Digital Merchandise Vs. Bodily Merchandise
32 mins read

Digital Merchandise Vs. Bodily Merchandise

When most individuals consider ecommerce, they consider promoting bodily merchandise on-line. Whereas that’s not totally incorrect, it’s additionally not the entire image. Seems, there’s extra to ecommerce than simply promoting bodily merchandise on-line — digital merchandise might be bought on-line, too! On this article, we’re sharing every thing we find out about promoting digital merchandise on-line together with the various kinds of digital merchandise, how one can create digital merchandise, the place to promote digital merchandise, how one can worth digital merchandise and extra.

If you happen to’re interested by how one can promote digital merchandise on-line, preserve studying.

What are Digital Merchandise?

What are Digital Products

Digital merchandise are intangible belongings or content material which can be bought and/or distributed on-line. Digital merchandise can are available all kinds of various codecs corresponding to ebooks, photos, movies, video games, media, programs, templates, software program, companies, and extra. They’re distributed digitally that means that they don’t really get shipped to clients which signifies that they will as an alternative be downloaded, streamed or accessed instantly by the purchaser on their laptop, smartphone or pill.

Why Promote Digital Merchandise?

Why Sell Digital Products

Digital merchandise have so many various benefits, a lot of which make them a fascinating various to promoting bodily merchandise. Generally, digital merchandise are easy to make, simple to distribute, are a sustainable enterprise mannequin, and have a excessive revenue margin incomes potential.

For instance, e-book publishing income within the US is anticipated to develop from 5.31 billion {dollars} in 2018 (supply), digital album gross sales totaled 53.4 million models in 2018 (supply), and the worldwide self-paced on-line studying income in 2018 totaled 43.84 billion {dollars} (supply). Digital merchandise in just about all classes are profitable, and since there are decrease barriers-to-entry to create digital merchandise and in addition less complicated distribution strategies in comparison with bodily merchandise, many ecommerce entrepreneurs are making the change to promote digital merchandise full-time.

Let’s look extra carefully on the benefits and drawbacks of promoting digital merchandise so you may determine whether or not promoting digital merchandise is an effective match for you.

The Execs & Cons of Promoting Digital Merchandise


  • Passive Earnings: You don’t must make a product each time a buyer orders from you, you merely make one product, automate the promoting course of, after which earn revenue passively
  • Private Freedom: You may promote from wherever, to wherever — digital merchandise put no limits in your way of life
  • Decrease Overhead Prices: Prices to supply digital merchandise are typically low and there’s no want to rent a warehouse to retailer stock
  • Simple to Attain Goal Market: You’re not certain by a brick-and-mortar location the place your solely potential buyer base is dependant on who lives regionally to you. There are few limitations to the viewers you may attain on-line
  • No Stock Administration: There’s no have to retailer merchandise, handle stock or SKUs
  • Simple Manufacturing Course of: There are not any MOQs when ordering merchandise from a producer
  • No Transport Course of: No want to select, pack, and fulfill orders or rent a warehouse to do it for you
  • Low Product Return Price: No broken merchandise and a decrease probability of consumers receiving a defective product
  • Simple Automation: Just about all the means of promoting digital merchandise might be automated
  • No Transport Limitations: Some bodily merchandise — like magnificence merchandise, meals merchandise, and equipment merchandise — have limitations on the place and the way they are often shipped however digital merchandise typically don’t have any distribution limitations
  • Decrease Barrier-to-Entry: It typically prices much less to create digital merchandise and anybody can create a digital product
  • Independence From Suppliers: Normally when making a bodily product it’s a must to work with a provider to truly manufacture the product and produce it to life however, with digital merchandise, they don’t must be created by anybody else except you need them to be
  • Excessive Revenue Margins: As a result of digital merchandise are typically cheap to make and also you simply must create the product as soon as after which it may be bought a vast variety of instances — plus, there are typically low overhead prices — digital merchandise often have the potential for a really wholesome revenue margin
  • They Don’t Break, Perish or Put on Out: Digital merchandise can final a very long time as a result of they’re not topic to the identical type of put on and tear that bodily merchandise expertise
  • At all times In-Inventory: You may’t promote out of digital merchandise so that you’ll by no means miss out on gross sales and also you’ll by no means over-sell your product
  • Fast Distribution: No want for purchasers to attend for his or her product to reach, digital merchandise are despatched on to the client after the acquisition goes by way of so clients don’t have to attend for the product to reach
  • Simple Refunds: Your clients don’t must ship the product again to you to return it, merely refund their order in the event that they’re dissatisfied
  • Provide Free Trials: It’s rather more tough logistically to supply free trials for bodily merchandise however offering free trials is an effective way to get potential clients to buy your digital merchandise
  • Low Threat: Promoting digital merchandise is a a lot lower-risk choice than many different forms of merchandise


