Webflow vs Shopify

An in depth comparison of two of the simplest and best ways to make a site with ecommerce

What are they?

Webflow and Shopify are both software for building websites. You don’t need to know how to write any code to use either of them, making them usable by anyone, and they both charge a monthly fee from when you launch your site, meaning that if you stop paying, they will take your site offline. They’re both excellent at what they do, but they’re very different to use, and they have very different specialties.

What is Shopify?

Shopify, as you could probably tell from the name, is all about ecommerce, meaning that it’s great for building websites that people can purchase products from online. Because of how easy it is to use, it has become the most popular ecommerce software in the world by far. Making and launching a site with Shopify can be quick if you have your content ready; particularly your Home page text and images, and your product information and images.

The process of making a simple site with Shopify might look like this:

  • Create an account and log in
  • Upload your product information, pictures, etc.
  • Select a theme (some are free, some are paid)
  • Build the home page using their great home page builder
  • Change your tax settings, shipping settings, and so on
  • Connect your domain name and make your site live!

What is Webflow?

Webflow is a site building tool that allows you to build any kind of website, because it’s not specialised at building any one kind of website like Shopify. Webflow is a visual site builder like Wix and Squarespace, however it gives you much more control over the layout and appearance of your site, because you build pages using components that are the same as you would if you were coding the website using languages like HTML and CSS. The downside of all the control Webflow gives you is that it can take a long time to learn how to use for anyone who hasn’t made a website before.

The process of making a simple site with Webflow might look like this:

  • Create an account and log in
  • Start building pages like a Home page, About page, Contact page, etc.
  • Set up a product type using Webflow’s CMS (content management system) feature
  • Add product information and pictures
  • Build product listing pages and product detail pages using the product data from the CMS
  • Connect your domain name and make your site live!

Ecommerce features: How good are they for selling products online?

Shopify has every ecommerce feature you could want, including:

  • Unlimited products of all types (simple, variable products, digital products, etc.)
  • Product organisation using categories, tags, collections, etc.
  • Gift cards and discount codes
  • Order and customer management
  • Sales reports and analytics
  • Loads of professional themes to choose from (some free, some paid)
  • Loads of plugins (called “apps”) to add new functionality
  • Several payment “gateways” to accept payments in Rands (for South Africa)

Webflow has the following ecommerce features:

  • Build your own product types (including variable products and digital products)
  • A few shipping / delivery options
  • View basic order and customer information
  • Some integrations that improve the functionality of the site, including MailChimp (bulk emails), QuickBooks (accounting), etc.
  • Accept payments using Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and Strips (all are American)

Note that Webflow doesn’t currently have integrations for any South African payment gateways, meaning that you might not be able to accept payments directly in Rands.

Other features: How good are they for building websites in general?

While Shopify has excellent ecommerce features, it’s really poor at building other types of websites. In particular, the great page-builder tool that it provides only works for the Home page, meaning that every other webpage (eg. About, Our Team, Contact Us) will be a very simple text page, unless you choose a theme that has these pages built in.

Webflow is great for adding any sort of webpages to your website. Here are some examples of pages you could build with it:

  • Team page (with individual images, bios, etc.)
  • Events pages (with each event having a location, image, programme, etc.)
  • A blog with unlimited posts (each can have a beautiful full-screen design)
  • Our stores page (with each having an image, address, contact details, etc.)

Who can build a site with them?

Using Shopify, absolutely anyone can build an ecommerce website. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you’re starting your own small business and you’d like to sell online, go ahead and build the site yourself. But if your business is established and successful, and you’re busy running your business, it makes more sense to hire someone to do it, because they’ll be much faster, and they’ll be better prepared to choose a great theme, research and select the right plugins, etc.

Using Webflow, anyone could make an ecommerce website, but only with quite a bit of learning and practice. If you’ve never made a website before, you should only make the website yourself with Webflow if you’re tech savvy and you have plenty of time to spend on it over the next few weeks. Fortunately, for anyone who has built websites before, Webflow is incredibly easy to use - much easier to use than even WordPress - so you can get a site built for you at minimal cost.

How much do they cost?

Shopify has 3 pricing plans, starting at $29 (R460) per month, and going up to $299 (R4800) per month. The more expensive plans have additional useful features of course, but they also change the percentage that Shopify takes from every single sale. This percentage ranges from 2% on the cheapest plan, to 0.5% on the most expensive one. To put this into perspective, if you do R1 million of orders per month, you would pay around R10 000  per month for Shopify.

Webflow also has 3 “standard” pricing plans, starting at $12 (R190) per month, and going up to $36USD (R570) per month, however those do not include commerce features. They offer 3 ecommerce plans, starting at $29 (R460) per month just like Shopify, up to $212 (R3400) per month. Like Shopify, on their lowest price plan, they will take a 2% cut from all your sales, however on the 2 more expensive plans, this is 0%.

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