How to Sell Your Online Courses and Memberships to People in China

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In this LMScast episode, Brandon described how you can easily sell your online course and membership to people in China with China payment plugin. He shares the details about the China Payments plugin and its integration with LifterLMS.

Brandon Ernst is the founder of Gaucho Plugins. The China Payment Plugin is also developed by Gaucho. He clarifies that the China plugin makes it easier for non-Chinese companies or organizations that utilize Stripe outside of China to conduct online transactions while selling to Chinese consumers using WeChat Pay and Alipay.

Course developers may easily enter the Chinese market with the plugin, which takes use of Stripe’s connectivity with these widely used payment methods. Brandon also provides insight into Chinese consumer behavior by stressing the prevalence of WeChat Pay and Alipay in both online and offline transactions.

He highlights how Chinese customers are accustomed to and confident in these digital payment systems, which strengthens the credibility of companies that provide these payment choices.

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Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program, I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co founder of Lifter LMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMS cast. I’m joined by a special guest. His name is Brandon Ernst. He’s from Gaucho plugins. Today, we’re going to be talking about chain China payments plugin. You can find it at China payments, plugin. com. Gotcha. Plugins also has some other plugins that we’re going to talk about, but first welcome to the show, Brandon.

Brandon Ernst: Thanks for having me, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be on the show with you.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. And thank you for integrating the China payments plugin with Lifter LMS checkout. We really appreciate it at a high level. Can you describe what the China payments plugin does and how it could fit into an education entrepreneur stack selling courses or memberships or coaching or whatever with Lifter LMS?

Brandon Ernst: Absolutely. If you’re selling online courses to China, the most commonly accepted payment methods or most widely used payment methods in China are WeChat Pay and Alipay. And so Stripe has created an integration with those payment methods that we’ve taken advantage of in the plugin that allows any non Chinese business or Stripe supported business outside of China to sell to Chinese customers via WeChat Pay and Alipay.

online. It’s a really useful mechanism. If you have any customers who are in China and want to make those payment methods available to them for your online courses.

Chris Badgett: If somebody help us understand kind of the boots on the ground in China as a consumer, if you’re in China and you’re looking to buy a course made by somebody in the United States or Canada or Europe or Africa or wherever, what like what’s their e commerce reality?

Cause my understanding is like they, approach e commerce differently. You have these super. Super apps like WeChat and Alipay. What’s, tell us a little more about that world of the Chinese consumer. Totally.

Brandon Ernst: It’s much more common in China to have a bank account at a traditional bank and a debit card.

And not necessarily having a credit card in addition to that. Whereas in the US or Europe it’s much more common to have a credit card Asia as well. But as a consumer in China outside of that WeChat Pay and Alipay have become the most dominant methods of transacting in China for brick and mortar stores as well as online.

You can’t really go anywhere in China without Meeting WeChat the app in some way. And then also the WeChat pay mechanism allows you to pay for pretty much anything, anywhere whether it’s a hotel, a flight service online or a meal at a restaurant. It’s not so common for a Chinese consumer to go online and punch in their credit card.

and purchase something. It is, it does happen. It’s not uncommon but it’s, definitely not the dominant method that people would use. And from a familiarity perspective, which I think is probably the most important aspect of this if you’re selling to a Chinese customer for them, WeChat pay and Alipay are completely familiar, so it’s going to offer your business a great deal of legitimacy that you’re offering these payment methods on your website.

It’s going to target to them directly, make them feel like they can trust your business because then they’re protected by WeChat and Alipay’s dispute mechanisms, all of that kind of stuff as well, which aren’t really used very widely either. But the point is that they’re familiar with that kind of tool and they’re more comfortable using that than giving their private credit card number to some service on the internet that they may not be completely familiar

How to Sell Your Online Courses and Memberships to People in China: with.

Chris Badgett: I’m just curious or like WeChat and Alipay, more of a mobile first experience or they, are they more likely to engage from a phone than a desktop or laptop computer? Or do you have any thoughts around that?

Brandon Ernst: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s been one of the most interesting aspects of working on this plugin actually, is that WeChat Pay and Alipay are definitely mobile first experiences.

So on your website on the checkout flow for WeChat Pay, a QR code is actually generated. And the Chinese customer must physically scan the QR code with their phone. They can’t like even if they’re on their phone, for instance, trying to make the purchase, they can’t even extract the QR code or read it that way.

