We’ve written about several different WordPress eCommerce plugins – there are a lot of choices available. What’s best for your store will depend on what you’re selling, as well as the management capabilities or extensions to core functionality you’ll need.

However, if you’re selling only (or mostly) digital products, many eCommerce plugins may be overkill for what you’re trying to do. You won’t need complex shipping options or the ability to create fairly complex products. You may not even need tax capabilities (depending on the laws where you’re selling).

If this is the case, software that specializes in selling digital files may be a great fit for you. We’ll compare two choices that will integrate with your WordPress site to provide all of the functionality you need to sell digital products: Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad.

Table of Contents:

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Overview

The biggest difference between Easy Digital Downloads and Gumroad is that Easy Digital Downloads is software that you’ll download and run on your website’s servers, while Gumroad is a hosted solution. This means that your shop is hosted by Gumroad, and you simply integrate with your website by embedding links or descriptions for your products.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these shop implementations. While you don’t have to worry about payment security with a hosted solution, you lose the flexibility and extensibility that comes with downloadable software (meaning you can modify or add onto it as needed). There are other benefits and tradeoffs that we’ll cover as we go, which should make it easier to decide which is right for your shop.

We’ve written about Easy Digital Downloads (most recently when version 2.1 was released), but we haven’t written about Gumroad, so we’ll provide a comparison of each part of the selling process.

EDD vs Gumroad: Setup & Integration

Let’s start with Gumroad setup and integration with your WordPress site. You can sign up for Gumroad for free and give it a test drive to see how you like it. You only pay for what you sell with Gumroad – for each purchase on your site, you’ll be charged 5% of the purchase price, along with 25¢ per transaction. There are no other fees or costs associated with a Gumroad store, such as monthly membership fees or refund fees.

Gumroad signup

Once you’ve registered for a Gumroad account, you’ll then want to configure all available settings for your shop. I was able to go through all settings within a few minutes to include my basic store, payout, and tax information.

Gumroad settings

These steps will create a Gumroad storefront for you. However, you’ll still need to integrate this within your WordPress site. You could do so using the “overlay” codes provided by Gumroad, but I prefer to use the free Gumroad plugin, which lets you create product buttons or embed products directly on your WordPress site via shortcode.

Now let’s talk about Easy Digital Downloads setup. EDD is a free WordPress plugin (with paid add-ons), and you can set it up by installing the Easy Digital Downloads plugin on your site. All configuration will be done within WordPress.

Selz vs Easy Digital Downloads | Install EDD

Install EDD

If you go to Downloads > Settings, you’ll be able to set up all store options, such as location, download limits or expiration, payment gateways, and store emails. Nothing else is needed to integrate EDD with your site since it’s running on your servers within your site.

Setup Verdict: Both are easy to setup, though you’ll have to take the extra step to integrate Gumroad with your site. However, you don’t have to worry about payment gateway setup or other options with Gumroad.

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Theming

When you’ve set up either Easy Digital Downloads or Gumroad, you’ll want to know how they look in your site. The good news is that both of these play well with almost any WordPress theme, so you’re in luck.

Gumroad will work by inserting products into a post, page, etc via shortcode. You an either embed products in your site (using the “embed” method), or by adding a button that will open your product details in a lightbox (using the “overlay” method).

Gumroad shortcodes

Shortcode attributes

Since the product will be embedded or overlayed based on what you’ve created in Gumroad, you can control the product’s cover image, but not much else. When you add an embedded product, the full product details are displayed. When you add an overlay type, a button will be displayed that either opens the product details in a lightbox (looks like just the embed), or can be used as a “buy now” button to send customers directly to checkout.


Gumroad Embedded Product

Embedded Product



 
Gumroad Overlay Product

Overlay Product


The embedded products will respect the container size so that your product details are responsive. For example, you could create columns for a grid layout of products, and the embedded product will respond to the appropriate size.

Easy Digital Downloads is also very easy to theme, can flexible in terms of product display. Product pages are automatically created when you add a product to your catalog, and will display any product details, purchasing options, and featured images (if you have one).

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad product page

EDD Product Page

You can link to these product pages, create “buy now” buttons for a product via shortcode, or display a catalog of products or product categories via shortcode:

EDD product catalog

EDD product catalog

If you want to check out themes that are built to showcase Easy Digital Downloads, you can check out their theme catalog or our theme recommendations. A few of my personal favorites are Marketify, Stocky, and SquareCode.

Theming verdict: No difficulty in making either look good for your site, but EDD is more flexible in terms of product display and can automatically create a catalog of all products, while Gumroad will require each product to be inserted manually.

EDD vs Gumroad: Customer Experience

As the way your catalog is set up is entirely up to you, the way customers browse your products will be flexible. You can sell products via posts or pages if you want to create “buy now” buttons, or create a product catalog for your customers to browse.

