The Holy Grail of ecommerce is to create a product once and sell it over and over again.
Many online stores are achieving this goal by focusing on downloadable products like source code, graphics, PDF files, or ebooks just, to name a few of the digital products available.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at ten innovative ecommerce businesses that make money selling digital products.
Sky Sectionals sells downloadable, PDF-formatted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maps for private airplane pilots. The secret to Sky Sectionals’ success is ease of use. FAA charts are normally six feet by four feet, which makes them hard to use in a tight cockpit. Sky Sectionals slices the charts into overlapping 8 ½” by 11″ maps that can be printed out and placed on a kneeboard.
iStockphoto is, perhaps, the Internet’s premier stock photography site. Photographers, videographers, and audio experts upload tens of thousands of images and files to the site. iStockphoto lets customers search for the images or other media they need for their projects and download those resources for a fee. In this business model, both iStockphoto and the artists who submit content get paid.
VMWare’s core business is providing virtual machine software for desktop or enterprise applications. But recently the company also started offering virtual “appliances.” These appliances are fully configured software solutions built with one or more virtual machines that are outfitted, updated, and managed as a single unit. For example, if you need an email server, you could download one that was completely ready to go.
Woo Themes capitalizes on the popularity of the WordPress platform, offering site owners a way to easily find and purchase site themes. Woo Themes even sells its templates wholesale to developers who may use them as the foundation for client sites.
SlideDeck sells jQuery and WordPress plug-ins designed to extend functionality. The site offers single-site or multi-site licenses good for up to 50 domains. If one believes SlideDeck’s marketing material, more than 87 million SlideDeck plug-ins are in use.
Audible sells downloadable audio books either individually or as part of a membership. Members receive a certain number of credits each month. Billing is recurring unless specifically cancelled; so not only does Audible get to sell audio books over again, it gets to bill customers for them monthly.
Smashing Magazine frequently repackages its regular content, mixing it with some new material, and sells the result as an ebook. Smashing ebooks range in price from free to $39.00. The book is delivered as a PDF.
SageMilk is a maker of mobile and desktop applications. SageMilk’s apps run on Android, iPhone, or desktop computers using the Chrome browser. The apps have various payment models including in application payments for certain features. The company also has a learning application.
“How-to” information is popular on the web. So Tuts+ Tutorials has created a marketplace full of premium video and written tutorials. Users may purchase a tutorial, download it, and use it as often as they want.