It’s actually required that they would have to physically scan the QR code with the WeChat pay app, and then they can complete payment that way on their mobile device. And then the website will update and display that they’ve completed payment. So there are a few limitations and tricks like that, that are important to understand about how these integrations work for the Chinese market.

And so that’s been an interesting journey getting to know the, user experience from our Plugin users, for instance who are selling to Chinese customers and integrating their Stripe accounts and all of that, all the way to the to the end user who’s in China who’s trying to figure out how to actually make the payment with this mechanism, which is becoming more and more widely used.

And so Alipay is also pretty similar. It’s, a little bit better of a flow. It will work on mobile as well where it just redirects to the Alipay website and then they can either scan a QR code if they’re on desktop using their mobile device again. So if they’re visiting the website on desktop, they’ll have to pull their phone out of their pocket and then scan the screen or they’ll get redirected to the Alipay app.

Which is a flow that we chat is having built out with Stripe and next it’s on their, roadmap from what I, understand. Yeah, they’re definitely mobile first experiences and it’ll either be scanning the QR code or redirecting to one of their apps in order to complete the payment.

Chris Badgett: I know you lived in China for a little bit. Is there like how else is it different from, let’s say the United States is it more of a paper cashless world or just when it comes to e commerce or exchange of money for goods or services. Like how is the culture and the way people do things different?

Brandon Ernst: It’s definitely become a mostly cashless society. Cash is used for some things. There’s still definitely many rural areas of China and many people who don’t necessarily have access to technology like we chat as often or frequently as most people in cities would.

So the vast majority though I’d, say would, be using WeChat, Alipay, these kinds of digital methods of transacting rather than physical currency of any kind. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah that’s, interesting. It’s a big world out there and there’s a lot of different ways to do e commerce and The world is a big place.

So when it comes to selling education thinking globally is a really good idea. I want to encourage you out there listening to go to China payments, plug in. com and check that out. We also have it listed on the Lyft or LMS website. You can find it there. Let’s talk a little bit more about Gaucho plugins.

Tell us what you guys have on offer over there in addition to the China payments plugin.

Brandon Ernst: Yeah. So we have a few kind of niche products that I’ve either been inspired to create with my team or adopt actually from the WordPress repository in the last few years. So one of the more popular plug ins is domain mapping system, which is a really interesting tool that allows you to map multiple domains to a single WordPress site.

And that might be a standard WordPress install or a multi site. So if you’re looking to create, for instance, a store under a different domain or brand and you have a different section of your site for that, you can just map a whole other domain to that without having to log in, log out of your site and kind of manage this new micro site within your existing WordPress site.

So it can save you a great deal of time for a wide variety of use cases. That’s been a really fun one to work on in the last few years. There’s also payment page, which is a payment form plugin that makes it extremely easy to start accepting subscriptions and donations through your site.

You can import a template connect Stripe or PayPal, and then start accepting payments. And the templates are the design of the payment form is totally customizable. That was actually my first foray into WordPress, you could say. I started WordPress in 2011 and building websites for clients as a consultant.

And the first thing you need to do is start accepting payment online in a reasonably fancy way without having to deal with invoicing or other, things that are just kind of barriers. Or at least automating those processes. So I struggled in finding a really nice looking payment form plugin out of the gate.

And yeah, that was a while ago, 2011. It was a different time in WordPress as well. But even today I scan the, repository, look at some competitor plugins there are great designs and you can definitely customize them, but I haven’t seen any that really offer like an import.

Tool for templates that just make it like zero to 100 really, quickly. So that’s that’s what is a little bit unique and fun about that one is the playful designs that you can create with the payment form. And I’ve seen all kinds of cool. Designs like retro gaming sites and stuff like that have taken advantage of it.

And it’s been really fun working on that one too. I think

Chris Badgett: just on that one, I think that it’s, that’s a great solution for if you’re just beginning your course journey and you just want to validate the idea or whatever somebody give me money for this training I’m planning on doing, or maybe I’m going to do some private coaching first with three trainings and it’s a hundred dollars a week or a month or whatever to try to flesh out your course curriculum or something like that.

You could literally have a WordPress site and payment set up really quickly. That’s, Yeah, that

Brandon Ernst: was what was if I were able to use this plugin starting out it would have been perfect to have that kind of thing. My main goal was just at the beginning to be able to start accepting one time either hourly or project payments or subscriptions out of the gate.

