Membership site or shopping cart?

30 replies
Hi, I am trying to decide if I need a membership site or a shopping cart.

I have video courses that users would have to purchase, take a quiz, and get a certificate for. Do you think users should become 'members' or should I have a shopping cart where they fill in all their contact info?

I am basically trying to create an environment like udemy.com. Any ideas, experiences, and insights?

Thanks!
#cart #ecourse #membership #shopping #shopping cart #site #udemy
  • Profile picture of the author ChrisMcDonald
    Put yourself in your target audience's shoes. What would you prefer? Membership sites tend to be a monthly subscription where content/products are offered on a regular basis and if it's physical product, then they would expect discounted prices. That's what I gather from your post, anyway - perhaps you could expand on your question a little bit more?
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  • Profile picture of the author Lokicoen
    Thanks for the response Chris!
    I am definitely not planning on monthly subscriptions. It is more for selling courses to professionals specific to their industry. I would like to keep in contact with them via email for future courses though.

    I am aiming for something like udemy. So a user can sign up, take a course, get a certificate and have access to it in the future. So, it sounds less like a membership when I think of it like that.

    Do you think a shopping cart system would be a better option? If so, the next question would be which one.
    Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Fleming
    Just fired up Google and let my fingers do the walking and found this...

    http://www.woothemes.com/products/sensei/

    Never used it so I can't vouch for it but it might be what you're looking for.

    Good luck

    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author Lokicoen
      Originally Posted by Steve Fleming View Post

      Just fired up Google and let my fingers do the walking and found this...

      http://www.woothemes.com/products/sensei/

      Never used it so I can't vouch for it but it might be what you're looking for.

      Good luck

      Steve
      Thanks Steve! I have looked at Sensei but ended up using Learndash (very similar learning management system LMS).
      Because I don't have forums and discussions, which is common in college online courses, I'm not sure if I even need a LMS. I am basically selling access to a video.

      Any thoughts?
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      • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
        It sounds like you need both actually. A membership system to protect the content, and some type of check out system to take payment. Am I missing something here?
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        • Profile picture of the author Lokicoen
          Originally Posted by OnlineStoreHelp View Post

          It sounds like you need both actually. A membership system to protect the content, and some type of check out system to take payment. Am I missing something here?
          I see. I didn't realize that the membership system protects the content and the shopping cart allows access to it. Is that correct?

          So where would a users contact info be stored, in the membership or the shopping cart system?
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          • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
            Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

            I see. I didn't realize that the membership system protects the content and the shopping cart allows access to it. Is that correct?

            So where would a users contact info be stored, in the membership or the shopping cart system?
            Sounds about right. In my case, for one of my courses, I used Digital Access Pass which allows me to protect my contact, drip out emails and content and create different member levels. It also allows me to create payment buttons that connect with PayPal, ClickBank and a few other to automate the process.

            There are lots of membership options and everyone has their favorites. I really like Digital Access Pass as I think it is one of the most powerful membership plugins available yet can be slightly difficult to implement. But I figured it out so anyone should be able to. I like them due to a long list of feature sets, great set up resources, customer service and things like integrated affiliate program, product chaining, etc.

            Others on here like Wishlist alot. There is also S2Member, Amember, Profits theme, and others.
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            • Profile picture of the author Newbieee
              How many courses or videos you have?

              And how do you intend to sell them. In a group or individually?


              For me i follow a membership style, hosting my videos with amazon s3.
              And i think i use a simple checkout program from wordpress to link to paypal.
              [lol i dont know from here actually, i leave things to my developer]

              Ya so its a good idea to have 1 if u are like me, that way u can concentrate on the real stuff. Ur content. =)
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  • Profile picture of the author alvinchua91
    Membership site is what I recommend you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    I do this.

    I use Moodle for the course and aMember for the access.

    Enrollment/payment gives the student 1 year access to the course materials, plus another year upon completion/certification.

    Works like a charm.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lokicoen
      Originally Posted by rocket2uranus View Post

      I do this.

      I use Moodle for the course and aMember for the access.

      Enrollment/payment gives the student 1 year access to the course materials, plus another year upon completion/certification.

      Works like a charm.
      The problem with moodle is that is always seems to look like ... moodle!

      Have you found a way to add some design elements to it?
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      • Profile picture of the author RanjitB
        You can use
        -e-junkie to host you files and process the payment - It is wise to host your content separate securely. S2Member is a good one since you can use the free version and when you are ready switch to the paid version.
        OR
        -Amazon S3 for video hosting + paypal to process the payment.
        AND
        -Membeship plug in gives you the ablility to give access to different contents based on the membership type/access levels.

        This point is worth bare in your mind, there are many service provideers in each of above categories and you need to choose according to your needs as well as your budget.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
        Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

        The problem with moodle is that is always seems to look like ... moodle!

        Have you found a way to add some design elements to it?
        We actually didn't fix that problem entirely, however we were able to mitigate it by placing navigational links right inside of the educational content, allowing the user to almost completely avoid most of the "Moodly" looking stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author opalfx
    if the videos are on going, like monthly videos then membership of course.
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  • Profile picture of the author cgicentral
    You can use aMember + Shopping Cart module to sell your courses.
    Then you can use aMember's built-in video player to allow customers view purchased videos.
    That works from scratch and no add-ons necessary.
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    • Profile picture of the author A Bary
      Membership site is the way to go..it's much better to protect your content and deliver it correctly to those who pay you... you'll get full control.. and you can even set different membership levels for different price points..how awesome is that? OP+ membership script/plugin and you're ready to go
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      • Profile picture of the author michael bury
        Originally Posted by A Bary View Post

        Membership site is the way to go..it's much better to protect your content and deliver it correctly to those who pay you... you'll get full control.. and you can even set different membership levels for different price points..how awesome is that? OP+ membership script/plugin and you're ready to go
        Definately go for the membership site, benefits are huge, passive income just so long as you maintain relevant content on a regular basis, different levels of membership is something we are going to implement within ours.

