Carbon offsetting tools for ecommerce platforms – scalable solutions to fight climate change

 

Columbia Road helped us bring Compensate to ecommerce businesses and carbon offsetting into the heart of ecommerce. Their extensive knowledge of various platforms and related technical expertise enabled us to build a product that will scale and further accelerate systemic change. Annikki Laine, Chief Product Officer, Compensate


Key objectives

Compensate is a nonprofit on a mission to combat climate change by offering people and companies ways to take steps towards carbon negativity. Compensate is creating a system that allows people and businesses to understand their climate impact, and compensate for the emissions they can’t avoid.
 
Ecommerce plays a key role in people’s purchasing habits, and this is where the collaboration with Columbia Road came in. Ecommerce platforms are a major part of modern purchase flows, and have huge reach amongst consumers and online retailers. Compensate has always believed that offsetting has the greatest impact when implemented within purchase flows, at the moment of purchase.
 
The goal was to create a technical solution that could eventually be scaled to every digital platform to support systemic change. To get started, we chose the largest ecommerce platforms: Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento.

Our approach

We started by clarifying the concept: creating the best user experience for both the online retailers and the end-users, and identifying the key functionalities and business requirements for a minimum viable product (MVP).

Columbia Road brought in their expertise in different ecommerce ecosystems, platform technical requirements and review processes. Taking the MVP approach, we started with the minimum requirements to launch the first plugins, learning and scaling as we gathered feedback.

Together with Compensate, we planned the technical solution so that it can be scaled on all digital platforms in the future. From an architecture perspective, it was a really interesting challenge to build a model for this complex of a setup.

The end product was an ecommerce plugin for Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento. The Compensate plugin calculates the climate impact of the customer’s order and shipment when an item is added to the cart. In the shopping cart or during checkout, customers will see a checkbox enabling carbon negative delivery. Compensate does not take any cuts from the customers’ compensation payments, but uses them in full towards carbon capture.

The software built could be used for various ecommerce applications and services. The end product also had to support multiple payment solutions. On Shopify, we had to apply their billing solution, but for the rest we built our own subscription and usage billing solution using Stripe. Our platform solution also needed to adhere to strict privacy regulatory requirements, such as GDPR.

The project was a complex undertaking and required active participation across the organisation. The team was composed of Columbia Road’s ecommerce platform advisors, a technical project manager, developers, and a designer. On Compensate’s end, product, tech, sales and marketing, and legal teams were involved in the process.


Impact

As a result, we successfully launched the Compensate ecommerce plugins for Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento. This solution makes it easier for online retailers and their communities to take action for the climate.


I'm using this app and it is allowing my customers to feel like they're taking more action to help the environment. Looks really nice within the website too!” says Fitonia, a Shopify webstore using the Compensate plugin, in their review.

compensate-purchaseflow

 


About Compensate

Compensate is a nonprofit on a mission to combat climate change by making every consumer and corporate decision a step towards carbon negativity. By September 2020, the #WeCompensate community has enabled the planting of  over 1.5 million trees and the preservation of 1,400 football fields of forest. This impact is the equivalent of compensating over 220,000 barrels of oil.


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