Often times when we discuss ecommerce on this website, we are referring to the online sale of physical commodities, tangible goods that are shipped to customers. There is, however, another type of ecommerce that has gained significant popularity over the past few years. The selling of downloadable content has become a lucrative industry, and if you want to start selling your own content, you can get started with little difficulty.
First, you need to understand your platform. Are you running a shared hosting site, a VPS, or a dedicated server? Is the OS Linux, Windows, BSD, or something else? What versions of software do you have (i.e. PHP, MySQL, .NET). What type of content management system are you using? Once you have all of these questions answered, you can choose an ecommerce solution that will best serve your customers’ needs.
The Full Package vs. The Plugin
You could buy a full ecommerce solution, particularly helpful if you are running a large operation with numerous downloadable products. For example, if you are selling online music or games and have a large library, you might want a solution that provides an entire storefront and powerful backend. If, on the other hand, you are selling a couple of your own cookbooks or a mobile app, you might be able to use a plugin for your content management system that gives you the power you to sell downloads.
Finally, you need a payment system. The more options you offer your customers, the better. PayPal is an obvious choice, but there are many others, such as Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, and Authorize.net. You will need to make sure your ecommerce solution will support the payment processors you choose or can at least accommodate a custom module, should you need to create one.