Webflow, a web design platform, is throwing its hat into the growing ecommerce ring with today’s beta release of Webflow Ecommerce, a new platform that lets virtually anyone create an ecommerce site without knowing how to code.
In the same vein as other website creation companies like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, Webflow is trying to make it easy for both individuals and small businesses to build and maintain ecommerce sites as easily as possible.
“Overall we see ecommerce as something that hasn’t had a lot of innovation,” said Bryant Chou, chief technology officer of Webflow. “A lot of these businesses that are based on these old platforms have problems with the mobile age. [With Webflow,] you get a developer environment that happens to support ecommerce.”
Users can pay $30 a month to create customizable ecommerce sites, where they can tweak the font, color, layout of the store, as well as decide to only sell certain products or their entire inventory.
The company promises that its users will soon be able to track customers over time and review their purchase history, as well as integrate with different forms of marketing tools, like MailChimp. At some point in the future, Webflow will also introduce new features such as different shipping providers, multiple currencies, several languages and a PayPal integration (the company is working with Stripe for now to handle all payment processing).
“We want to create a platform where designers and professionals don’t need to know how to write code to be able to build for the web,” Chou said. “We think it’s just obvious that developers don’t need to be the gatekeepers of creating for the internet. We want to empower the masses to use visual tools to build really professional experiences on the web.”
The challenge for Webflow is that it enters a crowded marketplace, with companies that offer similar products and plans. BigCommerce also has a $30 monthly plan for people to set up their small business store online, Weebly offers a $38 monthly plan and Shopify has a $29 monthly plan.
None of this matters to Webflow, who wants to compete with Shopify and “disrupt the entire ecommerce space.” But do small businesses need yet another ecommerce platform?
“[Shopify and a new competitor in the space] isn’t going to fundamentally shift the nature of ecommerce or even create substantially greater ‘democratization’ without providing competitive fulfillment and customer-base capabilities,” said Tod Harrick, vp of product, Marketplace Ignition. “What Shopify and this vendor do is only a piece of developing direct to consumer capability.”
Andrew Sirotnik, co-founder and chief experience officer at Fluid, however, believes that a company like Webflow can solve some of the unmet, if not currently unknown, needs of small businesses who just want a simple way to sell their wares.
“The era of a one-size-fits-all online store is long outdated,” he said. “Modern entrepreneurs are leading with content, social and search and need the commerce capability to be everywhere and effortless, like dial tone.”