So you recently had an ah-ha moment and decided to start your own business. Or maybe you’ve been running your business for some time and want to take it online. In both cases, you’re likely going to be hitting up the Shopify Theme Store, where you’ll browse, try, and eventually choose your ecommerce theme.
What is an ecommerce theme?
An ecommerce theme is the means through which you can leverage both unique custom and core Shopify features to enhance your store visually. In the Shopify Theme Store, the designs and UX are carefully crafted by experts to ensure the best buyer experience, conversion flows, and responsive storefronts, tailored for performance and accessibility, as well as making a store look like it was created by a team of talented designers.
The Shopify Theme Store
When you create your online store with Shopify you can choose between free themes and premium ones. The selection of both free ones provided by Shopify and those built by our trusted Theme Store Partners is constantly growing. In fact, two new free themes by Shopify, Studio and Taste, were released today. Alongside these, we have great new themes by Store Partners, titled Drop, Bullet, and Be Yours.
For a full introduction to some Shopify's ecommerce themes and who they're for check out this video:
What’s included in every ecommerce theme
Edit without touching code
First of all, if you’re not tech savvy, ecommerce themes on the Shopify Theme Store will be perfect for you because so many ecommerce features come already built into your theme. That includes gift cards, country and language selection, pickup availability, dynamic checkout buttons, predictive search, automatic discounts, Shop Pay installments, and even unit pricing.
If you want to customize and tweak your theme, you can also make those edits without touching code. Learn how to build unique layouts with templates, sections, and blocks, and add app functionality to your theme today.
Obviously, hiring a designer and a developer can get expensive, so using themes from the Shopify Store is the best way to save money. You will get themes built and designed by expert teams within Shopify, and from our trusted Store Partners.
We have all gotten to be very impatient creatures, and let's be real: no one really has time to wait even four seconds for a page to load. But with Shopify themes, performance and load speed have been considered from the beginning. All of the Shopify free themes and those by our trusted Theme Store Partners—have been built with modern features of the web and minimal code. They also have some neat things built in to improve the perception of speed for your buyers. That’s not to say your theme will always be fast—if you load it up with heavy images and video, that will definitely have an impact, as will adding a ton of apps—but it’s really nice to see what a fast theme should feel like. In fact, all themes on the Shopify Theme Store have to meet strict speed requirements to be sold on the marketplace.
All themes on the Shopify Store are also highly accessible by design, meaning you can increase access to your storefront and conversion for buyers with disabilities. Accessible storefronts open your pool of buyers to 15% of the global population who are living with disabilities. Themes on the Shopify Theme Store strive to meet modern accessibility requirements, from keyboard navigation to screen reader compatibility. We’re committed to providing out-of-box support for a wide range of assistive technologies. In fact, Shopify actually requires theme sellers to make sure users can navigate through an entire theme with only a keyboard and a screen reader.
Lastly, with all Shopify themes you’re fully covered when it comes to support. If you decide to get a free Shopify theme today, you’ll get an hour of free design time. In those sessions, the support advisers have tons of ideas on how to get more sales. Theme Store Partners not only have dedicated support teams but also provide detailed documentation on each of their themes to answer frequently asked questions and help you set up and leverage all the great features that come with their themes.
That brings us to an important question: What’s the difference between a free Shopify theme and one by our Partners?
Free and premium ecommerce themes
If you’re just starting out and getting your feet wet, a Shopify free theme is a great option because they’re light and flexible. That means if you’re not adding tons of heavy imagery and video to the theme it will remain super fast. And if you’re looking to tweak some elements of the theme to keep it up to date with your branding, like the corner radius of buttons or the layout of an image banner, then free themes are a great option.
Like the themes created by our trusted Store Partners, Shopify’s free themes are tailored to support specific user experiences, catalog sizes, and design aesthetics. Each free theme is equipped with a pre-configuration to support industry trends in apparel, art, health and beauty, home and garden, or food and beverage, so you can find a theme that matches your unique brand and showcases your products. This all means that you could get set up and start selling in less than 24 hours.
