How to choose a simple ecommerce theme for your online shop

Have you ever considered how important it is to select the right ecommerce theme for your online shop? If not, now is the perfect time to do so. 

People are more easily distracted than ever before, particularly when interacting with the digital world. Therefore, it is very common for people to start buying something online and stop part of the way through. Either they never finish making the purchase or come back to it later. For this reason ease of use, automated reminders like abandoned cart emails and an intuitive design are all essential when it comes to maximising sales online. Thus, picking the right theme for your e-store is vital.

There are several ways you can make the design of your website more intuitive for first time visitors. Most people look at a website in such a way that means websites with a sidebar on the left-hand side and a good header are more intuitive.

It is the theme and layout of your e-store that encapsulates your products and brand.  It is an immediate visual representation of your company, products and brand. Up to 38% of visitors to a website will leave if they find your layout unattractive, and that is just too big a number for you to ignore. The way your ecommerce site looks also affects how much your potential customers are likely to trust your brand. Moreover, it also has an impact on your online shop’s performance and conversion rate, as well as many other factors. As many as 94% of internet users say that the design of a website is one of the reasons they may not be inclined to trust specific websites.  If your website doesn’t look right, or looks dubious it’s likely to have a negative effect on your business.

People have a tendency to trust things that keep to certain established design conventions, like sticking with an F-shaped design and giving visitors the option to filter products using a sidebar on the left and having a clear header at the top of a page to catch the eye. This results in a page which is laid out in such a way as to be easily understood. That means all visitors to your e-comm website, both new and returning, will know how it works straightaway.

A good theme design is going to help encourage your customers to trust your website and will therefore increase the likelihood that people will buy from you rather than from your competitors. This is also going to result in your website having a higher conversion rate than your competition.

Ecommerce themes have become a popular way to deliver the best possible user experience to your customers through using a pre-set design which has customisable functionality to maximise ease of use and site navigation. Aesthetics, function, ease of use, user experience and cost are all factors we will discuss in this article to help you choose the best theme with which to launch your new online venture.

Without further ado, let’s find out how you can pick the perfect theme for your website to get your ecommerce business off to a fantastic start.

What is an ecommerce theme?

An ecommerce theme is a pre-set website design which has functional shop features that allow people to view, browse, select and purchase products. Brands install ecomm themes in order to provide website visitors with the best possible user experience. Making use of an ecommerce theme can be an affordable way for online businesses to design a website which gets rid of the website design and development costs that come with hiring an agency and learning lots of code.  

When choosing an e-commerce theme for your business, you’ll want to make sure that it has some in-built features. Here are some to look out for:

  • Product Page functionality– Can you upsell and cross-sell products?
  • Mobile Optimisation.
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  • Customer Support.
  • Beautiful, modern, eye-catching design.
  • Automated Shopping Cart.
  • Responsive Ecommerce.
  • Customisation Options – Is there a good range of options available for you to use?
  • SEO Support.

The options for your ecommerce theme will vary depending on which ecommerce platform you intend to use.

Things to consider before choosing a theme

Choosing a theme can seem overwhelming at first. It can be helpful to breakdown what exactly you are trying to achieve so that you can make a wise selection. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before searching for themes.  Answering them will help you move forward in your new business venture.

How is the competition winning and what design have they chosen? What type of images have they used? What features have they incorporated into their design and theme?

It’s always a good idea to check out what your competition is doing to give yourself some ideas of what you need to incorporate into your own website design and theme. Look at what sort of images they use and what appears to work. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes to see what captures your attention and to judge how easy the website is to use and navigate. Researching your competitors can also give you some ideas on how to make yourself stand out.

What kind of user experience (UX) am I trying to create for my customers? Does it resonate with you customers? Does the brand message, the target market and their preferences match?

Ask yourself how you plan to create a clear vision of customer experience and if you understand who your target customers are. Does your website’s look and feel resonate or fit with your target audience and brand? Endeavour to create an emotional connection with your potential customers and do your best to collect feedback from your customers in real time to give them the best user experience you can. You should do all you can to live up to customer expectations which, in the online world, are generally high.

How do my products need to be displayed in order to do them justice?

