Having recently announced the University of Hertfordshire's deal for Pay360's education focused online store, we spent some time with the lead business development managers – Richard Marks and Chris Tibbitts – to understand why there’s so much excitement amongst universities and colleges around the Pay360 eShop.
Why do universities need an eShop?
"Obviously there is accommodation, tuition and course fees, but there are many other reasons, as universities are hosting events, selling branded merchandise, books and gym memberships, managing library fines, selling graduation photography and more. Put simply, an eShop will allow universities to consolidate how they offer their students access to all these different services with the ability to purchase goods, pay fines or sign up for events, through one website which can be accessed 24/7".
What challenges are they currently facing?
"We keep hearing the same things from the universities we are talking to. They face high expectations from their students and parents when it comes to a website’s usability, and range of payment methods on offer for making payments. It doesn’t set the right impression if their website doesn’t live up to modern standards – i.e. an old fashioned payments interface which is not mobile friendly, or it being too time consuming to enter in payment details etc. By contrast, some parents are not comfortable making payments online and want other options – by phone or in person, and are struggling with institutions which are currently only able to accept payments online".
You mentioned expectations from parents and students, what are they?
"For students especially – today’s students are part of Generation Z, they have been brought up using smartphones and tablets, in fact they hardly remember a time when mobiles were not ‘smart’! They are used to doing virtually everything via their phone, wherever they may be. But it’s not just the under 25s - most of us are now completing many transactions online, and we expect the process to be easy and seamless. Parents and students alike therefore expect a modern interface, that remembers their name, address and card details (which are stored securely in encrypted form), and resembles the slick experience they would get from say purchasing clothes online from a major retailer".
So how is Pay360’s product different from others on the market?
"Pay360’s eShop is able to deliver on this modern expectation. The eShop offers a really slick experience for students and staff when it comes to events, short courses, graduations, merchandise, information and resources, as well as recurring payments and so on. Everything is in one place for students and for staff, the whole experience of using the eShop is really smooth and reporting functionality is excellent. The eShop’s webpages are mobile optimised for easy browsing on mobile and tablet devices alike, and work on all browsers. Making a purchase is really easy for users, with a modern interface which remembers their details, or allows payment via PayPal to save them even having to input their details the first time around. But as I mentioned before – some people don’t want to make payments online, and if there is a requirement for this Pay360 also offers other secure payment options – via phone or face to face, options universities haven’t previously been offered from other payment providers".
Sounds exciting! I can see how it improves the payment experience for the parents and students, what does it offer the university?
"Yes, it is all about improving the experience for both users and the institutions themselves. There is so much more functionality to the product than just an online store and payment check out – the module can be integrated with the university’s system and provides them with tools for customer relationship management (CRM), providing e-learning for students, event registration and much more. The built-in analytics capabilities give new and fascinating insight into what is happening in the store – what is popular, who has made payments etc., plus the marketing module allows emails to be sent out directly from the platform – to all users, individuals, or groups, for example to those with payments due for the next term, or those who may be interested in a certain event".
Thank you both! It has been great to understand more about eShop and what it offers!