  • Simple to Replicate: Since digital merchandise are despatched out on-line, they are often simple to repeat, duplicate, replicate, and share with others. There are methods to restrict this, corresponding to by utilizing expiring hyperlinks, license keys, watermarks, supply code safety, PDF stamping, and digital product distribution platforms that supply product-specific security measures
  • Not Tangible: Digital merchandise can’t really be held by a buyer (except they’re capable of print out the product for themselves), which can hassle some clients. Some clients want a tangible product they will expertise in actual life
  • Some Clients Don’t Perceive Digital Merchandise: Some clients nonetheless anticipate all merchandise bought on-line to be bodily merchandise that they’ll obtain within the mail, so it’s essential to be fairly clear and direct on digital product pages when an merchandise is, in truth, solely distributed digitally, simply to clear up any misconceptions a buyer might need
  • Decrease Perceived High quality: Shoppers could understand digital merchandise to be much less helpful as a result of they exist in an intangible means
  • Competing Towards Free Merchandise: It’s probably that buyers can discover comparable variations of digital merchandise on-line, however at no cost, so it’s a must to make sure that your product can compete towards what sort of content material is already accessible at no cost
  • No Repeat Consumers: As soon as clients purchase a digital product there’s no have to re-buy it (except it’s a digital membership/subscription service)
  • Aggressive Market: As a result of creating some digital merchandise has such a low barrier-to-entry, it may be a really aggressive panorama to exist in as an ecommerce service provider
  • Some Restrictions Apply: Whereas digital merchandise could not face the identical delivery restrictions that bodily merchandise can face, digital merchandise face some gross sales channels restrictions like not being permitted to promote by way of Fb or Instagram. Proper now, Fb and Instagram record “primarily promoting bodily items” as a criterion for his or her enterprise approval necessities, which signifies that enterprise Instagram accounts have to be for corporations that primarily promote bodily items solely

Digital Merchandise vs. Bodily Merchandise

Digital Products versus Physical Products

If you happen to’re simply beginning your first ecommerce enterprise and also you’re questioning whether or not to promote bodily merchandise or digital merchandise, you may be fairly conflicted between the 2. Whereas digital merchandise have many interesting benefits like their excessive revenue margin incomes potential and their simple distribution strategies, they do have a number of disadvantages as nicely which we listed above.

Bodily merchandise, however, even have many benefits such because it being simpler to display the worth of a tangible product so their perceived high quality could also be regarded as greater than digital merchandise, however bodily merchandise are time-consuming to handle, to not point out costly to supply and ship.

What it comes all the way down to, finally, might be your personal product concepts, the area of interest market you’re serving, your threat tolerance, and the way a lot of your corporation you wish to be automated. Let’s focus on this in additional element:

  • If You Have Product Concepts: If you have already got an concept of what sort of product, or merchandise, you wish to promote on-line you then’ll most likely already know whether or not it’s a digital product or a bodily one. Relying in your product concept it’ll probably match higher into one class relatively than the opposite, so that can enable you to determine.
  • Suppose About Your Area of interest Market: Some area of interest markets usually tend to be open to buying one product sort relatively than the opposite. Take into consideration your area of interest market’s age demographic, for instance: Are they primarily individuals who have entry to computer systems, smartphones, and tablets the place they may obtain and stream digital merchandise? Or is your area of interest market made up of people that don’t want to make use of good units to entry content material or merchandise and so they’d relatively have a bodily copy to carry in their very own fingers? Taking your area of interest markets’ preferences into consideration might help you determine between bodily and digital merchandise.
  • What’s Your Threat Tolerance? If you happen to’re a low-risk, slow-and-steady type of enterprise builder then digital merchandise may be an awesome alternative as a result of they’re typically inexpensive to create, and also you don’t must buy stock upfront which implies you will have much less to lose if gross sales don’t go nicely.
  • Do You Need Your Enterprise Automated? Ecommerce shops that promote digital merchandise and bodily merchandise can each be fully automated, nevertheless, it’ll rely on the forms of merchandise you promote, the ecommerce platforms you promote by way of and the extent of assist you’ll must carry out to maintain your clients completely happy. Usually talking, shops that promote bodily merchandise often have some facet to them that requires extra hands-on work as a result of there are extra shifting elements within the course of — like selecting and packing the orders, delivery the gadgets, warehousing the merchandise, managing returns, and many others. — whereas shops that promote digital merchandise don’t must handle fairly as a lot of these steps and for the steps they do nonetheless must handle, often they’re less complicated.

