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The Beginner’s Guide to Building a Store using Easy Digital Downloads

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In terms of e-commerce plugins selling digital products, Easy Digital Downloads is right up there with WordPress biggies like WooCommerce and WP e-Commerce.

What sets Easy Digital Downloads (EDD for short) apart from the rest, is that it focuses specifically on easy selling of digital downloads, from e-books, songs and videos to bookings, orders and reservations.

This is perfect for a company selling only non-physical goods, since all the additional features that platforms offer for real products are anyways redundant here.

In fact, if we objectively compare EDD and WooCommerce, EDD does definitely have the upper hand in the selling of digital products. And the reason why we use EDD for our online store too.

EDD was set up by Pippin Williamson, a WordPress enthusiast and the developer of over 75 plugins, including AffiliateWP and Restrict Content Pro.

Over the years, the plugin has developed directionally, with nearly a 100 extensions and integrations for extending its core functionalities.

Let us have a look at the various plugin features.

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A Brief Overview of Easy Digital Downloads’ Features

Easy Digital Downloads has a bucketload of features that make it a versatile e-commerce plugin. These include:

Ease of Use

For a full-fledged e-commerce plugin, EDD is extremely light, easy to set up and use. The interface is user friendly and has clear directions, that help you set up your downloads in no time (more on that later)!

The Multi-Purchase Shopping Cart

Easy Digital Downloads has a Shopping Cart functionality used to add multiple, downloadable products from your website. The ‘Add to Cart’ as well as ‘Buy Now’ buttons can be displayed optionally on the download page, the format of both being fully customizable.

Carts can be saved by perceived customers and you get to decide whether the checkout has to be as a registered user or the customer can proceed as a guest.

Integrated Payment Gateways

EDD has in-built payment gateway integrations for PayPal and Amazon, and integrates with PayPal Pro and Express, Stripe, Coinbase, Braintree, 2Checkout, Skrill, PayPlug, Authorise.net and about 30 others; you get the picture.

The checkout process is quick and streamlined which makes for faster transactions and less halfway-customers.

Comprehensive Customer Management

Maintaining customer records at the backend is easy with EDD. Every member and purchaser on your website has a separate profile containing the complete sales and contact details. The customer lifetime value is visible here too, i.e. how much net profit can be obtained from the given customer, in the years to come.

These customer records can be linked with user profiles and are a comprehensive database of the date and time when the download was completed, where the file was downloaded and the payment details of the transaction.

Data Analytics

Easy Digital Downloads has a data cruncher as a core feature, that checks your earnings daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or for any given period of time really.

Reports can be segregated by product or product category and compared at a glance using line graphs, with the current and forecasted earnings for the specified time period.

These reports can be exported as CSV files for future reference.

Promotional Codes and Discounts

EDD loves discounts, as do we all.

Product sales are proportional to the extent of product marketing and EDD understands this. Which is why, it provides options for you to add discounts using coupons and set limited edition discount codes.

You can even set a minimum purchase limit to avail of the discount or a maximum discount limit that can be availed of!

Customizations Galore

Easy Digital Downloads is completely flexible in terms of customization.

You can have simple or variable pricing for products, create download widgets and insert them in posts or pages, even customize purchase receipts and the e-mails to be sent, using twelve different templates.

Products can be sold as single downloads or as bundles which can be restricted for specific users, with download limits and link expiration per download. EDD is compatible with most WordPress themes out there, though there might always be a few exceptions.

EDD is cleanly coded and provides several hooks and filters for developers to make use of and extend its core functionality.

So much for the theory, let’s try out some of these features practically and set up a store using EDD!

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Getting Started with Easy Digital Downloads

Well, just like any plugin on WordPress, there are two ways in which you can install Easy Digital Downloads.

You can search for it in the plugin repository and add it to your website, or you can download it from wordpress.org, and upload it to your server using an FTP client of your choice.

Let’s walk through the plugin settings.

General Settings

Once you have activated the plugin, the ‘Downloads’ tab will appear in the admin panel.

Click the Settings sub-heading under it to get to the General Settings page. This page has the options to configure the download Page, Store Location and the Tracking settings.

Page settings include selecting which of your website pages will be the Checkout, Success, Failed Transaction and Purchase History pages.

The Store Location tab allows you to set up your base location and the state or province where your website is located. This is useful for configuring Payment Gateways, which we will come to in a minute.

edd-general-settings

Tracking settings is merely an option which enables EDD to keep track of your plugin usage for building customer data and analyzing how the plugin is working in real time.

Right next to the General Settings is the Currency Settings mini-tab which lets you define the currency you will be using for product pricing on your website.

edd-currency-settings

There are over 30 currencies available from around the world though not all are always compatible with the existing payment gateways.

E-Mail Settings

On the same page, click the Emails tab to go to the e-mail settings.

Here you select the email template that is to be used while sending Purchase Receipts to your customers. There is a default email template that is used or you can download an additional 12 templates and 10 corresponding Purchase Receipt formats by buying the Email Templates extension.

You can also choose a company logo to be displayed at the top of the customer email, which can be uploaded here.

edd-email-settings

[su_note note_color=”#fffdd9″]PRO TIP: Under the Purchase Receipts mini-tab make sure you verify ‘From Name‘ and ‘From Email‘ fields are set as appropriate. In the New Sale Notifications mini-tab, under ‘Sale Notifications Emails’, you can set email ids of recipients who will receive a notification email once a purchase is made.[/su_note]

Product Purchase Settings

Moving to the Payment Gateways and Taxes tabs can help you set up the product purchase settings.

In the Payment Gateways tab, you can decide which of the default Payment Gateways (PayPal Standard, Test Payments and Amazon) are to be displayed. The other gateways can be integrated by installing the respective extensions, available on the extensions page of the EDD website.

