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Everything you need to know before working on a real ecommerce site with Webflow

Hey everyone :wave:!

After spending a month working on an ecommerce site through Webflow Ecommerce, I wanted to share my thoughts on it, and when you should consider using Webflow Ecommerce.

TL;DR: If your client/project needs a “simple” ecom site without so many ecom features such as multi-channel sales, accounts, then go with WF Ecommerce, it’s by far the best solution for your needs especially if you value design. But if your project/client cares more about ecom features than design, then WF Ecommerce is not for you.

As much as I love Webflow for its design capabilities, I have to admit that WF Ecommerce is still limited for some major ecommerce features.

Let’s start with the good points:

  1. Design! (I mean it’s Webflow), you can do whatever you want in terms of layout on every single page.
  2. Product Custom Attributes. I’m used to Webflow CMS, so at first, I didn’t think that was so “unique” to have custom attributes, but after trying different alternatives, I can guarantee that Webflow Custom Attributes is one of the best in terms of both flexibility and easiness for the client.
  3. Webflow CMS integration: As it’s part of WF, it’s very intuitive to connect the ecommerce part and the CMS part, making possibilities almost endless. In my case, I needed a page featured different specs of products (not categories), I just created a collection and it was done!
  4. Shipping Methods: Again a lot of freedom about the way you want to define shipping pricing. Very easy to use and very useful.
  5. The cart and checkout pages, this one might be different for other people, but IMO, I think the balance WF gives us between design capabilities and easiness to use for those two pages is great. Basically, you’re limited in terms of cart layout (only 3: left, right, center), and the checkout layout is pretty much the same for every WF ecommerce site. But when working on it, I didn’t see it as limiting, it allowed me to work on design without worrying about technical details.
  6. Emails: Very easy to set up and work as expected. The only downside: you have the webflow branding on it.

Ok now, the bad points :

  1. Limiting Ecommerce features/Integrations: No Account Management for users, No multi-channel, limited shipping integrations (only Shippo). I don’t want to spend too much on this aspect as it already has covered in other threads.
  2. No faceted navigation: For me, this is a major feature for any retails business. The users need to be able to filters/search/paginate through the products. You might argue that you can use things like Mixitup or the CMS Library by Finsweet or Jetboost but here are the major problems with those 3 ways: it’s DOM-only. Meaning that if you have 500 products, then your page will load 500 products at once (not cool for the UX and the SEO). Personally, the only solution was to use Mixitup, thank you @sabanna for your tutorials! (Finsweet I love what you’re doing but you didn’t have the pagination feature).
  3. Products Limits: This one is very confusing to me, in the WF ecom “trailer”, you define WF Ecommerce as “brand-first ecommerce” so you talk about businesses that value branding and know its value right? But even on your largest plan ($299/mo), you’re limited to 3000 products, so any stores with more cannot use WF Ecommerce. Pretty confusing.
  4. Checkout Bugs: When working on the checkout pages (Stripe and PayPal), I discovered 2 minor bugs: the checkout wasn’t updating. Basically, if you were loading the checkout page for the very first time, no shipping methods were shown. Same if you’ve defined a different price for shipping. Let’s say from 0 to 5 products, shipping costs are $5, and from 5 to 10, it costs $10. Well if the user added 6 products to the cart, the shipping costs would be $5 (instead of $10). The bugs were resolved by manually triggered JS event through a simple script, by doing so, the checkout was updated and the correct info was shown.

Note: BE VERY CAUTIOUS when using Backups with Webflow Ecommerce! If you don’t check the right case, you will lose all your inventory content for each product. It doesn’t matter when you have 3 products, but it does when you have 400 (yes I’m speaking from experience :sob:)

Going back about the ecommerce features, I know the Webflow team is working on that, and I’m not asking to work more or anything, I really respect the way you treat your employees so don’t change anything, but please give us more info on the wishlist because “In Backlog” for 3 years doesn’t help me at all!

Alternatives:

So what if you need an ecommerce site, with design freedom such as Webflow but Ecommerce features such as Shopify?

Well, it’s complicated. I tried to connect WF and Shopify with the Udesly Adapter, but some issues appear on the Shopify end (no product custom attributes, static URLs, literally impossible to create custom filters, even with GraphQL API!, etc).

