We are a small web design agency specializing in Shopify and Webflow. Shopify is usually our go-to for eCommerce stores, and Webflow is our platform of choice for regular websites.
However, Webflow does have eCommerce capabilities, and they are getting better each year. Recently we’ve been contacted by a few businesses considering using Webflow for their online store, so I thought it would be a great time to write an article that fully breaks it down.
This is a long article. So here are some links to skip to the section that interests you.
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In this article I’m going to assume you already know a little bit about Webflow and Shopify, but here is a quick reminder and comparison table to get us started. This might even be all you need to get your answer.
They are both more modern platforms, than say, Wordpress. And they both have modern features to make your life easier.
I’m assuming you’re not a web designer or developer, so this is probably the single most important factor for choosing the platform of your eCommerce store.
If you aren’t planning to hire anyone, and you’re not a creative professional yourself, then I would almost certainly recommend Shopify. It’s made to be simple to just get up and running for non-technical people.
Webflow could be a pain for you to set up. So I only recommend it if a custom design is your priority and you are a technical and creative kind of person that easily learns tools like Photoshop, video-editing, or other creative software.
In both Shopify and Webflow it is very easy to make text changes and you won’t really need help with this. But if you want to change the design it’s a different story.
Shopify has basic settings that you can change, but it’s within the limitations of the theme. You can’t drag things around. This is good because it makes it harder to break things. However, it can be limiting if you want to go beyond what’s available in the theme settings. In this case you will need the help of a developer.
Webflow on the other hand, gives you full flexibility to move things around, but if you don’t know at least a bit of CSS then it’s very easy to break something or struggle to get the result you want. Webflow isn’t a simple pagebuilder. It’s an advanced tool for high-performance layouts. So depending on your level of skill and your goals, you might need some professional help with Webflow too.
It’s also important to note that you can’t just ask any designer to build you a site in Webflow if that’s not even something they do. Just like photoshop or any other pro tool, it does take some learning to use, and it’s unlikely they will be able to pick it up right away. And they might not even want to, since that’s not their specialty.
The exception is if you’re a startup with a UX/UI designer that is on board and willing to learn Webflow. In that case I’d say there is a good chance they will be able to learn how to do everything in Webflow in a matter of weeks or couple months, and then you won’t need the help of anyone else.
Webflow is better for a small amount of products. If you have a large inventory (50+ products) it might be best to choose Shopify.
Shopify will give you lots of tools and add-ons:
This may be overkill for some. If you’re only selling a small amount of hand-made products then you almost certainly don’t need all this stuff. But despite all this, Shopify is still easy to set up and use, which is why it’s dominating the eCommerce market right now.
However, that doesn’t mean Shopify is perfect for everyone. Webflow could be better for your exact business model. In fact, Shopify has one major weakness, and this happens to be an area in which Webflow truly shines.
In Shopify if you want to add information about a unique product, then you only have one place to do this — the product description.
This means all that product info gets plopped into the same spot on the page, all lumped together. This is ok if it’s just a description written in normal paragraphs.
But this makes it hard for you to add product information that requires a specific layout in the design of the page. For example, a specifications table where you want all the data to be neatly organized in columns.
Let’s take it a step further. What if you wanted your product page to tell a story, and present a whole bunch of product features with images, icons, little description blurbs positioned in different places. Basically more like a marketing landing page that sells your product.
Well, you’re out of luck here. Because this is notoriously difficult to do in Shopify. You would almost certainly need the help of a developer, or to use a pagebuilder app like Shogun or Pagefly (I will talk about this later).
Webflow is the winner when you need to add custom fields to your products individually. If each of your products has unique features and specifications that you need a lot of space for and a custom layout — you can totally do that.
Once you have installed a Shopify theme, you can go into the theme editor to change it’s settings and homepage content.
This is the biggest feature of Webflow. It is by far the best page builder of any type that I have ever seen, and working with it is very similar to real coding, except instead of code you use a visual interface.
In short, Webflow is much more flexible than Shopify while still being reliable and fast-loading.
Anything that is possible in Webflow is also possible in Shopify, except you will need a developer.
In fact if you’re working with a developer then that’s even better and more flexible than Webflow. Since Shopify gives developers full access to the template code, there are no limitations at all.
The difference is in budget. If you go the route of implementing a custom design in Shopify, then it can get quite expensive. First you need to pay your designer for the visual design files. They will deliver this as a Figma or Sketch file. And then you also need to pay your developer to build all this. Depending on how many pages there are this might become expensive.
There is a way to minimize costs with Shopify, and that is where a designer sticks pretty closely to a chosen theme that you are using to a template. Think of it as a re-skin of theme. That way the developer doesn’t have as much work to do, and doesn’t need to fully change the layout.
They are compatible with any Shopify theme. And can help you achieve custom layouts for your pages in a way that is similar to Webflow. They give you a drag-and-drop interface that is quite easy to use (easier than Webflow), and they will let you tell a story and showcase the product in the best way.
