The flexibility of WordPress as a platform makes it a great choice for eCommerce, but choosing the right eCommerce plugin for you can sometimes be a difficult task. If you’re selling digital goods or services, there are a few great options available, such as WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Jigoshop, and more. In this comparison, we’ll take a look at two common contenders for those of you setting up a digital products shop: Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) vs WP eStore.
Here’s a table of contents if you want to skip ahead:
|1. Overview||5. Customer Experience||9. Support|
|2. Costs||6. Managing Digital Purchases||10. Other Comments|
|3. Security||7. Membership & Subscriptions||11. Conclusions|
|4. Products||8. Integrations||12. Read More|
Both Easy Digital Downloads and WP eStore are growing eCommerce platforms designed with digital products in mind. Selling physical products with either platform is possible, but if your store sells more than a few physical products, you may want to try a different platform. Here are some pros and cons for each plugin while selling digital goods to help you decide which is right for your store.
WP eStore and EDD have completely different pricing structures. You can download the core Easy Digital Downloads plugin for free from WordPress.org or the EDD website. Extensions or add-ons that provide more functionality are premium plugins and therefore will require purchases. Each extension purchase through the EDD marketplace includes updates and support for one year, and renewals are discounted 30%. Since you’ll probably want to purchase extensions such as payment gateway integrations or marketing tools, we estimate that store costs will probably be around $200 (for single-site licenses).
WP eStore is a premium plugin, so a $50 purchase is required to use the plugin, which provides a license for an unlimited number of sites and support. Note that this purchase isn’t a developer license, so you can only use the plugin on sites that you own, and will need licenses for client sites. This includes all of the built-in functionality for the plugin, and you don’t have to renew for updates or support. A few add-ons are available, such as free add-ons for functionality such as bulk discounts, and a $40 payment gateways add-on that provides several options for payment processing.
So since these plugins use different pricing structures, a direct cost comparison is difficult. If we look at feature parity, WP eStore will be the cheaper option. However, the core EDD plugin does have features that WP eStore can’t replicate, such as more advanced tax rules and reporting, product tags, and order handling and editing. EDD is also more extensible in terms of available add-ons and being developer-friendly.
Nevertheless, here are the total costs for the closest feature parity I can come up with (bearing in mind the previous paragraph). The total cost I’ve marked for EDD is different than the sum of the individual costs because I’ll assume you’d buy these together, which yields a 10% discount. I’m also assuming you only need one email service integration and would choose one for EDD, and that you’d need shipping capabilities, which probably won’t be the case if you’re comparing these for selling digital goods.
|Total = $50||Total = $300 (10% discount)|
- The Authorize.net versions used for each are different
- The EDD Recurring Payments extension includes more flexible payment options when compared to WP eStore
- EDD Software Licensing can automatically generate keys, while WP eStore requires you to create a pool of license keys for the product.
EDD offers other add-ons that you may want to purchase, but you could also cut some plugins from the above list as you probably won’t need exact feature parity, so pricing will be up to you.
While selling digital products, security is usually a major concern, and both plugins ‘encrypt’ download links to ensure that customers cannot find the location of your files. Here are examples of what each download link will look like:
- WP eStore:
Note that the EDD download link ties the download to the customer account with which the download is purchased. As WP eStore does not create customer accounts, file downloads cannot be tied to the account. You can also use a free extension for EDD to instead lock a download to an IP address.
In terms of other security features, both plugins will allow you to set download limits, which set a maximum number of times files can be downloaded for purchases, and link expiration times, which set how long download links should be valid for. Each also allows you to override these settings for an individual product.
While security features are very comparable, there is a difference in the way each plugin keeps your digital products protected. If users are familiar with WordPress and your file naming structure, they could potentially gain access to your files if they’re stored in the general media folder(s) by guessing the exact URL – though this is pretty unlikely if you use year/month folders in your media directory and a unique naming structure. WP eStore and EDD can store your downloadable files outside of the default WP media folder to combat this. However, EDD does this automatically (and hides the directory from listings), while you’ll need to protect these files manually using WP eStore.
When you upload a file for a downloadable product, EDD automatically saves and serves uploads from its own folder in the
/wp-content/uploads directory. While this could still potentially open up your files to someone familiar with EDD and your naming structure if they guess the exact download URL (again, you can help by using a non-obvious naming structure), it makes it less likely than when using the default media folder. The benefit to storing downloadable files this way is that you can still access this directory from your WordPress admin while creating or managing downloads (so that you don’t have to remember and / or manually insert links for your downloadable content) and thus greatly simplifies store management.
