Selling digital downloads? What are the benefits and what do you need to consider?
Continued growth in global internet access alongside an explosion in portable internet devices such as tablets and smartphones, has meant the last decade has seen a shift in how consumers use the internet. It is no longer used for information and communication purposes alone – a growing number of people use the internet for entertainment purposes such as, listening to music, reading e-books, watching videos, playing games and downloading multi-media.
Consequently, over the last few years e-commerce has seen a huge rise in sales of digital downloads such as audio tracks, MP3’s, e-books, software, images, videos and webinars. According to statistics from the European Commission’s Study on Digital Content Products in the EU, by 2016:
- Global digital spending on entertainment and media will increase at a rate of 12.1% whereas non-digital spending will only increase by 2.8%.
- 67% of total global spending on entertainment and media growth will be generated by digital spending.
The benefits of selling digital downloads
There is no doubt that in addition to its rosy future growth, selling digital content brings with it a number unique benefits, for example:
- Speed and ease of delivery – customers benefit from instant access to their product and you benefit from having little, if no handling or fulfilment your end.
- Stock and storage – Unlike tangible products you don’t have any stock control issues to manage or physical storage space and storage costs to consider.
- Low production costs and higher profit margins – once you have produced your digital content you can then sell it over and over again without incurring any additional costs. And, without raw materials and such like, production costs and profit margins are often higher.
However, even with the benefits we’ve outlined above there are still things that as a seller you need to consider. Research findings from the European Commission showed that alongside the impressive growth in digital content products there has also been a significant rise in the number of complaints from consumers who are experiencing difficulties when buying or using digital content products . It is therefore important that the customer buying experience is at the forefront of your mind when you are considering selling digital downloads from your website. When choosing an ecommerce provider be aware of the issues that may cause a customer to complain and for you to potentially lose repeat business.
Key factors to consider when selling digital downloads from your website
If you are looking to sell digital content products from your website then you need to consider what key features you need from your ecommerce provider and then research your options accordingly. So, what are the key elements should you be considering when selling digital downloads from your website?
As customer expectations rise so to does the demand for immediacy. This expectation of instant access to files is particularly prevalent with paid digital downloads. The quicker a customer can receive your download the happier the customer. Consider a service that uses a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as Amazon Cloudfront, CloudFlare, CDNetworks or Akamai. Essentially CDN speeds up the delivery process through a network of servers across the globe. Customer downloads are delivered to the nearest geographically located server, which drastically shortens the distance your data needs to travel in order to be downloaded by your customer – making the overall download process far quicker.
Another area that can be incredibly frustrating (for both you and your customer) is if your email containing the link to your customer’s paid digital download gets lost your customer’s SPAM or JUNK email filter. It delays the customer receiving their file which can reflect poorly on the efficiency of your business. Some ecommerce providers offer a specially designed web page (digital download portal) that, after payment, gives the customer immediate accesses to their files. Your customers don’t have to log into their email account and wait for their to their email link to arrive and you don’t run the risk of the email being caught up in a SPAM filter and have to manually re-send the file yourself.
Think about what size of data you are going to need to store (both now and in the future) and check if there are any storage restrictions. Consider choosing a provider that offers scalable cloud storage. Essentially with cloud storage your files are saved online on the cloud instead of on a PC or an external hard drive. Cloud storage should give you a much larger storage capacity. There is a difference between cloud storage providers so just make sure that cloud storage service your ecommerce provider is using gives you high capacity storage, good security, data protection and back-up features such as file recovery and guards against loss from infrastructure failures.
4. Secure Download Links
You don’t want to go to the trouble of creating digital content to sell that is then easily accessible to anyone who gets a hold of the download link. Once the buyer has purchased something you need to make the content available for them to download. It is not good to rely on only a ‘secret’ file download link that is publicly accessible, just hidden from most people because they don’t know about the secret link until they have paid for it. It only takes one buyer to post your ‘secret’ download link to something they’ve bought on a social network or a forum for thousands of other people to have access to that file download without paying. Remember hidden public download links does not mean secure! Make sure you choose a system that acts as a security guard controlling the secure access to the download for just those people who have purchased it, expiring download links once they have been used.
Fundamentally, when you are selling digital downloads from your website your primary focus should be on choosing a ecommerce provider that helps you give your customers a positive shopping experience and provides you with an efficient, automated service for your business. If you need a few more tips on the process of selling digital downloads with PayPal from your website checkout our new PayPal digital download tutorial on YouTube.
We’d really love to hear your thoughts on this post, so please do leave a comment.