There is a performance cost though, and this is the main problem with page builders. They need to load a lot of extra code on top of what Shopify is already loading, it’s like loading two websites, so this significantly reduces page loading speed.
You have to strike a balance between enhancing your sites design and slowing down the loading speed.
Page builders also usually cost around the same as Shopify — a monthly subscription of at least $30 depending on the plan you choose.
Shopify has lots of apps for adding functionality and new behaviours to your store. There are page builders, review apps, subscription apps, inventory management, integrations with other channels like Amazon and much more. They’re all available on the Shopify App Store.
This ecosystem of apps means that Shopify can adapt to your business needs. For an app that schedules local pickups you can use Alpaca. If you use Quickbooks for your accounting you can install their app for automatic syncing. And if you want to create discounted product bundles you can easily do that with Bold Product Bundles.
Webflow has lots of integrations but they aren’t really apps. The difference is that an app can help you add some new behaviour or interactivity to your website, whereas an integration is just a connection to something else.
For example, let’s say I want to add a delivery date picker to my store. So that when a customer orders a gift box for someones birthday, they can choose the delivery date right there on the cart page.
In Shopify you can simply search for an app that can add a delivery date picker to your cart. And it will take just 15 minutes to add the app and install it to the page.
As Webflow matures we might see more plug-ins being developed and better solutions. But for now, Webflow integrations are just not as powerful as Shopify apps.
You are paying a monthly subscription for an ongoing service. This is a major advantage of both Shopify and Webflow, compared to other platforms like Wordpress.
It means the company has some degree of responsibility over your website. That means you won’t have downtime, maintenance issues, security issues, server issues. All that is the responsibility of the Shopify or Webflow tech support teams.
With Shopify, you can even call them any time or access their support chat. And with Webflow, you also have some support from the forums. They are very active and full of Webflow professionals and actual employees of Webflow answering questions.
With both platforms you will most likely be using Stripe to collect credit card payments.
If you aren’t familiar with eCommerce payments — Stripe is probably the most popular payment processor in the past five years or so, besides Paypal of course.
Shopify also has its own payment processing system called Shopify Payments, but it’s actually Stripe underneath, rebranded for Shopify.
Shopify offers a few bonuses when you use Shopify Payments. Firstly you don’t pay the 2% transaction fee for using Shopify with other payment gateways. And secondly, you get access to Shopify’s multi-currency features, allowing your customer to check-out in their own currency. This might be useful if you are planning to sell internationally.
With Webflow, you will most likely be using a combination of Stripe or Paypal. Webflow has ways to build a currency converter into your website. This let’s your customer view prices in their currency, but when it comes to checking out, your customer will be paying in your currency.
If you have other payment system requirements, you can be pretty sure that Shopify will have more options available to you than Webflow.
Shopify has a plan called Shopify Lite for just $9/month. It gives you the entire back-end functionality of Shopify, but without the actual website. To use it, you embed a Shopify buy button on any website, and when people click it they are taken to the Shopify checkout.
In this way it is actually possible to use Webflow as the customer-facing website, and Shopify as the back-end for the product management and checkout.
Here is Webflow’s tutorial for integrating with the Shopify Buy Button — https://university.webflow.com/integrations/shopify
Udesly.com is a unique tool that lets you port Webflow sites to themes on other platforms, making it possible for you to design your store in Webflow, but then move it across to Shopify entirely.
I haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but it certainly looks promising, and if it works well this could open up a lot of possibilities. The flexibility of Webflow combined with the power of Shopify? Amazing!
Udesly even have a service where they can do the work for you, converting your Webflow website to Shopify.
This is an simplified example of two businesses with different requirements. One is perfect for Webflow, and the other for Shopify.
She teaches her clients and followers how to take care of their skin and health, and actively communicates with them via Instagram & Facebook groups. Her website provides useful resources to her clients, explanations of her methods, and has a blog that brings in new traffic.
With the growing popularity of Crossfit, powerlifting, and other strength sports, there is increasing demand for jeans that comfortably fit larger legs.
Jason is the founder of an ambitious brand that tackles this problem. He has big plans:
We love Webflow, we are even using it for our own agency website (alioned.com). But for eCommerce, probably 80% of the time I would recommend going with Shopify.
It’s simply a matter of goals. Shopify was built from the ground up for the sole purpose of selling online, and scaling into large brands. And Webflow was built with the main priority of beautiful and flexible website design. Ecommerce was added to Webflow later on, and it still has a way to go to become as mature as Shopify.
Don’t get me wrong, Shopify isn’t always the best choice. Webflow does make sense for some businesses with unique requirements. So if you’re still not sure and need some advice — feel free to leave a comment below. I would be happy to advise you on which platform to go with.
And as an agency specializing in both Webflow and Shopify, we can help you with either platform.
I hope this article has helped you choose between Shopify and Webflow. We are affiliates of both these companies, and would really appreciate if you would use the links below before creating your account.
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