Digital goods management: WebSite X5 Pro from version 13.1.

Automatic order processing: WebSite X5 Pro from version 17.

The only difference between physical and digital products is that one is material and the other isn't. An immaterial product has certain advantages: you don't run out of copies, they don't take up space, you don't have to worry about shipments and, once you've organized the sales process, you can earn money with a minimum amount of effort.

There are various different kinds of digital products nowadays: ebooks, digital photos, music files, videos, templates and Web graphics, apps for mobile devices and, obviously, all the software.

You don't have to be a pro to create fantastic digital products. If photography is your hobby and you've taken some good shots, why not try and sell them, instead of leaving them on Instagram. Or if you like writing stories, turn them into ebooks and make some money from them.

Selling digital products may be your main source of income, but it could also be a way to make your hobby earn you a bit extra pocket money through your Website or Blog.

If the idea of selling digital products appeals to you, but you're not sure how to go about it, carry on reading this guide: it's easier than you think.

This guide will explain how to:

#tip - Database and project export. If you decide to export your website using the Webspace offered by WebSite X5, you don't have to do anything: the database and server connection parameters are already integrated. If, on the other hand, you choose another Provider, you will need to report them manually. Please see: How to export your website using a Hosting Service different from the one included with WebSite X5.

1. Create a product catalog

What do you sell in your online store? Make sure you include all the products that are for sale on your website, don't forget any important information about them and, if you have a lot if items, organize them in categories:

  • Stay in Step 1 - WebSite Settings, and click on Shopping Cart: go through the various sections in this window to set up your online store.
  • Go to the Products section. Select the appropriate category, click on the New Product button and give all the necessary information in the Product Settings window. When you confirm the settings, you will see the new product in the summary table.
  • Repeat these operations for all the products that you want to sell in your online store.

#tip - Save time! If you've already got a product catalog in .TXT or .CSV format, you can import it using the "Import Products" button.

Let's get down to details and see how to create a digital product, an ebook, for example:

  • In the General section of the Product Details window, enter the title of the ebook in the Name/Code field, write "ebook format" in the Description field and give it a Price.
  • In the Image section, use the Add button to import at least one picture for the ebook's front cover.
  • In the Digital Product section, select the Digital Product option and enter the name of the file containing your ebook: you can import a file from your PC or one that has already been loaded online.

#tip - Protect your ebook. If you select the "Use temporary Download Link" option, each customer will be given a different link, that works for a given number of days only, to download the ebook.

2. Enable payment methods

If you were selling physical products, you would also define delivery methods but, because your store is selling ebooks, you only have to set up payment methods. As an example, we'll use PayPal for receiving payments:

  • Go to the Order Management section in the Shopping Cart window and click on the Add button to open the Payment Method window.
  • In the General section, type "PayPal" in the Name field and enter "Immediate payment via PayPal" in the Description field. You can also choose to add an Associated image icon to represent PayPal.
  • In the Type section, select Immediate payment and choose PayPal Commerce Platform, then enter your PayPal account (for more information, see: How to activate and use the PayPal Commerce Platform payment method). 
  • Select the pages which should be displayed for both successful and unsuccessful transactions (we advise you to create a separate page with a specific message and appropriate graphics: these pages can be set up as Hidden pages in the menu when you are working on the sitemap in Step 3).
  • If you want to automatically process  after having received the payment, you can activate the option Process the purchase automatically after having received the payment.
  • In the E-mail message section, add a brief description of how payments are made with PayPal: remember that this text will be used in the order confirmation e-mail that is sent to customers.

#tip - Automatic order processing. The "Process the purchase automatically after having received the payment" option has been introduced for WebSite X5 Pro 17. If the shopping cart contains both physical and digital products, the order cannot be processed automatically.

3. Define data management and notification e-mails

As we mentioned at the start, your online store needs an integrated database when you sell digital products. Now you have to link the database with your online store and set up the notifications:

  • Go to the Send Order section in the Shopping Cart window and select Send data to the database in the Send and Notifications section.
  • Enter a valid e-mail address for yourself as E-mail Administrator: order confirmation e-mails will be sent from this address.
  • If you want a notification to be sent to the e-mail administrator's address each time a new order is registered, tick the Send notification e-mail on data reception option. 

As far as the notification e-mails that are sent from the online store to customers are concerned, please consider they are created automatically, but can be customized.

  • Still in the Send Order section, select the notification e-mail that you want to work on. If you only sell digital products in your store, you must select the Order confirmation e-mail and Order dispatch notification e-mail - Digital products.
  • Write an Introductory and a Closing text.

#tip - More details. For further information on notifications, see How to write a notification e-mail.

4. Create the Buy Now button

Now that the shopping cart is set up, you have to present all your products on the website pages and add the buttons so that customers can make their purchases. We'll presume you have already created a page with a title, text and pictures for presenting your e-book. Now we'll see how to add a "Buy now" button to it:

  • Go to the Map in Step 3, select your ebook's page and click on Continue.
  • Insert an Image object in the point where you want the button to be: double-click on the object to open the window where you can define its properties.
  • Import the file you want to use for the button.
  • Click on the button to add a link to the image: select Add to Cart in the new window and then select the ebook that is to be bought.

#tip - Optimize your store. A store's success depends on how efficient the buttons are. Try the Animated Button and Hover Button optional objects to create even more attractive buttons.

#tip - Save time! If you have a lot of products, and you don't want to create a page for each one, use the Product Page (see, What's the product page and how to use it) or the Product Catalog object (see, How to work with the Product Catalog Object).

5. Manage orders from the online Control Panel

Once you have set up the cart and published your project online, you can start working on how to advertise it and manage the orders.

WebSite X5 provides a very useful tool for managing orders: the Online Control Panel. You'll find this by typing your website's URL address, followed by "/admin" (for example, Log in with the Administrator group credentials that were specified in the Access Management section (in Step 1 - Advanced Settings).

There is a Shopping cart section in the Control Panel, where you can display, dispatch, file or delete the orders you receive.

If you wish, you can get push notifications each time a new order is completed in the store:

  • On Step 1 - Settings, click on Control Panel and activate the Enable Push Notifications option.
  • Access the online Control Panel > Notifications: confirm you want to receive notifications and choose the kind of notifications you want to get.


As you can see, creating an online store to sell digital products isn't complicated. Just think of something you're good at and that people would be prepared to pay for, transform it into a product (an ebook, a video-course, a graphics resource, etc) and put it on sale on your website. With a touch of enterprise, it could soon become an important source of income for you.