What Problems Does Course Merchant Solve? | Course Merchant

What Problems Does Course Merchant Solve?

April 2021
Why Course Merchant? 5 Key Reasons

Course Merchant solves a set of basic problems and limitations that exist with out-of-the-box LMS ecommerce.

Problem 1: One Sale, One Enrollment

Typically an LMS will create one enrollment per sale. That is fine when the purchaser is the learner and they are buying the course for themselves. But there are many situations where this does not suffice. For example, a corporate client may need to buy a course for an employee, or enroll multiple employees onto a course.

Course Merchant solves this with very flexible capability in the allocation of seats on courses. A purchaser can buy a course for someone else, and that someone else gets instant access to the course. A Training Manager can buy 60 seats in a single purchase and allocate those seats to a cohort of learners by loading a list of their names and email addresses into Course Merchant. Each learner gets instant LMS access.

Problem 2: One Product, One Course

Most LMS systems have no concept of ‘bundling’ courses together. But in the real world, as course vendors get more sophisticated they often find it desirable to offer multiple courses as a bundled product for a single payment.

Course Merchant allows the creation of a single product that provides enrollment onto multiple courses. This makes it possible to sell courses online in ‘bands’, for example. A ‘Bronze’ band could give enrollment to 3 courses and a ‘Silver’ band enrollment to say 5 courses.

Customers can also select multiple courses in the catalog themselves and Course Merchant adds them up into a single payment. This way, customers can create their own individual course bundles.

Problem 3: Payments Methods Are Very Basic

Most LMS systems can take payment via one or maybe two payment gateways, typically PayPal and maybe one other if you’re lucky. Course Merchant integrates with any hosted payment gateway, giving you ultimate control over which gateways you use to sell your courses online.

Furthermore, LMS systems are generally restricted to giving instant access via online payment. In the real world, customers may wish to pay by invoice.

We have developed a delayed enrollment method in which the customer selects ‘pay by invoice’ at checkout and enrollment is delayed until payment has been received and cleared. The administrator can then release the enrollment(s) to the user(s).

Problem 4: Inappropriate Workflows

LMS generally expect the user to have created an account before purchasing a course. This is the opposite of standard eCommerce workflow. In eCommerce, users generally browse and select products before going to checkout, where they will be asked to create an account if they are first-time customers. In eCommerce for eLearning, account creation should also be a natural part of the purchase and checkout flow.

Course Merchant reverses the standard LMS learner registration workflow. By being tightly integrated with the LMS’s user database via an integration module, Course Merchant is able to create or update a LMS user account from the checkout flow. So, it allows someone to:

  • Browse For Courses
  • Add Courses To Basket
  • Continue Shopping (to add more courses to basket if required)
  • Checkout (and create account as part of this)
  • Access the LMS instantly via SSO (single sign-on).

The Course Merchant workflow is far more intuitive and seamless than that achieved by other LMS’ ecommerce workflows.

Problem 5: LMS Design Is Not Optimised For The Needs Of Online Marketing

Where the LMS has its own native eCommerce, the store areas are typically driven by the LMS’s own design templates. These will be optimised for the needs of the learners rather than the marketing needs of the course vendor.

Merchant creates a separate set of catalog pages outside the LMS. They are ordered logically into Categories and Products, allowing a hierarchical structure like that found on typical eCommerce stores. These pages can have an entirely different design to the LMS. Meta data and keywords may be used for SEO purposes and different parts of the catalog can be branded with specific designs for specific partners. Course Merchant pages are highly search engine-friendly. Course title and can be part of the URL for that page, making it optimised for search engines rather than buried within the confines of the LMS.

In addition, Course Merchant supports integration for 3rd party marketing systems such as affiliate networks and affiliate marketing applications.

Problem 6: Lack Of LMS Integration With 3Rd Party Business Applications

Companies making large volumes of course sales are likely to need integrations to Accounting and Finance systems, CRMs and other 3 rd party business applications which require more sales order data than the LMS typically collects.

Course Merchant has a customisable checkout flow that permits the capture of eCommerce data that is more aligned to a sales order than the data an LMS typically collects at registration.

Because of this, Course Merchant is able to interface with Business Information and accounting type systems far more efficiently. Course Merchant can customise the product data to allow the recording of internal Nominal Ledger / General Ledger type accounting codes and pass these through to a suitable system. Additionally, other cost codes and internal project codes may be appended to a line item for more effective business related reporting and analytics.

Problem 7: LMS Systems Have Poor Discounting Ability

Because one product is mapped to one course, there is little scope for discounting. There might be basic coupon code functionality, but this is rare.

Course Merchant supports the following discount mechanisms:

  • Coupon / Voucher Codes. These include: single use, multi-use and unlimited use codes.
  • Codes with an expiry date or codes without an expiry date.
  • Linking of codes against specific courses or allowing them to be used against any course.
  • Import of codes from Excel CSV files.
  • Embedding of codes in URLs for social media posts and email marketing.
  • Quantity discounting bands
  • Early bird discounting (plus late registration fee charging)
  • Member discounting (keys a discount from a LMS profile field)
  • Bundled products linked to multiple courses at a discounted price

Problem 8: LMS systems only sell courses with their eCommerce

Most LMS systems that offer ecommerce do so only for the sale of courses. However, many course vendors wish to sell books, DVDs and other physical goods alongside or in addition to courses.

Course Merchant has the ability to sell physical goods. Course Merchant can calculate weight and differing shipping costs for physical goods that need to be shipped, either locally, nationally or internationally. Course Merchant is able to collect additional shipping addresses if needed.

What Sectors Do We Work With?

We work with medical associations and hospitals, universities, safety training companies, compliance and risk management training providers, financial training companies, professional development training companies, corporate training contractors, and a wide variety of other sectors. We operate wherever a flexible and professional eCommerce platform is needed that meets the needs of those seeking to sell courses online.

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David Hill
April 2021

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