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The Best Free and Paid Alternatives to Easy Digital Downloads

Illustration: A road sign with multiple directional arrows

Are you looking for an alternative to Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) for selling your digital products? That’s cool. We understand that EDD is not the best fit for every use case.

In this article we’ll share our top recommendations for selling digital products (aka virtual products, downloads, digital goods, or downloadable products).

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What To Look For

When you are looking for a eCommerce solution, we these are the three most important things to look for:

  1. Full control – are you the boss, in control of your data, pricing, and maximizing profit?
  2. Flexibility – can this solution grow and change with you? Because you never really know where you’ll be in a few years.
  3. Affordability – can you afford this solution? Now, and in the future? Bear in mind some solutions get more expensive as you grow.

A fourth important factor is subjective and optional. Easy to use.

  • What is easy-to-use? It’s subjective. What’s easy for one person is hard for another person. It’s better to look for solutions that are as easy to use as possible, while still giving you full control, flexibility, and affordability.
  • Easy-to-use is important, but not as important as getting the job done right. Always be cautious of taking the easiest possible route. It usually leads to something not being done right, or costing more money than it needed to.

When you have these three things, you have a sustainable and future proof solution. Bear in mind nothing, especially on the internet, is completely future proof, so we really mean as future proof as possible.

Your Website vs. Marketplaces vs. SaaS

You have three basic options when you want to sell digital products (or physical products).

  1. Your Website – There are many ways to sell on your own website (existing or not-yet existing). Your own site gives you the most flexibility and full control. If done right, it can also be the most affordable. But it is a lot of work, and likey not the most easy way.
  2. Marketplaces – These are the easiest to get started with, but they charge high fees, and that can get unsustainable as you grow.
  3. SaaS – Web-based apps and services combine some of the flexibility of using your own website and some of the ease of use of marketplaces. But they come with hefty monthly fees, and some get more expensive as you grow.

SaaS  = Software as a service

Which Way Should You Go?

We suggest building your own website with WordPress. Smart entrepreneurs know that it’s almost impossible to grow your own business on someone else’s website.

WordPress Logo

Why WordPress?

WordPress is running more than 40% of the entire internet at this point. Whoa! More than 50 million businesses, large and small, trust WordPress.

WordPress checks all three boxes from above. It even checks the fourth box, depending on your definition of easy to use.

  • ✅ Full control – it’s open-source you can use it free forever and modify it however you want.
  • ✅ Flexible – you can customize it to fit your needs. WordPress has the largest ecosystem of themes, plugins and professional service providers. You’ll always be able to do what is needed.
  • ✅ Affordable – the software is free! Free doesn’t mean it’s junky. Open source means that more people use it and contribute to its improvement than any other web technology in history.
  • ✅ 🤷🏾‍♂️ Easy to use – this is debatable to some degree. You’ll find those who love using it and think it’s the easiest thing ever. You’ll find those who don’t love it and find it difficult to use. It may depend on your patience, technical skill set, or job specialty. There are some tools out there that may be easier to use, but they almost certainly are not as flexible, affordable, and don’t offer full control.

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Other Options

👎🏽 Marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon charge lots of fees. The more you make the more they take. Your products are also in a crowded environment, surrounded by competitors, where you have little control over the customer experience.

👎 SaaS commerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, or SendOwl only offer short free trial periods then come with hefty monthly subscription costs. Or storefront platforms like Gumroad take nearly a 10% cut of your sales (although that number gets lower as your sales volume goes up). 

🔑 No matter how you choose to sell, we strongly recommend doing it on your own WordPress website. 


Our Top EDD Alternative Picks

Here are our best alternative eCommerce picks. All of them build on the power and flexibility of WordPress, the most popular website builder in the world.

WP Forms

WPForms Logo - an Easy Digital Downloads alternative
🟢 Best For🔴 Not Ideal For
Making order forms for selling a few itemsLarge stores
Websites that need forms for other usesShopping cart (no cart options)
Browsing, filtering, sorting lots of products
Selling software (WordPress themes, plugins, desktop apps, video games)

Which one of these applies to you?

  • ✋🏾 I need forms on my site
  • ✋ I have forms on my site
  • ✋🏼 I’m not sure

No matter how you answer, WPForms is a good solution for you. Almost every website needs a form builder. You need forms for contact us, feedback, surveys, customer support, or sign-ups. 

WPForms is the best form builder for any of these things. PLUS, you can use the plugin to also sell products. 

Your best bet is to do two things at the same time! Use the WPForms plugin to build amazing forms -and- to sell a small number of products with order forms. If all you need is a simple way to accept credit card payments, WPForms is a good solution.

WPForms comes with 300+ form templates, including a billing/order form, to make it easy.

There is a free version of WPForms called WPForms Lite. However you’ll need the Pro version to use Stripe or PayPal for billing/order forms.

WPForms + Billing/Order Form Setup

Here’s how it works.

