We have talked before about the strengths of using WordPress as a full-blown CMS software, and the e-commerce realm is not an exception. Not only it is as good as any other platform for selling your goods online, but also a very versatile option thanks to the impressive variety of plugins out there. Today we will be looking at a very specific plugin for creating your very own store: Easy Digital Downloads.
What is Easy Digital Downloads?
In short, Easy Digital Downloads (EDD from on now) is a plugin that adds e-commerce functionality to your WordPress site, and allows you to sell your goods online. The catch is, EDD is entirely dedicated to digital assets and products. This means there is no shipping functionality, no inventory to speak of, and less of a focus on physical goods.
While it may seem that EDD is a bit lacking in features– especially when compared to its larger counterpart, WooCommerce– it actually works for the best. EDD is a light plugin, laser-focused on only the digital aspect of online stores, and does a pretty good job. As a result, EDD is simpler to use, more straightforward, and favors compatibility with most WordPress installations. It is worth noting that our newer themes are already prepared for use with this plugin, and we are working hard to provide full integration later down the road.
Selling With EDD
Out of the box, EDD comes with a nice set of features readily available for you to use. Like any other e-commerce plugin, some of these features include support for products, payments, and payment gateways, but that’s not all. Here are some of the features we consider to be a big plus for this plugin:
One big plus of EDD is the availability of creating discount codes right out of the box. This little feature lets you easily create promotions for your online store without needing any additional plugins, which comes in handy for special holidays and custom user support. Discount codes are easily customizable and have a fairly completearray of options, such as limiting their use to once per user, or setting a number of eligible products.
Speaking from personal experience, this is an aspect of e-commerce you might find yourself using a lot, so having it readily available lets you experiment with your store prices right away.
Analytics is a vital part of any e-commerce store. Without knowing how your sales are going, there is simply no way to take the appropriate decisions for your online business. EDD provides a rather simple set of reports that let you know the number of sales, your earnings, or even things like the number of downloads for each product. This is perhaps the most lacking aspect of EDD as there isn’t much beyond these basic reports, but recent updates have been steadily improving on this area. This only means more will come down the road.
Much like WooCommerce, EDD has a wide range of extensions available at its homepage. Some of them are free to download, but most of them come at a premium and add some well-needed functionality for certain types of stores. For instance, if you need to set up a membership site, you can buy the Restrict Content plugin in order to have more control over who accesses your premium content.
Currently, EDD has well over a hundred extensions, and counting. Should you buy an extension, you can expect to get support at the official forums. It is worth noting that while some are made by third parties, most of the extensions have been developed by the plugin creator itself, so they’re expected to work well.
Setting Up Your Easy Digital Downloads Store
Setting up EDD on your site is fairly simple. You can get Easy Digital Downloads right from the official plugin repository (meaning you can install it from the WordPress admin), or alternatively download it from the EDD homepage itself. Upon installing and activating the plugin, you will be taken to its splash page.
Activating the plugin will do most of the installation work by itself. The store-specific pages of EDD such as the checkout or transaction pages will be created automatically, so you don’t have to add these pages yourself. These will be the pages your users are directed to when completing a purchase, so they’re crucial for the plugin to work correctly.
After installation, you should go to Downloads > Settings and check that everything is in order. There you can find a number of tabs used to configure the behavior of this plugin:
- General: Contains general-purpose options. Here you can set the aforementioned pages to any you wish. It is generally a good idea to revisit these options after an install to ensure they’re properly configured.
- Payment Gateways: Lets you set how your customers can process their payments to you. EDD comes with PayPal Standard Payments by default, but you can add more gateways by means of extensions.
- Emails: Here you can customize the emails sent to your users. You should take advantage of this to customize them as much as you can, as they can be a valuable tool for your marketing and support.
- Styles: Should you use a custom stylesheet, you can deactivate the default EDD styles here. This will make sure they don’t interfere with the layout of your site if you decide to customize the plugin appearance.
- Taxes: Here you can define your tax rates, which will be later applied to product you create. One important thing to note here is that you can set prices to include (or not) their tax value within the listed price.
- Misc: The misc tab contains some minor options that you can use to tweak the plugin, such as the Agreement Terms text. You should at least take a look at this page after installation, since many of these options can be useful for certain types of stores (for example, the expiration time for download links).
If the plugin was installed correctly and the store pages have been properly assigned, then all that’s left to do is to configure your payment gateway. As mentioned before, EDD comes with Paypal Standard by default, which only requires you to insert the email address of your Paypal account. Once you do so, you’re ready to add your first products to the store.
Start Selling With Easy Digital Downloads
Once the plugin has been properly configured, you can start creating your first products in the Downloads menu section. Each product acts just like any other post, and has a few additional fields where you can input product-related data such as the price, variations, or the files users will gain access to once purchased.
Create Your First Products
EDD products are fairly straightforward. They make use of the single.php template of your WordPress theme, so they will look very similar to the rest of your site’s pages and posts. Additionally, the product page will have a Purchase button appended at the end of the content area, which your users can click to add the product to their cart. You can optionally disable this button if you want to provide Purchase links by other means– for example, using the [purchase_link] shortcode.
Add a Product Listing Page
EDD offers you an easy way to create product listing page, by means of the [downloads] shortcode. You can insert this shortcode on virtually any of your existing pages or posts, so adding e-commerce functionality to your current site becomes an easy task. The shortcode can be used in the following manner:
[downloads number="15" columns="3"]
This way, you will be able to display up to 15 of your existing products in a 3-column grid. You can find more information about this shortcode in the Easy Digital Downloads documentation site.
Start Selling Immediately
With this, you’re done creating your store. However, this is only the beginning– you will need to start marketing your site to start generating sales, and spend a fair bit of time into making your product pages attractive enough to drive up conversions. For further reading, you can take a look at some of our previous articles on how to improve on your site design:
- Email Marketing 101: Why You Should Have An Email List
- How To Choose The Right WordPress Widgets
- How To Write an Interesting Headline That Gains Attention
- Use Post Excerpts To Make Your Articles More Interesting
Do you use Easy Digital Downloads? What is your experience with this plugin? Share your thoughts!