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So You Can Make It Look Pretty - But What About Data Handling?


#1

Ok, so from what I have seen since the inception of Webflow’s eCom interface is nothing short of a way to make the shopper interface look pretty and allow a lot of “made easy” customisation of the initial style pretty easy, which is fine BUT…the BIGGEST issue with eCom sites and always has been is the ability to handle large amounts of data, publishing!

What I worry about here and fail to see is that people may engage with the great marketing you are doing selling this project, that’s what marketing is supposed to do but again i don’t see how you are revolutionising eCom…AT ALL!

First and foremost the basis to any successful eCom site is the ability to publish large volumes of stock online, to sell. Reducing the amount of time you spend updating products and putting in descriptions, prices let alone attributes is a MASSIVE chore.

CSV importing of databases allows for a much better way of importing products and publishing them but NONE of the eCommerce solutions have solved the core issues for shop owners or administrators, and I don’t see Webflow solution making it any better.

1: Import large volumes of products
2: Ability to assign products to categories on global import
3: Ability to assign attributes globally to multiple products at the same time
4: Import and resize images scaling all to correct size and format for fast web viewing, multiple image import too.
5: Importing stock size per SKU for stock tracking and notification to store owner

They are the main Achilles heal for any eCom store manager/admin and I don’t see where this solution tackles this? There are many eCommerce solutions available to also go against your claims of the only fully customisable interface, not true, there are some outstanding CMS available that allow the user to set styles that deliver a very stunning template that is used through-out the websites pages.

There are many developers that have produced great plugins and modules that do, to a degree, solve some of the issues we see as eCom builders and store administrator but they all lack the out-of-a-box functionality that the marketplace craves/needs on a large scale.

I absolutely love what Webflow can achieve and the interface and I have used it to build a couple of sites but soon found that for a web designer it has limitations in sense of being chained to how your database driven content can only be used if you host (at extortionate costs) on Webflow hosting service and you cannot move once you do this, I think your hosting costs compared to the marketplace are outrageous to be honest. I like the eCom directive but I just fail to see how you are making it better? You are just creating another interface for people to use and probably hit a wall with once they start to try and build a business using it which I think is misleading, intentional or not. These pitfalls are a nightmare to someone who has spent probably weeks installing and setting up products to then realise this platform is not going to deliver for them.

Payment gateways limited too, a HUGE downside to a world geared for Paypal and clearly the biggest used payment gateway on the planet! Or have I missed that too?

I have built sites and eCom sites in particular for years and have seen various products come out on the market over the years, some solutions have caused a lot of harm to the industry too as they often produce fractured half assed sites that don’t work properly through no fault of the people thinking the product they are using is going to make them look like a professional web-designer over night but the reality is these solutions are not ever going to be able to allow that to happen as you just can’t beat experience or knowledge.

I really wish someone like Webflow would produce something truly remarkable, the Webflow interface is fantastic, the business model I think sucks as it traps people into hosting with you if using database driven content which is unfair as the costs high, the eCom looks like you’re doing something unique, you are not, you’re just allowing people to make page look fancy while hugely overlooking the core pitfalls of data management which is what eCom is and I see nothing that you’re doing that has changed in the last 10 years.

Come on guys, you clearly have an extremely skilled team, make the ultimate product that tackles the problems and delivers the solutions, not create another product that does nothing but make something look like it’s doing a great job…when it isn’t!

My advice to anyone thinking of using this product, research eCom first, look at other CMS and don’t get tied into something you can’t get out of, you will lose a ton of effort, time and money to realise this solution is far from groundbreaking and I certainly would advise any client against using it right now until we see something that tackles age old problems that require a skill set to deal with it.

I eagerly await in anticipation the full release of this eCom solution, great work, lacks functionality to deliver.


E-commerce Beta Missing Parts?
#2

I don’t think it is the objective of the Webflow team to solve all of the eCom issues you listed, it’s just a helping hand to small companies starting up. I don’t see huge companies (ones that would have such a large product catalog as you suggest) using Webflow to design or manage their site. We all love Webflow but it is not a replacement to all the other technologies, designers and developers out there. If you want eCom “done right” you shouldn’t use Webflow, you should use a system dedicated to it and hire professional developers for that job.

