See how you can empower your members to take charge of their membership through self-service, easy registration, and seamless online shopping.  

By: Ashly Stewart, Senior Marketing Manager

Did you know that 79% of the population shops online with 75% of online buyers shopping at least once a month! That’s a lot of online buyers.

And many of those regular online shoppers are also members of associations and nonprofits.  

While it’s true that the interaction between an association and its members and supporters is far from transactional, it’s also true that if your association gives your members an opportunity to make any type of online payment — from signing up and renewing their memberships to purchasing products or courses to registering for events — your members will expect an Amazon-like experience. 

But don’t worry. You can offer your members a seamless buying experience that’s easy to use and easy to love even if you’re not a large, online retailer.  

Here’s everything you need to know about how e-business for associations can positively affect your members, your staff, and your mission. 

As e-commerce grows, so does e-business for associations
The latest stats show that online buying continues to grow at a fast rate.  

What does e-business look like for associations?  

For most, “e-commerce” is associated with retail and ideas like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and online shopping carts. For associations, the online buying experience can include days like GivingTuesday and there’s usually a shopping cart involved, but e-business for an association often goes beyond a simple purchase.  

To better understand how e-business expands beyond e-commerce, it’s good to look at a few different ways that associations serve their members that start with an online transaction. 

Here are some of the more popular uses for e-business tools used by associations: 

  1. Selling branded swag items (like t-shirts and mugs) and other merchandise 
  1. Purchasing a new membership or group memberships 
  1. Renewing memberships 
  1. Registrations for events and meetings 
  1. Purchasing learning courses and webinars 
  1. Ordering hard copies of publications 

These common member activities are good examples of how associations’ online payments go beyond ordering something like clothes or groceries online.  

Instead, the need for members to purchase and renew memberships online, register for events and purchase learning courses means that associations must not simply deliver a good, but provide valuable benefits and experiences for several days, months, even years. 

To do this well, associations should be able to track, deliver and expand on these member experiences in a way that makes your members happy and keeps them happy.  

That’s the power of e-business for associations.  

Discover the top 5 e-business features for associations. 

So how do you leverage the power of e-business to serve your members and your mission? Well, with today’s modern tools and innovative solutions, the possibilities seem endless. But before you dive into the latest and greatest of e-business, it’s good to take a step back, identify your association’s goals and how it wants to serve its members, and set a strong foundation.  

Here are a few essential e-business features to consider as you look to enhance your members’ online buying experience.  

1. Online storefront 

One of the more popular features of a good e-business tool and strategy is your online storefront, which is the page that your members will use to purchase your products or services. When it comes to successful online storefronts, you’ll find that users love storefronts that are easy, accurate, and visually appealing.  

If you’re selling courses or webinars, this could look like including the title of the course, the air date and presenter headshot as well as the correct price to purchase. Small details can go a long way, like organizing the webinars chronologically so users know what’s coming up next and adding content that indicates if the webinar is a live session or a recorded session.  

And if there are no spots left in an upcoming event or you’re out of certain sizes of t-shirts, make sure that your storefront is updated to indicate that space is limited or items are out of stock! 

2. Site search 

That little magnifying glass and search field often seen at the top of website pages seem like such small things, but any avid online shopper (including the author of this post) can tell you that it is essential to an efficient, positive online buying experience.  

As websites grow larger and people are putting out more content than ever, having site search is vital to help users quickly find the information that’s most relevant to them. 

And when it comes to e-business for associations, the speed and ease of having a member or partner search for a webinar they want based on important categories like the air date or the topic can be the difference in securing a new registration or not.  

Still wondering if site search is really THAT essential for good e-business? Check out our blog to better understand why consumers using on-site search spend 3-4x more with a given brand. 

3. Registration pages 

Registration pages have always been a big deal since a sign-up form is a requirement for people to sign up as members!  

Beyond this important capability, registration pages are how people sign-up for events, which have always been some of the biggest opportunities to connect with members and generate revenue for associations and nonprofits. 

A registration page that’s optimized for good e-business will make signing up easy by not requiring too much information up-front, making payment processing seamless, including helpful follow-up information (usually in the form of a confirmation page and/or email) and sending accurate invoicing.  

4. Member portals 

We’ve been talking a lot about initial sign-ups and registrations, but another big part of a great e-business experience is the ability to track activity and maintain your purchases and registrations.  

Think about the experience of ordering something from Amazon: you can see your order status, easily access your order information, watch the fulfillment process as your delivery is tracked and you can view and change your account information (like your home and email address) at any time — and you can do it all through logging into your account yourself. 

Self-service is a big deal for many who choose to purchase anything online, and organizations have taken notice. 69% of decision makers at service organizations say self-service is a major part of their service strategy. 

Why are so many business leaders choosing to invest in self-service tools and solutions? Simply put, their customers, partners and members are asking for it. The need for self-service tools has only increased over the past couple of years as COVID limited in-person service and customer success teams were stretched thin.  

Even though we can and will move past the worst days of the pandemic, organizations are already planning to further invest in successful strategies and tools that have helped people work and live better like remote work schedules, online communities and, yes, self-service capabilities.  

5. Integrations with your AMS 

As you can see, there are a few important e-business features that associations should consider if they offer any type of online buying to their members.  

If you want to see all those features “talk” and work together seamlessly on the backend of your site and your e-business forms, you need the ability to integrate these features with your AMS.  

Having an AMS that either offers or integrates well with your e-business tools results in that Amazon-like experience for your members, and it gives your team the data it needs to offer unparalleled service and engagement to your members. 

Here are just a few ways we see associations and nonprofits using their integrated AMS to create amazing e-business experiences:  

  • Do you have a member that has a renewal coming up? You can send them a renewal email to encourage them to sign up again. Plus, you can make it easy for them to renew by paying with their saved payment information. 
  • Do you have a member who wants to easily sign up for your annual conference? If they’ve registered for any of your previous events or meetings, they can use their existing profile information.  
  • Is your member interested in a hard copy of one of your digital publications? They can pay with a saved credit card and have that hard copy delivered directly to their address.  
  • Do you manage chapters or committees that need memberships? You can purchase and manage memberships on behalf of specific groups.  
  • Want to engage your members more? You can include recommended products or services based on your members’ buying history or feature products you think they would enjoy through marketing tools.  

All these experiences and more are possible if you can combine your e-business strategies and tools with your AMS.  

Learn about the biggest benefits of e-business for associations. 

Now that we’ve walked through what you need to know to understand why e-business has become such a big part of an associations’ strategy to serve and grow their membership and the essentials that you need to get started for a booming e-business strategy, we should talk more about the ways that e-business benefits your members.  

Or, instead of talking about it, we can SHOW you.