Expect if someone knows the perfect solution (which I would be interested in), you have 4 choices :

  1. Stay with Webflow Ecommerce for “small” businesses.
  2. Go with Shopify/Ecom platform but lose the design abilities and be limited to the Shopify platform.
  3. Combine WF/Shopify but be limited to the Shopify platform.
  4. Create a custom ecommerce site through Headless Ecommerce and JAMstack (or any other custom implementations) and do whatever you want but requires a dev team.

Feel free to correct me/add info I forget!

11 Likes

Great great post Benjamin! Thanks.

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Thank you @vincent! I’ve seen a lot of your posts, that’s so cool to see a French person so active in this community!

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Thanks for sharing! I am planning to do more Webflow to wordpress / woo workflow using Udesly. Without customer Accounts, I have not been able to use Webflow ecommerce for a client yet. However the more time in Wordpress, the more I appreciate Webflow’s CMS, design and maintenance (or lack of it). All the same Woocommerce is rock solid. But Shopify is hyped! Slow performance, pricey addons and no theme updating functionality. I mean whaaat!

@Anybody_from_Webflow_support, is it really? So if I’ll try to restore Backup all inventory content is lose?

@HammerOz I never tried Webflow to Woocommerce, but it might be something interesting to try as an alternative, never been a fan of WP maintenance but I should give it another try.

I definitely agree with you on Shopify, I went this way, mainly because it was the “top platform” and for the SaaS platform, but yeah even with the API, you are still limited, like whaaat. And even in the headless world, Shopify has still a “good position”, like I don’t understand why.

@bro-design Actually after investigation, you got to be careful with it, but it should work.

When you restore your backup, on default the case “include inventory levels” is not checked and I didn’t even notice when I restored.

So if you’re like me, and you don’t see that, yes all your inventory content will be gone (not the products/CMS items themselves but the number of inventory for each). Basically, your products wouldn’t have any inventory (off on the Product CMS page).

But apparently, it should work if you check the case. Not going to lie though, I’m definitely not trying that anymore!

But I’ll change the initial post

1 Like

Completely agree with all of this. The product limit was a nightmare for me and my client. The Jetboost integration was a lifesaver too, thanks @cspags.

Webflow e-commerce should be a beta, not a Shopify alternative. While we love great design, clients like functionality, and it’s not there yet.

3 Likes

Yep exactly, I do believe in the Webflow team to make this a reality, but I’m scared it will require another few years. But if they can be close to what Shopify does in terms of ecom functionalities and keep the design capabilities, then this would be crazy in the web design space.

Until now, unfortunately, clients don’t care about css-grid and auto-margin but about sales and ecom functionalities.

Of course, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in them. I think I’m expecting a new product to be as shiny as Webflow CMS, which out of the box is incredible.

I really do hope they sort the product limit, and start to open up the power of the custom databases better to us developers!

Did you notice that while custom fields on products are amazing, you can’t actually bulk upload them when using e-commerce? I was genuinely gutted. The way you can upload any and all custom fields in the CMS is fantastic, such a shame it doesn’t work for e-commerce yet.

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They teased customer accounts and logic flows in August. Hope we have more info, someday.

Oh really? I didn’t know that at all, it should have been very time-consuming for you to create all of them by hand.

Yeah product limit was the main problem for me, especially in Ecommerce

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Was it an official teasing? If so I think I missed it.

But IMO, that would make sense that they’re planning to completely add accounts as part of Webflow, not only in Ecommerce but also allowing membership websites (without third-parties). If they’re trying to do so, that is a complete reorganisation of Webflow so might take a while.

That’s the most frustrating thing with WF, the wishlist doesn’t help at all, it would be great to share more info on updates.

That was during the Webflow Virtual tour.
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Damn, I didn’t attend the Virtual Tour, I missed that news!
That will be a huge upgrade for Webflow when it’s out

But I guess we have to wait before having more info

Definitely, we really need customer accounts in EU. And I’m pretty sure that one is their priority.

This is great. I’m about to start my first client Webflow Ecommerce project and this was a nice peak into what’s to come. Cheers.

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Glad the post helped you!