Considering that intent, I believe Webflow will suffice for small shops and freelance artists who need something simple and easy to manage. If you’re planning on being the next Amazon you should know better than to invest in Webflow as your sales platform (no offense).


#3

You do realize that this is the first stage of their ecom platform. There is so much on the horizon. But like anything it takes time. Their core is to make a product that everyone can use, not just a select few (which what you are talking about most smaller businesses dont have the need or know of the need). Secondly, Webflow only releases products that are fully tested and vetted unlike other systems that just push out at a whim.

DO NOT count out these guys before you have an opportunity to see what they are made of.


#4

Hi Brandon,
Sorry but I think you are a bit quick to defend something that has been in development for months and is about to be released WITHOUT the core functionality required from an eCom system. Your own statement

“Webflow only releases products that are fully tested and vetted unlike other systems that just push out at a whim.”

I think is truly unjustified, first and foremost “vetted” isn’t a term i would use for the Beta “testing” of any product which allows feedback and to highlight and bugfix before initial version release as a stable version. Secondly i really don’t wish to split hairs but you kind of contradict yourself, what Webflow are doing is exactly that, releasing a version of an eCom product that MASSIVELY lacks the current functionality of readily available products on the market. I am not stating the product can only be used by “select few” or a specific skill set in the slightest, I am merely highlighting that the marketing would have end users believe this is a revolutionary groundbreaking interface that allows the creation of eCom stores, what I am highlighting is it is not and to state people, I quote “…push out on a whim.” is a massively unfair statement to make to the immense developer communities that have been behind extremely successful eCommerce solutions across the world, supported by thousands of developers and experienced end users.

I think this product may allow anyone with the ability to learn the Webflow interface the ability to create something that looks great and lets face it, I applaud Webflow for doing this well, it MASSIVELY lacks the functionality and abilities of existing platforms that deliver a far better platform and if as you say the beta testing and development roadmap is planning on adding core functionality required to build amazing eCom stores then I very much look forward to seeing it and hope this is not released, as you say, on a whim without the full capabilities end users require.

Otherwise it’s just a fancy pretty interface tool that makes a page look good but without the capability for an end user to actually administrate or manage an online shop!


#5

Then you agree with what I am saying, and I am just stating that SHOULD Webflow wish to create a revolutionary system then overcome the issues highlighted and we are onto a winner.

I love what Webflow are doing but I think the marketing is a little misleading and without understanding the pitfalls I think some people could quite easily end up in a hole with this product.

And no offense taken what-so-ever, this is a free to speak platform where everyone has a right to air or discuss their opinions. There are many tools out there for the job, but without prior knowledge or experience I think end users could very much find this misleading or reach it’s capabilities. Which I feel would be bad for the product, it should be able to handle anything that’s thrown at it to make it a quality robust system.

Lets face it, even Amazon is just a database driven system with a template stuck to it, if a platform has those capabilities and functions with a fluid interface like Webflows, which I love, then this eCom platform would be killer!

:slight_smile:


#6

This quote perfectly sums up my love/hate relationship with webflow…

I absolutely love what Webflow can achieve and the interface and I have used it to build a couple of sites but soon found that for a web designer it has limitations in sense of being chained to how your database driven content can only be used if you host (at extortionate costs)


#7

The platform has huge potential but it seems the business model is terrible, restrictive and just not cost effective to allow a designer using the tool to create for a client and then pay the hosting costs compared to hosting offered by other companies.

I love Webflow, I just think someone is making really bad decisions with the companies directive. Let’s face it even this interface is not going to be used by your general “next door neighbor”, even as good as it is at what it does, it still requires a certain “type” of person to use it, otherwise use…dare I say it (and I don’t recommend it) WIX! :slight_smile:


#8

WOW, now messages are FLAGGED and marked as inappropriate because you make a valid point! Good work mods!!! Good work! lol


#9

I have un-flagged your post. Also, just an FYI, anyone (not just mods) can flag any post.


