Why We Switched From Easy Digital Downloads to WooCommerce

Right before we get started I want to make sure everybody understands I am not here to bash Pippin or any of the EDD team. I’ve never met them. I have heard they are very nice people, and some of Pippin’s posts have helped me out. So I have nothing but good things to say about them.

Now I’ve got that out of the way let me get back to the subject at hand.

When we started our business we selected EDD as our store component for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was highly recommended – as its name implies it is perfect for digital products!  Secondly it ticked a lot of the boxes on features we were looking for and it was breeze to setup. Thirdly it had some great extensions available at very reasonable prices – we were cash strapped so this was a big plus. I’m happy to report we’ve been very satisfied with EDD and it has been a solid part of our business.

We also made deliberate choices about what features we would include in our products as we traded features against speed to market.

One of these choices was around integrating a licensing system. Thanks to a MicroConf talk by Phil Derksen (https://philderksen.com/microconf-2015-attendee-talk/) we followed his advice and chose not put any licensing in place initially – always intending to revisit that decision at a later point in time. Interestingly Phil is now at EDD, I believe, since they acquired his plugin.

This decision proved to be a great choice as we battled with product/market fit and choosing which features to add. Product management can be really challenging, as an engineer there is ALWAYS a shiny new thing that you can build!

As time has progressed this topic has resurfaced, should we reconsider adding licensing to our plugins? There are a number of reasons we wanted to consider that. One is from a financial perspective: would it encourage people to renew their license? That could be a huge uptick. 

Interestingly there is also the question about an annual subscription vs yearly payment – we’ll share more of our experiences with that in a later post. As we looked at where we were, it felt it was about the right time to add licensing, so we agreed to proceed with it.

As we started to look around at licensing options we started to see an overlap with another idea we have been mulling over – ‘Dogfooding’.

What is Dogfooding?

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, Wikipedia defines it as:

Eating your own dog food or dogfooding is the practice of an organization using its own product. This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage

Wikipedia

We are big fans of eating your own dogfood. Its benefits are well documented and it is something we have personally seen work in other endeavors. Countless businesses are started based on people ‘scratching their own itch’ – the insight gained from actually experiencing a problem just seem incredibly valuable.

We would get to experience similar problems firsthand that our customers experience. We would get to see where our products fell short and what we could do to make them better. We would hopefully get to see new opportunities that we could fill with new products.

Our business is all about building and selling WooCommerce plugins. So by using EDD we were actually stopping ourselves from dogfooding.

We did briefly consider moving into the EDD plugin space, there is still some merit in that, but ultimately we felt the investment we had made in WooCommerce was substantial and worth pursing so we chose to stay where we were. 

So Did This Work For Us?

I am happy to report that the move has been a huge success. Like all projects it took longer than we would have liked and we encountered all sorts of speedbumps. This project was we essentially rebuilding our sales and product delivery engine.  For anybody that has done that, there are many moving parts. There are the obvious ones like payment processors and hooking those up. Then you have CRM systems and mailing list providers. And of course you don’t want lose any SEO juice as you put all this in place!

A few of the early customers had some challenging times as we found a few gremlins in the system but we quickly worked those out and we’re up and running

However we have already started to see real benefits. There is no doubt that using a product in a real world scenario really opens your eyes. For example in one of our products we saw straight away that we were just approaching a problem completely the wrong way. It would have been an AWFUL user experience. We’re revisiting that right now.

 

We have also started to see new opportunities – by running a business on WooCommerce we get to experience firsthand the pain, problems and frustration that millions of other store owners are experiencing. This is just invaluable data and hopefully it just grows. As our business grows, we’ll use the platform more and gain more insight, which will let us create new and better products which (hopefully) will mean more usage of the platform and so on!

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