Delivering Online Health and Safety with Course Merchant

Who are First4Safety?

First4Safety are a Health and Safety company specialising in delivering Online Health and Safety courses.

First4Safety work closely with the UK based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, and deliver the IOSH Working Safely and IOSH Managing Safely courses online.

IOSH are the chartered body for UK Health and Safety professionals, and as such demand very high standards in the licensed trainers and courses.

We at First4Safety want to replicate those high standards across the complete customer journey. From the first impression of the website, through to the course completion and delegate certificate we want our service to be number one.

One of our key requirements of our software is to reduce the amount of time it takes to get a student online. In this day and age we all want our products asap, and so we should, there is no reason why immediate access should not be possible.  


Online health and safety
The Technology

Our courses are delivered via Moodle.

Moodle is an open source (free to use) LMS. It has the ability to allow individual logins allowing for a personalised learning environment. A Learning Management System is a software application that delivers online or e-learning courses or training programs.

Moodle is used globally many thousands of online learning providers, including the Open University.

Moodle allows us a great deal of freedom over how to deliver our courses to students. We can share content, audio, video and external links and references. A wide range of quiz and question styles enhance the user experience and add another layer of learning.

Moodle has a vast catalogue of plugins providing all manner of additional functionality. We mentioned the Open University above, we have recently used plugins submitted by them offering up new styles of quizzes.

Finally of importance to use is the wide number of contributors to Moodle. Moodle partners help to cover the cost of the work required to support Moodle. Many developers provide plugins and code free of charge. The there is the layer of very talented people who understand specific Moodle requirements such as hosting, performance and even them design.

lms health and safety

The Missing Link

Our issue technology wise has always been summed up by some simple questions

“how can we link Moodle with a shopfront?”  

“how can we grant immediate access to a student upon receiving payment?”

We struggled with this integration issue for many months. At a high level our choice appeared to be between finding an off the shelf product that would do the integration, or to custom build a solution.

We preferred the idea of off the shelf over custom build, it felt better to buy something already proven, something the developers would support, upgrade, improve,  rather than pay for one off development that may become extinct over time.

There was quite a choice of products that offered the integration we required. We trialled a few choices but could never quite achieve the level of success that we were after. These choices varied in form and price.

We even explored switching the shopfront in order to pursue a completely different set of integration technologies.

iosh training courses


Enter Course Merchant

Course Merchant are specialists in the integration of Learning Management Systems and the shopfronts, which sounds like a good start!

Right from the early communications it was obvious these guys knew what they were doing.

Martin over at Course Merchant gave us a high level overview of the product, and walked us through their demo platform so we could see CM in action.

Integration – It was pretty clear straight away that CM would perform the integration we really wanted. The ability for an order to produce a new user with the correct course enrolments on our Moodle instance. This was our key requirement.

Shopfront – We hadn’t banked on taking a completely new shopfront, hosted by CM. This actually turned into great news, whilst we had successfully set up our own shop front it felt great to hand it over the real experts. We could gain a great deal of peace of mind knowing that orders/payments were successful!

We gained twice in terms of shop front, firstly by moving to a very professional store hosted by CM, but also in terms of removing the overhead of our previous store from our website. Our website speed improved immediately which will get us a little more Google love!

Payment – That leads us on to payments. As you would expect, the guys at CM were experts at a handling a variety of the most used payment systems.

Store Backend – Something else we had no given thought to was the excellent backend to our new shop front. We can easily view new orders as they arrive, produce order reports, add voucher codes, link products, and a whole host of other options.

Corporate Licence Management – the ability for customers to bulk order courses and allocate the licences themselves is another very useful feature.


course merchant logo


The Setup Process

Setup was a simple process, we were assigned an implementation engineer who would help oversee the setup.

We completed a questionnaire to make sure all the parameters were considered. Examples questions surrounded the use of the new account form and what fields we might like on it.

The implementation team put together a test setup connected to our payment providers test system. This meant we were able to really get to grips with the store, the look and feel, and of course the functionality. We wanted to take ownership of the testing from our side, to really contribute, to think about the different test cases and to ensure they were covered.

Once test was complete it was the moment to go live!

online learning implementation


The End Result


As a customer centric learning company we were covering our technology 19 hours a day! People do order courses between midnight and 5am but not many! The rest of the day we wanted to be able to respond to orders, to get people online, and to get them studying, hence the long hours.

We kept an eye on the store for the first couple of nights, but it very quickly became obvious it was very happy handling our orders leaving us to go and get some sleep.  

We see no downtime from our store, no lost orders, no failed emails, no incorrect user details, quite simply it is performing wonderfully well. Simply put we are able to deliver online Health and Safety courses to those that want to study 24/7.

Would we recommend Course Merchant ? … Yes we would!

sleep whilst working