#10

Hey MK1,

Although I understand your concerns regarding the scalability of the platform, I have to disagree with you in a few points. This product is still under heavy development and judging by its Beta status, i’d say that it’s too soon to judge. There are a lot of awesome features in development but they still have to be tested. You don’t want any bugs in your eCom platform - it could literally destroy your business within minutes.

As far as I can seen, the only “marketing” Webflow has done so far, is within its own community to present a new feature that now reached - again - “open BETA”. I’ve not yet seen any ads on Youtube or wherever to promote the product to a wider audience.
They are just testing the waters within their own community to see if any investment in that direction would be fruitful. And as far as I can see I am quite impressed with what they do and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Now what you really don’t seem to understand, is that Webflow at it’s core is a Design Tool that helps Webdesigners output somewhat legit Frontend code with a WYSIWYG like experience. I am a Developer and Designer and know both sides of the coin. For me Webflow is a solution for soooo many of my communication problems within my own team.

The CMS and eCom features are just sweeet additions that help save time and money when there is no “cheap” developer (code monkey) available. I currently use the CMS for quick prototyping to communicate an Idea to my team. Since I started doing this with Webflow, the time needed to explain an idea has almost vanished. And best of all is, that we can use the code from the prototype for production as well (time saved again) - no more mockups needed!!

I am starting to use Webflow as a true CMS alternative for smaller customer projects because it really is shaping up to be a great alternative to all the other systems we know.

Webflow eCommerce is the best tool around to create small webshops for small product quantity where the design of the shop is waaay more important than having a trillion products. I cannot wait to see the V1.0 and what it allows me to do.

I don’t know if eCom at the moment offers an API access (CMS does) but my guess is, that if not already implemented, it will soon follow. Be my guest to try out Zapier integrations or whatever you like (maybe code your own “large quantity importer”?). Please test the limits on this one and share your results - we would all benefit from it!

Now don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see Webflow implement all of your requested features! It would make my job a loooot easier for so many other projects where I constantly struggle with all the BS Plugins and Addons … you name it.

At this point in time for me Webflow is truly the most remarkable shot at eCommerce that I’ve seen in quite a while. Be my guest to create your own system, I’d be happy to use it if it works as well as Webflow. For now at least, this is the most innovative tool I have seen in the last few years. And I find myself using it more and more.

Sorry for me not holding back on this one, but to me it feels like either you are a dev at some other company that’s a bit b*hurt for not having such a great tool at hand. Or you just simply don’t understand the usecases of Webflow, WF CMS and WF eCommerce.

EDIT: somehow copy pasted a duplicate of the post


#11

@jpcreates, your review here more resembles what Webflow is trying to do. It is a good review, with both good and bad points. I will say this though, that the Zaps and API features that will soon to be released will add so much more to the capabilities of what Webflow E-com will offer. I believe there is a new Zap for New Purchase that will be released in the near future for some of what you mentioned here.

Your last Paragraph is perfect for this thread too. :+1:


#12

Great opinion and appreciated, I disagree though.

I completely understand Webflow but I think it is falling short in many areas and instead of everyone jumping to it’s defense because they don’t like what I am saying and overlooking the fact I clearly state on many points that i like Webflow and what it’s trying to achieve, the points I am making is that the new eCom Beta is MASSIVELY outdated in terms of functionality and usability. Your just making an interface to make a page look and feel how you want, great, been done and is already available on the likes of other CMS. Best not write the names as the mods don’t like it and remove my posts!

I have been in the industry for 15 years, I do not work for another development company nor do I appreciate the really childish stand to suggest such a thing in your defense of the platform, you like it, great, so do I, I just think the new eCom Beta needs a LOT more development as a web and graphic designer who has worked with many many companies over the years and been fortunate to use many platforms as again I say, Webflow is great at some things but the business directive and the functionality is lacking MASSIVELY.

So, in short, appreciate your opinion and love of the product, great it works for you.

