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Easy Digital Downloads vs WooCommerce – Which to Choose and Why?

WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are two of the most popular ecommerce plugins for WordPress — and if you want to start selling products from your website, they can definitely help.

WooCommerce has a strong focus on creating stores that sell physical products, while Easy Digital Downloads has been designed for handling digital products, such as eBooks, MP3s and video content. When it comes to choosing between WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads, though, there’s more to consider than just what type of products you’ll be selling.

So, which one should you choose for your project?

That’s the question we’ll be answering in this comparison.

About WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads

Both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are freemium plugins that can turn your WordPress website into an online shop. The core Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce plugins have more than 60,000 and three million active installations respectively, and are freely available from the WordPress Plugin Directory.

woocommerce homepage

While the core plugins alone can enable you to start listing products for sale on your site and collect payments from your customers, the libraries of free and paid extensions for both plugins can help you to create almost any type of ecommerce website with WordPress.

WooCommerce was created by the WooThemes team in 2011, and has since been purchased by Automattic, a company started by one of the original founders of WordPress. Easy Digital Downloads was created by veteran WordPress plugin developer Pippin Williamson, and is managed by a full team of support staff and developers.

Easy Digital Downloads Homepage

Whether you want to build a fully featured ecommerce store, list a few items for sale on your blog, or create something in between, both of these plugins are good options. However, this guide will cover their main features to help you decide which one is most suitable for your needs.

For a quick overview of WooCommerce, check out our video guide. We’ve also covered Easy Digital Downloads in more depth in this hands-on EDD review.

Core Features

As mentioned, both the WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads plugins provide everything needed to add a shopping cart to your WordPress website, list products for sale, accept and manage orders, and collect payments from customers.

Storefront Theme Demo
Depending on your choice of theme, your WooCommerce store could look like this.

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The main difference between the two plugins is that Easy Digital Downloads was created to handle digital products, while WooCommerce supports both physical and digital products. Because of its increased functionality, WooCommerce is the more powerful plugin of the two — but this extra functionality has its pros and cons.

Easy Digital Downloads Product Grid Example
Example of an Easy Digital Downloads downloadable products display.

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It’s worth pointing out that, with the right add-on, Easy Digital Downloads can be extended to handle physical products. However, if physical products are the main focus of your website, WooCommerce is the better option because of its focus on creating this type of ecommerce store.

Example Report from WooCommerce
Both plugins include useful reports for your store, but the WooCommerce reports are more informative.

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The core plugins have both been translated into multiple languages, with WooCommerce now available in 51 languages and Easy Digital Downloads in ten.

Add-Ons and Extensions

Both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads really come into their own when you start exploring the available add-ons and extensions. Thanks to these modules, you can add a wide range of additional features to your WordPress online store.

Extensions for Easy Digital Downloads
Some of the extensions available from the Easy Digital Downloads website.

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Free and commercial add-ons are available for both plugins, and include extensions created by in-house development teams and third-party developers. Some of the extensions can be quite expensive, and costs can quickly mount up if you’re trying to create a fully functional, professional-quality ecommerce store.

WooCommerce Extension Bundle
Extensions bundles are available for both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

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From adding more shipping and payment options to improving the product displays and checkout experience, almost every aspect of your ecommerce store can be enhanced with the WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads extensions.

Subscriptions add-on for WooCommerce
From membership features to subscription payments, the WooCommerce add-ons provide lots of options.

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Because the extensions are available from a wide range of sources, it’s difficult to determine which plugin has the most add-ons, although it does appear that WooCommerce users have more options when it comes to enhancing their store.

Jetpack Connect for WooCommerce
The optional Jetpack integration is heavily promoted in the WooCommerce area of your WordPress dashboard.

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Now that WooCommerce is owned by Automattic, the plugin can also be integrated with their popular Jetpack suite of tools. This gives you access to features that can help to improve the security of your site and assist with product promotion, as well as provide more detailed reporting.

WooCommerce Woo Services Upgrade
The optional WooCommerce Services plugin can help to make your store more secure and robust.

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You can also take advantage of WooCommerce Services and host some of your ecommerce store’s core services on the Automattic infrastructure, helping to make your store more reliable and robust.

