If you are planning on starting or have already started a business selling digital products, choosing the right platform is an important part of the puzzle when it comes to creating a successful business.
As there are many different types of digital products and services that you can sell, it does make creating a best of list a little bit challenging and that is why we focused on platforms that can be used to sell digital downloads and services for this list.
Our top pick for digital products because:
• Sell digital products and services
• Great integrations
• Very easy to use for beginners
Payhip is our best free option because:
• Can be started for free
• All features includes on free plan
• Easy to use
Woo is the best self-hosted option due to:
• Sell digital products and services
• Large selection of plugins
• Cheap to start/use
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Best Overall Platform for Digital Products
Ecwid is one of our favorite ecommerce platforms but it does really well when it comes to selling digital products as you can sell:
- Virtual Products such as bespoke design services or consultancy
- Downloadable Products up to 25GB per file
You can also sell these alongside physical products, which gives users a lot of flexibility over what they are selling and talking of flexibility, Ecwid is the only platform that you can use to build a standalone site or integrate it with WordPress or Wix, which are two of the most popular website builders.
This makes it a great option for both new businesses looking to start selling and existing businesses that are looking to add a secure, feature-rich checkout to their existing website.
Below, is a summary of some of the other features that are available with Ecwid:
Another thing we like about Ecwid is that it is one of the easiest platforms to get started with, the interface is well-designed and easy to navigate and all of the dashboard pages are simple and easy to use, which makes it a great option for businesses looking for a reasonably priced, easy-to-use shopping cart.
|Number of Products||100||2,500||Unlimited|
Ecwid also offers a completely free package but unfortunately, you can’t sell digital downloads on the free package but you can sell services.
Ecwid also doesn’t have turnover limits or transaction fees, which makes the pricing very straightforward and they offer a selection of over 30 payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe and Square.
Ecwid Pros and Cons
Who Is Ecwid Best For?
Ecwid is a great option for new or existing businesses who want to quickly and easily set up a new site or add a checkout to their existing site so they can start selling their digital products.
It also comes with a range of additional features that means you can grow your business if you want.
If you want to learn more about Ecwid, then check out our Full Review.
Best for Digital Products Only
Payhip is a platform that has been designed for digital products first and not just simple products like Ebooks, it can also be used to sell:
- Digital Downloads
- Online Courses
- Online Coaching
It can also be used to sell physical products, which is great if you have any additions to your digital content but the platform also offers a good set of features to enable you to grow your business, including:
Simplicity is another key feature of the Payhip platform from the admin dashboard to adding products and customizing your storefront, every interface is well laid out and easy to use, whether you are a beginner or an experienced website builder.
It does lack some features that some of the other platforms on this list offer but for businesses or content creators who want an easy-to-use and secure platform to sell their digital products, it will definitely do the job.
One of the things that makes Payhip a very attractive proposition for online businesses is their pricing structure as they offer the following:
|Number of Products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
And with the free package, you get access to all of the features that Payhip offers but if you want to host your course videos with Payhip, you will need to pay $5 for up to 16 hours worth of video content.
Payhip Pros and Cons
Who Is Payhip Best For?
Payhip is a great option for individuals or businesses who want to easily start selling digital products online with no upfront cost.
If you are looking to sell a selection of different digital products (possibly with some physical product addition), then Payhip will allow you to do this and bundle them up.
If you want to learn more about Payhip, then check out our Full Review.
Best Self-Hosted Digital Product Platform
When it comes to selling digital products online, WooCommerce offers one of the most cost-effective options out there as all you need is to buy some web hosting, install WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin along with your chosen payment options and you are good to go!
This means that your ongoing costs are very low as your only outgoings are your hosting and payment gateway fees when you make a sale and there are no turnover limits or additional transaction fees and as it is self-hosted, it also means that you own the website and checkout, which gives you more control over your business.
But if you are looking for a feature-rich platform out of the box, then you might be a bit disappointed with WooCommerce as it only comes with the following features as standard:
As you can see, it is pretty basic but this is where plugins come into play and there are over 1,000 free WooCommerce plugins in the WordPress plugin library but there are also many thousands of paid options available directly from developers or through online marketplaces such as Themeforest.
And this is where the flexibility of WooCommerce does start to come into play as if you can think it, someone has probably made a plugin for it.
Another attractive point with WooCommerce is the design aspect as many themes now include WooCommerce integration and the WordPress customizer along with page builders such as the native Gutenberg or plugins like Elementor make design and customization easy with WooCommerce.
There is a negative with WooCommerce though and that is that it does have a steeper learning curve due to being self-hosted, which means there are more technical requirements for the website owner to take care of such as security, performance and maintenance.
The WooCommerce plugin is free to use with self-hosted sites but you will need to pay for hosting for the WordPress CMS. Additional plugins and themes may also need to be paid for options.
WooCommerce Pros and Cons
Who Is WooCommerce Best For?
WooCommerce is a very good option if you want complete control over your website as it is self-hosted and open-source.
It can also be a great option if you want a simple and cost-effective solution to sell your digital products.
If you want to learn more about WooCommerce, then check out our Full Review.
Shopify is one of the biggest names in the world of ecommerce, it is also one of our highest-rated ecommerce platforms and while it is primarily targeted towards selling physical products, it can also be used to sell digital products, including services and digital downloads.
The only negative with the Shopify setup is that in order to sell downloads, you will need to install an app as this feature doesn’t come as standard but on the flip side, this means there is a selection of apps for this available and Shopify offer a free one that they developed but we think there is a better one for selling digital products on Shopify.
