The future of ECommerce is digital. Every day people buy and sell more and more products online, including physical items, software, services, apps, and downloadable files.
When you sell something like a pair of jeans online, you simply mail the customer what they ordered. But when you sell entirely digital products, like an EBook, you have to offer a simple and easy way for the customer to download their purchase.
This process may sound obvious, but with large downloadable WooCommerce products, you will find many complications surrounding the entire process. Website servers, like WordPress’ WooCommerce, often struggle to support massive file downloads.
Luckily, you still have a few options for selling large files online. Below, one of our web design experts from Connective Web Design will discuss what a large downloadable file is, what plugin options you can choose from, the pros and cons of each, how to complete each plugin installation, and our general thoughts on the best options.
What Are Downloadable WooCommerce Products?
WooCommerce is WordPress’ eCommerce platform that allows you to sell products from your website. Many opt to sell physical items and use the platform to manage their inventory and shipping. Though you also have the option to sell downloadable products.
With this setup, you only need one copy of each digital file you’re selling to have it stored on your server. When people purchase the item, they will simply download a copy to use as they please.
This process may sound simple enough, though an issue arises when you want to sell tremendously large files.
Why Is It Difficult To Sell Large Files Using WooCommerce?
WooCommerce WordPress websites make it quite challenging to sell massive digital downloads because they may exceed the server’s capabilities. To sell digital products using WooCommerce without a third-party plugin, you must adhere to the following:
- Download limit: Any digital files that exceed 2 gigabytes (GB) will not upload.
- Upload requirements: Uploads require an immense bandwidth that your server likely cannot handle.
So what do these numbers mean? For perspective, a standard-length HD movie typically rings in at 4GB of space, while 4K films may reach as much as 40GB.
Examples of Large Downloadable Items You May Want To Sell:
You may think that as long as you don’t sell movies, you’re in the clear. But many do not realize that unsuspecting items, like a single photograph, can still exceed that 2GB limit. Let’s look at some examples of large downloadable WooCommerce products that may be too large without a plugin:
- High-definition images: Many people often want to sell downloadable art online, requiring high-quality resolutions. The higher the resolution, the more space it takes up.
- Large text files: Whether it be a PDF, Word document, EBook, or any other format, you may run into trouble if the document is exceptionally long. Often people sell downloadable books online and run into this issue.
- Graphic designs: Any images you create digitally to sell may take up even more space than an actual photograph, depending on what source you used to make it and the resolution.
- Videos: Aside from movies, you may have issues selling tutorial videos, webinars, demonstration videos, stop-motion pictures, or any other video content.
What Are My Plugin Options for Selling Huge Files?
So, what is the answer? People often sell large files online, so there must be a way to get around these restrictions, right?
Generally, you have a few decent options for selling huge files with WooCommerce:
- Amazon AWS S3 Storage: Amazon AWS S3 is a platform that allows you to store many different large files using its online server. With a WooCommerce paid plugin, you can directly link your AWS S3 account with your storefront, offering clear download codes.
- Free DropBox: DropBox is another popular online platform where you can keep your files. Though the free plan limits your total usage amount, this option is relatively simple to install.
- Paid DropBox: The paid DropBox plugin option requires two separate third-party services that, when combined, allow you to sell DropBox files securely so that people cannot just send the links to their friends.
Amazon S3 Storage Pros and Cons
The Amazon S3 Storage route offers a few different pros and cons to consider based on what you sell, your technical level, and what stability you wish to achieve.
- Pros: The Amazon S3 plugin is relatively stable and easy to maintain since it will continuously update itself each time the platform evolves. The DropBox options would require manual efforts on your part to keep things running smoothly. The S3 option also offers a wide array of customization options regarding the privacy of your documents.
- Cons: This plugin option is the most technically complex of all three, though it is doable. You should also consider that you will need to complete a lengthy and tricky process every time you upload new content.
How Difficult Is It To Setup the Amazon S3 Plugin?
Speaking of difficulty, let’s talk about how hard it is to use Amazon S3. To start, let’s talk about the basics. Here’s what you will need to complete the process:
- Purchase an account: You must create and set up an S3 storage account. The account costs vary based on your usage. Most account levels cost about $0.02 per GB of storage, averaging about $4 to $10 a month for 100GB.
- Purchase the plugin: You will also need to purchase the $29 Amazon S3 storage plugin from the WooCommerce store.
After creating your account and purchasing the plugin, you can begin setting everything up. To install:
- Add the ‘woocommerce-amazon-s3-storage’ folder into the plugins catalog.
- Navigate to the WordPress admin page to activate the plugin.
- To configure the settings, navigate to your S3 account by logging in and clicking your name.
- Navigate to “My Security Credentials.”
- Click on “Access Keys” and create a new one.
