Jeremiah Shoaf

Design & Art Direction

Gumroad vs E-junkie: What's the Best Way to Sell Your Digital Products?

April 3, 2014

I’ve been selling digital products for almost as long as I’ve been freelancing, which is about 7 years now. I’m a huge fan of designers working on side projects in their spare time and I think selling digital products is something every freelancer should experiment with. Having an automated source of income can really free up your time so you aren’t constantly tied down to client work.

In this article I’m going to compare two popular online services that help you sell your digital products — Gumroad and E-junkie. These services allow you to accept payments from customers while automatically handling the delivery of your digital files.

I’ve been a faithful user of E-junkie for nearly 6 years, but just recently I made the switch to Gumroad. I’ll go over the reasons why I switched as I compare the pros and cons of each service.

Checkout Experience

In my opinion, the user experience of the customer is the most important aspect of an E-commerce platform. This is the main reason I switched to Gumroad. The E-junkie checkout process created too much confusion and friction for the customer. Anything that gets in the customer’s way when making a purchase can negatively affect sales.

The shopping cart provided by E-junkie feels dated and poorly designed. I’ve actually had customers email me saying they weren’t able to figure out how to checkout with E-junkie. The checkout buttons look more like graphics showing which payment methods are accepted than they do actual purchase buttons. I feel like the checkout experience should be something E-junkie constantly tweaks and optimizes to increase conversion rates but I haven’t noticed any changes in the 6 years I’ve been using the service.

E-junkie shopping cart

E-junkie’s shopping cart.

E-junkie primarily uses PayPal to accept payments, although a few other payment options are available as well. E-junkie doesn’t directly accept credit cards, so to allow a customer to pay with a credit card you will need to use a service like PayPal Payments Advanced.

The payment process provided by PayPal is pretty awful to say the least. Even after the customer has decided to pay with a credit card, PayPal Payments Advanced continues to push the customer to use PayPal instead of their credit card and even tries to get the customer to sign up for their “BillMeLater” financing plan. I’m trying to sell my own digital product, not a PayPal financing plan, so that is pretty annoying.

All of this gets in the way of a customer who simply wants to purchase my product…

Gumroad approaches things differently. They directly accept credit card payments and don’t use any kind of third party payment methods. This offers them complete control over the entire checkout process.

The payment form for Gumroad only requires a bare minimum of info — the customer’s email address and their credit card info.

Gumroad payment form

Gumroad’s simple payment form.

Compare that to the E-junkie/PayPal payment form which has numerous required fields and spans two separate pages.

E-junkie payment form

E-junkie’s not-so-simple payment form.

It’s obvious that a ton of thought and care has been put into the checkout process of Gumroad. They have removed every obstacle that could possibly get in the way of a customer trying to make a purchase.

As much as I love the Gumroad payment form, I do have two small complaints. The first is that I can’t help but focus on the way the “Payment details” text is cut off by the credit card icons. I’m not sure exactly what the designers were trying to do here with the “fade out” effect, but my eye is constantly drawn to it. It just feels really off and distracting. I think a nicer solution would be to just make the text a point size smaller and/or slightly decrease the padding between the credit card icons to make everything fit into the space a little more nicely.

Gumroad payment form details

Note the “Payment details” weird fade out thing and barely legible form field labels.

(Update: I shared this post with Gumroad and they updated the “Payment details” thing within a matter of hours — it’s rare to find a company who is so devoted to their customers.)

The second small complaint I have is the faint, light grey color of the form field labels. I’m all for subtle design but I think in this case the labels are barely legible.

Overall though, it’s clear that the checkout experience offered by Gumroad is far superior to E-junkie.

Checkout experience winner: Gumroad by a long shot.

Pricing

E-junkie uses a flat monthly fee pricing model that is based on the number of products you sell and the product’s file size. If you are only selling a few products you will most likely only be paying $5 per month. E-junkie doesn’t take a cut of any of your sales.

This makes E-junkie incredibly cheap. In the first several years of using the service, I only paid $5 per month. Later on when I added more products, I paid $10 per month.

Gumroad doesn’t charge any monthly fees and instead charges 5% + $0.25 per transaction. This is great if you don’t make many sales per month since you only pay when you make a sale.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain that the 5% of every sale that Gumroad takes is a little steep. Keep in mind though if you use E-junkie, you are still paying the 2.9% + $0.30 that PayPal and other payment processors charge per transaction. Gumroad includes all of that in their fee, so it’s really not that much more.

