Intangible Products (E-Products/Downloads)

 Objective
When we talk about the sale of intangible products (e-products/downloads), we are referring to the sale of any product in the form of a downloadable file. Note that if you want to sell several files that are associated to a single item, you have to compress them into a single file using compression software, such as WinZip, PkZip or another program of your choice.

The sale of downloadable files online can prove to be very beneficial for many activities and many professions. It can be very interesting to sell comparative studies, legal documents, surveys, software, images, etc. directly on an Internet site. This allows the buyer to instantly obtain the information or the program that they're looking for. This also simplifies the procedure for the seller because nothing needs to be dispatched (no shipping fees!) and no order tracking operations are necessary. It's a win-win situation and many companies have become aware of these advantages!
 
 Prerequisite
It is ESSENTIAL to set up an "instant" payment method (such as online credit card payment). Indeed, keep in mind that the customer has direct access to the file in their order confirmation. If they pay by check, they could simply download the file and never send you the payment! Hence the need to directly collect the payment at the time of sale.
 
 Simple Implementation
Before beginning, verify that the format of your files is a format that is easily exploitable for your customers. In other words, if you must publish a file format that is not for the general public (i.e. that is not standard), think about indicating the software capable of viewing the files on your site!
If you must publish Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel text or files, it is preferable to convert them into Adobe PDF format. Adobe PDF format can be easily read by all systems (Windows, Mac, Unix, etc.) and is not susceptible to viruses.

Which files can be considered as standard files?
- For image files: JPEG, GIF, possibly TIFF and BMP.
- For document files: PDF is the most universal, TXT, possibly DOC (MS Word), XLS (MS Excel) and PPS (MS PowerPoint).
- For VIDEO files: AVI, MPEG, MOV.

To sell an intangible product, you must first upload the associated file to your site's file gallery ([Galleries/Files] Menu). Your file will be renamed by our system after uploading if it contains spaces, accented characters, etc. To avoid this, name the files on your hard drive using only unaccented alphanumeric characters and dashes!
For example: ComparativeStudy2006-2007.PDF
In the editing page of the file, give the file a coherent name because this is the name that will be displayed to your customers.
For example: "Comparative Study 2006-2007 (PDF)".
Notice the difference between the physical file name that contains NO special characters or spaces and the descriptive file name that you enter into the Actinic system and that you are totally free to choose to your liking.

Next, go to the management page for your products ([Commerce/Items (Products-Services)] Menu) and create a new product. Specify the name of the product, its price, etc. like you would for any other product.

Next, for the "Item Nature" property ("General" tab, "Intangible Products" sub-tab), select "Intangible (e-product, download, etc.)".
Then associate your file by using the [...] button available just below in the "Associated File" property. Save your product.

Your product is now ready for sale.

Lastly, you must make sure that the payment method that you want to use for your intangible items is configured properly. To do this, go to the administration page for your payment methods (accessible through the [Commerce/Payment Methods] menu). Select the [Modify] button for the payment methods that you want to be considered as "instant" and define the "Process Type" as "Instant Payment Process" in the property view.

Your shopping cart is now configured properly. Perform a complete test of the sales process and verify that everything is functioning properly before opening your site to the public. For example, verify that when you order an intangible product, only the instant payment methods are proposed.
 
 Tangible and Intangible Products in the Same Shop
It is possible to propose a catalog or shop containing both tangible and intangible products. However, this requires you to gain an understanding of several rules specifically pertaining to the use of intangible products:

  • If a shopping cart only contains intangible products, the page offering the selection of shipping options is never displayed.
  • If a shopping cart contains one (or several) tangible products and at least one intangible product, the page offering the shipping options will be presented BUT the "cash on delivery" shipping options will NOT be displayed. The presence of intangible products implies the use of an instant payment method, and a cash on delivery payment method does not fall into this category!
  • If the order contains at least one intangible product, the payment page will only list the payment methods that have been defined as "instant".
 
 Complex Implementation with Multiple Attributes
Case 1: Sale of a survey in paper format or in downloadable file format.
Let's suppose that a company wants to sell the same survey in paper format (bound color document for £1000) and in digital format (a PDF file for £900) for download.

To begin with, you have to configure several properties in the shopping cart. You need to authorize the display and the sale of products with null prices (0) and force the system to display the multiple attribute prices. You can do this in the [Commerce/Shopping Cart (Shop)] menu using the "Component Properties" tab.

Next, create a new product, defining the nature as "Undefined", and associate it to the PDF file that you have already uploaded to your file gallery.

The "Undefined" nature indicates that the product type will be determined by the multiple attribute type. If the nature of the product is "Undefined", the type of the option selected by the customer will be used.

Now create a multiple attribute for this product with the following options:

Multiple Attribute 1
Name: Format Selection:
Display: Drop-Down List
Displayed Text Attribute Code (Method) Type Price (Excl. VAT)
Bound Color Document with CD PAPER (Concatenate) Tangible £1000.00
PDF File - Download FILE (Concatenate) Intangible £900.00

Of course, you can modify the display type of the option, the displayed texts, the code or the price. However, be very careful when defining the option type because this definition is the controlling factor that affects everything!

Case 2: Sale of software (burned on a Compact Disc or available for download) associated with a variable update extension period.

In this second case, the first multiple attribute is going to allow you to define the format that the file will be bought in (CD format or Download format).

The second attribute will be used to define the update extension period included in the purchase.
Use this configuration for the multiple attributes:

Multiple Attribute 1
Name: Format Selection:
Display: Drop-Down List
Displayed Text Attribute Code (Method) Type Price (Excl. VAT)
CD Version CD (Concatenate) Tangible £500.00
Download FILE (Concatenate) Intangible £480.00

Multiple Attribute 2
Name: Update Extension:
Display: Option List
Displayed Text Attribute Code (Method) Type Price (Excl. VAT)
1 Year UPDT1 (Concatenate) Undefined £100.00
2 Years UPDT2 (Concatenate) Undefined £180.00
3 Years UPDT3 (Concatenate) Undefined £260.00

IMPORTANT: Note that the type of the second attribute is always "Undefined"! This ensures that the type of the first attribute will be used in the definition of the product type.

NOTE: What happens when the attributes are in contradiction with one another (Attribute 1 - Tangible and Attribute 2 - Intangible) or with the product nature?
The last to be defined has the last word! Therefore, attribute 2 will always have priority.
It is highly recommended against setting up this type of configuration.
Good Advice: When using multiple attributes, only use one attribute to define the nature of your item!
 
 Order Tracking
After ordering and paying for an intangible item, your customer is free to download their files in a section contained in the "Your Account" component. Therefore, consider publishing this component on your site. This is not mandatory because the order confirmation email contains a link to the download area, but it's a "plus" for your users if you publish this component.

VERY IMPORTANT: The right to download depends on the presence of the paid order in your order tracking component. If you delete the order (or if you modify its status to indicate that the order has not been paid), the customer will no longer be able to download the file(s) associated to this order.
 

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