From merchant accounts to product images, product descriptions, add-on apps and possible integration with your existing website and back-end systems, there are a lot of details to stay on top of when you build an eCommerce site for your small business.
Interestingly however, one of the most critical decisions you need to make is what your new eCommerce site will look and feel like (i.e. its theme). Why is selecting a theme so important? It’s all a matter of cost.
The Cost of Customization
The truth is, there are many eCommerce storefronts you can add in minutes. Each of these solutions offers a selection of themes for you to use, some free and some for an additional fee (i.e. premium)
Many of these solutions enable you to customize your theme to some degree (a few even give you full control) however, doing so will take expertise and expertise costs both time and money whether you figure it out for yourself or hire an outside resource to do it for you.
If you’re watching costs, as many small businesses are, then you need to factor in the cost of customization when selecting an eCommerce solution. How? By previewing the free and premium fees as one of your selection criteria:
- If a solution offers a theme that comes close to your design, that’s a big plus because it will mean less customization efforts.
- If a solution does not offer a theme that comes close to your design, you will need to explore the cost of customization:
- How hard will it be for you to learn how to customize your site yourself?
- How much will it cost to hire an external resource to customize your site?
- Does the solution vendor provide a list of qualified resources so you don’t have to start from scratch (a cost in terms of time and effort)?
In the end, your ecommerce sites theme is but one of the selection criteria to use when choosing an eCommerce solution, however, it’s often overlooked. Leaving “Compatible Theme” off your checklist can lead to a higher cost, in terms of time, money and frustration, down the road.
List of Themes for eCommerce Sites
The more themes a solution offers, or that are offered for that solution by third-parties, the better the odds that you’ll find one that comes close to your design. Start your search for an eCommerce vendor with the following list of themes for eCommerce sites that offer not only great functionality, but also a large selection of both free and premium eCommerce themes.
Shopify offers a solid selection of free and premium themes. Its theme store offers many ways to filter and sort their selection including price and industry:
You can also find third-party Shopify themes on sites like ThemeForest, TemplateMonster, ApolloThemeand RoarTheme.
In addition, Shopify enables you to customize your theme thoroughly and offers a list of experts to help you do so if you chose to go that route.
A robust eCommerce platform, Bigcommerce offers a number of free and premium themes today and has big plans to add many more in 2016:
Can’t with for the new themes to be released? You can find third-party themes on sites like TemplateMelaand ThemeVale.
Bigcommerce enables you to customize your site’s theme completely and they provide a list of experts to help you design the site you want.
Another robust eCommerce solution, Volusion is perfect for those who want complete control over their site. It has a large selection of free and premium themes and offer customization services as well.
Born as a simple website creator, WIX has been offering eCommerce functionality for some time. It offers a good set of templates (i.e. themes) for you to use, all of which are included in their pricing plans and many of which were designed for very specific businesses:
WIXs customization functionality is code-free so that’s nice if you want to make changes yourself and not so nice if you want a professional to customize your site.
WooCommerce for WordPress
If you want to build your eCommerce site using WordPress, then WooCommerce is a good place to start. While it doesn’t offer a large number of themes on its own, there are hundreds of third-party themes available on sites such as ThemeForest and TemplateMonster.
PrestaShop is a fully functional eCommerce website solution. It offers many templates, but really shines with the number of third-party themes available on sites like Presthemes, ApolloTheme, ThemeForest and TemplateMonster.
There are many factors to consider when selecting an eCommerce website solution. One of the most critical for small businesses is the number of themes available to use when designing your shop.
Bottom-line: the more themes a solution offers, either itself or via third parties, the better the chance that one will come close to your design. The closer you get, the less time and money you’ll spend on customization.
by Matt Mansfield