And so that, that really set the, my Web development business on fire to, to begin with and then moving into the plugin space later on.

Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about this split pay plugin. And again, these are on gaucho plugins. com G A U C H O plugins. com. What’s the split play or split pay plugin.

Brandon Ernst: I do that all the time too. It’s a bit of a, it’s

Chris Badgett: a tongue twister.

Brandon Ernst: Yeah. But the split pay plugin is very useful for Woo store owners who want to transfer a percentage of sales to any Stripe connected account, which would usually be a vendor for instance, or a partner of some kind to your business.

This, to make it relevant for courses, for instance, let’s say you have a bunch of teachers and you have an agreement with your teachers that you’re giving them a 75 percent cut of the course cost and you’re taking a 25%. What you would do is just install the split pay plugin, go to that product in WooCommerce and set up.

The exact percentage that you wanted to transfer for each sale of that product. And then you would designate a connected account to your Stripe platform, which is a really easy tool in Stripe to set up. You can create a Stripe platform with any Stripe account and then start onboarding accounts to your, it’s called a connect platform.

And so then you designate which account you’d like to transfer that percentage or fixed amount of each transaction to and then it automatically will work after that. So it’s a really useful tool in, those kinds of situations. It’s also great for vendors. For instance if you’re if you have vendors who are doing product fulfillment on your site and you want them to receive let’s say a percentage for the product itself.

And then also for maybe covering shipping fees, you can designate each of those independently as well through the plugin. So that’s, a really useful tool.

Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. About 30 percent of Lifter LMS users use our WooCommerce integration. So that’s literally something you could start doing today by going to Gaucho plugins and get the split pay plugin.

Brandon Ernst: We do have a, update coming up on that plugin in the next few weeks to ensure that it does work with all products in Woo, especially those generated by third party plugins that. Aren’t like the default WooCommerce product structure. That is, it is doable, but maybe not with the current release. So it will be in the next one to two weeks.

I’d say.

Chris Badgett: My guess is it probably works out of the box because Woo, Lifter Woo ties a course or membership enrollment to a WooCommerce product. We don’t modify the product or create it. It’s just perfect. Okay. So I think it would likely work out of the box. I could also see another solution where.

For example, in Lifter, sometimes courses have multiple instructors. So if there were two, you could then split it 50 50 or whatever.

Brandon Ernst: Yeah it’s, I love that, plugin. It’s actually one that we adopted. I’ve adopted domain mapping system and split pay plugin a few years ago and worked on them with a couple of different developers.

And it’s just been so fun because it’s not ideas that I came up with originally, but I’ve been able to add a bunch of my own ideas to this, kind of this niche and actually build out these niches in WordPress that didn’t really exist before. There are plugins that do domain mapping.

There are plugins that do marketplace functionality and everything like that, but not in such a simple and easy way. Intricate way that I’m trying to get these plugins to do. And so it’s been a pleasure to adopt them rather than invent or come up with my own idea or business that I would hope would just succeed.

So it’s, humbling in a way to come up with, take someone else’s idea and just build on it and make it Something that really contributes to the WordPress space. No, it’s

Chris Badgett: like a bottom up as opposed to top down Oh, I’m going to build a marketplace. It’s what’s the first part?

The the payments, like that’s the main goal.

Brandon Ernst: Huh. Huh. Yeah. And, for payment page that was more kind of my idea that came from my own struggle in WordPress. And so it’s it is more of a top down thing. What’s my idea and I’m hoping others will like it and use it.

And I have received good feedback on it, but of course that space is so competitive that it’s it’s, it just takes time to, to grow a plugin in that area and get people to, to know about it, to hear about it and because there’s a hundred other plugins that might be. Used as well.

But, that one’s also been fun and it’s come with its own challenges and everything like that too. And you just meet so many people in these different kind of niche spaces and find out different business models and you come up with different ideas. So it’s the plugins are a different variety, a different, you each have a different flavor, but that’s what makes them so great and fun to work on and also some of them do align together in a pretty interesting way.

Chris Badgett: I love the e commerce focus. That’s one thing I found accidentally, but. The closer you are to the money, it’s like they really want, the market really wants that solution if you’re helping them get paid, basically. And then there’s all those nuances around that. There’s a lot that happens when money changes hands through the internet.

Does the split pay plugin work with WooCommerce subscriptions?

