How to Set Up and Extend Virtual and Downloadable Products in WooCommerce

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By using these options in WooCommerce, you can set up client sites that sell services easily as well as products such as ebooks, music, etc. In this post, you learn what a virtual and downloadable product is and how to create them. I will also show you the settings that allow you to manage your downloadable products easily.

Lastly, I will share with you some ways to extend these features for you client sites.

When creating virtual and downloadable products, you will be using Simple Products.

Virtual Products

Examples of virtual products includes services you may be providing and want people to purchase in advance. Hourly consulting fees is just one example.

Once you click on virtual, a few of the options are removed in the left side tabs, such as shipping.

simple product virutal

Tip: if you are listing an hourly service, and want people to be able to choose more than 1 hour, tick this box under inventory.

virutal product inventory

Downloadable Products

This is perfect if your clients are selling ebooks, music or any other product that involves only a file download.

A. When creating a downloadable product you will also want to check it as virtual.

1. Downloadable Files: This is where you will put the URL of your downloadable file. First name the file so it’s recognizable to the buyer, as this will be part of their download instructions. And File URL, you have two options here. You can simply upload it to your media file and the link will be automatically added. Or you can put in a URL if you are storing it on some external site like Amazon S3 or another one.

2. Download Limit: This control how many times that single customer can download the product. As note, you can leave blank for unlimited downloads. I typically give them 2 just in case they lose their first one.

3. Download Expiry: Set a date here for the expiration of the download link. I recommend about a week, as people sometimes get busy and this gives them a bit of time. On this and the previous field they will be told about the limitations.

downloadable product settings

Extending Virtual Products (services, etc)

Using WooCommerce to sell services is a great way to take advantage of this plugin as it gives you a lot of flexibility. You can see our post here that goes into more details of Selling Services with WooCommerce.

Here are some other posts of extensions that will help you selling your services.

Booking Appointments

Using WooCommerce is easy to give people the chance to book time slots. This could be for professional services or hotels, motels and B&B’s. You can check out our post on the WooCommerce Bookings extension.

Adding On Additional Options to Your Services

Chances are your clients have some additional services that can be added to their main services. For example, if you building a site for a nutritionist, they may also have classes they offer. The Add-On extension makes it easy to list those on the product page in WooCommerce. You can see my post here.

How to Remove the Billing Address Fields at Checkout for Free Virtual Products

When you create a virtual product in WooCommerce, the shipping option is removed, but for billing reasons, the customer is required to fill out their address. Now if there is an offer for a free virtual product or someone uses a coupon code to purchase a virtual product and the checkout total is $0, they are still required to put in a billing address. Which is unneeded and requires more effort from the customer. You want to make this process as easy as possible. Check out this post.

Extending Downloadable Products.

There are many ways to get creative with these kind of products. Also, excellent ways to add additional functionality. Here are some other posts that you might find to fit your clients specific needs.

Offer Downloads with Subscriptions on a WooCommerce Store

If your clients are using the Subscription extension, you may also want to check this out if they are offering downloads to your subscribers. The Subscription Downloads extension lets anyone offer downloadable products to your subscribers, while you still maintain individual listings for each of the downloadable products. This allows the store owner to have them sold individually through their store and also through subscriptions. Check out my post here.

How to Add a Watermark to Your WooCommerce Downloadable PDF’s

Do you want to protect downloads such as eBooks or other PDF documents with a watermark? This extension has a variety of features that will ensure PDF files are protected by giving you several options for watermark position, colors and size. You can learn more about it on my post here.

Offer Customers a Bulk Download Option on Their Account Page in WooCommerce

When selling downloads, often the customer will buy several downloads, for example, music or books. Or it could be free downloads or a mix of downloads. Giving them the option to create a zipped file and downloading them in one sweep is another benefit to give to them. Here is a post that will show you how you can do this and get creative with it.

How to Sell Software Licenses with WooCommerce

A common virtual and downloadable product is software. And most times, you will also need to sell a license with that software. This post shows you how this extension works and how it can allow you to offer upgrades to the software licenses as well.

When it comes to virtual and downloadable products, whether they are services, software of something else, you can use many of the extensions to extend them as you would for physical products. Whether it’s upsells, coupons, promotions or marketing, the options are unlimited.

Only the posts on the builder blog here may include affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission, at no cost to you.