It’s far from remarkable, slightly kiss ass comment but fair play, and I don’t need to create a platform that’s already out there doing a far better job than the current version they are going to release. Clearly if people here do not wish to push a product forward but rather defend it for what it is and are happy with it, that’s fine. For many of us not happy with the business directive and current roadmap that’s a large chunk of change to be turning down all because someone says something they don’t like on their forum.

And don’t be sorry for holding back, it’s a free world, and I certainly am not shy of speaking my mind, why should anyone else be?


#13

The comment was indeed a little childish - sorry for that.
Having developed platforms like this myself (and modding the feedback forums of them), I am a little short tempered when I read a rant about a tool that still is in development and didn’t release V1 yet. Posts like this are toxic to the spirit needed for developing such a system and that’s why I jumped on the barricades.

There is a huge difference between suggesting features you’d like to see, and ranting about what it lacks and why you feel the competition is way better (which is why I suggested you being a dev from another platform). Your feedback isn’t constructive in any way or form - it just bashes down on what is missing in your eyes. And just to be clear - sprinkling your post with “but I love the product” doesn’t cut it.

Judging by what the devs put out this far, I am certain they know what features could/should be added, and how the platform can be pushed to new heights. Just because those features aren’t in the BETA doesn’t mean they aren’t on the roadmap. Development means ONE STEP AT A TIME.

I wouldn’t be writing any replies if I’d read this post in a Blog. But you writing this in the products forum suggests to me that your goal is to rally the troops and trying to start a fire where none is needed. What did you expect? Of course the community defends a product they love and love to see flourish!

At this point in time I can’t really tell you if the product works for me or not. I like the way it’s headed and I for myself decided to keep a closer eye on it. I just wanted to point out, that it’s to early to judge. Yes, there are solutions that did the same in some form or another. I used many of them and to be frank they all hugely lack usability (and customization) - that’s why I started using Webflow in the first place. And I am guessing that’s why the Webflow community is still growing.

My point is. If you are not happy with the platform, don’t use it. If you feel like there are major features missing, suggest them to the developers! If you know alternatives that work better for you - well … go and use them instead. But please don’t start a fire and expect no one to come put it out.

And well, no, you clearly do not understand Webflow. Your post underlines that in more than one way.
All you did throughout the whole thread is calling eCommerce out for the things it (at this point in time) lacks, drop a note that “you love the product … but!” and then suggest users to leave the platform and look elsewhere. I’ve seen this pattern in the past (hint: “i am not a racis…”) and I happily put my name on the line to call it out.

Although I support speaking ones mind in a free world, I myself am always aware of the fact, that my free mind - more often than not - isn’t appreciated and that’s why I (at least most of the time) think twice about what I say and how I say it.


#14

I was going to write a post about my first impressions but since this thread is already going down this path I’ll chime in and in some ways defend what MK1 is saying but for totally different reasons. I’m sharing this for the love of Webflow and what potential is has, not as a bashing.

Sorry if this offends the Webflow staff but I have a feeling that the project manager in charge of eCommerce is going in the wrong direction.

First of all, who are you building this for? Web designers? Why? You can’t export any of the eCommerce features so who really cares if you can make a pretty eCommerce product page, custom checkout and custom cart?

If you want to design something for export to be used with custom eCommerce code, you don’t need this new eCommerce feature for that.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t seen any other eCommerce platform that offers the power of the Webflow designer and has this level of web design without having to dive deep into template code. That really is impressive.

But with that being said, the web designer is not going to design with this and then export it because it’s useless without being hosted with Webflow. That means it’s going to be the small business who is brave enough to try and design with Webflow (not many of those) or the web designer who can convince their clients to use this instead of Shopify, Squarespace or Wix.

What is ground breaking about the eCommerce features we have seen so far? Nothing. They are the basic features needed for any type of bare bones store. (YES, I know more features are coming but even those listed as coming are basic needs).

Being able to design nice looking basic eCommerce pages is not enough. No eCommerce clients I’ve ever worked with have asked me about design. They want to make sure the store can handle their WORKFLOW.

