Read these 16 Digital Delivery Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Shopping Cart tips and hundreds of other topics.
Many full-featured ecommerce shopping carts -- both locally and remotely hosted -- can be set up to do online digital delivery. So if you're in the market for ecommerce shopping cart software for your site, look to see if it can be easily modified for online digital delivery, by adding a module or upgrading a hosted plan. A solid online digital delivery solution shhould offer all of the following:
* Readme files.
* License agreements.
* Maximum number and timed expiration of downloads.
* Software license key delivery.
There are some different options you'll want in your ebusiness solution to sell digital media. Instead of shipping hard goods, you are going to be delivering files. You'll want to find ebusiness software that offers a means of making it easy for your customers to get their files but protects you from giving away your goods. Depending on how large your files are, you can either send them via email or choose an advanced ebusiness solution that creates a temporary page for your customers to go to download the files they've purchased. Pages like this are dynamically generated based upon their order and only available for a set period of time, eliminating the possibility of someone sharing the link with all their friends.
The one thing everyone can agree on about the growth of the online digital delivery market is that it's big and getting much bigger every day. In-Stat says downloaded music will sell more than physical media bought online by 2007. According to Forrester Research, 12 million US households will be listening to podcasts by the end of the decade. By 2008, software delivered digitally will match the boxed software market and continue to grow, says Digital River. So what does this mean to you, a would-be ecommerce merchant? It means you need to pay attention to the idea of onine digital delivery not matter what you're selling now, since it's likely to be significantly affected by online digital delivery in the future.
You can purchase access to a hosted online digital delivery system, complete with keycode delivery and digital rights management, for as low as about $30 monthly. If you know that your entire online ecommerce business is going to be built around selling digital content and only digital content, this might make sense. However, most ecommerce businesses will likely want more flexibility, so it makes sense to look at ecommerce solutions that allow both online digital delivery and tradtional delivery methods, depending on the product.
You can sell anything that can be delivered digitally through most online shopping cart software. This includes digital music -- iTunes is a hugely successful example -- as well as software, photos, podcasts, videos, webcasts and ebooks, reports and other text content. It can be highly profitable to sell through online digital delivery, since you save big on packaging and delivery costs. But remember that you need to have legal rights to all digital content you sell before you start selling it.
What if you want to add online digital delivery to your existing ebusiness? Is it that easy? It can be, depending on your existing shopping cart software. If you use a hosted ecommerce solution, check to see if it is enabled for online digital delivery. If not, ask there is a module or upgrade available. If you use a locally hosted or custom solution, it may take some more work to reprogram your site to add in online digital delivery. However, you likely already have some web programming talent on hand to help make it happen. You shouldn't have to upgrade to new software.
Thinking about creating an ecommerce site specializing in online digital delivery? Let's look at some sites that do it well as models:
* Amazon.com: Amazon sells books in PDF, as well as Adobe and Microsoft E-Book formats. Books are purchased through the familiar shopping cart system and then can be immediately downloaded.
* iTunes: iTunes is such a sucessful ecommerce site that it's easy to forget that it's an e-business and not simply an online music library. iTunes make it incredibly easy to make impulse purchasing decisions.
* CinemaNow: Download the latest Hollywood movies to your laptop. Purchase 24-hour viewing windows.
* Getty Images: Getty and other stock photo sites offer hundreds of thousands of images for direct download under specific digital licenses.
If you're selling digital content through an online digital delivery system, you need to make sure your shopping cart system can effectively deal with digital rights management (DRM). For example, iTunes downloads are sold under a specific license that restricts the number of computers on which the downloaded song can be played. Often, a digital product needs to be sold with a license regulating use of the product. Your software needs to make sure the licensing happens correctly during the online digital delivery process in order to meet all legal requirements.
With secure RSS feeds, online digital delivery can become actual online digital delivery... instead of simply servicing customers who come to your web site. With secure RSS (Really Simple Syndication), clients can pay for regular delivery of digital content via their RSS readers. Audible.com, a leading provider of digital audio content, has been experimenting successfully with secure RSS. Expect other companies with digital content streams to soon follow.
In any business, there are outstanding leaders and innovators who are out in front of everyone else and serve as models for the rest of the business community. With online digital delivery, here are some sites and providers to keep an eye on as potential models for your own site:
* Amazon.com: Sells everything from PDFs to movies on demand, using its one-click purchasing system.
* iTunes: The leading provider of digital music and now TV shows and movies. The online digital delivery system is flawless.
* Limelight Networks: A behind-the-scenes player who handles delivery for leading digital content providers, like Microsoft X-Box Live.
* Digital River: The leading provider of online digital delivery for software.
If you're thinking of developing a web store to sell digital products online, you're thinking forwardly. But you've also got some unique problems to deal with. Secure online digital delivery can be awkward. You really need to deal with a digital delivery specialist to make sure your sales process isn't short-circuited by an enterprising hacker. The easiest way to do this is to hook up with a hosted online digital delivery specialist. Clickbank is the biggest and best-known of these online digital delivery specialists, and receives good overall reviews. This doesn't mean you can't deliver digital content with other shopping carts. You just need to make sure the online digital delivery process is secure.
One area where Paypal -- the ecommerce shopping cart software giant from EBay -- hasn't been hugely successful is with online digital delivery of content. Digital delivery can be tricky. You need to make sure no one gets to your digital content before they pay for it. And then once paid up, you need to make sure you give access only to what's been paid for. According to web reports, PayPal is in the process of developing a digital drop box, which will make online delivery easier. The idea is that a merchant can drop digital content onto the secure Paypal server, where it can then be accessed by clients as part of an overall online digital delivery system. If it works, this could be a huge leap forward for Paypal and online digital delivery in general.
One of the new features in the upcoming Windows Vista OS from Microsoft is what's called the Times Reader. Developed in cooperation with the New York Times, this online digital delivery solution will allow Windows users to read the New York Times in digital format, but with the exact same layout as the newspaper. This could be a big deal in the newspaper world, which is struggling for revenue as more readers move online. By integrating with Windows, the Times can make it easy to get on the desktop of millions of users in a familiar format. If this software then gets licensed to other newspapers and magazines, it could really revolutionize the media world, combing the best of the print product with online digital delivery.
Many ecommerce shopping carts allow a merchant to sell content through online digital delivery. In front of the firewall, a potential buyer agrees to buy some online digital content and is processed through the shopping cart software and payment gateway. Make sure your software creates a unique URL for the digital download site when it allows a user in. Otherwise, once the URL is known, it would be easy to get around the payment process and go directly to the digital download site. This would be a big security hole and a potential money loss.
You may not think you know what online digital delivery is, but chances are you've been using online digital delivery of content without even knowing it. Ever use iTunes to buy a song or an album? That's online digital delivery through Apple's ecommerce shopping cart, which charged you 99 cents a song. The same with videos, PDFs and even podcasts. You purchase content through an ecommerce shopping cart, but instead of having hard goods shipped, you purchase a digital copy that is made available to you as soon as your payment clears. It's a big part of the ecommerce market and getting bigger every day. Make sure your ebusiness is prepared for it now.
No matter what type of shopping cart system you use for online digital delivery, here's the key to making sure your sales process is secure: Your shopping cart absolutely must deliver content with a unique URL for each sale. All online digital delivery systems work by letting the customer access a digital download after payment. If your online digital delivery system doesn't change the URL to the download site with each sale, anyone can revisit your content by copying the URL. Make sure your online digital delivery system does not send customers to the same URL over and over again.