Using Gumroad, customers will checkout on-page via the embed or overlay methods, as the payment form will pop up once they’ve made their selection:

Gumroad Payment Form

Gumroad Payment Form

Easy Digital Downloads will have a more traditional cart / checkout process. You can opt to send customers right to checkout if they want to purchase a product, or allow them to use a cart and checkout with multiple products at once.

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad Checkout

EDD Checkout

You can also create on-page checkout forms for your products using Gravity Forms and the Gravity Forms checkout extension. We’ve got a review / tutorial of the plugin that shows how you can make flexible checkout forms with this combination.

Customers can access purchase information with each platform. Using EDD, customers can log in to view their purchase history:

EDD Purchase History

EDD Purchase History

Gumroad will also display purchases or files to customers in their library, or show all available downloads after completing an order:

Gumroad Product info

Gumroad Product info

Experience Verdict: Toss up – this is more up to you than either platform. The Gumroad checkout is more seamless out of the box, but there’s no cart system if customers want to purchase multiple products.

EDD vs Gumroad: Product Management

Adding products with both Easy Digital Downloads and Gumroad are simple. Adding a product with EDD is just like adding a post or page in WordPress – you can create them directly from your site and add data such as category, tag, price, images, and download limits.

Gumroad vs Easy Digital Downloads | Creating a Download with EDD

Creating a Download with EDD

Once you’ve created a product, you can edit it in the same way as you edit posts or pages – by making your changes and clicking “Update”. You’ll also see your entire product list under the “Downloads” menu and bulk update some product data, such as price or category.

Creating products with Gumroad is also fairly simple, but they’ll be created within your Gumroad account rather than within WordPress. Products must be priced between $0.99 and $1,000 (there are further instructions available). You can also allow buyers can pay what they want and provide a suggested price.

You’ll first select what kind of product you’d like to sell – a simple product, subscription, or pre-order.

Gumroad create new products

Gumroad New products

You’ll then upload a cover photo and add product details, such as a name, description, and pricing. You can also use audio or video for cover images, and can even link to a YouTube, SoundCloud, or Vimeo URL to embed a player.

Gumroad creating products

Gumroad Creating products

You can also add variations for a product, offers available for the product, or limit which countries the product can be purchased from and how many copies can be purchased.

Gumroad Creating product options

Gumroad Creating product options

Once you’ve created your product, you’ll have to then manually add it to your site where desired, as your product catalog isn’t built automatically.

Editing products is possible with each platform as well. Once you’ve created a product, you can access it from your product list and make changes as needed.

Product management verdict: This depends on your preference. Adding products with each is simple, but you can manage products within WordPress while using EDD. This lets you add or change products as you blog or edit your site, or insert product links into posts easily. Gumroad also offers an easy product creation interface that doesn’t require logging into your site. However, you’ll have to add products to your site manually anyway if you want them to show up there.

EDD vs Gumroad: Order Management

Order management is also something to consider when selecting your sales management. Customers can view purchases with each platform; Gumroad customers will view purchases from their library, while Easy Digital Downloads customers can view them from a customer account created on your website. Each will also send purchase receipts via email with all purchase and download details.

Order management for shop admins will vary with each of these. Easy Digital Downloads will allow you to view all purchases and order information directly from WordPress under Downloads > Payments. You can view each purchase, purchasing details, and edit order details as needed. You can also filter orders by time ranges or search them as needed.

Selz vs Easy Digital Downloads | EDD Payments Screen

EDD Payments

Gumroad doesn’t necessarily have an “orders” view. Instead, you’ll see analytics on purchases for a given time period, or can view customer purchases and click on a purchase to manage it (i.e., issue a refund or cancellation). There’s no orders system with order numbers, etc.

Order management verdict: This depends on your needs. EDD has a true order management system, complete with order numbers, which may be necessary for your accounting. However, Gumroad will also track purchases for customers and products, just in a different way.

EDD vs Gumroad: Customer Management

You can access customer lists and purchases with both Gumroad and Easy Digital Downloads. With EDD, you can view all orders for a customer by clicking their name, or view all customers from the “Reports” section.

Easy digital downloads vs gumroad customers

EDD Customers

You can view customers from the “Customers” list in Gumroad, and click on the customer to see relevant details. You can also filter customers by who has purchased a product, or import / export customers.

Gumroad Customers

Gumroad Customers

Gumroad does have a couple of really cool customer management features available. First, you can send a message to buyers that have bought a certain product (or any product) right from the “Customers” view. This is really useful to email about updates or new, related products. You can also message customers that paid more than a certain price to provide rewards discount codes.

Easy digital downloads vs Gumroad customer message

Gumroad customer message

To accomplish this with Easy Digital Downloads, you’ll have to keep an email list with something like MailChimp and segment your customers appropriately.