This means that current Webflow users who have wanted to add basic eCommerce features to their website now can but what about attracting new clients and new developers and really offering something that Shopify can’t? What about that WORKFLOW flexibility?

The Webflow marketing page even compares this to Shopfiy and how it will save you money? No it won’t. You will need a paid zap account to do what should be built in. Then there are the 1000’s of add-ons offered by Shopify to extend it vs the 0 by Webflow. I mean we could go on and on here but lets not pretend to be something we are not.

Again, please know this is tough love because I want Webflow to shine, not waste time developing features that 1% of it’s user base will ever use. I’d rather they spend their development resources on more important things.

You’re not going to convince clients to use this over Shopify, at the prices you are offering when Shopify does 100000 X more things. Kylie Jenner runs her website on Shopify.

Now, the fact that Shopify still sucks like it does after all these years and after all the development they have done shows me that there is a huge opening for something new to take it’s place. Why doesn’t Webflow see this?

Where are the innovative features? Besides a very nice interface for making a pretty looking eCommerce page, what features are going to bring clients over from other platforms? This is a serious question and until it can be answered by the Webflow staff honestly we should really be concerned about the future of Webflow in this area.

I brought this up months ago when Webflow was asking for suggestions. We need more marketing innovation, more product up-sell innovation. Funnels. Post credit card order bumps. Shopify doesn’t even offer this but they have some add-ons that help with it but even those fall short because of how Shopify exposes parts of their system. Plus they have additional costs.

I would hope that whoever is in charge of this portion of Webflow really does understand eCommerce and the future of where it’s heading. How much we have moved away from the traditional store loaded with 100s of categories and products.

When you can show store owners that Webflow helps them to increase their average sale, make it easier to manage a customers order and their entire journey then you will dominate the market.

I’m happy to expand on this further with the team if needed.

my .02.


#15

Also, another perfect example. Taxes. Why did you start with a TaxJar integration instead of built in tax functionality?

TaxJar requires a monthly subscription. So you want to charge your customers tax with Webflow? Ok add $17 min to your monthly costs. Ouch.

I’ve had clients who use TaxJar for realtime rates wake up to a bunch of orders with no tax calculations because TaxJar decided not to work. Ouch.

When you designed the class for this, did you not define a basic structure so that anything could plug-in to the tax calculation?

Thus the first provider you write is “Webflow Manual Tax Provider”. Then maybe you do TaxJar then maybe Avalara.


#16

Wait so this list that has “Automatic tax calculation and custom rules” as a feature is not really a feature but a dependency on TaxJar and will need a subscription (additional charge)?

If “features” listed by Webflow are dependent on other systems or additional pricing then they need to start understand the asterisk and fine print.

NOTE: This was cleared up by @brjohnson a few post down.


#17

Hey @NomadTim and @jdesign

I have not seen anywhere that TaxJar is a separate fee. Below you can see the hosting plans, tax settings in the Designer, and the Shopify comparison page. The cost for TaxJar appears to be included in all plans without any extra fees or account setup.


#18

Hi friends, jumping in here to give some context from the Webflow side of the table.

First I’ll start by giving answers to some specific questions, then I’ll take a step back to address some of the larger criticisms being leveled in this thread in hopes of providing context on how we’re approaching the ecommerce space.

TaxJar requires a monthly subscription. So you want to charge your customers tax with Webflow? Ok add $17 min to your monthly costs. Ouch.

You do not need a TaxJar account of your own. That integration is under the hood of Webflow Ecommerce, powering all tax calculations that take place as customers complete orders, so that cost is built-in.

Payment gateways limited too, a HUGE downside to a world geared for Paypal and clearly the biggest used payment gateway on the planet! Or have I missed that too?

Additional payment options are being actively worked on, as our release blog post points out. PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and more as the platform matures.

Now, taking a step back:

The main criticism in this discussion seems to be that Webflow — while it does do a good job of allowing people to build custom designs visually — still falls short when it comes to improving the store owner’s workflow/day to day for running their business (updating/adding products, fulfilling orders, handling taxes, etc.).

