Easy Digital Downloads vs WooCommerce: Here's How To Choose
Sujay Pawar

November 10, 2018

Easy Digital Downloads vs WooCommerce: Here’s How To Choose

EDD-vs-WOO-comparison

Trying to choose between Easy Digital Downloads vs WooCommerce to build an eCommerce store on WordPress?

These two plugins are by far the most popular options in WordPress eCommerce and, despite the names, you can actually use each of them to sell both physical and digital products.

So how can you choose the right platform for your needs? Well, that’s what we’re going to help you decide today.

Generally, you’ll hear people say “use WooCommerce for physical products and Easy Digital Downloads for digital products.” And, to be honest, that’s not a bad rule of thumb.

But the real situation is a little bit more complicated, so keep reading to see a deeper look at the pros and cons of each platform.

The Astra theme has built-in integrations for both Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce, so you’ll be able to easily customize your store no matter which plugin you choose.

Easy Digital Downloads vs WooCommerce: Here’s What’s The Same

Before we get to the differences, let’s cover some of the things in common between these two platforms.

Both are full-service eCommerce solutions. By “full-service”, we mean that they handle:

  • Creating and managing products
  • Shopping cart functionality
  • Payments
  • Product fulfillment
  • Coupons/discounts
  • Reports/analytics
  • Etc.

Additionally, you can use both platforms to sell both physical and digital products, though there are some caveats to that for EDD that we’ll discuss in a second.

Each platform is also extendible with both third-party and official add-on plugins. And our Astra theme also includes dedicated integrations for both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

Both platforms also come in a free core plugin, though you’ll almost certainly need some premium extensions no matter which plugin you choose.

Finally, both plugins are backed by long-standing, reputable developers:

  • WooCommerce is run by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress.com
  • EDD is run by Sandhills Development and Pippin Williamson, the same team behind Restrict Content Pro and AffiliateWP.

So that’s what’s the same. Now, let’s talk about some key differences.

6 Key Differences Between EDD vs WooCommerce

Here’s where things start getting different between the two platforms…

1. Easy Digital Downloads Excels With Digital Products (As You’d Expect)

We’ve said a couple of times that Easy Digital Downloads can sell both physical and digital products. That is indeed true – it’s even in the EDD documentation, you just need the Simple Shipping add-on.

With that being said, “EDD was built from the ground up for non-physical things, so selling physical things is not its main focus”.

Easy Digital Downloads vs WooCommerce interface

So here’s the general idea:

If you were worried about using EDD simply because you want to sell a few physical products alongside a mostly digital store, don’t let that get in the way because EDD will still let you sell some basic physical products.

But if you want to sell almost exclusively physical products, you’ll be better off with WooCommerce because Easy Digital Downloads isn’t built to handle that.

2. WooCommerce Can Sell Both Physical And Digital Products, But It Lags In Licensing

With WooCommerce, it’s the opposite. WooCommerce was built to sell physical products and then also added digital product functionality.

With that being said, WooCommerce’s digital product functionality is less of an afterthought than Easy Digital Download’s physical product functionality is. As a result, you will see some digital stores powered by WooCommerce, especially when it comes to digital files that don’t require licensing. For example, you’ll find some photographers who prefer WooCommerce, even for digital files.

WooCommerce product data

If your products do require licensing, most people prefer how Easy Digital Downloads handles licensing compared to WooCommerce. For example, we use Easy Digital Downloads here at Brainstorm Force to handle all the sales and license management for our products like Astra, UABB, Schema Pro, etc.

Additionally, if you want to exclusively sell digital products with WooCommerce, you’re still going to have all those detailed physical product features sitting on your server, which isn’t great from a “bloat” perspective. It’s kind of like buying a 10 bedroom house when you live alone. Sure, it works – but there’s a lot of wasted space.

3. WooCommerce Has A Bigger Extension Marketplace, Including Payment Gateways

You already know that both plugins have official and third-party plugin marketplaces. But when it comes to the size of those marketplaces, WooCommerce’s extension marketplace is much larger, which means you’ll have more choice when it comes to both functionality and payment gateways.

