How to sell ebooks and other digital products in your online storeAuthor: Incomedia
Digital goods management: WebSite X5 Professional from version 13.1.
Automatic order processing: WebSite X5 Professional from version 17.
The only difference between physical and digital products is that one is material and the other isn't. An immaterial product has certain advantages: you don't run out of copies, they don't take up space, you don't have to worry about shipments and, once you've organized the sales process, you can earn money with a minimum amount of effort.
There are various different kinds of digital products nowadays: ebooks, digital photos, music files, videos, templates and Web graphics, apps for mobile devices and, obviously, all the software.
You don't have to be a pro to create fantastic digital products. If photography is your hobby and you've taken some good shots, why not try and sell them, instead of leaving them on Instagram. Or if you like writing stories, turn them into ebooks and make some money from them.
Selling digital products may be your main source of income, but it could also be a way to make your hobby earn you a bit extra pocket money through your website or blog.
If the idea of selling digital products appeals to you, but you're not sure how to go about it, carry on reading this guide: it's easier than you think.
This guide will explain:
- how to set up a shopping cart
- create digital products
- add a "Buy now" button to your website
- manage orders from the online Control Panel or using the WebSite X5 Manager app.
Creating an online store to sell things like e-books, photos and musical files is easy. This is what you have to do:
1. Set up the database
An online store that sells digital products needs an integrated database. So, first of all, you have to give the indications of the database you are going to use:
- From Step 1, go to the Advanced Settings and click on Data Management.
- Click on the Add button in the Data Management window and add the parameters that identify the database you will use in the new window that opens.
Now that the database is linked to your project, you can use it in your online store.
#tip If you don't know how to configure the database, contact your provider: check that your web hosting offer includes database integration and ask for the parameters for accessing it.
2. Create a product catalog
What do you sell in your online store? Make sure you include all the products that are for sale on your website, don't forget any important information about them and, if you have a lot if items, organize them in categories:
- Stay in Step 1, Advanced Settings, and click on Shopping Cart: go through the various sections in this window to set up your online store.
- Go to the Products section. Select the appropriate category, click on the New Product button and give all the necessary information in the Product Settings window. When you confirm the settings, you will see the new product in the summary table.
- Repeat these operations for all the products that you want to sell in your online store.
#tip Save time! If you've already got a product catalog in .TXT or .CSV format, you can import it using the "Import Products" button.
Let's get down to details and see how to create a digital product, an ebook, for example:
- In the General section of the Product Details window, enter the title of the ebook in the Name/Code field, write "ebook format" in the Description field and give it a Price
- In the Image section, use the Add button to import at least one picture for the ebook's front cover;
- In the Digital Product section, select the Digital Product option and enter the name of the file containing your ebook: you can import a file from your PC or one that has already been loaded online.
#tip Protect your ebook. If you select the "Use temporary Download Link" option, each customer will be given a different link, that works for a given number of days only, to download the ebook.
3. Enable payment methods
If you were selling physical products, you would also define delivery methods but, because your store is selling ebooks, you only have to set up payment methods. As an example, we'll use PayPal for receiving payments:
- Go to the Order Management section in the Shopping Cart window and click on the Add button to open the Payment Method window;
- In the General section, type "PayPal" in the Name field and enter "Immediate payment via PayPal" in the Description field. You can also choose to add an Associated image icon to represent PayPal;
- In the Type section, select Immediate payment and choose PayPal/Credit Card. Then enter your PayPal account number and select the pages which should be displayed for both successful and unsuccessful transactions (we advise you to create a separate page with a specific message and appropriate graphics: these pages can be set up as Hidden pages in the menu when you are working on the sitemap in Step 3);
- If you want to automatically process after having received the payment, you can activate the option Process the purchase automatically after having received the payment;
- In the E-mail message section, add a brief description of how payments are made with PayPal: remember that this text will be used in the order confirmation e-mail that is sent to customers.
#tip Automatic order processing. The "Process the purchase automatically after having received the payment" option has been introduced for WebSite X5 Professional 17. If the shopping cart contains both physical and digital products, the order cannot be processed automatically.
#tip Start receiving payments immediately. Start receiving payments immediately. If you haven't already done so, open your PayPal account, free of charge.
4. Define data management and notification e-mails
As we mentioned at the start, your online store needs an integrated database when you sell digital products. Now you have to link the database with your online store and set up the notifications:
- Go to the Send Order section in the Shopping Cart window and select Send data to a database in the Send and Notifications section.
- Select the name of the Database from the list (created in Step 1 of this guide), and the Prefix for the name of the tables that will be created automatically for saving orders in;
- Enter a valid e-mail address for yourself as E-mail Administrator: order confirmation e-mails will be sent from this address;
- If you want a notification to be sent to the e-mail administrator's address each time a new order is registered, tick the Send notification e-mail on data reception option. Notification e-mails that are sent from the online store to customers are created automatically, but can be customized;
- Still in the Send Order section, select the notification e-mail that you want to work on. If you only sell digitial products in your store, you must select the Order confirmation e-mail and Order dispatch notification e-mail - Digital products;
- Write an Introductory text and a Closing text.
#tip More details. For further information on notifications, see How to write a notification e-mail.
5. Create the Buy Now button
Now that the shopping cart is set up, you have to present all your products in the website pages and add the buttons so that customers can make their purchases. We'll presume you have already created a page with a title, text and pictures for presenting your e-book. Now we'll see how to add a "Buy now" button to it:
- Go to the Map in Step 3, select your ebook's page and click on Continue;
- Insert an Image object in the point where you want the button to be: double click on the object to open the window where you can define its properties;
- Import the file you want to use for the button;
- Click on the button to add a Link to the image: select Add to Cart in the new window, enable Add the selected product directly to the cart and then select the ebook that is to be bought.
#tip Save time! If you have a lot of products and you don't want to create a page for each one, use the Product Catalog object: the program will automatically create a page for each product.
6. Manage orders from the online Control Panel and the WebSite X5 Manager app
Once you have set up the cart and published your project online, you can start working on how to advertize it and manage the orders.
WebSite X5 provides two very useful tools for managing orders:
- The Online Control Panel
You'll find this by typing your website's URL address, followed by "/admin" (for example, www.mysite.com/admin). Log in with the Administrator group credentials that were specified in the Access Management section (in Step 1, Advanced Settings).
- The WebSite X5 Manager App: this is available free of charge for both iOS and Android. Install it and add your website to the list of managed websites. When you have done this, you can access the main dashboard.
There is a Shopping cart section both in the Control Panel and in the WebSite X5 Manager app, where you can display, dispatch, file or delete the orders you receive.
If you wish, the app will send you a push notification each time a new order is completed in the store:
- In Step 1, open Advanced Settings and click on Control Panel and WebSite X5 Manager;
- Tick the Enable Push notifications option in the new window.
We hope you'll agree that creating an online store to sell digital products isn't complicated. Just think of something you're good at and that people would be prepared to pay for, transform it into a product (an ebook, a video-course, a graphics resource, etc) and put it on sale on your website. With a touch of enterprise, it could soon become an important source of income for you.