We’re not blind to the fact that more mature ecommerce platforms are ahead of us in this realm. We could have postponed the release of Webflow Ecommerce an additional year (or more) to build out a more robust store owner side of the platform, but decided to get Webflow Ecommerce out sooner rather than later. And while the the current product may not be perfect for every business, it already provides enough functionality for many to start and run their own custom stores in a way they couldn’t easily do so before.

Point being, this is only the beginning. We’re starting with where we excel (enabling complete design control without code) and expanding from there. That means there is a lot to come on the store owner/management side of the platform.

And instead of waiting until we have everything that other platforms offer to give you an ecommerce product, we’re giving you the tools to get started, with the promise that we’ll be continually releasing new features in the weeks, months, and years to come.

For a closer look at what’s next on our development roadmap, you can read the latter half of the beta release blog post. For a side by side comparison of Webflow with Shopify, you can check out our comparison page (note how many features are “coming soon”).

Beyond this, if there are specific features you want to see us tackle, we encourage you to post on our wishlist — we’re all aiming for the same thing here: to make Webflow Ecommerce a leading option in the space, and we’ll need everyone’s help to move that mission along as we continue this journey together.


#19

@brjohnson Thanks for clearing up the issue on Tax Jar. I liked seeing the nexus address(es) field. The getting started aspect is smartly done.

I’m sure there are 1000s of hours in this project and am happy to see something released.

I do think it’s important to keep in mind that the users of your product (designers/developers) are selling Webflow to clients as a solution to a business need(s) and although there are brilliant pieces to Webflow and clients do find it easy to use (70% of the battle), Webflow doesn’t always set things up in a way that makes sense for us to work with clients. There are existing limitations (pagination, form unsubscribe issue…seriously you are the only platform I’ve ever seen where site owners could be unsubscribed from their own emails) and client handoff that stand in the way of just being able to move forward and use Webflow to power our businesses.

You also should keep in mind that some of us have been waiting for e-commerce on Webflow for several years…since it was first promoted as coming soon. We were patient as IX2 was delivered before e-commerce yet not as high on the wish list or was it even there…honestly can’t remember. Although I love CSS Grid, I’d trade it for pagination in a heart beat.

Things like the image below make Webflow advertising verses actual usage of Webflow confusing. As an example, I’d for sure recommend landing pages for a single product but not if I can’t have an “add to cart” button on the page. To be clear a product page and a product landing page are two different things (at least often). Trust me, without an “add to cart” button the conversions won’t pour in.

I think the frustration for some of us stems from the very long wait for this when other things have been released ahead, fixes for core issues like the form unsubscribe issue have fallen on def ears (I mean if it has to stay at least offer built-in functionality to send to a Google sheet), and Webflow saying “coming soon” has become synonymous with “maybe someday”. So when core pieces like an “add to cart” on a collection list, digital products, discounts, per product forms, or other features are “coming soon” or on the wishlist…it just doesn’t inspire any confidence in delivery.

So when we see things like sales, discounts and promotions under “Longer-term plans” it means as business owners running design/development businesses we can’t even offer Webflow e-commerce as a solution to any clients needing e-commerce – really there would be very few businesses not wanting to run a sale, discount or promotion. Also on the e-commerce page that is live now discounts and sales are under “Planned Additions” but in the post under “Longer Term Plans”

Did the Webflow team reach out to business owners to help prioritize features? I feel like there is a disconnect between what we have been asking for as a community and what is being delivered.

There would be more to say about import/export, other functions, and probably pricing but really if a business owner can’t run a sale or offer a discount at launch…it doesn’t matter how gorgeous the site is or how many payment options are available. It’s just not a even a presentable solution.


#20

I want to add one suggestion. Take down the Shopify/Webflow comparison page or at least be more transparent. In Webflow, you can’t add a simple “buy button” to any location, you can’t have a sale price, you can’t have a discount…I’m sure there are other items. Also, let’s note today as November 15, 2018 and note that you have “coming soon” by 10 out of 29 features.

The definition of soon (see below). Please note it does not reference months or years.

53%20PMhttps://webflow.com/vs/shopify