Webflow vs Shopify: Which Platform Should You Choose?

September 28, 2020
9 Min Read

There is no denying that eCommerce has been a massively booming industry for decades. There's been a steady upwards trend for eCommerce, growing from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $3.5 trillion in 2019. There were already projections that eCommerce would be a $6.5 trillion industry by the year 2023.

All of that was before Coronavirus/COVID-19. Online retailers have already gathered an extra $107 billion in sales during the first two quarters of 2020. eCommerce is becoming the new normal, and it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future. In April of 2020, 24% of consumers reported that they wouldn't feel safe going to a shopping mall for at least the next six months due to the pandemic.

If you've been thinking of starting an eCommerce business, now would be the perfect time. In this article, we're going to examine two popular platforms for eCommerce - Webflow and Shopify. We're going to dive deep into these two popular platforms to help you decide which is best for helping your digital dreams come true.

Webflow Vs Shopify: Which Platform Is Right For You?

As we begin our examination of Shopify vs Webflow, we'll start with the obvious. Shopify and Webflow certainly aren't the only two eCommerce providers you can choose. Obviously, you could host your own eCommerce site on your own server. There are a few reasons you might not want to do that, however.

We're sticking with these two giants as they're a great place to begin if you're not an expert coder. Sometimes, you want to stick with business rather than getting hung up on technicalities like style sheets and security certificates. Both Webflow and Shopify let you get started building a slick, attractive eCommerce website even if you have no programming experience.

Let's start by examining each platform independently, by way of introduction. This will help clarify the Webflow vs Shopify debate, as it will give you a clearer understanding of each platform.

What Is Webflow?

Webflow is a tool for designing websites, content management software, and server all in one. It boasts one of the sleekest, slickest interfaces on the market, making it ideal for business owners who want to deal with as little code as possible.

Webflow is relatively inexpensive. Webflow plans start for as low as $29/month and a 2% transaction fee. There are additional fees for Stripe transactions, as well.

Webflow's visual editor is truly best-in-class. It's sleek and intuitive but there may be a bit of a learning curve. Don't worry, though, Webflow University features a number of in-depth tutorials to help you master the platform. There are also a number of free and premium templates available if you just want to dive in and get started as quickly as possible.

Webflow also offers some surprisingly powerful technical tools. The platform gives you access to your site's SEO, letting you modify assets for technical SEO like meta descriptions and page titles. There aren't any built-in digital marketing tools available directly from the platform but there are a ton of 3rd party solutions to help.

One of the greatest strengths of Webflow is its ability to fully customize the shopping cart and eCommerce portal. Their built-in shopping cart is surprisingly powerful as well, being optimized to maximize conversions. These kinds of powerful tools, backed by extensive market research and industry experience, simply aren't available if you were to host your own independent eCommerce website.

For store owners, Webflow may be a bit limited, however. Yes, there's a central dashboard that gives you the basic information you need to function as a digital business owner. It is lacking in certain common features frequently used in day-to-day business. It only supports Stripe payments, as well. If you're using a different payment platform, you'll need to look into another eCommerce provider.  

Now let's dive into Shopify as the next step in our Shopify vs Webflow investigation.

What Is Shopify?

Shopify is one of the best-known and longest-running eCommerce providers on the internet. It was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after the trio found themselves frustrated with the current options available while trying to start an online snowboarding equipment business.

The platform focuses on ease of use and getting started quickly. If you have an idea for an eCommerce business and just want to launch your online portal with as little fuss as possible, Shopify will help you do that.

Shopify is also rather inexpensive. It also starts at $29/month, the same as Webflow. It has a slightly higher transaction fee, though, with the site taking 2.2% for each transaction. That .2% can add up, however, so keep that in mind if you're planning on dealing with a high volume of transactions.

Shopify is less customizable than Webflow, as well. There's an impressively wide array of free and premium templates available, though. You'll still be able to make an attractive looking and well-functioning eCommerce site. If you want to modify any of the templates, however, you'll likely need to work with a developer. The templates are written in Liquid templating code, which is not the most accessible programming language if you're not a programmer.

The platform's a little lacking in some of the technical tools that Webflow offers, mainly technical SEO. The software's created in-line with SEO best practices, so that part's taking care of for you. If you're hoping to climb the search engine result pages (SERPs) while weighing Webflow vs Shopify, you may want to go with Webflow.

Shopify does boast more digital marketing features than Webflow, however. There have been a number of powerful, useful digital marketing tools added in recent years, such as the ability to create Facebook ads straight from the portal. You can also run your email marketing campaigns from the central dashboard.

The shopping portal is attractive and easy-to-use. You can modify the shopping portal somewhat, including your own logo and letting you change the color scheme of the layout. It also supports more payments than Webflow, as it also supports Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Shopify offers a slightly better experience for store owners, as well. There are more in-depth analytics, for instance. You can also print labels and calculate shipping directly from the dashboard.

