How to Sell Digital Products on Shopify + Sharing Protection

how to sell digital products on shopify photo

Shopify is the great leveller of the eCommerce game. Anyone can start selling products on this platform, making it pretty easy to create. However, many people assume Shopify is only for selling physical products. So, can you sell digital products on Shopify?

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Quick overview

Yes, Shopify allows you to sell digital products using this Shopify-approved app below. Please install Fileflare Digital Downloads to your Shopify store to get the best protection features for digital product delivery. It also has a free plan.

If you have a Shopify store set up already, please install this app to continue through the tutorial.


Below, we are going to dig into how you can start selling your digital products on Shopify. We will also provide you with some tips you can use to increase your odds of success.

Please go to this tutorial if you are selling large digital files. Also, please make sure you avoid these mistakes when selling digital products. It will help you in your journey!

Can you sell digital products on Shopify?

Yes, you can sell digital products on Shopify. It’s the easiest and most efficient platform for selling them. Shopify is currently the best ecommerce platform in the world and for good reason. The wide range of compatibility with top-level tech companies is unreal. The reasons why Shopify is the favourite:

  • Fast CDNs (content delivery networks)
  • All-in-one platform
  • Easiest platform to use for anyone
  • Set up a store within a couple of hours
  • Brilliant app store with thousands of tech companies
  • Best payment integrations with fraud protection
  • The safest system against hacks & threats

What is a digital product exactly?

A digital product is essentially a valuable digital asset that can be sold. Digital products include such things as – Software, Applications, eBooks, videos, photography, PDFs, Zip files, and much more. Read more about what is a digital product here.

File sharing has become a huge interest in recent years, with the digital era taking over and the ease of transferring digital products worldwide.

The advantages of selling Digital Products

A digital product business has a few key advantages over physical items. If you want to start a business with digital content, here are a few advantages:

sell digital
  • You can start a digital product store using Shopify
  • You save money on overhead costs when you have no physical product
  • You don’t have to continue making products, saving you money
  • You can create an automated business selling the right digital products
  • You can offer free digital products to grow a subscriber’s list of potential customers

Because there are limited barriers to entry, anybody can start a digital business. Anyone refers to your competition as well. You also run the risk of dealing with piracy. 

Software updates to digital products are also typically easier to manage. However, there is a chance that someone else might be offering your product for free.

Your product needs to provide value beyond any alternatives. Specifically, they need to have a value proposition that outdoes both paid and free competition. 

But before you do that, you have to set up your Shopify account to be ready for digital goods.

Questions you may ask before starting

Can I sell both physical & digital products in my Shopify store?

Yes, you can sell both physical and digital products in your Shopify store, even at the same time. You can manage these different types of products separately within your Shopify admin product page by selecting ‘Physical’ or ‘Digital’ when creating the product.

How are digital products delivered to customers on Shopify?

Using the method in the tutorial with the Fileflare app, digital products are delivered to customers via email, on the Thank you page after purchase, and in the customer accounts. Once a customer purchases a digital product, they receive the downloads instantly.

Can I limit the number of times a digital product can be downloaded on Shopify?

Yes, with apps like “Fileflare Digital Downloads”, you can set a download limit for the number of times a digital product can be downloaded by a customer. You can also set time expiry and IP address limitations.

Can I offer digital products for free on Shopify?

Yes, you can set the price of your products in Shopify to zero to offer them for free on your Shopify store. The Fileflare app will still deliver the files once an order is placed. Learn more here on how to sell free digital products.

How can I protect my digital products from unauthorized sharing on Shopify?

Using the “Fileflare Digital Downloads” app, you can prevent customers from sharing your digital files by using a few methods:

  • Limiting the number of IP addresses that can download each file
  • Limit the amount of times they can download a file
  • Use PDF Stamping to stamp the customers’ details onto the PDF pages and lock it so they cannot be removed
  • Set a time expiry for the downloads
  • Warn customers that the downloads are being tracked and if they are caught, they are liable to be taken to court

Can I sell digital products globally on Shopify?

Yes, you can sell digital products to customers around the world with Shopify.

Full process to start selling digital products

If you want to be one of those online stores that offer digital downloads, you can start by creating a standard Shopify account.

