Friday, October 27, 2017

How to Accept Payments for Your Digital Products

Daniel Alm:

In this article, I will outline the common payment options for digital products and their individual advantages and disadvantages. This is from the perspective of a Mac developer, but apart from the licensing aspect, it applies to all other digital products as well, including SaaS subscriptions and online courses.


If you are based in the US, you might get away with ignoring the EU’s VAT rules altogether, but I don’t recommend that. You would be in good company there — looks like Panic and The Omni Group have just that approach — but I still don’t recommend it. (I’m German. We really like to avoid risks.)

I’m using FastSpring and am happy with the service, though the fees are higher than I’d like.

Sadly, Frank Illenberger is selling (via Michael Love).

Previously: More International Taxes on Software Sales, Kagi, RIP.

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In my experience, FastSpring is well worth it. I tested it against Paddle for a few months last year and in the end stayed with FastSpring. Faster support for customers, better visibility into transactions, dashboard that is actually searchable and feature-full (to this day, you can’t resend emails in Paddle and have to ask support to do it, which means 2+ days delay for your customers), no chargeback fees. The 8.9% fee is a bit high, but their new $200/mo plan gives you access to tiered fees even at modest volumes.

@Vaclav FastSpring’s reliability and customer service are good. The main technical issues I run into are that some types of seemingly simple coupons are difficult or impossible to express and that sometimes orders get stuck in a purgatory. Stuck orders can only be retried manually by their customer service people, and there is no way to see a list of stuck orders, so you have to wait until after a customer has complained to ask them to look into it. Oh, and they announced Apple Pay support to be ready a year ago, but it’s still not available. In general, I don’t see a lot of new feature development.

Do you have a link to more information about the $200/month plan? I don’t see that mentioned anywhere.

I agree with Vaclav, FastSpring is well worth it. Very good customer support. The biggest failing I regularly see is customers simply not able to purchase, often due to broken web browser cookies, or overactive fraud management systems. And I also agree with Michael, I don’t see a lot of new feature development. I'd like to see several new features in their API (most importantly for me, the ability to create a custom invoice via API). And I'd definitely like to see a refresh of the shop fronts.

There actually has been a good amount of new FastSpring development, but I wasn’t seeing it because I’m using the Classic/Springboard platform. The new development is going into their Contextual/Dashboard platform. The two are completely separate, and although you can use whichever you want, there is no auto-migration for products, coupons, orders data, or site integration stuff. Switching is like setting up a whole new store with a different provider.

The monthly fee is part of their Business Plan. The prices for this are not posted; you have to contact them to get a quote based on your sales volume.

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