Brandon Ernst: It does. Yeah. The way woos subscriptions works is basically it will just initiate the transaction over again your WordPress site. So it’s a bit of a different approach than creating a subscription in Stripe directly. Woos subscriptions will basically just replicate the Transaction details.

So if there was a transfer involved in that transaction, then it will happen again for each renewal.

Chris Badgett: That’s also good news for people using Lifter LMS with WooCommerce. Cause many do subscriptions. Yeah. And can you tell us about variations as well? You, does it work with variations?

Brandon Ernst: Yeah. So it’s been a complicated journey with this plugin because it was a very simple plugin.

Product to begin with the features we’re really limited. So with all the feedback we’ve received and ideas we’ve gotten from everyone who’s come across the product. And the plugin it’s been really fun to pick and choose what we should build out. So one of the things that we’re finalizing right now, also in this upcoming release is a fallback approach.

So where you have three layers of products in WooCommerce, you have this. Global layer that is unseen. You can set these kind of global transaction details, which is the first layer in our plugin. Then you have the product level where you can edit details on the product level and then the variable product level.

So if you wanted to split payments for five it doesn’t matter how many you can do multiple Stripe accounts. But let’s just say five Stripe accounts for one product for, and that might be because you have Five different teachers. Maybe a different teacher was selected to teach that, that course or something like that.

I’m there’s so many different ways to set it up, but the point is, if you want to split up a transaction between multiple connected accounts, it can be one product. It can be multiple products. You can go into the product level or the variable product level and set each connected account on that.

Specificity. So it’s actually really useful. On that, on those levels, I’m a micro level for managing even a small amount of a transaction let’s say, a few dollars to different vendor that you wanted to give a commission to, for instance or, a teacher that would get a larger percentage or fixed amount.

So the way it works if you have settings configured on a variable product level or global level, is that if there’s any settings configured on one of those lower levels, let’s say the variable or product level, they would override the global settings. So while you might have a 25 percent transfer amount for your store, for every transaction that goes on, you could also set these additional settings that would override that amount for specific courses or specific courses.

Products that you have in woo even at the variable product level. So it’s and that’s one of the, biggest areas of feedback we’ve received that people want to have that control at all of those different levels they want to have a fallback approach as well. So if shipping is needed to be transferred on one for one product, for instance. But not on others, that they can have these rules set up in place quote unquote rules, because they’re really just Values that you set at each level but the way they work sets up a rule based system for your entire store for how transfers work.

Chris Badgett: I love that. We’re really nerding out here on the details as e commerce guys. I think one of the ideas is swimming in my head. As you’re talking is Like in online education. Sometimes there’s like a variable product that has a course like DIY, do it yourself. And then of course, plus coaching, some people call it tutoring. Some people call it like they actually sell in the classrooms. And there’s a specific teacher that’s teaching that course on that variation or whatever.

And I can totally, how you’re just automating a lot of that manual accounting that people do on the back end. If you, that you could just set up with the split pay and very variable products and all that. That’s, really cool what you’re doing there.

Brandon Ernst: Yeah. It’s, definitely an interesting use case to, to come out to come on the podcast.

Now think about all that. I was going to say something about subscriptions because we, Started with China Payments plugin. That’s one of the limits as well with WeChat Pay and Alipay that should be mentioned is that unfortunately they’re not subscription based. They’re all one-time payment methods.

So it would require, if you’re selling a renewing course a subscription based course for each renewal the Chinese customer would have to manually make a payment again. But it’s most useful at this point for kind of lifetime or one time sales. If you’re going to renew I would suggest having a longer time period to make it less of a hassle for the Chinese customer to have to log in and keep access every 24 hours, for instance, or something like that but, yeah those things are.

Also being hopefully built out by Stripe and WeChat Alipay so that there’ll be an easier mechanism for Alipay subscriptions in the future. And then WeChat pay subscriptions mechanism as well. So

Chris Badgett: yeah, that makes sense. So if you’re thinking in subscriptions, most common being monthly subscription, it’s probably for trying to pay payments to think more like an, it’s an annual price and then they have to re up every year if they want to.

Yeah, and that’s another thing

Brandon Ernst: as well touching back on, on kind of China and how e commerce works there is that subscriptions are not really a common thing in China as well. There are, they exist, but it’s not as common here like. It would be in the US or in not any, country outside of China, really for services like Netflix or Spotify. Or other kind of online streaming services.