Like other website builders (such as WordPress), a good portion of your beginning process involves choosing a suitable theme and placing an engaging copy. To start selling digital products on Shopify, follow these steps for account creation:

sell digital products

1. Sign up to Shopify

Shopify allows you a 14-day free trial to “try on the pants”. You should spend those 14 days building your store using a variety of pre-made themes. It would be best if you also had the following areas ready before you start any subscriptions: 

  • A business idea, name, and logo
  • A complete digital product that is ready to sell
  • Photos that might be of the product in use (you can also include a few stock photos if appropriate)

If you don’t have any of these ready, brainstorm some ideas with friends. You can also gain inspiration from your competition. Shopify will walk you through most of the process to start an online store.

Pro tip: We have tested tons of themes. Our favourite free theme is Debut, and our favourite paid theme is Prestige. These both run super fast and have great features for their price.

2. Create your product in Shopify

To create a product in Shopify, go to:

  1. Your Shopify dashboard
  2. Go to the “Products” page
  3. Click the “Add product” button
create a new digital product

Shopify’s “Add product” button should be located right in the middle of your dashboard if you do not have any pre-existing products. If you already have products, you can follow the next step.

When creating a new product, be sure to provide them with engaging reasons to buy your product, such as:

  • How it solves their problems
  • What benefits does it give to them
  • Measurable improvements to their business

Important – Mark the product as digital

Mark the product as digital by deselecting the box in the image below. If you are using variants, you will need to do this inside each variant.


3. Set up your digital products

When people complete a digital order, it typically creates a few scenarios: 

  • They will receive an email with a link to their digital download (available on all plans, including the free plan)
  • They will be able to download the files from the order status screen (available on the Basic plan or higher)
  • Customers will have access to their downloads in their customer accounts (available on the Premium plan)

To deliver digital products to your customers, Shopify doesn’t have this function built into its system. In fact, you will need to download an approved Shopify app in their app store to have this function.

Install the “Fileflare Digital Downloads” app from the Shopify app store

dda digital product

The reasons why we use this app:

  • Got the best file protection features to stop copyright & sharing
  • The fastest download speeds possible by using high-grade servers
  • Add download links to customer accounts
  • Fully customise the styling to fit your brand
  • 24/7 Support
  • Shopify app store staff picked for digital product stores
  • Unique fraud protection features
  • Set release dates for digital files
features of dda app

You will need to login into your Shopify store in a new tab or window, then go to their app store and install the Fileflare Digital Downloads Application.

This is the most secure and proven app by Shopify’s staff and our team of Shopify experts. We’ve put this app through its paces, and it really works wonders.

Features you will get:

Pro tip: Due to the weak support of some browsers, such as Safari and Microsoft’s Edge, we highly recommend using Google Chrome for Shopify. Chrome is built with developers and web apps in mind, which ensures any online store, web design and web app works smoothly.


Free plan available. Paid plans are available with more features. See pricing tables here.

The video process & how to set up your digital files

The process is super simple. The products are automatically synced from Shopify. All you need to do is follow these three steps:

  1. Upload files to the app
  2. Attach those files to the Shopify products
  3. Customize your settings

Follow this checklist

The team at Fileflare have provided an important checklist to ensure you are delivering files correctly with Shopify’s system.

They will cover such things as:

  1. Disabling the Shipping email that Shopify delivers
  2. Ensuring you have marked your products as digital
  3. Make sure you capture emails with every order so the files can be delivered
  4. Attaching the files to variants

Following this checklist will ensure your digital products will be delivered without any complications.

4. Test your workflow

The last (and possibly most important) step is running a test to be sure everything works. Placing a test order will send your intangible assets to a personal email.

You can handle this by running Shopify Payments through test mode or following our guide on how to do test orders on Shopify.

To enable Shopify Payments test mode for your system, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Shopify Settings
  2. Select payments
  3. Select manage under the Shopify payments section
  4. Scroll until you see the test mode section
  5. Check “enable test mode”
  6. Save your changes
test mode shopify settings

When entering card details, use anything available on their test card list that you can find here. The list also includes testing scenarios for various “failed transaction” methods.

Of course, if you already have your store established and running, then you wouldn’t want to enable a test mode. You will need to create a 100% discount code and then go through the checkout this way.

