How to use Canvas

Define Vision

Use digital commerce canvas to shape commerce vision of your project in a structured, concise, and easy understood way

Standardize

Adopt standard terminology and discover conventional approaches and design patterns. Apply lessons learned from other industries and use best practices to solve problems typical for all digital commerce projects

Develop ideas

Define how to design your digital catalog, explore different pricing and merchandising strategies. Map the relevant checkout process that is best for your business. Flesh out the most critical decisions - brainstorm, discuss, and plan.

Learn

Use Digital Commerce Canvas training to gain expertise in Ecommerce domain across your business and technical teams

Collaborate

Digital Commerce Canvas is a collaborative tool for the whole digital team. Share commerce canvases to facilitate dialogue between different groups in your business.

The Digital Commerce Canvas offers a great way of mapping out your plan for digital business. It is allowing it to be understood, tested, improved, and shared. This practical top-down approach helps to analyze and document your Ecommerce implementation to facilitate dialogue between different groups in your company.

Canvas’ Structure

The Digital Commerce Canvas consists of four color-coded segments that are further divided into eleven sections. The segments represent the four fundamental questions you need to answer for every Digital Commerce Initiative:

  • Who are your customers, and how you reach them?
  • What are your products and offers?
  • What is your approach to pricing?
  • and What is the customer’s buying experience?

By separating your key requirements into these four segments and eleven sections, the Digital Commerce Canvas helps you create a visual, concise, and precise definition of your Ecommerce business. Each section has a corresponding article on the CommerceIsDigital website that we recommend you to read before creating your Canvas.

Who are your customers, and how you reach them?

Section 1: Customers
In this section of the canvas, you define the types of customers you serve – B2B or B2C, or both. Next, you consider how you organize customer account information and what internal systems are used to manage customer data.
You make decisions about supporting guests’ accounts, customer registration, and approaching customer segmentation and personalization.

Section 2: Channels
In the Channel section, you decide what online and offline channels you use to reach your customers. That includes the structure of your online stores, how many online stores you will have, different stores per country, separate online stores for different brands, etc.

Decisions need to be made on how to use Social Media channels, Conversational Commerce, 3rd party marketplaces, or Things Commerce (IoT). In addition, if your business has physical locations, you need to decide how to support them with the Digital Commerce initiative.

What countries, languages, and currencies support in each channel also need to be defined in this section.

What are your products and offers?

Section 3: Products
The third section is for documenting different types of Ecommerce products your business is offering. Are they physical products or services or both? Are you going to offer subscriptions, gift cards, product options like warranty or gift wrapping?

In this section, you also think about the structure and taxonomy of your catalog. For example, do you have main products and product variants, and what attributes are used to define variants? If you are selling complex products, you think about making it easier for customers to select and buy them. If you sell complex products or services, you may need to implement support for configurable products.

Section 4: Merchandising
In the Merchandising section, you define different types of relations between products that you can use to increase sales – cross-sell & up-sell, labeling, bundles. In addition, you may consider product sets to support “shop-the-look” functionality. Finally, if products can be discontinued, additional relations need to be established to offer alternatives.

An advanced and important part of merchandising is the configuration of the search engine to control and optimize search results.  It is also called searchandising and describes how to use the site’s search to promote products when users search for specific keywords or phrases.

Section 5: Product discovery
The success of digital commerce depends on how easy it is for customers to find the products they need. Business needs to analyze Product Discovery functionality from both internal and external perspectives. Customers should discover your products on the web using search engines and find them when visiting your site.

Product discovery from the outside includes optimizing SEO for organic search (site maps, product metadata), as well as publishing your catalog to shopping comparison sites or using paid advertising.

When it comes to product discovery in the online shop, we need to look at site navigation, product category tree, on-site search, filters, and faced navigation.

With many options available and complex products sold online, customers need help to decide which product is right for them. Ecommerce brands use different content types (blogs, newsletters, user guides, e-books, videos, and manuals) to showcase their products’ benefits and tell brand stories. Content can be related to your product information, how-to guides, or helping customers realize why your products are better than similar offers from your competitors.

What is your approach to pricing?

