Sell Digital Products with Shopify to Expand Your Store Catalog May 13, 2015 03:00

Digital products can be great additions to your store as they provide hassle-free and instant delivery for your customers. There are many types of digital products and many reasons why they are increasingly popular – both for customers and store owners. But, let’s start with the basics…

What are digital products?

Digital products are any type of digital assets including media, web, software or document files.

Some of the simpler digital products are eBooks, PDFs, songs, movies, tutorial videos and images. Stores like iStock and iTunes are examples of marketplaces selling such products.

There are also more complex products like webpage themes and template files, software, and application files. Examples of these are the Envato Market and Shopify’s own App Store. You also access a digital product each time you use or purchase an app on your phone.

Why use digital products?


No inventory or shipping


Low or no cost


Introduces you to customers or increases loyalty

Digital products typically have lower development and overhead costs. These can therefore be priced lower than physical products which gives your customers a low cost option to purchase from you. As an example, the cost of an eBook is almost always lower than a physical book as the cost of printing and shipping is avoided.

No shipping or inventory also means lower or no cost for logistics and inventory management (if any). As the products are sold directly from your eCommerce store, this also means better and faster analytics for tracking your orders which you can use to evolve and craft your store further.

Selling directly to customers online also means circumventing middle-actors like distribution vendors, publishers, record labels, etc. This gives you more control over your products and allows you to make updates rapidly. If your eBook contains typos or a newer version of a tutorial video is available, pushing them online to your customers is a lot faster than doing recalls or taking back old inventory.

Since digital products can be lower cost or free options on your store, these create an easy way to introduce customers to your brand and build trust for them to purchase higher priced, premium, or physical items. A good end-to-end experience using your store to get a digital product allows customers to not only test the purchase process, but also the quality of your product.

How to sell digital products on Shopify?

Shopify has a number of apps that allow you to add digital downloadable products to your store.

Most of the apps require a fee but you can use the free Digital Downloads app created by Shopify itself.
The Digital Downloads app has a number of features including the ability:

  • to match physical products with digital ones
  • to limit the number of downloads a single customer can have of a purchased product
  • to forward product updates automatically to customers

The Shopify Manual has an introduction on how to set up digital products that highlights key steps for setting up such products on your store.

The Digital Downloads app by Shopify has additional documentation about how to install and set up the app to manage your digital products.

Digital Products for Any Shopify Store

Even if your store doesn’t offer any digital products right now, you can typically find a good fit for a digital product that you can sell or give away for free that complements products in your catalog. You can offer:

  1. Add-on value items to existing products. For example, a store selling canvases can also sell or give away a guide to custom framing, or a carpentry store can give away video tutorials on different ways to assemble their products.
  2. Supplementary items to physical ones. For example, eBook version of a printed book, or a downloadable music album of a physical record.
  3. Tutorial videos. For example, how-to videos about a subject you are an expert in, or tutorials about how to enhance your current products.

Get started

Digital products can not only enhance your store catalog, but also create value for you and customers. You can give away content that increases brand trust and loyalty, or sell digital products with virtually no overhead, while customers can benefit from digital goods that help them understand your products or complement other items they’ve purchased.

But getting started doesn’t have to be a roadblock. You can get started to sell digital products with Shopify in a few steps:

  • Think about one digital product that you can sell or give away. This can be a standalone product or something that supplements an existing product in your store.
  • Download the free Digital Downloads app created by Shopify to set up your product.
  • Start selling! Release the product and start getting feedback.

Cover Photo Credit: Eric Norris ( CC BY 2.0 license)

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