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e-Commerce: The monetization tool of the Open edX platform

The Open edX e-commerce application is a complementary service to the Open edX platform, designed and built by edX to support e-commerce transactions, empowering any online learning initiative running on Open edX to build a monetization strategy.

This complementary application was based on a well known open source e-commerce platform called Django Oscar.

This solution was built specifically for the edx.org use case, so its functionality may not cover every aspect of the e-commerce spectrum. This article will explain the details, advantages, and compromises of using this application in Open edX powered initiatives.

What does the Open edX e-commerce application do?

The goal of adding an e-commerce service to your Online learning site, is to enable learners to buy their way into Paid courses or allowing to pay for extended services such as an upgrade to a different course track in a particular course, to gain access to additional value.

The basic configuration of the Open edX e-commerce platform currently supports:

  • To offer courses that can only be accessed after making a payment.
  • To offer courses that are free for learners to enroll, but then allow them to buy an upgrade in order to access more content, certificates, or an enhanced learning experience.
  • To process the sale of multiple courses in a single transaction.
  • A coupon code functionality, to allow generating and managing configurable discounts.

More advanced configurations may require additional components such as the Course Discovery Service or edX for enterprises, but ultimately could support:

  • The purchase with a discount of course seats in a simultaneous group of courses.
  • Corporate sales – to offer companies course seats in courses for training purposes.

During the processing of the transaction, Open edX e-commerce will integrate with a payment gateway, which is an external service that handles the actual paying methods, such as debit and credit card, bank transfers, local payment processors, or others.

The connectors with some widely used payment gateways such as Cybersource, Paypal, and Stripe are available as part of the Open edX codebase, and connectors for other Gateways such as Amazon payments, We pay, Authorize.net, 2Checkout, Dwolla, Worldpay, Merchant e-solutions, Braintree, SecurePay, PayU, and others can be developed as a custom extension.

How is the user experience?

The person interested in a particular course you are offering will go to your course catalog page and search for the course he wants to buy.

After clicking on the enrollment button, the user will be directed to the payment subdomain where the information about the course (course name, course description, and course price) and a discount coupon option will be displayed.

To continue the purchasing process, the user needs to checkout with any of the payment gateways where they can complete the transaction.

Once the user completes the payment, a purchase order will be displayed.

Then the user will be redirected to the dashboard and will be enrolled in the course.

What are the limitations of the current version?

As of the latest version (Open edX Juniper), there are some pieces of functionality that are not available out of the box, which means you may need an additional component or integration in order to manage them. These include:

  • Billing – Creation, and distribution of invoices.
  • Taxes – to recognize and process taxes from different countries.
  • Local currency selection – It is possible to sell courses in different currencies, but having the buyer select the preferred currency is not yet available.
  • Refunds – Whenever a buyer requires a refund, the transaction will be done and the course enrollment will be reversed manually.
  • Reports – a report to know the number of courses sold.
  • Theme customization – The branding elements of the cart and checkout experience can be adjusted with some custom development.

How can I get this?

Depending on the model you use to provision your Open edX platform, you have multiple options.

For eduNEXT cloud Subscriptions, this integration is already available out of the box, as one of the add-ons you can choose in the Enterprise and Performance tiers called “e-commerce add-on”.

For self-hosted or On-premises instances, eduNEXT offers professional services for the installation and configuration of e-commerce in an existing Open edX production instance.

Alternatives for the e-commerce application

There are other alternatives to monetize your online courses, such as the integration of Open edX with a Woocommerce site provided by the customer using eduNEXT’s exclusive WordPress – Woocommerce Integrator plugin. If you are interested in this service, contact our sales team to find out more.

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