Now that we've looked at each site individually, let's do some side-by-side comparisons to help settle the Shopify vs Webflow ecommerce debate.

Desktop Computer Displaying an Online Store

Shopify Vs Webflow: Pricing

Obviously price is going to be an important factor when choosing between Shopify or Webflow, so we'll start there. This is especially important when you're first starting out, as it may take a little while to get your audience and customer base up and running and you don't want to be paying a fortune out of pocket while first starting out.

For Webflow, there are three pricing levels available. The basic plan starts at $29/month. This gives you the content management system (CMS), customizable shopping cart and shopping portal, product fields, and emails. The basic plan can support up to $50,000 in transactions each year.

The Plus plan is $79/month. This gives you all of the features of the Basic plan plus the ability to send unbranded emails. It also eliminates transaction fees and can support up to 10 staff accounts. Webflow's Plus plan allows for up to $200,000 in transactions each year.

Finally, the Advanced plan offers all of the above features. It also reduces transaction fees to 0% and there's no limit to how many transactions it can support in a year. The advanced plan is $212/month.

Shopify has more tiers for pricing. There's a Lite version of Shopify which is basically a 'Buy It Now' button. It also supports Facebook integration. Shopify Lite only costs $9/month and is ideal if you've already got a website and audience and just need a simple solution without breaking the bank.

Shopify's Basic plan also costs $29/month. The Shopify basic plan is slightly more impressive than Webflow's. You can host an unlimited number of products on your Shopify page. There's a surprising amount of powerful tools for the store owner, as well. There's an abandoned shopping cart recovery tool and the ability to print shipping labels directly from the site. Shopify also lets you create special promotions, offer discount codes, and create orders manually. There are also no transaction fees if you opt to use the Shopify payment portal.

The Shopify plan itself will run you $79/month. It offers all of the features of the lower-tier options. It also offers the ability to create more promotions as well as offer additional shipping discounts. You can also create gift cards using the Shopify plan.

Finally, there are two Shopify options for more established brands. The Advanced Shopify plan offers all of the above features, plus a robust array of site and business reporting tools. The Advanced Shopify plan is $299/month. You can also calculate third-party shipping rates using the Advanced Shopify portal. The Shopify Plus plan starts at $2000/month. It's designed for larger brands and you'll need to talk with a customer representative to find out what they can offer you.

Webflow Vs Shopify: Features

When choosing between Webflow vs Shopify, you'll need to decide what features you'll need and what's important to you. Webflow is designed to be more of a programming portal and puts more emphasis on their CMS. It integrates more easily with other software platforms like Adobe products. It also gives you more access to technical resources like custom style sheets (CSS).

Its built-in editor is a little less intuitive than Shopify, however. If you're looking for more of a drag-and-drop solution, Shopify will fit your needs slightly better.

Some of the features that Webflow is known for include:

  • Visual editor, that still gives you access to CSS, HTML, and JavaScript
  • Branded checkout page
  • Customizable shopping cart
  • Attractive product pages
  • Customizable emails
  • Zapier store extensions
  • Social media campaign manager
  • Email marketing tools
  • Blog software
  • Integrates with third-party analytics tools

Now let's take a look at some of Shopify's features, to help give you compare the two and decide which eCommerce platform is right for you.

Some popular Shopify features include:

  • Over 70 professionally-designed themes available
  • Ability to edit code
  • Built-in payment gateway and support for more than 100 others
  • Automated shipping and tax rate calculation
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • A robust app store for extending your web store
  • Dropshipping options
  • Support for product reviews, discount codes, and gift cards
  • Social media integration
  • Direct selling with Facebook

Simply looking at these two lists, alone, should give you an idea of which way you're leaning in the Shopify vs Webflow debate. Simply put, Webflow is the better option for business owners and online retailers who want more customizability. If you're an experienced developer, programmer, or web designer that's looking to have a website that truly stands out, Webflow's going to be a slightly better fit.

Shopify, on the other hand, is for business owners who simply want to leap in and get started doing digital business without having to learn a programming language. Considering Shopify's longevity and wide-spread users community, there's a truly impressive array of options available for Shopify. While Webflow may be more customizable, there are so many excellent solutions available for Shopify, like professionally-designed templates, it's nearly as good as being fully customizable in its own right.

Whichever way you go, both Shopify and Webflow are excellent. Either one will help you get up and running and making money on the internet in less than no time!

Are You Looking For An eCommerce Website?

Your website is your calling card to the world. It's how you'll make your first impression on your customers a great majority of the time. If you're looking to host a fully online business, if you're weighing your options between Webflow vs Shopify, it may be your only impression.

If you're looking for an attractive, slick, easy-to-use website for your eCommerce business, contact us today to discuss how we can help bring your vision to life.

Photo of Brian Love, founder of Design Epicenter
Brian Love
Founder, Design Epicenter

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