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Ecommerce automation tools: Differences of Rule Builder & Flow Builder

Ecommerce automation tools: Differences of Rule Builder & Flow Builder

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Rule Builder and Flow Builder are two of Shopware's ecommerce automation tools. And both can help merchants implement automatization. What are the differences between the two tools? In this blog post, Shopware Product Owner Matthias Friedmann explains the differences.

Why do you need ecommerce automation tools?

Digital commerce is constantly evolving. Eccommerce was growing fast before Covid-19 hit. But the pandemic and its associated restrictions and lockdowns have pushed even more consumers online. Retail has undergone unprecedented change, including an acceleration in the need to provide outstanding shopping experiences for customers. The rewards for merchants who can meet the expectations of new customers can be great, but so are the challenges and possible pitfalls. 

Merchants are now facing ever greater complexity in managing their online stores – from handling promotions and pricing to shipping and order fulfillment. Ecommerce automation tools can be invaluable in managing this complexity and speeding up processes and operations. They can help merchants to adapt quickly to new circumstances, ranging from a spike in orders to a change in delivery charges.  


Read this post to learn about the 6 biggest benefits of automation in ecommerce.

But introducing automation can be daunting. Merchants may not have the technical knowledge or resource available for writing code and programming. 

This is why Shopware has launched the__ Rule Builder and Flow Builder features__, which are integrated into our ecommerce platform Shopware 6. The Rule Builder and Flow Builder are both powerful tools that can be used by merchants in a variety of ways to streamline and automate individual workflows and business processes. Above all, they can help meet the customer expectations of a personalized, relevant shopper journey.  

Both the Rule Builder and Flow Builder enable merchants to adapt Shopware to their business needs without writing any code. In a nutshell, both tools deal with aspects of__ automatization and customization__ in different ways but empower the merchant by removing the need for programming expertise. 

The uses of Rule and Flow Builder 

I understand that there can sometimes be confusion around both tools. They have a similar objective, but in fact, they are rather different.  

The Rule Builder provides a unified way to describe “statements”, which are either true or false, depending on the customer and the context (e.g. shopping cart composition, date and time, customer group). This provides the merchant with the flexibility to adjust different settings according to their business’s needs.  


The Rule Builder does not define what will happen. This depends on the context, where the rules are checked. These usage contexts are predefined by Shopware and include, for instance: 

  • Rules to determine the a__vailability of shipping or payment methods
  • Rules to decide which price will be used for a specific customer 
  • Rules to define the conditions for a promotion 

In this example, the Rule Builder is used to create a condition that relates to a specific customer group. For example, you can use this condition to specify that new customers and VIP customers automatically receive 10% off their purchase.

If Rule Builder didn’t exist, the merchant would have to configure everything separately and often with less flexibility. All business models, whether B2C, D2C, or B2B, can make use of the feature. 

How you can create those flexible rules with Shopware's Rule Builder is shown in this tutorial

In contrast, the Flow Builder does enable merchants to define the Shopware platform’s behavior in the merchant’s key business processes – the merchant can make the choices and set up rules that are applied based on predefined “triggers” occurring. It can be used to adjust the order process in detail, or simplify complex staff workflows, for instance. Examples of possible triggers include:

  • orders placed,
  • customer registered,
  • payment has been refunded
  • and many more.

Essentially, the Flow Builder allows the merchant to utilize the Rule Builder to define complex automatizations like “Whenever a customer has placed an order – AND he is from Europe AND his cart is > 100€, then do this and that.” If the Flow Builder didn’t exist, merchants would not be able to define individual reactions to important events

In this video, you can discover by yourself how to easily and quickly automatize your business processes with the Flow Builder. 

Let me tell you about other differences: the Rule Builder is about conditions that check the current behavior of customers or related events and occurrences. Only if the condition is fulfilled, an action is executed. With the Flow Builder, actions can also be triggered outside of Shopware. In addition to that we are planning to revise the Flow Builder so that actions can also take place on a time-delayed basis in the future. For example, you can automatically send an email to customers who bought a product a week ago so that they can submit a product review.

Keeping on the front foot 

We are always looking at how to improve solutions with the help of our developer partners and have some plans for both Flow Builder and Rule Builder.

For the Rule Builder, we are evaluating different options on how to reduce the performance impact and are working on mechanisms that will simplify the process of creating and applying rules. We’re working on mechanisms that help merchants to find errors or wrong rule configurations.  

For the Flow Builder, we aim to expand the possibilities of what can be automized and customized with flows and to add capabilities for testing and ways to detect and recover from errors. 

Want to learn more?

Our goal is for our customers to fully understand the many possibilities of these features. For this purpose, we offer further easy-to-understand details on our websites about the key features.

Here merchants can find an overview of the Rule Builder and Flow Builder features, their benefits, use cases, functionalities, and technical requirements and navigate to further helpful content – e. g. blog posts and product presentation videos.   

More about Rule Builder

More about Flow Builder

About the authorquote-large-matthias-friedmann-2xzegm0VxtjkgWr

Matthias Friedmann is a product owner at Shopware. As such, he is responsible for the Flow Builder and Rule Builder and coordinates further feature development. 

FAQ - Ecommerce automation and ecommerce automation tools

What is ecommerce automation?

Ecommerce automation is the use of software and tools to streamline and optimize various processes involved in online selling, such as inventory management, order processing, and customer support.

How can you automate an ecommerce business?

You can automate your ecommerce business by using tools like the Rule Builder and Flow Builder, both are powerful tools that can be used by merchants in a variety of ways to streamline and automate individual workflows and business processes. Above all, they can help meet the customer expectations of a personalized, relevant shopper journey.

Which ecommerce automation tools are the best?

The Rule Builder and the Flow Builder, both solutions developed by Shopware, are generally considered some of the best ecommerce automation tools in the business.

Further reading on ecommerce automation:


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