Question about how much informaiton I should collect for my digital downloads store. Paypal is the only payment gateway!


Paypal is the only payment gateway!
so, my current system only collects seller's PayPal email addressed and create buttons based on that email address.
since its all digital downloads, there will be no shipping or anything.
Should I still collect their names and mailing addresses?

Ecommerce Payments

asked May 6 '11 at 16:19
Andy Carlson
28 points

1 Answer


The exact nature of what you need will depend on your country/state etc, also on what you are selling.

First thing to realise while most users do use their email address for PayPal purchases a PayPal userId does not always have to be an email address. So you may wish if you ever want to communicate with your purchaser you will find it handy to have their real email.

Given that you are collecting some information, knowing who your customers are is always helpful especially if you plan on contacting them, therefore collecting their name or company name (though you can often get this direct from PayPal via the IPN response) will help with your marketing and support. Simply being able to answer a support query with hi fred, can often disarm a situation.

Selling on the web, means selling to the entire world and this opens up a whole heap of tax issues especially as you grow, so from right at the start it's worth knowing where your customers are and as you grow whos charged what sales tax etc. If you don't have this data from the start putting it in later is going to be a fudge.

Here is what we consider a minimum amount of data collection

  • first name
  • last name
  • email

  • Country
  • Post/ZipCode

With a post code or Zip Code the state/region/city can be worked out if needs be.

When building payment flows, it's important not to add to many obstacles for the client but equally important not to put to many obstacles in for you. At minimum you should be able to:

  • Uniquely identify a customer/transaction
  • Be able to contact the customer through a mechanism other then paypal
  • Know where your customers are based

Digital product protection through PayPal is very much in the buyers favour so from a support angle alone it's worth being in a position to assist users and in this case knowledge is power. Of course with the same information, you can fine tune your site and product offerings, lots of visits from france how about offering a page in French for example.

answered May 6 '11 at 17:19
Tim Nash
1,107 points
  • I live in IL by the way. Thank you so much for your answer. on my website, people have to provide their desired id, email address, and timezone at the sign up. then, if they want to become a seller, they will be asked to provide paypal email adress. it makes sense that i should ask them at least their real name and country and zip/postcode. Thank you very much for your help. – Andy Carlson 13 years ago
  • Tim, I have another question for you if you don't mind, my site does not hold peoples earnings at all. when they list their digital products/assets, my website creates buttons for them to receive payments for buyers. then after they get their payments, I bill them how much they owe me (like 10%) do you think I still should know about all those tax issues and stuff? – Andy Carlson 13 years ago
  • I would think if you are running it as or intend to run it as a business you need to be keeping a sales ledger, so you know whats been sold, how much and ideally to who. While that will be handy for the tax man it's also really the only way for you to know if you are making a profit/loss and to spot trends. – Tim Nash 13 years ago
  • oh and yes if your a business you should check your states tax bit's even if you have an accountant, it's still worth you knowing and making sure you capture the data to make yours and their lives easier. – Tim Nash 13 years ago

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