3 minute read

Grow Revenue Streams with an E-Commerce Solution

5/23/2023 7:00 PM

Campuses are hubs for many activities, not just students taking classes. From athletic events and music concerts, to alumni reunions and child development centers , there’s a lot going on, and each is a revenue stream for an institution.

Taking payments for tuition and fees is well-established. But can you easily and securely take payments for other activities and services, such as the chemistry department’s fundraiser? Or summer camps by the athletics department? Donations during an upcoming alumni reunion?

A modern e-commerce solution can take these non-tuition payments online via customized web pages, integrate them into your finance and other systems, and maintain PCI compliance. By making payments convenient for users and processes streamlined for administrators, an e-commerce solution will grow the many sources of revenue available to higher ed campuses.

The ‘e’ in e-commerce stands for easy

An e-commerce solution will create, manage, and operate online storefronts, registration sites, and secure payment pages. This makes payments easy and always available for users but benefits administrators as well. No cash, no checks, and less point of sale devices means reduced risk for fraudulent transactions and less need for staffing in-person pay points.

Whether on-campus or a thousand miles away, anyone can easily shop online and make purchases that generate revenue:

  • merchandise, parking, vending, laundry
  • research institute, school, and department-level events and fundraisers
  • athletics, concerts, and lectures
  • academic and non-academic conferences
  • summer camps, alumni reunions, and homecoming/family weekends
  • child care and services by departments – for instance, veterinary and dental schools providing care for fees
  • and more

The websites built up from an e-commerce solution are tailored for each scenario, allowing departments and third parties to design how their goods and services are presented with university branding and other styling. On the back end, the online storefronts connect to product databases and inventory management systems that run in real time to ease administration.

While many goods and services are managed by on-campus groups and departments, some are administered by third party vendors, such as dining and laundry services. An e-commerce solution will seamlessly connect with these providers and their systems, providing the same operational and financial integrations to third parties as it does for your institution.

A modern e-commerce solution should do more than put up a website, manage inventory, and take card payments, though. It should connect to other solutions and systems and provide the security and compliance needed to combat today’s cyber criminals. Look for these features in an e-commerce solution:

  • Secure online payment process: a modern e-commerce solution will help you build websites that take payments via up-to-date security protocols.
  • Seamless integrations: connects the e-commerce solution, your finance system, campus merchants, and third party vendors, allowing for a frictionless payment experience in all situations.
  • Streamlined reconciliation: automatically updates general ledger accounts in the campus finance system.
  • Simplified PCI compliance: coordinates all payments into one system to reduce the quantity and complexity of compliance reporting.
  • Flexible payment options: accept debit cards, credit cards, campus cards, electronic checks, and modern digital payment methods like Apple Pay.
  • Connects to point of sale hardware: though an e-commerce solution by definition manages online payment processes, there are situations where you may need a point of sale (POS) device to take payments made during an event, such as athletic matches and alumni reunions. An e-commerce solution should connect with secure POS hardware to route in-person payments into the solution.

The ‘e’ in e-commerce stands for expansion

E-commerce solutions give the best of both worlds for higher ed administrators – each office or third party vendor can customize their site and manage the commerce on their own, while institutions see the operational and financial benefits of integrated software, centralized account reconciliation, and institution-wide security and compliance.

The balance of decentralized and centralized aspects encourages expansion. Offices have the freedom to grow their commerce and customer base, while institutions have the tools to foster and oversee the commerce with operations, finance, and security support. With the right tool in hand, you can seize the many opportunities available to higher ed campuses to create more revenue streams from everyday activities.