Selling Solutions for intangibles

Today, a wealth of software and solutions address the sale of intangibles. They possibly include as well functions for selling physical goods. You will find below:

  1. a few commented solutions for selling intangibles GetDPD SimpleGoods Selz Fetchapp DigitalGoods
  2. a short comment on the drawback of hosted solutions
  3. Highlights on the marketing challenges
  4. Scenarios for success.
  5. A brief analysis of the specific risks attached to receiving online payment for intangibles.

See Digital vs Physical for synthetic information on the differences.


GetDPD is a hosted solution for digital media storage, payment and delivery. Main strengths:

  • The price structure suits small business needs.
  • At no extra cost, the seller can run multiple shops.
  • The seller has a unique interface to manage multiple shops.
  • GetDPD allows to sell physical products as well.
  • The payment and delivery of tangible goods benefit from built-in shipping calculation.
  • Support for key codes, services, and recurring subscriptions
  • Subscriber membership area.

GetDPD offers a secure service, instant buy-now and shopping cart, multiple stores in one account. Further services include:

  • PDF stamping and encryption,
  • Automatic update of products formerly bought,
  • Multilanguage's checkout, coupons and discount codes.
  • Payment processors integration: Paypal and 2CO.

GetDPD also offers an 'API' to developers and integration of multiple affiliate networks.

Monthly rate only: $16 to $60 a month (checked 10/06/2017). Go Top


SimpleGoods is a hosted solution for selling and delivering digital goods and services. It allows to sell from a website or blog embedding the checkout through a simple Javascript. 'Share' allows to share a link to a product on Facebook, Twitter or others, or by email.

The return URL feature can send the buyer to any page. Automatic product update sent to former buyers. SimpleGoods offers MailChimp and Zapier* integration. SimpleGoods combines monthly rate + % on sales: Free + 3% for 3 products to $29 + 0% for 50 products.

All plans need a Stripe account. Standard Stripe fees or Paypal fees not included. On how to choose between these two payment processors, see a detailed comparison at

*Zapier is a (a task connector making data management a breath, free up to 100 tasks per month. See Go Top


Selz offers a full and flexible solution for digital goods, services, recurring subscriptions. It adapts as well to the sale of tangible goods. Selz integrates its own payment interface and offers all the services and functions needed for both physical goods and intangibles. Selz brings a secure, editable, customisable, multilingual and multicurrency store and various possibilities:

  • Embed the store or a product in any web page.
  • Keep the shopping area external, with the possibly of a custom domain.
  • Automatic tax calculation, including EU VAT.
  • Shipping calculation associated to shipping rules.

Selz acts as payment processor. It also offers Paypal and 2co integration.

Extra services: easily manage discounts and coupon, abandoned cart, stock; 'Pay what you want' feature, fast downloads, download limits, streaming, sales statistics. Integration with MailChim, 'Campaign Monitor', AWeber, Disqus, Yotpo.

Selz fees combine a flat monthly rate, a percentage on sale and a payment processing fee. From 0 monthly fee up to 3 products + 2% transaction fee + 2.9% + €0.30 payment processing with four levels up to $23.50 monthly for unlimited products + 0% transaction fee + 2.9% + €0.30 (checked 10/06/2017). Go Top


Fetchapp offers unlimited uploads and bandwidth. It also offers an API to integrate it with a website or blog, with progressive fees and multiple payment solutions. Fetchapp describes itself as "perfect for products to download". The pricing bases on storage needs: from zero up to 5MB to $500 up to 150GB. Fetchapp integrates with popular payment systems like Shopify, Wordpress, Bigcommerce, Goodsie, PayPal and many others. Go Top

Digital Goods

'Digital Goods' is a feature-rich solution dedicated to selling digital goods; it offers full support for European VAT, medium fees, a protection against fraud, unified payment and email marketing integration. It has a simple pricing structure: for a free account, a 5% commission by sale, for a pro account, a fixed fee of $39.99 a month.