  1. Build a billing/order form from the template
  2. Configure notifications and confirmations
  3. Set up a payment method like Stripe or PayPal
  4. Add the form to your WordPress site

🔍 Read a tutorial on setting up Billing / Order Forms


WP Simple Pay

WP Simple Pay Logo - an Easy Digital Downloads alternative
🟢 Best For🔴 Not Ideal For
StripeLarge stores
Simple eCommerce without a cartShopping cart (no cart options)
One product/service, or donationsBrowsing, filtering, sorting lots of products
More currency/payment options than WPFormsSelling physical products (soap, dietary supplements, etc), because there are no shipping/inventory tools
Software or products with licensing

WP Simple Pay makes it easy to accept one-time and recurring payments on your site without coding. You can use prebuilt templates or build your own custom payment form/s with their powerful drag and drop form builder.

WP Simple Pay is great for selling services, single products, or accepting donations. It’s ideal for small or simple eCommerce sites that don’t need a full eCommerce store with a shopping cart, checkout process, and product pages.

There is a free version of WP Simple Pay, but you’ll likely want the Pro version to allow on-site payments (instead of redirects) and recurring payments.


MemberPress

Memberpress Logo - an Easy Digital Downloads alternative
🟢 Best For🔴 Not Ideal For
Online coursesLarge stores
Membership sitesShopping cart (no cart options)
Subscriber-only content (drip content)Browsing, filtering, sorting lots of products
Software
Physical products

MemberPress is an ‘all in one’ membership plugin for WordPress. It allows you to sell online courses, and subscriber-only content.

You can lock content behind a paywall so only paying subscribers can see it. You can use it to build corporate or non-profit community sites. 


WooCommerce

WooCommerce Logo - an Easy Digital Downloads alternative
🟢 Best For🔴 Not Ideal For
Selling physical products (includes shipping, logistics, and inventory tools)Digital products (but it can do this)
Stores with lots of productsSoftware or licensing (requires addon/s, we suggest EDD Software Licensing)
Browsing, filtering, sorting products
Shopping cart (flexible checkout and buy now buttons)

If you are selling physical products WooCommerce is the way to go. Woo is the most popular WordPress ecommerce plugin, powering more than 1 million active eCommerce sites doing more than 11 billion dollars in volume per year in recent years.

WooCommerce has tools for managing tax, shipping, and inventory. They have a large ecosystem of extensions, payment methods, compatible themes, and experts to help you customize it. It’s a complete ecommerce solution.

You can use WooCommerce for free! You just need a good web host providing a web server powerful enough to run the site fast. Be careful here, a cheap web hosting provider may not be able to handle even a few shoppers on the website at the same time. Managed WooCommerce hosting assures your WordPress site is ready to handle lots of traffic.

We recommend managed web hosting from BlueHost when using WooCommerce.


Why to (Re)consider EDD

While we’re comparing, you might want to (re)look at Easy Digital Downloads. It checks all of the boxes if you’re selling digital products.

Easy Digital Downloads Logo Banner

EDD is built on WordPress and you can use it free forever.

  • ✅ Full control – You get unlimited products, white label (full control of branding), integration with Stripe, PayPal, or 10+ payment gateways, and protected file downloads.
  • ✅ Flexible – you can customize it to fit your needs with our powerful extensions, third-party extensions, and compatible themes.
  • ✅ Affordable – use it free forever, or purchase an EDD Pass to add features like subscriptions, email marketing integration, product reviews, Amazon S3 or Dropbox integration or software licensing.
  • ✅ 🤷🏾‍♂️ Easy to use – Some might argue it’s hard to use, and it’s probably harder to use than many marketplace or SaaS options. But it is as easy as possible to use while offering full control, flexibility, and sustainable costs.

EDD Compared to the Above Solutions

🟢 Best For🔴 Not Ideal For
Selling digital productsPhysical products (but it can be done with our Simple Shipping extension, ideally for stores selling mostly digital products, but a few physical ones)
Stores with lots of digital products (unlimited)
Selling software or any product with licensing
Shopping cart (flexible checkout and buy now buttons)
Browsing, filtering, sorting lots of products

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin gives you a complete eCommerce platform in minutes. In the past, for this kind of functionality, you needed to hire a web developer or have mad code skills. But not anymore.

Get powerful features like:

Simply install EDD and you’ll have a powerful online store without any coding.

Get started now with no risk.


Conclusion

Great! You’ve learned about a bunch of great Easy Digital Downloads alternatives. But you didn’t stop there, you’ve also learned about why it’s probably best to sell on your own website with WordPress, no matter which option you choose.

Don’t underestimate the power and importance of owning your own sales platform. With WordPress you are in the driver’s seat.

Best of luck out there as you build an online business or side hustle by helping others with your digital creations.

We have a lot more resources for digital creators like you. What do you want to learn about next?

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Joe Wells

About Joe Wells

Joe is a Marketing Specialist at Awesome Motive. For years he’s been helping people and organizations succeed with WordPress. He is also the founder of an alternative accounting solution for your side hustle called HustleBooks (powered by Easy Digital Downloads). He and his family live and play just outside Detroit. A busy dad, he enjoys running, watching and creating films.

@thisisjoewells

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