“We see ecommerce as something that hasn’t had a lot of innovation”
Stated Webflow’s chief technology officer, Bryant Chou.
Now hold it right there!
Why would he make such a claim? Hasn’t ecommerce been growing astronomically of late? I mean, last time we checked the global retail ecommerce sales were expected to hit $4.5 trillion by 2021.
So what’s going on here?
One thing’s for sure. Developing tech continues to drive ecommerce growth. Quite exponentially, to say the least. With ecommerce platforms taking the center stage.
Of course, the numbers are impressive. But, have you ever felt that the industry could do a little bit better? That we’re actually yet to achieve optimal growth?
Well, that’s what the team at Webflow believes. While many players in the industry continue praising developing tech, Bryant Chou says that we haven’t seen anything yet.
According to him, the bulk of online enterprises are built on old platforms that are progressively redundant in the mobile age.
As a result, here’s how they chose to respond…
They are diving right into the deep end. Webflow is dealing with the problem head-on. That’s right, they are now running their own ecommerce platform.
Now, make no mistake. This is not an average Joe making a debut in an industry already experiencing cut-throat competition. They’ve already tested the shallow waters through general website building.
Webflow has been around the block since 2013, when it was launched by Chou along with Sergie Magdalin and Vlad Magdalin. It has been a prominent brand marketing itself as a visual CMS merging professional, code-free design functionalities with the user-friendliness of typical website builders.
This is the space that we’ve seen dominated by the likes of Wix and Weebly. But, Webflow continues to capitalize on a rather thoughtful strategy to discern itself from them. It essentially offers users a Photoshop-centric design environment for building their website.
And guess what? That has subsequently worked quite well, considering Webflow’s current user base of over half a million website owners.
So, of course, it makes all the sense in the world to use the same approach in yet another field- ecommerce.
They have even attracted quite a handful of proponents to their bandwagon. Fluid’s co-founder and chief experience officer Andrew Sirotnik, for instance, believes that Webflow is the answer to some of the small business needs that are yet to be met. He particularly emphasized that the age of one-size-fits-all ecommerce stores is long gone.
It turns out that I actually agree with him. At least to some extent.
So, of course, I was excited about Webflow’s launch of their ecommerce platform in March 2018. Sadly, we only have the Beta version. We are yet to get our hands on a full version.
But come to think of it, this systematic phase approach is the most feasible option for the ecommerce market. Because current needs are exceedingly diverse and seemingly evolving progressively.
That said, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Webflow ecommerce Beta version has indeed come with a plethora of notable functionalities. But are they any good?
I’ll help with the answer. By telling it all as it is- its features, elements, functions and overall usability.
So let’s fire away…
Webflow Review: The Best Ecommerce Features
For starters, Webflow might be using the term “ecommerce” quite often going forward, but don’t take it too literally. It is an ecommerce platform alright, but it’s also something more.
And everything has been broken down into six core functionalities:
- Ecommerce is all about managing and growing online stores.
- Editor deals with site editing features
- CMS powers the whole content management framework.
- Interactions provides a wide range of graphical features for animations.
- Designer makes you an actual web designer without complex coding.
- Hosting deals with domains and overall web hosting.
Quick Ecommerce Design
Webflow Ecommerce doesn’t keep you around navigating through the design grid. Setting up a custom and an interactive online store is just as straightforward as working on typical websites.
Part of the reason is the fact that the platform isn’t embedded into a complicated coding engine or API. Consequently, you can pretty much rip any of your products from the catalog. Then bind it directly to any part of the site, including blog posts.
And the best thing about this is? Well, you don’t need a team of developers. Not even one.
Webflow becomes your principal developer, handling both complex and simple code lines in the background. Including auto-optimizing your ecommerce site for mobile.
Beta Version Primary Features
As the baby, I presumed that the Beta version would possibly come with very limited features. However, and rather astonishingly, it feels more complete and holistic than some of its elder competitors.
Its primary features include:
- In-domain checkout
- Comprehensive CMS for landing pages and blogs
- Automatic fraud prevention
- Third party invitation to inventory and fulfillment management.
- Customizable receipts
- Secure hosting with SSL
- CMS-powered product listings
- Automatic customs rules assessment and calculation of tax
- Multi-currency support. More than 10 to be precise.
- Customizable shipping rates and options
Features In The Pipeline
Well, you’d assume that that’s all there is for now. But Webflow is seemingly just getting warmed up.
Here are some more features in the pipeline, which should be rolling out pretty soon:
- Integration with Amazon
- Uploading of products through CSV
- Digital products support
- PayPal checkout
- Additional checkout payment options
- POS, marketing, shipping and tax integrations
- Multi-language support
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Mobile inventory and order management.
Webflow Review: Pricing
It’s obvious, by now, that Webflow is an extensive platform serving a wide range of users at multiple levels.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a great thing overall. But, as we’ve seen with other platforms, it comes with one substantial downside- a rather complex pricing strategy.
However, here’s the interesting thing. Webflow’s pricing strategy is actually one of the simplest, most organized I’ve come across. There’s nothing confusing about it.
When you get to the pricing page, you’re greeted by three primary categories. All with refreshingly straightforward guidelines.
Hosting Only is meant for individuals seeking a single personal site:
- Basic Hosting at $12 per month
- CMS Hosting at $16 per month
- Business Hosting at $36 per month
Then we have a category for designers and freelancers expecting to work on multiple projects:
- Starter for free forever
- Lite at $16 per month
- Pro at $35 per month
And finally, they’ve also considered agencies and teams that are collaborating to design websites. A standard team should cost you $35 per month for every team member. But negotiable when you’re dealing with a large team.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the ecommerce side yet. However, going by these existing plans and their offerings, it’s undeniable that Webflow is competitively priced.
So expect a very interesting pricing schedule in the near future. For now, we can only guess.
Webflow Review: Customer Support
All things considered, Webflow comes with a rather simple set of tools. Needless to say, you might need some help before you finally learn the ropes.
Thankfully, there’s a comprehensive knowledge base with adequate guidelines on pretty much all the functionalities. There is also a decent collection of video tutorials on some of the rather complex elements.
So far, Webflow has been doing a good job at introducing its users to the new ecommerce platform. There’s an entire section of the site dedicated to neat animations explaining the whole concept.
If you feel a little chatty, you could check out its active community forum. Admittedly, a good place to share ideas and reach out to other like-minded individuals.
Then there are those serious glitches that might need additional assistance. Sadly, regular users can only get in touch with the customer support team through a web contact form. Webflow claims that their agents are available 6AM-6PM PST.
Subscribed users, on the other hand, qualify for priority support.
Who Should Consider Webflow as an Ecommerce Platform?
So far, Webflow ecommerce is seemingly optimized for small businesses. Its tools are not advanced enough to handle mid-sized and large enterprises. Unlike its other side of general website building, which can comfortably serve large teams.
To be fair, however, it’s still too early to make a conclusive verdict. The baby is not even fully out of the womb yet.
We can only wait till it gains traction to make a more accurate conclusion. Anything is possible in the near future. It might even morph into something else altogether.
For now, we just sit, watch and test it out.