In the Taxes tab, you can configure the taxes to be applied based on the country you are from. You can also choose to display the original product prices without taxes, in which case it is calculated separately and added to the total cost on the Checkout Page.

Miscellaneous Settings and Style

Under the Styles tab you can decide the default styling of EDD elements to match with the color scheme on your site. Optionally, if you know a bit of CSS (well, more than a bit), you can disable EDD’s default styling and set your own.

Miscellaneous settings have an array of settings which can be left as is. However, the two important setting options you need to focus on are: Checkout Settings and Terms of Agreement.

  • Under Checkout Settings, you have the option to enable/disable guest checkouts
  • Under Terms of Agreement, you can add terms related to product purchase which the customer has to agree to before buying a product

[su_note note_color=”#fffdd9″]A Short Note on Payment Gateways

Apart from the three default gateways available in EDD, over 30 others are available as extensions and can be integrated to work seamlessly with your site.

However, Payment Gateways can be specific to regions, that is, they may or may not always be universal.

For example, the PayPal gateway doesn’t work in several counties, so you might have to consider installing country/currency specific gateways to allow customers from these countries to make purchases.

It is therefore necessary to check which gateways are compatible with your location, or countries your buyers are in, and install them accordingly, to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted checkout process. [/su_note]

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Creating Your First Download in EDD

Creating products or ‘Downloads‘ in EDD is exactly like creating a new Post or Page on WordPress.

All you have to do is,

  • Click on the ‘Add New‘ sub-heading under the Downloads tab.
  • Edit the ‘Name’, ‘Description‘, ‘Price‘, ‘Product Categories’ and ‘Tags’ (for categorisation purposes) of the Download.

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  • For downloads which do not have a fixed price, or when you want to offer options, you can choose the ‘Variable Pricing‘ option.

edd-variable-pricing

  • In the right-hand sidebar, you can set a ‘Download Image‘ which will be displayed on the Shop page.
  • You can also set up a download size limit for the file and define the Purchase Button behavior. The ‘Product Shortcode‘ link is available here too, which can be inserted anywhere on your site to provide a quick-link to the Product Page.

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  • The download file can be set under ‘Download Files‘.

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  • To create a bundle, you need to set the ‘Product Type Options‘ to ‘Bundle‘, and add downloads part of the bundle.

edd-create-download-bundle

  • Once all your settings are finalized, click on ‘Publish‘ and your Download is ready to sell!

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Extensions: Must-Haves and Supplementary

Coming to the most awaited chapter; the plugin extensions available for Easy Digital Downloads.

Let me begin by saying right away that there are nearly a hundred different extensions available for functionalities like accounting, licensing, marketing, analytics and more (this excluding the third-party extensions).

Most of these are premium, though some free ones are available too and can be downloaded from the EDD Extensions repository.

To give you an idea of the diversity of the extensions present, here is a short overview of 5 very different add-ons, each providing a new functionality to the core EDD setup.

Software Licensing

EDD revolves around digital downloads, so a licensing extension is a must for any company selling softwares, plugins, themes, or even non-WordPress applications.

The Software Licensing extension is used for incorporating license generation, activation and validation for your customers. It also has an API that allows you to enable automatic upgrades for the WordPress plugins and themes that you are selling, for users having active licenses.

A complete licensing plugin, Software Licensing lets customers upgrade or renew their licenses as per the validity.

EDD Product Updates

EDD Product Updates is a simple way of informing users about the updates available and providing them with the download links.

The extension allows for email customization, batch sending of emails, email preview confirmation which lets you check how the mail will look at the front end and even test mail sending.

EDD Product Updates works with Software Licensing to send update emails only to existing license holders.

PDF Invoices

As the name suggests, the extension generates PDF invoices for you and your customers, which can be downloaded from the Payment History tab in your admin panel.

The invoices and email purchase receipts are available in 12 different formats and can be customized further as required.

Reviews

Not only are reviews an important part of customer feedback, but they also provide your future customers, a reference point to work with. A four- or five-star rating immediately changes customer perspective and makes them that much more inclined to at least check the product.

The Product Reviews extension lets your customers add reviews and comments which can be edited or modified by you later, if necessary. You can also choose which comments are to be displayed and which are to be hidden, with shortcodes available to embed featured reviews in posts and pages.

AffiliateWP

This is another popular plugin developed by Pippin Williamson and Andrew Munro which makes connecting with your affiliates easy and fun.

The AffiliateWP plugin extension works seamlessly with Easy Digital Downloads and is used to track your affiliates’ referrals, view their statistics and interact with them dynamically. Built on the concept of making affiliate association easier, the extension works well, with practically all WordPress membership and ecommerce platforms.

Easy Digital Downloads has several other integrations with newsletter plugins like MailChimp, Aweber, Sendy and MailPoet Newsletters, accounting plugins like Recurring Payments, EDD Bookings, Fraud Monitor and Advanced Reports. You can check the full list of extensions here.

EDD also offers a core extension bundle, with 25 different extensions for various functionalities. This is useful for incorporating all the basic features into your website in one go.

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Epilogue

Easy Digital Downloads is an out-of-the-box solution that takes care of everything you need, to sell virtual products online. A light, cleanly coded core, extensions to balance individual requirements and provision of tailored options for specific customization make EDD a great choice for digital goods’ marketing.

The plugin is easy to use, is localization ready with translations into 26 languages and has a very strong documentation, with step by step explanations for pretty much every query that could turn up. The support forums are also very active and the developers at EDD revert back to user queries quite quickly.

All said and done, Easy Digital Downloads is a robust plugin and works perfectly with all other WordPress themes and plugins. If you are a company looking to sell digital products on WordPress, Easy Digital Downloads is definitely the way to go!

Namrata

Namrata

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