Pricing winner: E-junkie. Although if you don’t make many sales per month, Gumroad might be the better option. Also you might see a higher conversion rate with Gumroad so that could potentially offset any extra costs.

Supported Payment Methods

E-junkie supports PayPal, ClickBank, TrialPay, 2CheckOut and Authorize.Net. E-junkie doesn’t directly accept credit cards. If you want customers to have the option of paying by credit card you’ll have to use one of the “advanced” PayPal plans which PayPal charges a monthly fee to use. In my case, I was paying $5 per month for PayPal Payments Advanced.

Gumroad only accepts credit cards and doesn’t allow customers to pay with PayPal.

People often say they hate PayPal but the truth is the company is well-known and almost everyone has a PayPal account these days. On the other hand, I think most people have credit cards as well. For me personally, I didn’t mind giving up PayPal for the better checkout experience that Gumroad offers.

Supported payment methods winner: Depends on whether you think your customers would prefer paying with PayPal or a credit card.

Admin Interface

I started using E-junkie in 2008 and at that time I remember thinking the site was in need of a redesign. That was 6 years ago and the site still looks pretty much the same — frozen in time. The admin interface uses Flash if that tells you anything…

E-junkie admin

The dream of the 90s is alive at E-junkie.

I don’t find the E-junkie interface incredibly hard to use — everything seems well organized — but that could be due to the fact I’ve been using it for so many years. It just has a very 1990s feel to it and is sorely in need of a designer’s touch.

Gumroad has a beautiful, modern interface that is a joy to use. There was zero learning curve in switching to it from E-junkie. Adding products and uploading files was extremely simple.

Gumroad admin

Gumroad’s beautiful admin interface.

Admin interface winner: Gumroad.

Additional Features

Gumroad is pretty new to the game compared to E-junkie, so it doesn’t have nearly the feature set that E-junkie has.

E-junkie has a built-in affiliate program which is a great way to promote your products. It also has direct integration with MailChimp. These are both things I miss when using Gumroad.

That being said, Gumroad does have a fairly powerful API, so you could potentially do all kinds of things with it if you have the development skills. Also it seems like Gumroad are working on adding new features all the time.

Additional features winner: E-junkie.

Company Names

Both services have pretty strange names but I guess every internet company does these days. Here is what Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia says about the name:

“Gum — implies creativity through color. Road — connects two things. Gumroad is all about helping people earn money from the stuff they create, and creating a connection between the creator and the consumer of each good. And the experience of using Gumroad should be like strolling through Candyland.”

A strange explanation for a strange name.

The name “E-junkie” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence and trust to a customer checking out. Do people really want to provide their payment details to a junkie? Also the awkward hyphenation and capitalization has always bothered me. I’ve seen the name referred to as “Ejunkie”, “eJunkie”, and “e-Junkie”, but I guess the proper one is “E-junkie”.

Company name winner: Gumroad I guess.

Other Considerations

One thing that caught me off guard about Gumroad was that to use the “overlay” checkout option, you need to get a SSL certificate for your website. For my web host, Media Temple, this costs $75 per year. Also the content delivery network (CDN) I’m using on my site, CloudFlare, would require an upgrade to a $20 per month plan to work with an SSL certificate. This seemed like a big hassle to setup and maintain.

For these reasons I decided to just link my “Buy Now” button straight to the Gumroad page for my product rather than use the overlay. If anything, I think customers might feel safer making a purchase directly on Gumroad anyway. And I always prefer simpler solutions that don’t rely on JavaScript like the overlay does.

Conclusion

E-junkie is much more established and does offer many more features. However, for me it all comes down to the user experience. As a designer, I feel like I would be a hypocrite to expose my customers to a poor user experience. Using Gumroad, I feel confident knowing my customers will have the best checkout experience possible.

Since switching to Gumroad I have experienced a notable increase in sales. It hasn’t been very long since I switched, so it could just be a coincidence, but I feel like the vastly improved UX really has something to do with it.

Check out my side project Type & Grids to see Gumroad used in the wild.

Type & Grids




follow us in feedly

Filed Under: business, side projects

← Blog Home

blog comments powered by Disqus