Selling digital products: Shopify digital downloads and beyond

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Ecommerce has traditionally materialized as a digital exchange leading to the receipt of physical goods. That’s magical enough – but today, retailers and customers alike are pushing the boundaries of what’s defined as a product. In an increasingly interconnected and tech-savvy world, digital products have emerged as a versatile and lucrative offering that complements and elevates traditional retail in unprecedented ways.


In this article, we’ll showcase the versatility of digital products, exploring their appeal for all retailers – whether they primarily sell physical goods or are dedicated purveyors of digital wares.

We’ll also delve into the intersection of physical and digital realms, where tangible products are enriched by digital counterparts…


The rise of digital products

The growth of digital products has seen the ecommerce landscape undergo a profound transformation. Initially, digital goods were largely software and media downloads, but their scope has expanded dramatically. Today they encompass ebooks, online courses, digital art and much more. This has diversified the market, appealing to a broader range of customers and businesses.

Statistics affirm the rapid growth of digital product sales. In 2020 it was estimated that over two billion people purchased digital products. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated this trend, with online courses, digital art, and e-books witnessing substantial surges in demand. Daily active users of digital products leapt by 54% between January 2020 and August 2021 (up from usage of just 18.9% in April 2019).

The synergy between digital and physical products is starting to become a familiar feature of the retail landscape. Retailers now use digital add-ons to enhance customer experiences — consider fitness equipment like the Peloton bike, paired with access to online classes. These digital components not only elevate the value of physical products but also create new revenue streams and customer engagement opportunities. It marks a pivotal shift in the way we perceive and consume goods.



The versatility of digital products

There is a wide array of digital product offerings – e-books that transport readers to new worlds, software that simplifies tasks, courses that impart knowledge and media that entertains and informs. This diversity allows retailers to tap into numerous niches, catering to a spectrum of consumer interests and needs.

Diversifying product offerings with digital goods brings multifaceted benefits. Retailers can capitalize on lower production costs, reduced inventory management, and the ability to cater to global audiences. No matter your vertical or the size of your brand, adaptability makes digital products a formidable asset in any retailer's arsenal.

Retailers – regardless of their primary business model – can find value in offering digital goods in terms of creating new revenue streams, enhancing customer loyalty, and broadening market reach.

Shopify digital downloads: The advantages for all retailers

Small businesses and startups can benefit from digital products, especially on platforms like Shopify which can be set up with powerful digital downloads solutions. By pairing Shopify with Digital Downloads Pro, for example, retailers can take advantage of an accessible entry point that needs minimal initial investment. 

Established retailers can use digital offerings to maintain a competitive edge in the evolving retail landscape. By integrating digital products into their repertoire, they not only meet the demands of tech-savvy consumers but also create additional revenue streams, reinforcing their position in the market.

Retailers can tailor their digital product strategies to specific audiences and niches, providing personalized offerings that resonate with their target market. This customization amplifies customer engagement and fosters brand loyalty, irrespective of a retailer's size or experience.



Issues to avoid when selling digital products 

Retailers of all kinds can expect to encounter common hurdles. In the world of digital product sales, risks include navigating digital piracy threats, addressing customer trust issues with secure delivery methods, and crafting effective marketing strategies to stand out in a competitive landscape.

Effective strategies are crucial for managing security, piracy and customer support. Specialized solutions like Digital Downloads Pro offer a robust defense against fraud, ensuring that no file delivery occurs before secure payment is received. Additionally, providing clear support channels and responsive customer service can enhance customer satisfaction and increase the likelihood of repeat custom.

Regulatory considerations also loom large in digital product sales. Retailers must comply with data protection laws, taxation regulations and intellectual property rights. Staying informed about regional and international rules, and implementing stringent best practices (for example, localizing your invoices!) is essential for navigating this terrain successfully.

The future of ecommerce with digital products

As consumers seek convenience and digital experiences, the digital products market is projected to expand exponentially, becoming an integral part of online retail.

Emerging technologies such as augmented reality, blockchain and AI are set to redefine how digital products are created, distributed and consumed. Trends like subscription models and NFTs are reshaping the landscape, offering innovative avenues for growth.

Staying ahead in the digital product revolution demands innovation and adaptability. Retailers that embrace these transformative forces will find themselves at the forefront of a dynamic and prosperous future.


Ready to make the most of Shopify digital downloads and the future of ecommerce?

This is a revolution that beckons retailers of all sizes and backgrounds to explore new horizons and embrace the boundless opportunities available.

As we look forward, the future of ecommerce with digital products promises a dynamic landscape filled with innovation, adaptability, and the potential for unprecedented success. It's a journey that will undoubtedly shape the way we shop, interact and, ultimately, thrive in the digital age.


Ready to get started? Download our free ebook: The FORSBERG+two Guide to Selling Digital Products on Shopify

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