Over the last decade or so, online shopping has become the new norm, allowing companies like Amazon and eBay to dethrone the leading retailers of the 20th century. As the demand for online shopping grows, so too does the supply of retailers with virtual offerings.
Companies like Shopify have paved the way for small businesses to cash in on the “online shopping” goldrush, allowing businesses to rapidly develop storefronts at a cost less than $30 per month. But with a low barrier to entry comes the opportunity for a lack in quality. Such has been the case with a majority of the nearly 1 million active stores.
Don’t let this news scare you off! Instead of joining the masses of unsuccessful storefronts, take this as a wakeup call to make you store stand out from the rest. There are many ways you as a business owner can grow your store – advertisements, social media posts and content marketing just to name a few. But if you’re just getting started, before you worry about any of that stuff, take some time to think carefully about the Shopify theme you use to power your store.
Not all themes are equal. The choice you make when selecting a theme can make or break your success connecting with customers, as well as managing your internal controls.
What follows are a few things to consider when browsing the marketplace for a shiny new theme for your Shopify store.
Before we venture too deep into the weeds, it’s important to consider what your budget is for a new theme. Through the Shopify Theme Marketplace, there are a variety of both free and paid themes – with the average price of a paid theme landing at roughly $180. If budget is no issue, we always recommend going with a paid option. They typically have more customizable features and come with dedicated customer support from the theme’s developer. Paid options like [District] and [Envy] offer a wide variety of customizable options, and consistently receive rave reviews from their respective users.
That said, if you’re on a shoestring budget and a paid theme isn’t in the cards right now, no need to worry. Shopify also offers 21 free options that aren’t to shabby themselves. Their [Minimal] and [Simple] theme options are great alternatives to a paid theme, both offering a myriad of customization settings and great support to boot. While their design may be a bit simple compared to many paid options, they still provide a great template in which to design a beautiful storefront.
I should also mention that, should your budget allow it, there is a third option of having a theme custom created to fit the specific needs of your business. Though a custom option will cost far more than even a paid theme from the theme store, working with a developer directly will allow you to include all of the features that are most important to your business, while leaving out things that are entirely unnecessary. For more information about having a theme professionally developed, click here.
It’s important to make it clear that the size of your budget doesn’t directly correlate with the success of your store. Though it’s true that paid themes offer many options that the choice of free themes do not, there are many other factors involved that determine the effectiveness of a theme. In many cases, regardless of budget, a free theme may in fact be the best option for YOUR business. As we move away from the financial aspects of theme selection, think long and hard about the following things when choosing the right theme for your Shopify store.
What Do You Sell?
When choosing the best Shopify theme for your business, it’s important to think about WHAT you’re selling when choosing a theme option. Are you selling a single product or do you have an expansive catalog of items for sale.
Specific themes are in large part built to suit specific business types, both on the front and back ends. Themes like “Testament” and “Kagami” have specific layout features that make them perfect for stores with a large product list. Likewise, there are options that cater towards stores with fewer products as well – using expansive imagery and storytelling to sell niche products.
And if you don’t fit into either of those molds, you can also select a theme based on what industry your business is in. Whether you’re selling clothing or your latest homemade arts and crafts, the Shopify Theme Store has several options to choose from based on your selected industry.
With the demo’s available in each theme listing, you’ll be able to take a first-hand look at what a theme can do for your business, as well as gain insights and inspiration from industry specific examples.
As you’re looking through the hundreds of options of available themes, do yourself a favor and narrow down the selection by browsing through the themes are a built SPECIFICALLY for your type of business. Chances are you’ll find something that works perfectly for you.
The Developers Matter
As I mentioned a bit earlier in this post, it’s important to consider customer support options when choosing a theme. Whether you’re a skilled developer or not, chances are you’ll run across problems you don’t know the answers to. Enter the developers, because who knows a theme better than the people who made it?
Unfortunately, all development teams are not made equal. Some can be extremely supportive and assist with your every problem, while others can be distant and shy away from working directly with their customers. When choosing a theme, it’s important to know what kind of support you can expect from the people who made your theme.
A good way to find this information is by looking through each theme’s reviews. Easily the most reviewed aspect of a Shopify theme is the customer support from the developers. By reading what others who already use the theme are saying, you’ll be able to determine if the level of support matches what you’re looking for in a theme solution. As I mentioned earlier, even if you’re a seasoned developer, chances are you’ll run into issues you don’t initially know how to solve. If you’re the type of person that needs hands on support, take note of themes that are known to offer top notch customer support. On the other hand, if you’re someone who enjoys finding solutions on your own, maybe customer support isn’t a feature you should pay too much attention to.
I know, analyzing a theme’s customer support options certainly isn’t as sexy as looking for the best designs or other compatibility features. That said, when issues arise (which they will), you’ll be very glad you chose a theme with a strong support staff.
Starting a new business is both an exciting and exhausting experience. For people looking to take advantage of the e-commerce boom, companies like Shopify have made the process easier than ever.
With nearly 1 million active Shopify stores, the big question to be answered is how to stand out from the crowd and build a successful business. While there are many steps to be taken to reach success, if you’re just getting started with Shopify, we recommend making sure you’re using the write theme.
Sending the right message to your audience is key to building lasting relationships, and the first step in achieving this is with the BEST theme for your store.
We sincerely hope that you consider our tips and tricks when starting your business, and can’t wait to see what Shopify can do for you!