If you upload a file for a WP eStore downloadable product, the file is automatically saved in the general media folder, which (as stated earlier) isn’t ideal. Download links for WP eStore will still be encrypted if you use this tact, but files could be accessible. You’ll need to get around this by digging into the WP eStore plugin a bit – it creates a downloads folder within its own plugin folder in the
/wp-content/plugins directory that is password protected.
You can upload your digital products to that folder via FTP for storage. However, this will require you to manually get and enter the downloads links for every product (which will look like
http://mystore.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-cart-for-digital-products/downloads/audio-name.mp3) rather than selecting them from a list, but they’re not publicly accessible in most cases (even if customers guess the exact URL). The download links for the products will still be encrypted using this method.
However, there is an issue with storing digital files this way. While the
/uploads folder is always writeable (which is why your uploads should be stored here as a best practice), the
/plugins folder may not be writeable depending on your server configuration (where this
/downloads directory is located), and thus WP eStore won’t be able to serve your files from this folder if your server doesn’t allow it to write the
/plugins directory. This will force you into using the general media folder instead.
In short: Using WP eStore’s
/downloads directory is a bit more secure than EDD’s directory in the
/uploads directory, but it makes store management more difficult since you have to manually get and insert all download links (rather than select them from within WordPress). However, EDD’s security should work in almost any server environment, while WP eStore’s may not.
If you’re really concerned about file security, you could always use Amazon S3 to store your files and require an encryption key for downloads, as WP eStore has an integration for this built-in and EDD has a $19 extension for it.
Both plugins add your products as custom post types, and both can require that customers acknowledge Terms & Conditions for a product before purchase.
However, product creation is very different between the two plugins. WP eStore organizes product options into an accordion-style menu, while EDD’s product editor looks similar to the post / page editor.
Assuming you have the EDD plugins installed that we mentioned for feature parity, similar functionality can be achieved on these product creation pages with some minor differences. Here are some things you can do in the product editor:
|Unique to eStore||Things both do||Unique to EDD|
From a personal perspective, I find creating / editing products easier in Easy Digital Downloads since I don’t like feeling as if infinite scroll is turned on in the product editor when I have to scroll through all settings (half of which I don’t need for most products in WP eStore). Settings for WP eStore could probably be reduced as a result, or some would be better off as global options. Yes, this allows for customization (and you can clone/replicate product setup), but it makes for a far more complex UI. The more products you sell, the more inconvenient this will become.
Customer experience will really be up to you for either of these plugins. Both play well with many themes, and will require you to set up your catalog in the way you choose. While EDD will automatically create individual product pages, you will need to do this manually for WP eStore if you want a page dedicated solely to your product (probably a good idea for SEO). The issue with doing this with eStore is that you have to create the product, then embed its listing / buttons with a shortcode on the product page, while EDD does this automatically.
You can also embed products on any post or page with either plugin, and both can create “Buy Now” buttons for your products. As for catalog pages, but have the ability to create shop pages with all products or categories of products. EDD allows you to create a list or grid format (by adding
columns="x" to the
[downloads] shortcode) while WP eStore only creates a list-layout for products in a catalog page.
Both can have cart widgets and pages. In terms of checkout, EDD uses a more traditional checkout flow, while WP eStore usually employs an on-page checkout directly from your cart (which redirects users to an offsite checkout form or your manual checkout form). The EDD catalog has a more modern look with the built-in styles, but again, they both leave store structure up to the administrator to remain flexible.
Managing your purchases is a big part of your customer relationships. Both plugins automatically send out emails to customers with the appropriate download links, and can create a “Thank you” page that shows the link to customers as well. You can also view a list of orders with each plugin.
The customer / order list for EDD is more detailed, and includes several order statuses besides “Paid” and “Unpaid” (such as “Pending” or “Refunded”) so that you can keep track of customer information even if the order has failed or been refunded. You can also manually add products to an order and add individual purchase notes (as opposed to a simple text block for all notes in eStore).
One major difference is that EDD can create customer accounts for all purchases, which allows users to log back into a site to view previously purchased products (via a “My Account” page). Many customers like the ability to see what they’ve purchased and update billing details. If you allow it, they can also re-download these products themselves from this page. This allows you to tie orders to a customer account for easy customer management.
However, one of the biggest upsides to using customer accounts is the ability to save payment details for future purchases if you’re using a payment gateway that supports tokenization. Simplifying the checkout process for customers helps to improve conversions for repeat visitors, so having customer accounts is a great addition to the plugin.
Since WP eStore doesn’t create customer accounts, every new order generates a new “customer” record, even if these purchases are made by someone using the same email address. This also prevents customers from saving payment data to an account (though you’d need to purchase a different gateway than the built-in ones for this to be relevant, as the standard gateways all redirect the checkout process).
