative new line of inventory.
Every business needs an online presence — but not all business owners know how to create graphics for emails, social media, and websites. Attractive and easily navigable design templates make great digital products.
Professionals with expert knowledge in a field can offer online courses in any subject through written lessons, as well as recorded video or audio downloads. This is an excellent way for nonprofit organizations to increase awareness of their field while teaching useful skills.
Audio products include audiobooks, recorded lessons, original music, and even sound effects. This gives you plenty of options to design a digital product for the audio market.
Photographs and digital art
Graphic designers, photographers, and digital artists can supply high-quality images and original artwork for bloggers and website owners.
From recorded speeches to full-length movies, video products fulfill a need for education, information, or entertainment. If you can produce useful, visually appealing videos, you can sell digital downloads of your work online.
As the digital marketplace expands, the types of digital products entrepreneurs can sell online will only increase. Creating an online store that sells digital downloads offers a great opportunity for small businesses to diversify the type of products they sell and for nonprofit organizations to raise money.
Advantages of selling digital products
Businesses that sell digital products find their downloads have many advantages over physical products. When you introduce digital products to your offerings, you can enjoy benefits like:
- Adaptable supply: Because customers can download as many digital products as they like, you won’t have to worry about inventory surpluses or deficits.
- No storage issues: Digital products don’t take up physical space, eliminating the need for physical storage.
- Rapid delivery: Because digital products are delivered through downloads, customers can usually receive their products immediately. This increases customer satisfaction and enhances your business’ reputation.
- Lower costs: Beyond the cost of creating and marketing the products, digital products have very few expenses compared to physical products. This means that digital downloads are a great way for you to generate passive income.
Where to sell digital downloads (besides your own website)
Many businesses sell their digital products on their own websites or online stores. This is an excellent strategy, as creating your own website not only makes you more available to online shoppers, it also helps build your business or organization’s brand.
But your existing website isn’t the only place to get your digital product into the hands (or devices) of consumers. To expand your online presence, it’s important to diversify. Offering your digital products through multiple online marketplaces enables you to reach an even larger customer base and better gauge the demand for your digital downloads.
Here are some of the most popular ecommerce platforms you can use to sell your digital products.
Amazon is a popular ecommerce platform for authors who want to self-publish and sell their eBooks through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Music creators can also upload their songs through TuneCore and make their music available through Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and other online stores. Artists can also upload images to Amazon Merch and have their designs appear on printed T-shirts.
Etsy is the go-to ecommerce platform for crafty or unique items, including digital products. Etsy’s a great place to sell templates, custom digital designs, or tools for other designers to use in their own crafts.
FetchApp enables digital content creators to sell eBooks, music, videos, software, photos, PDFs, and more. This app can be integrated into websites, blogs, social networks, emails, and more, so you can sell digital products wherever you need to.
A full-service ecommerce platform, FastSpring helps businesses sell software online. The platform is designed to minimize fraudulent transactions and provide up-to-date global compliance for international sales.
Gumroad helps sell many digital products including comics, eBooks, film, music, instructional lessons, and photographs. Many of their clients deal in specific genres, including comedy, food, sports, and theatre.
Selfy helps newcomers to ecommerce build online stores where they can sell physical and digital products. Selfy also lets you track your sales to see which of your products sell the best and where your customers are coming from.
SendOwl offers an ecommerce platform with features that secure digital files, ensure fast delivery of downloads, assist in online checkout, help with editing emails, and more.
Selz lets you promote your brand and products through online stores, social networks, websites, and other online marketplaces. Their simple online store builder makes it easy to create a digital shop that matches your brand.
E-junkie enables businesses and organizations to create online shops and sell art, eBooks, comics, and video. You can sell for a fixed price, “pay what you want,” or accept donations.
Next steps for digital product sales
Digital products are a great way to increase your revenue and expand your customer base for a minimal investment. Even if you’re new to the world of selling digital products, it doesn’t take much to get started.
First, you’ll need to decide on a product to sell — like an online course or an eBook with information your customers are interested in — and a place to sell it. In addition to selling on your own website, try branching out onto other online marketplaces. This can help you expand your reach and draw in new customers.
Being able to sell digital products helps you maximize the return on your ecommerce investments, while delivering value and convenience to your customers. For more detail on how to sell your digital products, check out The Download, our comprehensive guide to online marketing for retail.