Apart from handling the European VAT, Digital Goods offers a VAT guide. They accept local currencies, offer secure downloads and data protection scheme, and a shopping cart. They offer unlimited sales, subscriptions, product variants, product pages, discount, sales report, commissions payouts, email marketing. The seller can embed the checkout in a website. 'Digital Goods' handles the payment through multiple gateways. Top

Hosted solutions

Hosted solutions appear convenient for a limited number of items to sell with limited descriptions.

In use cases where the intangible goods, services, digital media, training, or subscriptions demand a long description or frequent update, or implies a real involvement, using a hosted shopping cart may become too time-consuming.

We should also consider the information and data involved from the angle of an easy reuse. In such perspective, keeping any database, be it an XML list, a true database or text files may bring true benefits.

SSuch consideration may give the advantage to building a specific and custom selling environment for selling intangibles. Go Top

Marketing Intangibles

For marketing, what does exactly mean selling intangibles? Selling our talent, our expertise, our know-how, our knowledge and probably more. It means as well selling information and services drawn from talent, expertise, know-how or knowledge and more. With intangibles, we enter impalpable, mind-related production. Marketing these productions faces enormous difficulties:

  1. we cannot easily represent them, both with words and with images;
  2. designing images for intangibles carries real challenges;
  3. these productions usually present a higher complexity;
  4. therefore, stating simple ideas about them demands imagination;
  5. communication about complexity is challenging...

From Duchamp to Saul Steinberg, artists proved their capacity to escape these difficulties. The art of Saul Steinberg is interesting in our case: apart from his remarkable career as cartoonist, illustrator, and artist having crafted paintings, drawings, and even sculptures, he ran also an advertising career. You already understood that I am a fan of Saul Steinberg. I never get tired of considering his work. See a few excepts of his mind-blowing representations at Born in Romania in 1914, Saul Steinberg died in 1999 in the United States where he fled the Nazism in the forties and had been a famous and renowned artist.

Cartoonist have sometimes the power to give a visual life to ideas. They pick the essence of an idea straightforward, in total contrast with the twisted approach of words. See the work of Sempé, a French Cartoonist; have a look at this powerful cartoon for instance:

Marketers must bring these capacities to sell intangibles. Developers might have to deliver the tools to support the marketers' talent. Go Top

Success scenarios

The success scenarios we can use to give life to the intangibles in the customer's minds include:

  1. Picture by use cases — Use cases are a remarkable tool to explain abstractions
  2. Tell success stories — They tell everyday success that everyone may experience
  3. Explain the buyers the benefits they can draw from their decision
  4. Put the customer in power of the talent or expertise offered.

The stated means involve wording and showing. What about creating the online environment to support the sale? Let's consider the idea of an 'online showcase' for presenting each intangible can help to bring their description to life. The ability to structure the information and data is a powerful tool. Go Top

Download as reminder

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From recurring invoicing, quoting for complex services, delivering through download or email, to managing subscriptions, the sale of intangibles implies many specific functions that differ from physical products needs

Receiving online payment for intangibles involves a risk

Online payments

You should be careful when chosing a payment gateway. For instance, a huge difference exists between Paypal and 2Checkout in terms of risk: Paypal has a well advertised guarantee for physical products sellers. In contrast, digital products sellers were not covered by the seller guarantee and were at the mercy of dishonest buyers. This made the use of Paypal for selling intangible goods, services or digital products very risky. But starting 13 April 2020 with no expiration, Paypal extented its seller protection to cover "digital goods and intangibles like travel, ticketing, and services..." On its side, 2Checkout has a specific procedure for intangibles called Verification process. This procedure aims at verifying themselves the successful completion of the delivery before releasing the payment to the seller. It delays slightly the payment receipt but also makes a de facto guarantee for the seller. More details (second window): Article by 2Checkout

For a compariason between Paypal and Stripe, see (second window) Paypal vs Stripe

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