WooCommerce Experts Directory
You can find recommended developers for store customization on both plugins’ websites.

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As both plugins are well known for their clean code and extensibility, adding bespoke functionality to your store shouldn’t be a problem. The appropriate sections on both the WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads websites can put you in touch with trusted developers to carry out the work.

Compatible Themes

WordPress Themes for Easy Digital Downloads
You can find free themes on the Easy Digital Downloads website, as well as premium ones at sites such as ThemeForest.

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When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme for your ecommerce store, the good news is any modern, well-coded theme should work with both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

However, by choosing a WordPress theme that was built specifically for use with either of these two plugins, you often get access to some useful extras. This could mean a greater selection of layouts and designs for displaying your products, as well as stylish templates for the checkout and shopping cart pages.

Premium WooCommerce WordPress Theme
There are many free and premium WooCommerce WordPress themes available.

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The best ecommerce WordPress themes usually include many of the features you’d expect to find at a professional online store, such as one-click checkouts, quick add-to-cart buttons, product inspectors, and wish lists, to name just a few.

As WooCommerce is much more widely used than Easy Digital Downloads, there’s a greater number of purpose-built WooCommerce themes to choose from. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll have trouble finding a good Easy Digital Downloads-compatible WordPress theme.

User Experience

So far, we’ve established that both Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce are powerful tools for creating online stores and selling products from your WordPress website. But which one is easier to use? Let’s find out by exploring the user experience of both plugins.

Creating an Online Store with WooCommerce

When it comes to getting started, WooCommerce makes it very easy to set up your store. The wizard that’s displayed as soon as you activate the plugin gives you the option of completing a series of forms to configure how the ecommerce aspects of your website will work.

WooCommerce Setup Wizard
Unlike Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce has a wizard to help you set up your store.

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Being walked through the process of setting up your store not only makes it easy to see what features and options are available, such as the different choices for handling payments, but it also ensures you don’t miss any critical steps when configuring your store.

Setting up WooCommerce Payments
The WooCommerce wizard makes it easy to see what options are available to you.

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Creating a Product with WooCommerce

Once you’ve completed the setup process, you can create your first product. You also have the option of importing your products by uploading a compatible CSV file. Both Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce use WordPress custom post types for managing products, which makes creating a new product much like creating a new blog post.

Create a New Product with WooCommerce
When creating your first product, WooCommerce displays helpful tooltips to walk you through the process.

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The product details can be configured in the panel under the description area. From here, you can enter the price and other important information, such as the product dimensions and weight, stock levels, and optional upsells and cross-sells. Unlike Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce has support for physical products and downloadable files out of the box.

Entering the Product Details in WooCommerce
Additional information can be added through the product data panel.

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The rest of the panels on the product screen can be used to add product tags and categories to help you organize your inventory, a featured product image and image gallery, and a short description of the item.

Product Page Editor in WooCommerce
Everything needed to create a product can be found on one page in your WordPress dashboard.

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Once your product is ready, you can preview or publish it just like a regular post or page on your WordPress website.

Preview of a WooCommerce Product
Depending on your choice of theme, your WooCommerce store and products could look something like this.

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Managing your WooCommerce Store

Configuring your store, managing orders, and viewing the sales reports all takes place through the WooCommerce section of your WordPress dashboard.

Orders Report in WooCommerce
The WooCommerce dashboard makes it easy to manage your store, its orders, and other details.

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With the core version of WooCommerce, you can view reports on orders, customers, stock levels, and taxes. As mentioned, there are extensions available that increase the reporting capabilities of your store.

Report Dashboard in WooCommerce
The reporting tools of the core WooCommerce plugin give you a good insight into your store and its products.

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Creating and managing an online store with WooCommerce is very straightforward. The setup wizard is really helpful, and the links in the dashboard that point to the corresponding documentation on the WooCommerce website make it easy to get more information on how the plugin works.

Creating an Online Store with Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads doesn’t have a setup wizard, so, once you’ve activated the plugin, you should visit the settings page to configure your store.

Settings Panel in Easy Digital Downloads
Like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads has been built to integrate seamlessly with the WordPress dashboard.

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The tabbed system makes it easy to access everything from one screen, helping to ensure you don’t miss any important settings when configuring your store with Easy Digital Downloads. Once you’ve worked your way through the settings, you can create your first product listing.