If you happen to’re actually having a tough time selecting, nevertheless, select each! You’re the boss of your personal ecommerce retailer, so if you wish to promote bodily merchandise and digital merchandise then go for it. Actually, bundling digital merchandise along with bodily merchandise might help improve your gross sales, so think about whether or not that’s one thing you’d like to use to your on-line retailer.

Tip: Upsell clients buying your bodily merchandise with a digital product that enhances their expertise of the bodily product! After they add the digital product upsell to their order they’ll get extra worth and also you’ll get extra income that probably has a better revenue margin proportion than your bodily product. It’s a win-win!

Forms of Digital Merchandise: Digital Product Concepts

Digital Product Ideas

There are such a lot of totally different sorts of digital merchandise that may be bought on-line — actually, the one restrict is your creativeness. Take this quote from SendOwl, a digital product distribution platform, for instance:

We’ve clients that promote tiny home plans, doll clothes patterns, a Jamaican Patois language audio course and dictionary and best-selling indie video video games. We even have clients who promote a mix of bodily and digital merchandise. (Supply)

Promoting digital merchandise isn’t nearly ebooks anymore — not that there’s something mistaken with ebooks it’s simply often the primary instance somebody thinks of after they think about a digital product but it surely’s definitely not the one sort of digital product that may be bought on-line — so right here’s an inventory of what sort of digital merchandise can be bought on-line.

  • Ebooks
    • PDF Guides
    • Instruments
    • Sources
    • Paperwork
    • Workbooks
    • Fiction/Non-fiction books
    • Manuals
    • Poetry
    • Stationery
    • Essays
    • Scripts
    • Journalism
    • Cookbooks
    • Sheet music
    • Textbooks
    • Journey guides
    • Blueprints
    • Actions
    • Budgets
    • Contracts & insurance policies
    • Lead magnets
    • Case research
    • Printables
  • Programs
    • Instructional sources
    • Video programs
    • Electronic mail programs
    • Book programs
    • Bootcamps
    • Check preparation programs
    • Social media programs
  • Images
    • Artwork
    • Inventory Photographs
    • Picture presets/filters
    • Drone photographs
    • Journey photographs
    • Occasion photographs
  • Video Content material
    • Self-created video content material
    • Video footage
    • Inventory movies
    • Webinars
    • Video coaching programs
    • Animations
    • Drone footage
    • Video journalism
    • Interviews
    • Product opinions
    • Tutorials
    • Video logos
    • Stay streams
    • Commercials
    • Trailers
  • Audio Content material
    • Podcasts
    • Audiobooks
    • Music
    • Sounds results
    • Inventory audio
    • Audio logos
    • Recordings
    • Royalty-free music
    • Textual content-to-audio conversion
    • Mixing and mastering
    • Voiceovers
  • Digital Property
    • Licenses for digital belongings
    • Social media graphics
    • Icons
    • Infographics
    • Fonts
  • Templates
    • Electronic mail templates
    • Web site templates
    • PowerPoint Templates
    • Product mockup templates
    • Resume templates
    • Presets
    • Photoshop actions
    • Web site graphics and vectors
    • Posters & indicators
    • Patterns
    • Enterprise playing cards
  • Software program
    • Software program as a Service (SaaS)
    • Apps
    • Web site themes
    • Plugins/extensions
    • Video video games
    • Code
  • Artwork
    • Images
    • Videography
    • Choreography
    • Literature
    • Visible Arts
    • Prints
    • Telephone & laptop wallpapers
    • Digital artwork
    • Illustrations
    • E book covers
    • Music album covers
    • Graphic design
  • Providers
    • Consulting
    • Graphic design
    • Brand design
    • Branding
    • Exercise/diet plans
    • Translation companies
    • Net companies
    • Video modifying
    • Digital advertising and marketing/advert creation
    • Information entry
    • Analysis
    • Social media companies
    • Music classes
    • Programming
    • Product package deal design
    • Model audits
    • Enhancing
    • Transcription