Customer management verdict: Gumroad beats EDD for me in this area. I really love being able to easily contact customers right from the dashboard, and especially love the ability to send emails based on which product was purchased. You can also import and export customer lists, as well as filter by what was purchased.

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Payments

Payment processing is very different for each of these platforms. Using Easy Digital Downloads, you can process payments via PayPal, or use your own payment processor. We’ve got a list of some of the top payment gateway add-ons for Easy Digital downloads. Each payment gateway costs about $49 for the integration plugin along with the payment gateway fees you’re assessed as a merchant. However, you have flexibility in determining how you want to process payments, and can even offer several payment methods.

You can also accept recurring payments with Easy Digital Downloads which recur daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly (with certain gateways).

Gumroad doesn’t offer the same flexibility, as payments have to be processed via their payment system. As such, your store can only accept credit cards – no PayPal or other payment methods. You’ll be paid every other Friday via PayPal from Gumroad for all transactions in your store. They make money by acting as a payment processing middle-man for your store.

Update 2015-06-10: Gumroad now lets you accept PayPal payments in addition to credit cards!

You should also be aware that this may result in chargebacks, as customers will be billed from Gumroad and not you. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve specified that they should expect charges from Gumroad rather than your shop.

You can accept subscription payments with Gumroad as well, and payments can recur each month, 3 months, 6 months, or year.

Gumroad subscriptions

Creating a subscription

Gumroad also offers the ability to sell pre-orders, which isn’t available with EDD.

Each offers the ability to create discounts for your shop. Gumroad allows you to create an offer on a per-product basis, while EDD has more flexible coupon rules since customers can purchase multiple products at a time.

Easy Digital Downloads 2.0 Review | Discounts

EDD 2.0 Discounts

Payments verdict: EDD wins here. While Gumroad is easy to get up and running, you can’t change anything about accepting payments and can’t offer multiple payment methods.

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Extending

You should also consider whether you’ll ever need more functionality beyond the core platform. This is where you’ll incur expenses with Easy Digital Downloads (aside from payment processing fees). While there are some free add-ons for Easy Digital Downloads, you’ll probably need at least a couple of paid add-ons to complete store setup.

For example, you may want something like product review, which aren’t possible with Gumroad, but can be added to EDD for $32.

Easy Digital Downloads is also extendable with custom code and plugins. Since the software is downloaded and run on your servers, you can modify or add onto it as needed. You can even make your own plugins or have them developed to add functionality to your shop.

Gumroad offers limited capability to extend the platform, and most of your ability to do so would be through a third-party service like Zapier. You can set up “zaps”, which are basically triggers for other systems. For example, you can set up a zap to send a text message via Twilio when an order is placed via Gumroad.

Extending verdict: Easy Digital Downloads takes the cake here. While Gumroad has a lot of awesome features built-in, such as customer-defined pricing and PDF stamping, you can purchase tons of add-ons for Easy Digital Downloads and can hire a developer to customize it as needed. (For example, you can purchase add-ons to get customer pricing and PDF stamping, but you can also change the software as needed.)

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Reporting

Both platforms will include reporting and sales analytics for your store. Using Gumroad, you’ll be able to view sales analytics by date range and product purchased (including all products or only specific products).

Gumroad analytics

Gumroad Sales analytics

You’ll also have data on conversion rates, and can even drill these down by referrer to see where your highest conversions are coming from. This can help you target your advertising to maximize your ad’s ROI.

Gumroad analytics 2

Gumroad Referrer analytics

Easy Digital Downloads has built-in reporting as well. You can view reports for sales, products (monthly average and total sales), payment methods, customers, and taxes.

Sell with WordPress | Easy Digital Downloads Reporting

EDD Sales Reporting

While you don’t have the detailed referrer and conversion rate analytics that you do with Gumroad, you’re able to drill-down to product categories to view sales data.

Reporting verdict: Gumroad takes the cake here for both the ability to view conversion data right within the dashboard, as well as easy integration with Google Analytics for more data.

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Support

Both Gumroad and Easy Digital Downloads include documentation and great support, so there’s no real need for comparison here.

Gumroad has help documentation to get you started, and you can send any issues via email as well. Easy Digital Downloads also has documentation, and support forums for basic and priority support.

Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad: Conclusions

Choosing Easy Digital Downloads vs Gumroad will depend on what you sell and how you plan to sell it. You may also want to take a look at pricing structure depending on the volume of your sales, but I’d probably place this concern below how you’ll be selling and managing your store.

EDD is a free plugin that offers paid add-ons and paid priority support, while Gumroad will charge you on a per-transaction basis. The upside to this pricing is that you’ll only have to pay for your shop when you make money from product purchases. However, as you sell higher volumes of products, you’ll end up paying more for something like Gumroad than you would for Easy Digital Downloads add-ons.

