Digital goods - instant download or manual review & approval?

I’m currently using the first tactic that is instant download upon receiving customer payment.

The pros of this approach:

  1. Customer satisfaction is better as they immediately get what they paid for
  2. Less labor costs as we don’t have to manually review and approve the order

The cons of this approach, however, are:

  1. Frauds are more as fraudulent buyers of digital goods target primarily merchants who offer instant downloads

The pros of manual review & approval:

  1. Frauds losses are less

The cons of manual review & approval:

  1. Customers would be less satisfied? I’m not so sure about this as I never tried this approach.
  2. More work at our ends

Which tactic are you employing for your digital goods business? Why?

I’m very much concerned about the customer satisfaction part. My catalog are comprised of developer tools and website scripts with prices range from $100 to $500. Would you accept 24 - 48 hours of review and approval time for such a order?

Would conversion rate decrease should we make it clear that it takes 1 - 2 days for us to review and approve the order?

The way I see it, manual review & approval impresses the buyer about how the merchant holds dear of what is being offered, which ultimately makes the merchant look more trustworthy and reliable. Is it so?

I don’t know why you think customers would be less satisfied with instant downloads. If I am buying something digital online, I would generally expect it to be available to download as soon as my credit card payment has been accepted. If I have to wait a couple of days for it, I’m less likely to be happy with the service. I’m not saying that it would be a deal-breaker (although if another company was offering instant download then obviously that is a reason to go to them if I’m undecided about who to buy from), but it’s not the way things are usually done IMX.

How much scope for fraud is there? If you take PayPal or credit card payment and the payment is authorised by the provider, surely you have the money guaranteed at that point?

Sorry I must have been too tired and confused myself. Just corrected my points.

Fraudulent orders are a less concern for me. I’m much more concerned about the conversion rate and customer satisfaction. So you think conversion rate would drop if I start employing manual review of the orders?

That’s what I suspected but not so sure.

I think the expectation is that you receive what you pay for as soon as you payment is accepted when it comes to digital media.
And like Stevie said if you take the payment by paypal or cc you should have some recourse.

The expectation appears to be that you receive what you pay for when the payment is first made even if it takes a while to be accepted.

In those cases where I have had people making digital purchases via Paypal and Paypal has the payment as pending until they actually receive the money (usually four or five days when the money is not coming from a credit card or already in the Paypal account) then I usually get emails from the buyer asking why they haven’t received what they purchased yet - to which I then have to reply that it is because their payment hasn’t been accepted yet.

I have my script set up so that all digital products are immediately emailed to the buyer as soon as Paypal confirms that they have finished processing the payment (whether that is a second or two after the buyer pays or several days later)…

Ok good point. I don’t normally use paypal and my experience is more on the buyer end.
So when i purchase a movie online. say amazon. It is a pretty quick transaction.
I would think then it would be good to let the user know that the reason they have not yet received the item is due to a third party?

I have very little experience in this area, but I can’t imagine that fraud would be a big factor. A fraud artist is going to go after products that have some intrinsic value - things that can readily be converted to cash. He’s not going to risk detection and prosecution for a website script or developer tool which he can’t resell and which will only be useful to a tiny minority of the population (this is no reflection on your particular products, of course).

Assuming that’s correct, I would give priority to customer satisfaction, and that points to providing instant download - just as most of the big players in the field do.


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Especially consider your market and your products - if you’re mostly selling things like website scripts, you’re selling to developers? If I was looking for a script, and found it, I’d probably need it right then, not in a couple of days, and I’d move on from your site if it said 1-2 days processing.

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Thanks for all the input! I think I’m gonna take your advice and go with instant download, putting customer satisfaction at first priority, given the nature of my products.