Creating a Product with Easy Digital Downloads

Although with the right extensions you can sell physical products in an Easy Digital Downloads-powered ecommerce store, the fact that the core plugin only handles digital downloads makes creating a new product more straightforward than with WooCommerce.

Creating a New Product in Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads’ new product screen should be familiar to anyone who’s used WordPress before.

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As with WooCommerce, the user interface of Easy Digital Downloads fits right into the WordPress dashboard. Publishing a downloadable ecommerce product listing is only a small step up from creating a blog post or web page. As well as entering the title and main content, you must also upload the product files.

Downloadable File in Easy Digital Downloads
With Easy Digital Downloads, each download can include multiple files and various pricing configurations.

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As well as setting the price of the download, you also have the option of defining how many times the file can be downloaded. Adding product notes that your customers can view is also possible.

Product Settings in Easy Digital Downloads
Easy Digital Downloads gives you the ability to set a file download limit and add product notes for customers.

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As with WooCommerce, you can also add custom tags and categories to your products. However, unlike with WooCommerce, there’s no option to add an additional short product description, a featured product image, or an image gallery.

Once you’re ready, you can preview or publish your download. Although the appearance will depend on your choice of WordPress theme, the default product presentation isn’t as good as WooCommerce. This is mainly due to the lack of feature image and image gallery sections.

Preview of an Easy Digital Downloads Product
Although you can insert images into the product description, you don’t get the feature image and image gallery display sections of WooCommerce.

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Another way to display the Easy Digital Downloads products on your site is to insert them into existing pages and posts. By using the Easy Digital Downloads shortcodes, you can insert a download into your content rather than display it on its own page.

Easy Digital Downloads Product Shortcode
The Easy Digital Downloads shortcodes make inserting your downloadable files into posts and pages straightforward.

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This feature is really useful if you want to display a download button or text link in an article on your site.

Easy Digital Downloads Product Download Button
An example of a download button displayed in a WordPress post.

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Managing Your Easy Digital Downloads Store

You can manage your store and its files through the Downloads section of your WordPress dashboard. From there, you can view reports, such as product-specific reports, as well as sales and earnings graphs.

Easy Digital Downloads Dashboard
Downloads, reports, customer information, and more can be accessed through the Easy Digital Downloads area of your dashboard.

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You can also view customer information, manage the categories and tags that are used to organize your downloads, and browse the available extensions for Easy Digital Downloads.

Add-ons for Easy Digital Downloads
You can view the extensions for Easy Digital Downloads in your WordPress dashboard.

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Overall, because of its single focus, Easy Digital Downloads has fewer settings and options to master than WooCommerce. However, the wizard and helpful tooltip prompts simplify the process of using WooCommerce significantly. In short, both plugins are very user-friendly.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to which of these plugins you should choose, if you’re going to be selling physical products, then WooCommerce is the obvious choice.

Even if you’ll be selling digital downloads from your store, WooCommerce could still be a good option — there’s support for selling files, and if you ever want to expand into physical products, it won’t be a problem. Easy Digital Downloads does have an add-on for selling physical products, but the functionality is basic compared with that of WooCommerce.

If you simply want to sell digital products, or you’re looking for a more efficient way to offer downloadable files from your WordPress website, Easy Digital Downloads is well worth considering. The more minimal approach of Easy Digital Downloads makes it easy to use.

However, if you want to create a professional ecommerce store, WooCommerce and its ecosystem of extensions, themes, services, and developers will provide you with more options. Just be sure to explore the costs of any extras your store may need to see whether Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce or another ecommerce WordPress plugin matches your budget.

Aside from WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads, another option is, of course, Shopify. For more on Shopify, take a look at our recent video on WooCommerce vs Shopify.

Used/using either of these plugins? Thoughts?

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By Joe Fylan

Joe is an experienced WordPress user who enjoys sharing the tips and knowledge he's picked up from using this fantastic platform for many years. You can find out more about Joe on his website.
Comments (policy)
  1. David Lefevre says:

    Thank you for this blog post!

    For my part, I have a preference for Easy Digital Downloads. For a physical product I would choose WooCommerce instead. But as soon as I can, I’ll take EDD.

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