For example, a quick search at CodeCanyon shows:

  • 2,829 WooCommerce plugins
  • 311 Easy Digital Downloads plugins
WooCommerce plugins

Additionally, WooCommerce has 81 payment gateways listed at the WooCommerce.com marketplace. While Easy Digital Downloads does have a lengthy third-party payment gateway list, many of them haven’t been updated in a while.

With that being said, it’s important to think about these differences in terms of your actual usage.

For example, you don’t need 81 different payment gateways at your store. In fact, most people will be happy with just PayPal and Stripe. And when it comes to the big name gateways, there’s no difference in support.

Similarly, you’re not going to install 2,831 WooCommerce plugins at your store, so that number doesn’t mean anything by itself.

Instead, you should think of it like this:

If you have a need for a unique feature, WooCommerce is more likely to have an extension with that functionality. But if you just want a normal standard store, you might not notice a difference because both platforms have extensions that cover common functionality.

And again, we’ve built Astra with dedicated integrations for both EDD and WooCommerce, so you won’t notice any difference there, either.

4. WooCommerce Has A Bigger Community In General, Which Means Lots Of Help

Beyond extensions, another area where WooCommerce excels is its community. WooCommerce powers ~21% of all eCommerce stores in the top 1 million sites, which means there’s a huge community of WooCommerce users and developers to call on if you need help.

On the other hand, EDD powers just 0.21% of stores in the top million sites. If our math is right, that makes WooCommerce about 100x more popular.

As a result, you can find:

That stuff is still there with Easy Digital Downloads…just on a much smaller level.

So if you value being able to easily get help from a community or developer, WooCommerce is the winner there.

5. Easy Digital Downloads Is More Lightweight For Performance

WooCommerce’s approach is kind of “everything and the kitchen sink”, whereas Easy Digital Downloads is a little more narrow in its functionality and focus.

As a result, Easy Digital Downloads is more lightweight from a performance perspective.

For example, a fresh install of WooCommerce will load 8 scripts on the shop page whereas a fresh install of Easy Digital Downloads will load just 2.

So if you’re selling digital products and debating between WooCommerce vs Easy Digital Downloads, performance might be something that tips the scales in EDD’s favor.

6. Easy Digital Downloads Is Stable, Whereas WooCommerce Has Had Some Update Issues

While WooCommerce has the backing of Automattic, it’s had a few highly-publicized snafus with recent updates.

For example, WooCommerce 3.3 was removed hours after its release in February 2018 because it caused an issue with category display in some third-party themes. And after WooCommerce 3.0, a lot of users had issues with photo gallery and lightbox functionality.

Is WooCommerce unstable? Certainly not – we’re not trying to say that. But it is something to consider as EDD doesn’t have any track record of these sorts of issues.

How To Choose Between Easy Digital Downloads And WooCommerce

There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation here because both of these plugins are quality tools…they’re just tools for different jobs.

You won’t go wrong with either – you just want to pick the one that matches your needs the best.

Here are some tips to help you make your choice:

WooCommerce For Physical Products, EDD For Digital Products

While it’s not a hard rule like some people say, using WooCommerce for physical products and Easy Digital Downloads for digital products is still a good approach for most users.

Just remember that both platforms can sell both types of products, so the rule is more like:

If You’re Not Tech Savvy, Consider WooCommerce

Because of WooCommerce’s huge ecosystem, it’s easy for non-technical users to extend stores and find help.

For example, WooCommerce’s big plugin ecosystem gives you a better chance of finding an off-the-rack solution instead of custom coding something. And WooCommerce’s big human ecosystem makes it easier to find both free community help or hire a WooCommerce developer.

Ready to launch your eCommerce store on WordPress?

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About the Author

Sujay is CEO and Co-Founder of Brainstorm Force, the company behind Astra. He is a diehard entrepreneur, growth hacker, and YouTube addict. Get in touch with him on Twitter @sujaypawar.

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