When eCommerce is becoming more and more conventional, a new variety of products will come to the market online to fulfill the needs of the consumers. However, it can be a challenge for those who are selling non-physical items to set up a shop and add digital products, as this is still rather a new concept. Thus, the seller can face a lot of unexpected issues along the way. This article will guide you through what you need to know in order to successfully create digital and downloadable items on WooCommerce.
Setting up and Configuring
Here are the steps you need to follow to enable creating downloadable items:
- Go to: WooCommerce > Settings >Products > Downloadable Products.
- Choose a File Download Method.
There are three options available for file download methods:
- Redirect only – When users download a file, they will be automatically redirected to the file.
- Force Downloads – File downloads are forced by using PHP.
- X-Accel-Redirect/X-Sendfile – Downloads are conducted by the server (nginx/apache). This method calls for the X-Accel-Redirect/X-Sendfile module to be installed and enabled on the server. For this reason, you should confirm with your web host beforehand that one of these modules is set up before adopting this method.
To make sure that files are under protection from direct linking, you should use Force Downloads. However, if you uploaded large files, or the server is underpowered, you may experience timeouts while downloading. In this case, you need to either have a look at your server or switch to the redirect method instead.
If your server backs it, you can use X-Accel-Redirect/X-Sendfile. It’s the most trustworthy method because the file will be served directly to the customer and deliver the best performance. Files are also protected by a .htaccess file, which makes it secure.
- Choose a level of Access Restriction.
- Check the Downloads Require Login checkbox if you want users to log in to download files. In this case, you would have to disable guest checkout.
- Tick the Grant access to downloadable products after payment checkbox if you want to allow access to files when orders are Processing, instead of Completed.
- Save changes.
Creating digital products
Downloadable Simple Products
- Go to: WooCommerce > Products > Add Product to add a new Simple product.
- Check the Downloadable checkbox.
After ticking the box, the following options appear:
- Downloadable Files
- Download Limit
- Download Expiry
- Download Type
- You can now upload a file and click Insert to set up each downloadable file URL. Make sure to pair the URL of the product with the URL of your site. (i.e., if you have a www in your site URL, be sure that is in the file URL.)
– In version 2.0+, you only need to enter one per line.
– In prior versions, only one file was allowed per product. If you sell multiple files, you need to package them in a “zip” file.
- Enter the Download Limit (optional). Once a user exceeds this limit, they can no longer have access to the file.
- Enter the Download Expiry number. Download links will expire after a number of days which you decided.
- Select the Download Type from the drop-down bar.
As soon as you make changes to an existing file, the Download Expiry and Download Limit will be reset because technically it is a new file.
Variable products can also have downloadable variations. When adding a variation tick the Downloadable checkbox and more options appear.
Options work similar to regular products: Set the file path, optionally choose a download limit and expiry, and then save.
Combining downloadable and virtual products
If you check the Downloadable checkboxes, products can have stock and you can treat them as physical products. This will allow you to sell digital and physical products alongside. On the other hand, if you want to add/sell a downloadable product that is not physical, you can enable the Virtual option as well.
Managing downloadable orders
If you edit/view a downloadable product order, the downloadable products meta box contains user permissions:
By modifying this panel, you can permit a user to access the files or revoke access. You can grant access to new downloads as well.
Securing uploaded files
When you are using a content management system such as WordPress, different types of files will be saved under specific categories. For your downloadable products, if somebody gains access to the directory where your files are stored (although it is pretty difficult to do), they can attain all of the files for free.
- Connect to your web site through FTP or SFTP and go to where your WordPress files are kept. You should be able to see files such as index.php, wp-config.php, etc. This is your “webroot” and any files saved here or in sub-directories are (mostly) accessible by the public by default unless you’re using .htaccess rules.
- Go to the folder above your web root and create a folder named “downloads”. Then, upload all of your files into this directory. Within your FTP client, you should see an option to copy the full path. In Transmit on OSX, it should look something like this:
- Go to the Edit Product page in your WooCommerce store. Then, change the “File Paths” section from the old URL to the path you just copied:
- Click Save.
That’s all of the basics you need to know about selling digital items on WooCommerce. I hope you find this article helpful and let me know what you think in the comment section below!