        Protect your content, another 'must do' to maintain exclusivity & once the membership site is up & running you could always opt to add a shopping cart for lower end product.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lokicoen
    Based on the responses here I have been looking into membership for protection, then shopping cart for selling.

    I was playing around with S2 and it seems like it could work.

    Any feedback on which membership to use and why? aMember has been mentioned, what makes it worth the investment vs free options?

    Any advice on hiring someone to help with set up?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
      Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

      Based on the responses here I have been looking into membership for protection, then shopping cart for selling.
      aMember will handle both for you.

      Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

      Any feedback on which membership to use and why? aMember has been mentioned, what makes it worth the investment vs free options?
      I can't speak to the free options as I have never used them. However, I can tell you that aMember is not a plugin, it is a full-featured member management system. It then uses plugins to bridge it to Wordpress (and Moodle, among many others). You can embed video (and other) content directly into aMember (or Wordpress) pages securely, or use 3rd party platforms.

      Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

      Any advice on hiring someone to help with set up?
      There are usually a few freelancers hanging around the aMember forums.
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  • Profile picture of the author yakim1
    Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

    Hi, I am trying to decide if I need a membership site or a shopping cart.

    I have video courses that users would have to purchase, take a quiz, and get a certificate for. Do you think users should become 'members' or should I have a shopping cart where they fill in all their contact info?

    I am basically trying to create an environment like udemy.com. Any ideas, experiences, and insights?

    Thanks!
    to me the answer is obvious. You need a membership site.

    You will need to secure the content, which a membership site can do.

    You can create a different membership level for every industry you have courses for.

    That way when the client purchases the course in their industry, the client can login to the proper membership level to get his course.

    This would be all automated so you would only need to supply support as needed.

    You could also create an affiliate program so your clients can refer more clients. (word of mouth)

    A membership site does not need to have recurring payments. I have a similar site that only has a one time purchase or I also offer as a downsell a payment plan so it can be more available to those who could not afford a one time payment.

    By providing separate membership levels for each industry, you can be more specific with the content in each level

    A shopping cart will not do this. If you get the right membership software a shopping cart will be included if you wanted to offer your courses in a store front type presentation.

    Don't know your plans but definately a membership is what you want to build.

    I hope this has been helpful,
    Steve Yakim
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  • Profile picture of the author alliance
    Memberships sites offer marketers many advantages. The most important one is the customer becomes a captive audience in your members area for you to test and sell future products.
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  • Profile picture of the author vicwic
    As I'm the process of something similiar I would suggest trying s2 and wordpress and go down membership route.

    For your quizes you'll need a protected members' area anyway, I'm sure you want to keep them tightly protected if that's how the certificate is earned.

    So far the free version of s2 covers what I need (for now at least) and it can be linked with paypal and places like clickbank for affiliate sales, however, the 4 paying member levels in the free version might not be enought for you by the sounds of things.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lokicoen
    Originally Posted by yakim1 View Post

    to me the answer is obvious. You need a membership site.

    You will need to secure the content, which a membership site can do.

    You can create a different membership level for every industry you have courses for.

    You could also create an affiliate program so your clients can refer more clients. (word of mouth) ....

    I hope this has been helpful,
    Steve Yakim
    Thanks Steve, yes it is helpful! That is a good idea using the affiliates program to encourage referrals!

    Originally Posted by Newbieee View Post

    How many courses or videos you have?
    And how do you intend to sell them. In a group or individually?
    =)
    Currently I have 5 courses but I will be adding more once I have a place to put them. They would be sold individually.

    Now the question of aMember, Wishlist, MemberMouse, S2 (which I am currently playing around with), or DAP.

    As I mentioned before I am currently using Learndash (similar to Moodle, but wordpress based) so I have to make sure everything works well together.
    Thanks everyone for your help!
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    • Profile picture of the author LearnDash
      Originally Posted by Lokicoen View Post

      Currently I have 5 courses but I will be adding more once I have a place to put them. They would be sold individually.

      Now the question of aMember, Wishlist, MemberMouse, S2 (which I am currently playing around with), or DAP.

      As I mentioned before I am currently using Learndash (similar to Moodle, but wordpress based) so I have to make sure everything works well together.
      Thanks everyone for your help!
      Hi Lokicoen,

      First, thank you for being a LearnDash customer. Many of the options you mention (particularly S2 Member, WishList Member, and perhaps WP eMember) are good choices with LearnDash. Or, if you are interested, send me a support ticket if you would like to be part of LearnDash Plus BETA which will give you the type of user access control you are looking for.

      Kindly,
      Justin Ferriman
      Founder, LearnDash
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  • Profile picture of the author wlasikiewicz
    Technically shopping carts are membership sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author yakim1
      Originally Posted by wlasikiewicz View Post

      Technically shopping carts are membership sites.
      I have to disagree that a shopping cart is a membership site. The main purpose of a shopping cart is to allow the customer to purchase multiple products and go through just one check out process.

      Some services are membership services that also provide a shopping cart. Maybe this is where you got this impression.

      Best regards,
      Steve Yakim
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  • Profile picture of the author RabbitAnimate
    Membership, if you update your website gradually. It's not that hard to install membership script anyway ..
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  • Profile picture of the author fpdeziner
    You can also use “membership triggers” that can tease or encourage your customers to upgrade to a higher level of membership for access to more desirable content.
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  • Profile picture of the author roblawrence
    Teaser content is the most effective way to convert new members. Nobody likes to read a long sales letter just to be "sold" to. They want to see what's inside. Sneak preview is your best way to sell your site and entice people.
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