How one can Create Digital Merchandise

How to Create Digital Products

The way you create your digital merchandise will clearly rely on the kind of digital merchandise that you just wish to create. The creation course of will differ vastly from ebooks to programs to templates to software program, and many others. however finally you’ll have two choices: You may create your digital merchandise your self, or you may get another person to create your digital merchandise for you.

  • Creating Digital Merchandise Your self: If you happen to’re simply beginning out and don’t have the means to rent outdoors assist, or in case you have the information and expertise to create your personal digital merchandise then go forward and create them your self! One of many fundamental benefits of digital merchandise is that you just don’t must work with a producer or provider to create your product for you in the event you don’t wish to, which is among the main barriers-to-entry that retailers sourcing bodily merchandise encounter.
  • Getting Somebody to Create Your Digital Merchandise For You: You even have the choice to rent assist to create your digital merchandise, whether or not you need assistance really creating the content material of the product or in the event you need assistance assembling the product right into a digital format. You may rent freelancers, specialists, businesses or different corporations to create your merchandise, relying on what sort of funds you will have and what your required end result is.

These companies might help you create your digital merchandise:

  • Blurb: Create ebooks to promote on-line
  • Aerio: Create ebooks to promote on-line
  • Inventive Market: Seek for e-book templates and different digital asset templates
  • Teachable: Create on-line programs
  • Kajabi: Create on-line programs

Use these companies to rent freelancers that will help you create digital merchandise:

  • FreeeUp: Rent the highest 1% of freelancers of their respective industries
  • Upwork: Rent all types of freelancers from world wide
  • Fiverr: Rent all types of freelancers from world wide
  • iWriter: Rent high-quality freelance writers

The place to Promote Digital Merchandise

Where to Sell Digital Products

There are such a lot of other ways to promote digital merchandise on-line; you may promote them by way of your personal retailer, in your weblog, on marketplaces, on social media, on Amazon, and on Etsy. Earlier than we soar into all of the choices, we’re going to run by way of the primary methods to promote digital merchandise by yourself retailer or web site and the issue stage of every choice.

If you happen to’re promoting your digital merchandise by yourself retailer you’re going to wish a approach to really distribute your digital merchandise to the shoppers who purchase them. The three top-recommended digital product distribution platforms are Simple Digital Downloads, SendOwl and Gumroad. Let’s dive into the explanation why, so you may select the choice that’s the most effective match for you:

  • Starter Choice: If you happen to’re in search of a simple approach to get your digital merchandise able to promote, Gumroad is an easy digital merchandise distributor that’s tailor-made to serving to artists and musicians promote their work, nevertheless, they do have options to assist all types of digital good sellers. A few of these options embrace pay-what-you-want pricing, leases (like film leases, for instance), promoting a number of variations of your product, pre-sales, and extra. They’re not essentially the most refined or feature-rich digital product distribution channel on the market, that’s why they’re not at all times essentially the most top-recommended choice, nevertheless, they’re identified to get the job carried out and get bootstrappers up and operating. So far as pricing is worried, they’ve a free pricing plan choice however to get all options there’s a month-to-month price plus a proportion taken from each sale.
  • Normal Choice: If you happen to’re in search of a digital product distribution channel, SendOwl comes as a highly-recommended choice. They’re well-known for his or her refined and feature-rich software program, however with the intention to use them you’ll must have a weblog, web site, retailer or social media account to promote from — they don’t assist the precise digital product retailer, they simply assist join digital product sellers to their clients to allow them to promote their merchandise. Additionally they provide cheap pricing plans and solely cost a month-to-month price for utilizing their service, they don’t take a proportion of every sale.
  • Premium Choice: If you happen to’re in search of a digital product distribution technique that offers you essentially the most management over your branding and essentially the most premium expertise on your clients, then your best choice is to go along with WordPress and Simple Digital Downloads. Utilizing WordPress as your ecommerce platform provides you full management over how your web site appears to be like and features, but it surely will also be time-consuming to handle and costly to repairs. Simple Digital Downloads presents essentially the most refined digital product distribution channel which integrates with many different companies you’ll probably be utilizing like Dropbox, MailChimp, and PayPal, nevertheless, it solely works with WordPress so you may’t use it in the event you’re not utilizing WordPress to host your web site. It’s additionally a reasonably expensive choice, in comparison with the 2 different choices we talked about beforehand.