For example, let’s say you sell a product at $5, and you sell 1000 of this product in a year. You’ll net $4500, which means that Gumroad has cost $500 in that year. Depending on what Easy Digital Downloads add-ons you use (if any), your costs could range from $0 to hundreds of dollars for the same sales.

However, as I said previously, what and how you sell should have more of an impact on your decision. Easy Digital Downloads is awesome if you’d like to use the built-in WordPress structure and manage your shop from within your website. In doing so, you’ll get customer accounts that are integrated with your site and blog, and everything will be kept on-site for seamless transitions between your community, catalog, and checkout.

Easy Digital Downloads is also great for shops that will be selling products in a cart system. As Gumroad only allows purchasing products individually, this is a huge benefit to using Easy Digital Downloads. Customers can add all items to the cart, then checkout when they’re ready to purchase all items.

Gumroad is better if you’ll be selling a limited number of products, or if you’ll be selling via other channels. You can integrate a Gumroad store with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and SoundCloud, so it makes sense for shops that want to sell in multiple locations. It’s also handy for subscriptions and Pre-orders. However, you’ll have to set up your entire product catalog on your WordPress site, and constantly manage your site and store in different places.

In a nutshell, you should use Gumroad if analytics and customer management are most important to you, you only sell a limited number of products on your website, products will be purchased individually without a cart system, and you’re okay with no control over payment processing. You’ll also get a seamless, on-page checkout. Easy Digital Downloads is a better fit if you want a built-in product catalog, order management systems, you want a cart system to customers can purchase multiple items at once, and you want to offer other payment options (or just want more control over this yourself).

You can check each platform out here for more information:

Read More


Here are some other resources for further reading:


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Posted by Beka Rice

Beka Rice manages the direction of Sell with WP content and writes or edits most of our articles to share her interests in eCommerce. Or she just writes as an excuse to spend more time jamming out to anything from The Clash to Lady Gaga. Who knows.

10 Comments

  1. Hi Beka,
    Great review. I like how you thoroughly went through each of the solutions facet by facet. I just wanted to make a couple observations:

    • Gumroad’s fees are 5% + .25 per transaction. But approximately 3% of that would have gone to the payment processor anyway (credit card / paypal), so the cost in your example is actually closer to $350. EDD addons average around $50 each and are renewable annually, with most people needing a few to get their shop up and running. So EDD still wins, although by a narrower margin, but the hours spent configuring a WordPress ecommerce store should also be factored in as a cost.
    • The immediacy of the instant popup checkout for Gumroad is great for landing pages. Especially if you don’t have multiple products, getting rid of the cart will help conversions.

    1. Excellent points, thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. One important factor you did not address: EU VAT collection, payment, reporting and records keeping. Customers in EU countries are required to pay VAT (sales tax) on all digital downloads. As a small business owner it would be a nightmare to handle all of this on my own. Gumroad handles all of that for me. Huge time saver, and therefore priceless.

    1. A good point, the VAT mess happened after I’d published this. Gumroad does make this extremely easy to do 🙂

      It’s not quite as easy with EDD, but there are several extensions available to track VAT appropriately if needed: VAT Support, EU VAT API, Quaderno Integration, and Taxamo integration.

  3. The fact that you can’t disable the long billing fields once your taxes are active is the reason I’ve moved to Gumroad. Pippin should really consider the flexibility of EDDs checkout page because it is very user enemy right now and the checkout process is the essential key to any store. Gumroad wins.

    1. Hey Laurent, I think the Checkout Fields Manager is geared towards this need, as most digital shops don’t need to enable taxes, though (at least in the US), I’m pretty sure many of the billing fields are required to record for tax purposes.

  4. Is possible to manage the user role on a wordpress site when a customer buy a product using the gumroad wordpress plugin?

    i mean, i am building a website of e-learning (maybe using woothemes/sensei plugin) but here in latin america is very dificult to charge credit card, and paypal is to confusing to my average customer

    1. Hey Angel, this would be possible, but you’d run into some practical issues while implementing it:

      1. The purchase takes place on Gumroad, so it’s not tied to a WordPress user account. As such, a customer without a WP account could make purchases, and thus you have no account to tie a role to.
      2. Since Gumroad’s purchasing is taking place externally, there’s no way to prompt or require accounts while the purchase is happening.
      3. You could have your site notified of a purchase, as Gumroad has webhooks available for developers. However, using this webhook would require custom code for your site to grab this webhook, check the email address of the purchaser, then update the user’s role on your site. Also, you may run into point #1 where there’s no account to update.

      While it may be possible to use Gumroad this way by restricting purchase pages to only logged-in users, it’s definitely not the way I’d recommend doing this if you can avoid it since it requires customization to connect your site that tightly to Gumroad.

  5. yeah, i though so… i was thinking in the lisense system of gumroad to “use it” as a sort of coupon or sonething on wordpress, and make that users VIP or something.

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