How Does E-Commerce Integrate With Online Training?
Online training is beneficial when learners are dispersed geographically or otherwise cannot easily attend classes in person. By having round-the-clock access to a learning management system, they can fit their training around their other work activities, and can repeat modules as many times as they wish to consolidate their understanding. This has been shown to result in higher engagement and success rates than those shown by traditional classroom training delivered at fixed times and on a linear timetable.
The need for e-commerce in the e-learning space is growing as more institutions:
- Turn from face-to-face training to e-learning
- Supplement their traditional classroom training with e-learning (the Blended Learning Model)
- Have an e-learning component which is separate from the main body of the training
- Have an e-learning component which is an optional addition
- Have an e-learning component which has a separate enrollment process
- Have an e-learning component which each trainee personalizes to their own needs
One example of a separate e-learning component is where a University offers a series of learning modules which are not part of a standard degree and for which separate payment is required.
Linked to this is the increasingly common need is to enroll a large number of trainees at once into a learning management system. In these situations an e-commerce system that is linked to the learning management system greatly facilitates enrollment and administration.
In training scenarios where payment is required to access online training, the process can be facilitated by implementing a means of taking online payments and enrolling the trainee automatically on the learning management system upon successful payment. This has several benefits.
- No manual enrollment by course administrators is required – the process is fully automated so that upon successful payment, trainees are given immediate access to their study materials. Enrollment can optionally be delayed if payment is by invoice or if there is good reason not to release study materials until a specific date.
- Trainees can have a Single Sign-On from the e-commerce system into the learning management system, so that they arrive at the LMS in a logged-in state. This reduces ‘password fatigue’ as well as administrative costs as it is not necessary to issue login credentials to each trainee.
- Multiple trainees can be enrolled at once if multiple seats are purchased for a cohort, for example by an external corporate training purchaser. This can be achieved by uploading a .csv file of the trainees’ names and email addresses, upon which they are all enrolled at the same time, saving administrative time and costs.
- Courses can be bundled together for purchase as a single product, either for purposes of packaging various courses into training regimens for different sectors of the workforce, or for offering discounted packages to encourage supplementary study of non-compulsory courses.
- It is possible to automatically administer ‘Early Bird’ and ‘Late Bird’ pricing by setting the e-commerce system to change the prices for given dates of purchase.
- ‘Buy Now’ buttons can be included in emails or placed on websites. ‘Buy Now’ buttons take the trainee directly to the shopping cart checkout with the course already added to the cart.
- Membership databases can be integrated with the e-commerce system, so that users with certain credentials can gain access to restricted materials or benefit from a discounted price.
- Administration and HR planning are facilitated by sales reports and data analysis from the e-commerce system.
- Coupon codes can be used at checkout to offer special pricing. These can be issued via email or other means to selected learners. Courses can be discounted or made entirely free; in either case the trainees still have instant access to the learning management system and can begin studying straight away.
The leading e-learning e-commerce system is Course Merchant, which has been developed over nine years and is continually adding new e-commerce features at the request of the training organizations and departments using it to deliver their online training.
David Hill is the product manager and industry analyst at Course Merchant.