Colleges and universities represent the pinnacle of education, and many do what they can to stay on the cutting edge. It's unheard of today for a higher education institution to lack a website where current and prospective students can get needed information, register for classes, check their grades, and more. However, some institutions haven't yet taken advantage of the benefits eCommerce can provide, likely because eCommerce is more associated with retail than with education.
The advent of eCommerce revolutionized shopping, and can likewise improve and expand the methods a higher education institution can use to collect funds, sell products that would normally be limited to on-campus stores, and more. Industry-leading eCommerce software like Shift4Shop can be used to build a complete college or university website with built-in features for selling products and collecting all types of payments.
A website can be easier to use. Whether buying an item or making a donation, a visitor can complete their purchase quickly from their computer or mobile device without needing to make a trip to the campus, or in some cases, follow a longer procedure.
A website can allow your institution to accept a greater variety of payment types. Since eCommerce websites are built to serve an endless variety of customers, there are numerous payment methods only usable through eCommerce. You can put this same technology to use for your institution and accept several payment methods already familiar to your website's visitors.
The ease and variety in payments can lead to an increase in payments overall. By building an eCommerce website, you're providing students, donators, and other customers with more options and removing much of the friction from the process.
Your institution can sell more merchandise to a wider audience. Your eCommerce website can also include an online catalog of your institution's merchandise, which will make it easier for students, proud parents, and alumni around the world to buy these products.
The best aspect of today's modern eCommerce software is its sheer versatility. With the right software, you can sell products and accept payments, whether for a service or a donation, in any way you see fit. Your website can also be used as a hub for news, upcoming events, and other purposes not directly related to collecting funds. We've covered the basics as to how an eCommerce website can benefit your higher educational institution, so let's look at some more specific use cases.
Your institution's website can be a great tool for generating interest and keeping potential attendees updated regarding conferences or summits being held by your institution or related industry. You can post news and updates in your website's blog section, create a landing page with all the information, and allow visitors to sign up for reminder emails. Registration and admission fees can be handled online as well, with the option to limit the number of tickets or seats available.
Online course registrations, whether for a traditional classroom-based course or for a class that is itself online, vastly streamline the process for students and faculty alike. An online course registration system has become common in higher education for this reason. It cuts down on paperwork and gives students more freedom to register for their classes from anywhere, which can even help increase attendance.
College bookstores started expanding beyond textbooks decades ago, offering branded merchandise and sometimes certain types of required supplies, a move partially inspired by Amazon's disruption of textbook sales. An eCommerce website will allow your institution to sell these products online while continuing to maintain your on-campus store if desired. The best eCommerce software will even offer Point of Sale options and enable synchronization between online and offline sales.
Online payment processing is reliable, secure, and convenient. With an eCommerce website, your higher education institution can accept payments for tuition or any other type of fee via your choice of payment methods. With Shift4Shop, this feature works identically to selling a product, so payments automatically generate a confirmation email and a customer record that ties the payment directly to the buyer's personal information. This aids in recordkeeping along with fund collection.
If your institution publishes a magazine, you can offer subscriptions for sale through your eCommerce website. Recurring purchases are made possible through tokenized payment gateways that allow card information to be securely saved in an encrypted format. You can offer subscriptions set to expire as the customer chooses or leave them recurring indefinitely. Back issues can also be sold separately if desired, without affecting subscriptions.
The best way to increase donations is to make it easier for people to contribute. With Shift4Shop, you'll be able to accept a wide selection of payment methods as you see fit for your institution. Let customers donate with credit cards, ACH transfers, PayPal, Bitcoin, and much more — even traditional paper checks. Your eCommerce website will automatically generate a receipt for them which they can then use for tax purposes if needed.
Shift4Shop is an all-in-one eCommerce platform built for all types of online transactions including the unique needs of higher education institutions. You can build an online store with no technical skills, and sell any type of product, whether it's a physical or digital item. Reports, transaction histories, and a full range of inventory and other management tools are built into the software so nothing is overlooked. Drive donations, sell products, collect tuition and more with a mobile-friendly, attractive website backed with one of the most experienced software platforms in eCommerce. Whether your institution's eCommerce website will be managed by employees, students, or volunteers, Shift4Shop has all the features necessary for a successful and professional site.
Shift4Shop's central focus is eCommerce, but it's not simply an online store builder — it's a complete website builder with the capability to create as many pages as you need. Build endless pages with Shift4Shop's Extra Pages feature for any purpose, such as to create a database of school policies for visitors to peruse at any time, to fully catalog your institution's history, to create a faculty showcase, or however you see fit.
Shift4Shop's built-in blog functionality lets your institution maintain a blog for news, upcoming events, relevant articles, and more, all without needing to run a separate account on a blogging platform. Your Shift4Shop website's blog will automatically carry over the design of your main website. This saves time and effort that can be focused elsewhere.
Allow students, parents, and alumni to create accounts on your eCommerce website to enable complete customer recordkeeping, associating all purchases, payments, and donations with their customer record. This is very useful for tracking frequent donators, ensuring required payments have been made, and more.
Shift4Shop integrates seamlessly with over 160 payment processors, more than any other eCommerce software. Your higher education institution will be able to collect more funds by accepting multiple payment methods according to your needs. Paper checks and other traditional payment methods can be accepted through the software as well.
Selling merchandise, textbooks, supplies, or some of everything your students need? Track all inventory, even across multiple campuses, to ensure you never oversell a single product. Complete tools for accepting customer returns are also built in, including an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) system so you can create a thorough return policy.
Shift4Shop makes it simple to sell online and offline simultaneously, so your institution can take advantage of both online and offline channels. Choose our built-in POS module or one of several integrations, including Square Register and more. Plus, your inventory remains synchronized across online and in-person sales.
Configurable shipping lets you allow local customers, such as students living on campus, to pick up their purchases at a given location or even offer free delivery right to their dorms, while more distant customers such as alumni can be offered a variety of shipping methods. Shift4Shop integrates with UPS FedEx, USPS and more, complete with real-time shipping rates.