Themes built by our trusted Store Partners
Third-party themes built by our Store Partners, on the other hand, give you a lot more control. You can get really granular with your settings and designs in a way that’s just not possible with Shopify free themes. For example, with many of these themes you have the option to add animations, have product details pop up on hover, and even change the spacing between letters, to name a few. And these aren’t just made by random people, they’re made by Shopify’s Theme Store Partners, who have been building themes for over a decade and have passed the strict requirements to get listed on the Shopify Store. Developing good themes is their entire business, so they always want to ensure their themes are on point and that they’re giving you great customer support.
So if you’re new, a Shopify free theme is great. If you need more than the basics, go for a theme built by one of our Store Partners. You can find a theme that works for you on the Shopify Theme Store by filtering down the options by industry, price, and the kind of design you’re after.
How to choose an ecommerce theme
You’ll soon realize that picking the right theme for your store is not easy. This isn’t like shopping for a wand in Harry Potter, where the wand chooses you. You’ll have to shop a little. There are lots of elements to consider, but it’s also quite exciting!
Build your feature wishlist
Think about it; we do this all the time. Whether you’re writing down your grocery list or looking to book your next vacation rental, we go through the motion of listing our preferences. Choosing a theme is no different.
The first step I’d recommend taking is putting yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and asking yourself: What kind of features would they expect on my online store in order to help them make a purchase decision? It might be a way to display a size guide, an instruction manual, or a lookbook. List them all out. Once you feel good about your list, try identifying which items you consider non-negotiables. You can do this while browsing the Shopify Theme Store and using the filtering options to narrow down your search.
Tally your content
Similarly to building your wishlist, you can also start planning the type of content you will want to surface on your online store. Put on your customer’s shoes again and think about what type of information buyers will need in order to make an informed purchase decision. Depending on the type of products you intend to sell, you may want to include an FAQ section on product pages, an ingredient list, or product dimensions. Knowing what content to account for will make it a lot easier to gut check whether the themes you are considering include good ways to display that content.
Find your style
Themes all have their own distinct style. When picturing what your ideal online store would look like, think about what type of aesthetic you hope to achieve. For example, if you’re selling spa products, then you might want your online store to feel relaxed and luxurious. Alternatively, if you're selling electronics, you might aim for energetic and sleek.
When browsing theme demos, pay close attention to the use of colors, to the decorative elements, and to the subtle animations that ornate the theme to gauge if the overall style will resonate with your brand. Making sure a theme’s style successfully conveys your brand image can be as important as ensuring it includes the sections and features you’ll need.
Define your budget
The themes available on the Shopify Store come at different price points, including a number of free themes that have been designed internally by Shopify. All other ones are designed and built by our network of vetted, trusted independent theme designers and agencies.
So when it comes time to choose your theme, you should think about how much you’re willing to spend on the look and feel of your online store. While premium themes can cost between $150-350, they remain a pretty sweet deal considering it’s not uncommon for businesses to drop tens of thousands of dollars for the design of their website to get the features, look, and feel that can be achieved with a theme from the Shopify Store.
Try before you buy
When downloading a paid theme from the Shopify theme store, you don’t actually pay for it until you publish it to your store. This means you can try out a few themes for free before deciding which one to go forward with. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few potential themes, try customizing them with the online store editor and find out if you’ll be able to achieve your desired look and feel.
By then, you’ll have a good idea of the functionalities you’ll want to enable, the type of content you’ll need to surface, and the overall aesthetic you’re going for. After playing around with each theme, you will most likely be able to discern your favorite. And voila, you got yourself a winner!
But you’re not done yet. Once you feel confident about your theme choice, that’s when the real fun begins and you bring your online store to life! Remember that you can always download new themes to your theme library and customize them in draft mode without impacting your live store. If for any reason you want to change your theme down the road, you can take the time you need to customize a new one before publishing it on your store.
So let’s recap: Choosing the right theme from the start is important, and investing a bit of time to evaluate your needs and trying out different themes upfront will help you make an informed decision. Whether you’re just starting out or considering switching themes, follow the tips shared in this article to guide you through your decision process.