Section 6: Prices
You can employ many different types of pricing in the business – sale prices, recurring prices, per usage prices, volume & tier prices, net or gross prices. In addition, some products (like configurable products) may require custom price calculations.

In B2B, it is common to have customer-specific price lists and hide prices from not authenticated customers.

It is helpful to approach price definition as a multidimensional exercise. For example, prices could differ across channels; they change with time or payment terms; prices could be customer-specific and have a different value in each channel or country you support.

It is essential to define these dimensions in the Price section of the canvas.

Section 7: Promotions
Promotions allow businesses to offer incentives to customers buying certain products or services. They can come in a multitude of different forms. Depending on a business, these may be simple or highly complex. Like prices, promotions are configured by a product or a category of products and may vary by channel, region, store, and validity period.

In this section, you define the types of promotions you want to use, their conditions, actions, and calculation rules. You also list here the types of coupons you support and how they are generated and distributed.

If you plan to use a loyalty or referral program, they also belong to this canvas section.

What is the customer’s buying experience?

Section 8: Shopping cart
A cart is the heart of digital commerce where all Ecommerce complexities come together, and its implementation needs to be fast, reliable, and transparent.  The Shopping Cart section of the canvas includes features related to adding to cart, cart page implementation, cart validation, and calculation. You decide if you need to support multiple and shared carts, wish lists, and tools you can use to recover Abandoned Carts.

Section 9: Checkout
The checkout flow is probably the most critical part of any e-commerce implementation. It needs to be streamlined to provide a distraction and interruption-free experience. It often needs multiple backend integrations and substantial IT capabilities to develop and test.

In this section, you will be making decisions about checkout flow (one or multiple pages), mobile checkout, and shipment options to offer, including click & collect. In addition, you will specify if customers are required to register, or the shop supports a guest checkout as well.

Section 10: Payments
A business should offer a variety of convenient payment methods for its customers. In the payment section of the canvas, you list payment methods you need to support Credit Cards, Bank Transfers, Mobile Payments & eWallets, invoices, Recurring payments, Payment in installments, or payments with a Gift Card.

Different Payment Methods are used around the globe. Therefore, when expanding your business internationally, it is vital to keep in mind that each country and region have their preferences regarding payment methods. To implement payment methods, you need to select payment providers (PSPs) you will use.

Section 11: Order Management
In the last section of the canvas, you focus on order placement and processing. Here you need to consider both – customer-facing features and backend processing processes.

Customer-facing features include order confirmation, generating an invoice, and all transactional email notifications. In addition, you define the My Orders area in the online shop where customers can check the status of their orders, request a return or cancelation, or reorder. 

You also need to define in this section how the fulfillment process will be implemented in the backend. For example, what systems are involved in order-processing – Ecommerce, OMS, or an ERP, and what roles they play. If you operate internationally, some regions can have different fulfillment processes. Businesses also need to focus on omnichannel requirements of order management.

Creating YOUR Digital Commerce Canvas

You create your own Digital Commerce Canvas by going through each section and highlighting the main features of your Ecommerce implementation. You can fill them in any order or follow the steps above.

Of course, not every business needs all the functionality included in the framework. However, it is important to know the whole spectrum of digital commerce techniques as something that you are not implementing now may offer an opportunity to grow the business in the future.

The one-page canvas becomes the strategic foundation for your roadmap that shows how all parts of your digital commerce vision required to achieve your business goals. You’ll always be able to quickly spot any feature that needs updating whenever priorities change or new realities demand that you adjust your approach.

It also helps to understand your channels, customers, and products from the digital commerce perspective and discover how to apply Ecommerce techniques to move beyond the limitations of your legacy systems.

Use it as a collaborative tool for the whole digital team to understand relationships and reach agreements.

Share commerce canvas to facilitate dialogue between different groups in your business and adopt standard terminology.

You can also use the canvas framework to analyze the competition. Choose some competitors and map their digital business. Armed with this information, you’ll have a deeper insight into what customers want and what they are willing to pay for. In addition, you’ll have a clearer picture of just how customers’ needs are met across the entire industry, not just by your company.

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