How one can Promote Digital Merchandise on Shopify

If WordPress isn’t an choice for you whether or not you’re not within the repairs or simply wish to use an ecommerce platform that handles the backend facet of your ecommerce retailer so that you don’t must, then Shopify is probably going going to be your prime decide. They arrive as one of many top-rated ecommerce platforms within the ecommerce trade, simply try our Shopify Assessment to be taught why, however they’re often solely really helpful in terms of promoting bodily merchandise on-line as a result of promoting digital merchandise on-line by way of Shopify isn’t fairly as clean and seamless.

What it comes all the way down to is that Shopify as an ecommerce platform was made to assist retailers promote bodily merchandise, not digital merchandise. Due to that, they don’t innately provide the identical type of strong options because the three companies we mentioned above, so to promote digital merchandise on Shopify you’ll have to make use of an extra app. Out of the digital product app choices on the Shopify App Retailer, the Digital Downloads app and the SendOwl app are the 2 that come essentially the most extremely really helpful.

Shopify’s personal Digital Downloads app was their response to retailers who have been in search of a approach to promote digital merchandise on their shops, and it presents pretty easy functionalities. It is a good choice in the event you’re promoting ebooks or different comparable downloadable merchandise but it surely definitely gained’t be an excellent match to distribute all forms of digital merchandise.

If you happen to’re in search of a extra sophistication choice that gives further options like safety safety within the type of expiring hyperlinks or PDF stamps, and even in the event you’re in search of extra intensive functionalities like video streaming, product “drip” launch (releasing content material over a predetermined time frame), and integration with Shopify POS so you may promote digital merchandise in-person, then the SendOwl app is a good choice.

It’s value noting, nevertheless, that whereas these two apps, specifically, and the opposite app choices accessible on the Shopify App Retailer, allow you to promote and distribute digital merchandise to your clients, there’ll at all times be some limitations as a result of Shopify is at the moment simply not innately designed to promote digital merchandise. Relying on the digital merchandise you promote, one in all these apps may be the fitting answer for what you want, however in the event you’re trying to promote on-line programs, for instance, you probably gained’t have the ability to do this on Shopify with out utilizing a bunch of different workarounds.

How one can Promote Digital Merchandise on Amazon

How to Sell Digital Products on Amazon

Sure, you may promote digital merchandise on Amazon however solely sure forms of digital merchandise and solely by way of Amazon’s designated distributions channels. You may self-publish ebooks by way of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, audiobooks by way of ACX, music and movie by way of Amazon Media on Demand, apps, video games, and software program by way of Amazon’s App and Sport Submission type, and movies by way of Prime Video Direct.

Not all forms of digital merchandise are capable of be bought on Amazon, so if it’s not listed above then it’s probably that proper now, it may possibly’t be bought on Amazon.

Promoting your digital merchandise on Amazon might be vastly advantageous since you’ll have the ability to faucet into their huge viewers and goal your customer-base extra effectively. You can too promote your merchandise by yourself retailer in addition to on Amazon, so that you get the most effective of each worlds.

How one can Promote Digital Merchandise on WordPress

We suggest promoting digital merchandise on WordPress by way of Simple Digital Downloads. It’s how we promote our digital merchandise and, as we talked about above, it’s one of many top-recommended methods to promote digital merchandise by way of WordPress.