- Copy your Access Key ID and Secret Access Key.
- Navigate back to the Amazon S3 plugin menu in your WordPress account.
- Paste both keys in to finish the setup process.
Now, you may upload content to your Amazon S3 account. You will also need a unique identifier, or a “bucket” for your first upload. When you add files to WooCommerce, you will insert the S3 code that you receive upon uploading a file.
Free Dropbox Pros and Cons
If Amazon sounds a bit too complicated for your level of technical knowledge, don’t fret; we have some more straightforward file download methods. Dropbox offers various pros and cons since it is a bit easier to use, though that ease of use leads to more restrictions.
- Pros: This plugin option is free. Dropbox also offers a simple setup and convenient user experience each time you upload new files.
- Cons: Dropbox limits free accounts to 100,000 downloads and 20GB of bandwidth per day, which may sound like a lot, but could be an issue if you have a large audience. Dropbox has not updated this plugin in nearly a year, meaning you may experience technical difficulties. The biggest con, though, will be that the link you sell to someone to download the content is a public link they can share with others to receive your content for free.
How Can I Set Up Free Dropbox Plugins?
The free Dropbox plugin is relatively simple to set up and will only take a few moments. Follow these steps:
- Navigate to your WordPress account to install and activate the Dropbox plugin.
- Go into your Dropbox console and select “create app.”
- Click “Dropbox API” then “Full Dropbox.”
- Create a unique name for your app.
- Copy your app key from the settings tab and type in your domain to the “choose/save” field.
- Navigate back to your WooCommerce settings and open the Dropbox integration page.
- Paste in the unique key and click save!
Paid Dropbox Pros and Cons
Your final option combines Dropbox with an additional third-party plugin. This option offers many Dropbox pros and smooths out some of the cons but also creates additional problems.
- Pros: Users cannot share links with their friends because one of the plugins will protect your files from direct access. This feature can improve your profits and keep your content secure. Using this plugin, you can also sell directly from your Dropbox account without logging in to WordPress.
- Cons: The link you sell will expire after a specified time, restricting your customers’ access to the content. Only one user can download at a time, meaning an error will occur when multiple customers purchase at once. This plugin will only work well if you anticipate a smaller purchase audience.
How Can I Set Up the Paid Dropbox Plugins?
To begin, you need to purchase both of the integrations. You can set up a free account with Dropbox or opt for a premium. Next, set up an account with Prevent Direct Access. This plugin costs $15 a month for a basic membership and $69 per year for the Dropbox integration.
To set this option up, you will need to:
- Follow the above instruction for the free Dropbox option to set up and link your Dropbox and WordPress accounts.
- Login to your Prevent Direct Access account and navigate to the Dropbox page.
- Just as you did in WordPress, insert your Dropbox key and token to link accounts.
- Add in expiration times for your links.
- Click “Create or edit a WooCommerce product.”
- Select your downloadable files from Dropbox and configure their settings.
- Now, all three platforms will link together.
So What Is The Best Plugin Option for Selling Huge Files with WooCommerce?
Each option offers many different positives and negatives. So how can you decide what’s best for you? Here are a few things you should consider when making your decision:
- Budget: How much are you willing to spend? You should consider your profit margin and how many sales you may make to determine what option is affordable for your business needs.
- Difficulty: Some plugin installations take more technical skills and advanced knowledge. If you don’t feel confident choosing the more complicated option, go with something simpler.
- Longevity: Some services, like Amazon S3, offer additional dependability, meaning you can rely on it to continue working for a while without excessive difficulties. Consider whether you need to sell a few items as soon as possible or if you’re generating a long-term business.
- Security: You don’t want people to gain free access to your products. Though, if profit isn’t a huge factor for you or if your items are too niche for people to want to send to friends, this may not be an issue for you.
While we cannot tell you what the best option is, we can offer an opinion based on our experience with website design. Generally, we believe that your best bet is opting for the Amazon S3 plugin. The Amazon integration offers a fantastic server, great pricing, and dependable results.
If you’re looking for an easier and more comfortable route, consider choosing the free Dropbox option. The Dropbox plugin still receives excellent reviews, and they regularly resolve any customer problems that arise. This choice is a great starting point, and if you like how it works, you can always add on the additional paid integration in the future.
Get Additional Support From Connective Web Design
Selling online content is a gold mine. You get to make money without dealing with shipping complications, personalized orders, and physical product inventory.
While large digital products may be a great profit opportunity, they still offer some technical complications. Luckily, you can get around WordPress’ data restrictions by using third-party plugins.
If you enjoyed this blog on how to sell large downloadable WooCommerce Products, be sure to read more of our articles on all things digital. You can reach out to our team at Connective Web Design to get professional assistance with all your needs.