Both plugins have the ability to create products that use recurring billing, but WP eStore has subscription billing built into the core plugin, while EDD requires an $83 add-on for recurring payments. This will allow you to sell access to a product for a given amount of time, break services into a set of multiple payments, and more.
The most common need for recurring billing is for memberships. As both plugins are geared towards digital goods, membership sites are a natural fit. Both require a paid membership plugin to create membership functionality, such as content restriction. WP eStore is fully integrated with WP eMember for memberships, while EDD requires the Recurring Payments add-on and the $29 Content Restriction add-on.
You could also use EDD with Restrict Content Pro for $42 instead if you prefer. However, recurring billing for memberships will go through Restrict Content Pro instead of the Easy Digital Downloads billing.
If you’re interested in memberships, we have a tutorial available on How to Create a Membership Site using EDD, but have not done this yet with WP eStore.
WP eStore and EDD can integrate with a variety of services, but they go about doing this in very different ways. WP eStores includes several integrations with the core plugin, while EDD offers a lightweight core plugin, and you purchase add-ons for integrations as needed. I’m a fan of the latter, as there’s not a bunch of code running on your server for integrations that you don’t need.
In terms of transactional and autoresponder email services, WP eStore integrates with Mailchimp, GetResponse, and AWeber, which are all very popular platforms. Easy Digital Downloads can integrate with each of these platforms as well through add-ons, but also has integrations available with other email services.
Both can also integrate with Amazon S3 for digital file delivery as previously mentioned.
As EDD is monetized through an add-on marketplace, there are several other integrations available that aren’t in the core WP eStore plugin, such as integrations for Dropbox and Gravity Forms. There are also several marketing and analytics add-ons available.
Both plugins are supported by the development team. As WP eStore requires a purchase for plugin usage, support is included in that purchase via a customer support forum. Updates are included for life as well. There’s also tons of plugin documentation available for you to read through for help.
As EDD’s core plugin is free, support is slightly different. Basic support is offered free to all customers, regardless of whether or not they’ve purchased an add-on. Add-on purchases include support for one-year, then require a renewal at 70% of purchase price for each subsequent year (this also includes updates). If you want priority support, you can purchase it on a monthly or yearly basis. EDD also offers detailed documentation and tutorials.
As far as quality of support is concerned, I can’t speak to WP eStore since I didn’t need to use support. On the outside looking it, it seems that support in their forums is active, and customers can search forums in case their concerns have already been addressed elsewhere. I have read that support is great and very responsive, but don’t have first hand knowledge here. EDD support is always great, and you can also get basic help on WordPress.org.
If you’d like to give away digital products for free, both plugins can help you do this while still protecting your files. EDD will require customers to go through the checkout so that you can collect customer information and provide the option to create an account, while WP eStore can use a “squeeze page” to collect an email before serving up a download link.
If cost is your biggest determining factor, then WP eStore will probably be your plugin of choice, as you only have to pay once for all features and for use on all of your sites, while EDD requires several purchases and multi-site licenses for use on several sites. However, as a side note, if you can’t invest more than $50-100 in your store setup or testing your store idea, I really think you should reconsider embarking on your sales venture.
Security is comparable between the two plugins, but each has pros and cons to its security setup. You can also achieve much of the same functionality with each plugin. However, EDD is more extensible due to the number of add-ons available, and is developer-friendly in case you’ll need customizations in the future. It also provides an easier user experience along with better order management and reporting.
So when should you use each plugin? As I said previously, WP eStore will probably be the choice for you if budget is your main concern – especially if you’re planning on using the plugin on more than one site (costs for EDD increase with multi-site licenses). If you don’t have many products or orders coming through your store, but need a lot of functionality, WP eStore will handle all of your needs in a one-stop purchase. You’ll also have updates and support for life, while EDD requires renewals after the first year at a 30% discount.
In most other cases, I’d choose Easy Digital Downloads. It’s easy to setup, use as an admin, and navigate as a customer, and offers a lot of options for customization via extensions. It’s also easy for developers to tweak – as we mentioned under Security, best practices for development are followed. Order and product management are also more efficient, as you have more options for editing and managing orders, and can bulk-edit products easily. The detailed sales and product reports are really useful as well.
As always, the choice comes down to the needs of your store. Have questions about either plugin? Please ask in the comments and we’ll do our best to help out!
- We do have full reviews of each plugin if you’re interested in more information on each:
- This WP eStore review goes through some pros and cons for the plugin, while this review goes through more detail in settings and capabilities.
- Here’s an explanation from Mint Themes on why they chose EDD for their store and another EDD review.