Simple Digital Downloads operates solely with WordPress so all of its options and functionalities are optimized for WordPress customers. It additionally signifies that it presents versatile choices like WordPress does so you may actually make it your personal and incorporate it seamlessly into your personal web site. The one draw back is that it’s a premium-priced product which can not make it a positive choice for bootstrapped digital product sellers, nevertheless, we consider that, on this case, you get what you pay for and the value Simple Digital Downloads fees is worth it.

How one can Promote Digital Merchandise on Etsy

Sure, you may promote digital merchandise on Etsy and it’s pretty easy. Try this excerpt about promoting digital merchandise from the Etsy Vendor Handbook:

Itemizing a digital obtain on Etsy is rather like creating a list for a bodily product, besides you’ll add the file your clients will obtain after they make a purchase order. After consumers buy a digital file on Etsy, it’s instantly accessible on their downloads web page. You may add audio, picture or textual content information to your itemizing.

Try Etsy’s full assist information right here to be taught step-by-step how one can record a digital product on Etsy.

How one can Promote Digital Merchandise on Marketplaces

When promoting digital merchandise, you even have the choice to promote by way of on-line marketplaces as nicely. We’ve mentioned on-line marketplaces intimately in our How one can Begin an On-line Market article however in the event you’re undecided what a market is, simply consider Amazon. Amazon is a market the place many various sellers can promote many various kinds of merchandise (together with each bodily and digital merchandise) and many various customers store from the Amazon market. Different marketplaces exist on-line, and a few marketplaces particularly concentrate on promoting digital merchandise.

One of many benefits of promoting your digital merchandise on on-line marketplaces is that you just don’t must work so laborious to deliver clients into your web site to see your merchandise. {The marketplace} does all of the laborious work so that you can deliver site visitors in, you simply must have an awesome product and a compelling product itemizing that makes clients wish to buy.

Examples of on-line marketplaces the place you may promote your digital merchandise embrace:

  • Inventive Market: Promote all forms of digital merchandise starting from photographs, fonts, icons, templates, and extra
  • Steam: Promote video video games on-line
  • Skillshare: Ship video programs as a Skillshare teacher

For example of a digital merchandise market, try FilterGrade which is a market the place photographers can promote their Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. We’ve linked with the founding father of FilterGrade to be taught extra about why and the way he began this on-line market so in the event you’re excited by studying extra, try the FilterGrade Case Research.

How one can Value Digital Merchandise

How to Price Digital Products

Once you’re simply beginning your first digital merchandise retailer, it may be laborious to know how one can worth your merchandise. The distinction between pricing bodily merchandise and digital merchandise is that often digital merchandise don’t have the identical type of overhead that goes into them like bodily merchandise usually have.

When figuring out the costs on your digital merchandise, take these components under consideration:

  • Overhead: Any overhead that went into creating the digital product, whether or not you employed somebody to create the content material, somebody to format the digital file, and even the month-to-month charges you pay to maintain your retailer up and operating. You wish to get well all the prices you incurred to make the product and all the prices you’ll incur to promote the product.
  • Worth: How helpful is your digital product? Think about how a lot worth your clients will acquire from what your digital product gives them and the way it will improve their lives. Extra helpful merchandise ought to have that mirrored within the worth.
  • The Competitors: How do your opponents worth their merchandise? Try your opponents’ websites and see what they’re charging and determine whether or not you’d be charging an excessive amount of or not sufficient in the event you charged the identical costs on your merchandise.
  • Your Area of interest: How a lot do you assume your clients might be prepared to pay? Take into consideration your goal market — have they got quite a lot of disposable revenue to spend in your product or are they extra more likely to be reserved and frugal with their money?
  • Who You’re Promoting To: If you happen to’re promoting your merchandise to different companies or enterprise house owners relatively than on to customers, it’s best to put a better price ticket in your product. Different companies might be re-selling your product or making a reduce of the income not directly, so take that under consideration.
  • Provide Reductions: If you happen to plan on providing reductions in your digital merchandise whether or not for particular events or as an ongoing factor, take into consideration how that can impression your revenues and revenue margins.


It’s best to now have all the knowledge it’s good to determine whether or not promoting digital merchandise on-line is the fitting alternative for you. Consider the entire benefits and drawbacks of promoting digital merchandise and the way they examine to bodily merchandise. The sky actually is the restrict to the forms of digital merchandise that may be bought on-line so get inventive!

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