The advances of the last decade in digital communication have radically transformed business and the way institutional structures within companies communicate and function. But the death of the business desktop has had a broader effect than mere commerce alone. Educational institutions are rapidly adapting the traditional classroom and campus to the modern student’s preferences for digital platforms.
Students Shop Schools
Online classes are quickly becoming a major component of course offerings for secondary and postsecondary schools. And while we don’t think of admissions and enrollment as a mercantile act, or student satisfaction as customer service, the truth is that parents and students are looking at course offerings and their platforms in relation to tuition. Many students are turning to online courses as a major way of completing requirements for a degree. A smoothly functioning e-commerce site, integrated with an institution’s ERP, can go a long way to making sure that students and parents are happy with their educational purchases.
Unique Business Needs
An educational institution that offers online classes needs to support its educational offerings with a corresponding array of choices to allow students to enroll and pay for courses online as well – just like any online business.
Educational institutions, however, have their own set of business parameters that most businesses lack. Third party vendors are likely to supply textbooks (including e-books), course supplies, and software licenses. And then there are the school-branded items – t-shirts, sweaters, athletic apparel, key chains, bumper stickers – you name it. These items are going to take their place in the e-commerce array of any school.
Taking any out-of-the-box e-commerce solution and expecting it to meet every educational institution’s needs is just not going to work. When shopping for a solution that’s right for your school, you should keep in mind a few key areas where a school’s requirements are apt to part company from conventional business needs.
- Make sure it works: The e-commerce solution should be capable of smooth integration with your existing ERP. End-user experience is going to be critical. Taking the time to ensure the best fit with current infrastructure is the best means of keeping your customer happy.
- Make it available: Ensure the services students need can be made available to them online. Course selection and even some aspects of academic counseling can be conducted via digital fora. Paying for classes online should allow the same flexibility of options that the physical business office offers – from direct debit and payment plans to receipts. E-books and audio files should be easy to find and download.
- Make it easy to use: Search functions that permit students, parents, and faculty to find what they need despite a large online catalogue is absolutely critical.
- Make it predictive: In order to realize optimal returns, having an online marketplace that can predict and offer products to your consumers is a must.
- Make it safe and tidy: Secure payment options for online purchases should be wed to a sound inventory management feature.
Finding E-commerce in The Education World Daunting?
If your educational institution needs help in bringing the hallowed halls of learning into the digital world, TGO can help. We bring a wide array of experiences helping diverse institutions and organizations find the solutions needed to improve processes, reduce end-user frustration, and make your customers happy. Contact us today and learn how TGO can make learning easier in the digital market place.