While an app is required for digital downloads, Shopify does offer a good selection of standard features along with a huge app store, with over 3,000 to choose from that offer a range of features, including:
Obviously, we can only put a summary in here as 3,000+ apps is way too much to cover but hopefully, it gives you an idea of what can be achieved with Shopify but not all of these apps are free, many offer a free trial or package but if you want all the features, you will need to pay for them and prices can range from a few dollars a month to over $100 a month.
Shopify also has one of the best website builders of all the platforms mentioned on this list, meaning that you can build a really good-looking site to sell your digital products, including landing pages for your products.
|Number of Products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Shopify is one of the more expensive options on this list not only in terms of the cost of the monthly plans but also the additional transaction fee, which is charged on all payment that are taken through third-party payment gateways such as:
- Amazon Pay
The transaction fees can be avoided if you use Shopify Payments, which is their in-house payment gateway, which is powered by Stripe. These transaction fees also don’t apply to offline transactions such as bank transfers.
Shopify Pros and Cons
Who Is Shopify Best For?
Shopify is a really good option for people or businesses that are looking for an ecommerce website builder that offers a good all in one solution and aren’t on a very tight budget.
It is also good for businesses that are looking to sell both digital and physical products through one website.
If you want to learn more about Shopify, then check out our Full Review.
5. Square Online Store
Square is not an option many people would consider when it comes to selling digital products but it is set up to sell all different types of digital product, including downloads, services and subscriptions as standard, even on the free plan.
For small businesses, freelancers and individuals, it offers a good selection of features, including:
And as Square is a payment gateway, this comes included with all stores and if you want to offer PayPal, this is available on the Performance and Premium plans.
There are also some good design options when creating an online store with Square, which makes creating a simple, good-looking website very easy to do and overall the dashboard is very easy to use but they do lack some bulk editors, which might not be ideal for businesses who have a large product inventory.
|Number of Products||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Square’s Online Store is one of the cheaper options on this list, which once again ties in with it being great for small businesses, especially the free plan but unfortunately, you can’t use your own domain name with the free plan and it will have an ad in the footer but even so, it is still one of the best free ecommerce platforms out there.
Square Pros and Cons
Who Is Square Best For?
Square is a very good option for small businesses, freelancers or individuals who want an easy to use platform for selling their digital products.
It offers a good selection of features although the lack of payment options might be limiting for some.
If you want to learn more about Square, then check out our Full Review.
What to Consider When Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Choosing an ecommerce platform can be daunting, so before you start building your store, here are some things you should consider before making a choice:
1. Hosted or Self-Hosted
There are lots of ecommerce platforms out there but they generally fall into one of two categories and deciding which one is best for you, will make the choice easier.
- Hosted ecommerce platforms, sometimes known as SaaS (Software as a Service) include a website builder, web hosting and in most cases support
- Most hosted platforms are subscription services, meaning you pay a monthly or annual fee for using the platform
- All technical aspects such as hosting setup, performance, security etc are taken care of for you
- Self-hosted platforms require you to buy your own hosting and then install your chosen software
- While the software itself may be free to use, you will need to pay for your hosting and possibly an SSL certificate
- Little to no support and you will either have to manage it yourself or employ the services of a developer
This is just a brief summary but for most people new to ecommerce, I would recommend going for a hosted platform as the start-up and day-to-day running is much easier and it is for this reason that very few self-hosted options appear in this list.
Support is an important thing to consider when choosing an ecommerce platform as you may run into issues when setting up or running your store and you want to know that there is someone you can contact who will be able to help.
With support, you also want to consider the contact times for the support teams, where they are based and how easy they are to contact.
Selling digital products requires a different set of features to physical products, so you want to be looking for:
- What type of Digital Product can you sell? – many platforms allow you to sell downloads but very few offer the ability to sell services such as bespoke digital products or services
- Order Management – how easy is it to manage your orders and can you set download or time limits on your orders?
- Delivery Options – can you choose different delivery options for your digital product such as instant download, download link in email confirmation etc?
- Marketing Tools – what can you manage directly from the dashboard? can you easily integrate with other marketing tools (Google or Facebook ads etc)
- Payment Gateways – can you offer a variety of different payment options for your customers?
This is just a basic list but you want to try and create a list of features you need in order to be able to find the platform that will best suit your business.
4. Theme Customization and Design
Design is an important part of your online store as first impressions do count and you want to be able to create a good-looking but also easy-to-use store for your customers.
On your part, customization should also be easy to do and there should be options for design elements, such as:
- Page Layout
- Site Colours
- Font Style and Size
- Header and Footer Options
The more you are able to yourself and the easier it is, the less reliance you will have either on platform support or developers.
Many people lead with price but this can be false economy as you may go for a cheaper or free option, only to find that you can’t achieve what you need to and then you need to go through the time-consuming and often costly process of moving to a platform that works for you.
Instead, it is best to pick the platform that best works for you and your business, even if the cost is slightly higher as it will be better paying a few dollars extra a month and choosing the platform that you like using the most but also offers all of the features and support you need.
Choosing the right ecommerce platform to sell your digital products can make a big impact on whether your business is successful or not (along with your marketing strategy!) but having one that you find easy to use and offers all the tools and features can make a big difference.
The great thing is that with all these options, you can try before you buy, to see whether or not they will work for you and your business, except for WooCommerce as you need to buy hosting to try it I highly recommend trying multiple options to find the platform that is best for YOU and YOUR business as each store has its own requirements.
Editors Choice: Ecwid
Our favorite platform for selling digital products is Ecwid as it offers:
- The ability to sell different types of products
- It is really easy to use
- Can be integrated with other website builders
This makes it a great option for businesses or individuals looking to start selling digital products.
Hi, I'm Paul, the Owner and Founder of EcommerceGold.
I ran my own Ecommerce Business for over 7 years and now help others start their own online retail empires!