Top tips for Digital Products stores

Below are some tips you  can take into consideration when starting your online store:

  • When performing research, ask yourself about the pain points of your target audience. Find out their problems and ask yourself how you can make them more manageable.
  • Create products that bring communities together. Consider hosting a blog or online forum that allows them to discuss your industry. 
  • Join another industry page (like on Reddit or through Facebook Groups) to see what people are most concerned with. 
  • Look under Google Trends and do some keyword research to be sure you can make a profit on it. 
  • Start with a single product and consider complementary products down the road.

Digital products you can sell

If you are struggling to brainstorm solutions, I have listed below some different ideas. Alternatively, you can check out our more detailed article about more digital product ideas:

Online courses

E-Learning expects to have almost $380 billion by 2026. The intense growth rate comes on the heels of a realization that we can do things from home. 

Think about skills that you have to share with other people. Take those skills and apply them to a course. You can sell the system as a single product or provide continuous updates with a monthly subscription.

Digital templates

Whether it be blogs, emails, or newsletters, people are always looking for ways to make their system easier. Templates provide people with a wide variety of ways to sell their products.

  • Video editing templates
  • Photoshop project templates
  • Title templates
  • Color templates
  • Business plan templates
  • Graphic templates
  • Music stem templates
  • All Courses
  • Website themes

The templates can cover the gambit of types of communication (like blogs or emails) or industries (industries that need buying orders, selling orders, and maintenance requests). The sky is the limit, but these templates are typically full of digital assets and inexpensive.

Digital music 

If Spotify eCommerce was a thing, you could use Shopify to provide music as a reseller or for your band. You can also do both, and it’s an excellent way to market your brand efficiently across a wide area.

Just be aware that piracy is thin, so be sure to protect your music if you want to earn money for those plays. 

Stock photography 

Are you a talented photographer? As digital agencies continue to grow, now is a great time to sell your photos for commercial and personal use. 

Photos are also easier to protect with watermarks from people who should not be downloading them. However, most customers won’t appreciate a watermark if they bought the photo from you. 

Graphics design services

Another unique digital asset comes from offering services. In being a graphic designer, your initial “order complete” email should contain additional instructions to provide requests. 

You’ll want your customer to be specific with their needs during this. Miscommunication often leads to demanded refunds. It’s better to be too detailed rather than leave something to the imagination. 

Digital goods tax & the VAT OSS scheme

Please see our guide on setting up Digital Goods VAT tax in Shopify for digital products.

Unfortunately, over the years, companies such as Amazon have caused a storm with governments around the world avoiding the payment of VAT. When they began selling ebooks, they were known for locating their company in a VAT-free country and then selling to customers worldwide without paying VAT.

Later came a new law where companies selling digital goods now have to pay VAT in the country the customer is based in. This has, of course, caused many issues with small businesses, thanks to the Fortune 500 companies.

You will need to be aware that once you hit the VAT threshold for selling in each country, you need to register for the VAT OSS one-stop-shop service. This is a one-stop-shop for paying the VAT charge in a single transaction, and then the OSS scheme will pay to each individual country.

We highly advise you to be aware of this if you reach the VAT threshold in any country.

FAQ for digital products

Does Shopify let me sell digital products?

Yes, Shopify is one of the best platforms to sell digital products. Get a Shopify store and install the Fileflare Digital Downloads app from the app store. Shopify experts created it.

What is the best digital products app for Shopify?

The best one to use is built by Shopify experts called “Fileflare Digital Downloads”. It features the best protection features to prevent customers from sharing digital files without permission.

Can I sell any digital file type on Shopify?

Yes, you can upload and sell any file type using the Fileflare Digital Downloads app on your Shopify store.

What are the best digital products to sell?

We have a huge list of profitable digital products here, but in short, best-selling digital products range from PDF eBooks, Courses and Media.

Are there any special policies or regulations for selling digital products on Shopify?

While Shopify allows the sale of digital products, you must ensure that your products comply with all relevant local and international laws. This includes copyright laws, digital tax laws, and any regulations specific to the type of digital product you’re selling.

Final thoughts

While digital products are the king of the “ease of distribution” battle, that doesn’t discount you from providing something of value. Remember that others are more than willing to offer similar products for free, so ensure that your digital product outperforms on all fronts. 

Thankfully, Shopify’s system makes it easy to distribute these products. With some changes in the settings, it’s not too different from managing a physical store. The difference? You don’t have to worry about inventory and storage costs. 

If you want some extra Shopify tips, here’s how you can improve your Shopify SEO. You can even learn which Shopify page builder apps are the best. Take a look!

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