Platforms, they’re just not as the, I think the businesses don’t succeed as well in China because just subscriptions aren’t received as well by consumers.

Chris Badgett: So how does like a streaming video service as an example, like how do they approach that market? Is it more like a, it’s good for a year or it’s a lifetime access price or what?

Brandon Ernst: I think they’ll, offer a lifetime plan or a limited time offer. They will also offer subscriptions. Alipay itself does offer subscriptions but not through, not easily through the Stripe integration. But domestically they can do it. But for foreign businesses to accept subscriptions from a Chinese customer in particular would be really difficult to, find at this point.

It’s a bit of a barrier in that regard.

Chris Badgett: Tell us where the name Gaucho comes from.

Brandon Ernst: So my mom is from Argentina and the original team was pretty much all based in Argentina as well. And so I had the inspiration, I go, what should I name the plugin business? We’re all working together and I just love the theme and have some fun designing the website.

There’s some kind of cultural. Icons of Argentina on the website, like the, obviously the couch. All logo and icon, and then the horse at the bottom of the site. Then on the about us page, there’s a girl drinking or having having a picnic. And having some empanadas stuff like that. So it’s, been I’ve had some fun with WordPress over the last few years.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. And you mentioned something earlier I wanted to double click on, which is the idea of adopting a plugin. Can you tell us more what that means and how you went about that and how those situations emerged?

Brandon Ernst: Yeah. I, also heard about it. In the last few years, and that’s I heard about it and then jumped on a few that were available at the time on the WordPress repository.

There’s a tag that you can have tags on plugins. If you’re, if you have a plugin listed there, and as the, as a WordPress user, you can go and see the tags as well on the. I believe on the Listing the profile listing page for the plugin. One of the tags I believe is adopt Me or, Adopt Hyphen Me, something like that. So those plugin, you can search for that tag and you can find the plugins that are available for adoption on And these are plugins that are just simply no longer maintained by their original developers or don’t have any updates happening to them. And the developers want to.

Pass them on to you hands that will maintain them or take care of them or add features. And so for many people that can be a business opportunity. I, I wouldn’t adopt a plugin and then take it off the repository. Which could be done I would look at it as an opportunity to adopt the plugin, build out more free features, make sure it’s working really well.

And then and then create a. A paid version of the product. If you wanted to invest in the product in that way, and you were receiving good feedback from the users. And so that’s how a plugin business can get started. If you don’t if you’re not a developer or if, you don’t want to necessarily hire If you don’t have development skills out of the gate and you see a good business idea already out there on WordPress and you want to get into it, you could adopt a plugin, hire a developer to help you maintain it, build it out, and then create a product from it.

And it’s, a totally doable and reasonable process. It’s not rocket science you get much more to the complicated aspects of it. When you’re talking about marketing the business. And growing and everything like that. Which is WordCamps are all about and all of this fun community based stuff that we were talking about before the, call here got started or the podcast got started.

By the way to everyone watching, there’s WordCamp Asia coming up in Taipei. Chris and I will both be there and it’s going to be really fun adventure. And I think this is a very timely update for the plugin for WeChat Pay and Alipay. Although they are targeted to the mainland domestic Chinese market and not necessarily to the.

Taiwan Taiwan consumers, but it’s, just timely for that region as well. So I’m looking forward to, to actually seeing you there face to face for the first time, Chris.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah. And I love my team. I don’t know if we’ll find any maté in Taipei, but maybe we could have some maté. They

Brandon Ernst: might have an Argentinian steakhouse somewhere around.

Chris Badgett: That would be great. Awesome, Brandon. Thanks for coming on the show. You out there listening, go check out China payments, plug in. com. Think about selling your training into China. And also check out all the other cool things that Brandon has going on over at gauchoplugins. com. The particularly a payment page for validating your course idea and split pay for getting creative with partnerships. Or kind of teacher or coach vendor splits.

If you’re using Lifter LMS with WooCommerce. Thanks for coming on the show, Brandon. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to seeing you in Taipei.

Brandon Ernst: You too. Thanks for having me and look forward to hopefully connecting with some of the viewers here. Hope you guys enjoy the, new features that we got with China payments plugin. Thanks so much for taking a few moments to listen in.

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMS cast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at LifterLMS. com forward slash gift. Go to LifterLMS. com forward slash gift.

Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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