Consider how to use product photos, videos and lifestyle images to best showcase your products. Are you going to hire a professional product photographer to do this? If so, you’ll need to account for this when setting out your budget. How do you plan to make the best use of the white space on your website to make sure your products are eye-catching? You should also consider how you’re going to write engaging product descriptions that persuade people to buy from you?

How many products will I launch with and what will I have a year from now?

You need to set some goals for your business. Are you going to start your business by launching just a single product, or a wider range of products? Where do you envisage you will be in a year? By answering these questions you will be giving yourself something to aim and strive for.

What is my budget for a paid theme or ecomm design platform subscription?

You should always bear your budget in mind when choosing an ecommerce theme so that you can spend what money and resources you do have effectively to ensure that you provide visitors with the best website and user experience you can. SimpleShop offers many different themes and is very competitively priced at just £9 a month after an initial 14-day free trial.

In answering these questions you can start to pinpoint criteria for your theme selection which will then point you in the direction of the perfect theme for your business.

Common online shop features to consider

There are several features of your online store to consider when choosing an ecomm theme. Here are the most important.

Header & Footer- These are key elements of web design. They contain links to important pages on your site that people may want to visit before they buy something from you. A header appears at the top of your webpage, whist a footer is located at the bottom of it.

Homepage- A homepage is a webpage that is the starting point of a website. It’s the default page that loads when you type a URL into your address bar that only contains a domain name. The homepage of your website creates a first impression and tells visitors what they can do while visiting a site.

Product Pages- Good product pages showcase the value of a featured product. A product page shows potential buyers what a product looks like, describes it and explains how it might make shoppers’ lives better. It also tries to convince people the product is something worth buying. Trying to persuade your customers to buy a product on this page is a good idea, as it’s often the last page they see before making a purchase.

Product Image Gallery Options- These are different ways you can display your products. You can use a single product image as the largest image of a featured product. A catalogue image is a medium-sized image that can be shown on a related products page and others. This helps you cross-sell and upsell your products. A thumbnail image is used in the shopping cart to make it easy for shoppers to see if they have what they want in their cart.

Search Capability- Search capabilities can include performing a simple search by keyword, product number or title.

Catalogue Pages- Catalogue pages contain all data related to the products in your e-store including product descriptions, images, specifications and prices, among much else. These pages give shoppers access to a detailed overview of all of the products on offer. 

Navigation Bar- This is an element of the user interface of a website which contains links to other pages on that website. It is typically displayed on most of the pages of a website to make it easy for people to visit other parts of a site.

Shopping Cart– This is software used in ecommerce to facilitate the process of making purchases online.  It provides a means of gathering all of a shopper’s selected items together and of collecting their payment information.

Checkout Pages- This refers to website pages shown to a customer during the checkout process, which are usually accessed from the shopping cart. This is how shoppers complete the purchasing process. You can have a one-page checkout or multi-page step-by-step checkout process. Choose the option that is best for your own online shop.

Payment Options- This is the way that a buyer chooses to pay the seller of a product or service. The most popular online payment gateway and processor is PayPal. It is also a good idea to provide alternative options for buyers to choose from. One good alternative is Stripe. SimpleShop can be integrated with both of these gateways. Also give people a range of cards they can use to pay for a product.

Scrolling Capability, Quick View, Wish List and Favourites– By making sure your website has good scrolling capability and a quick view option you ensure that your shoppers have a great experience and are more likely to return to you. A wish list allows people to select things they might want to buy later. If they get distracted and come back later to complete a purchase, this is a good way for them to save items. Allowing buyers to save their favourites serves the same function.

An Attractive Design and Colour Scheme- Having an attractive design and colour scheme can attract visitors’ attention, and make them more likely to trust your site. This will make them more likely to buy from you and thus boost your conversion rate.

Other ecommerce theme considerations

What other factors should you bear in mind when choosing an ecommerce theme?  Ensure that your theme is not too similar to your competitors. Think about how you are going to make your design stand out using logos and brand elements. What type of language do you want to use? What tone are you aiming for? What style of photography do you plan to use?

Are there any customisation limits? What can and can’t you do with your chosen theme? If you know this early on, you can select a framework which works well with any existing functionality you have, which will save you money. Think about how you are going to keep up with design innovations for a great user experience. SimpleShop will keep you up to speed with trends as part of their service. Have you given any thought to your content strategy? Are you planning to create and run a regular blog to increase visitor engagement and establish some authority?   

You should also think about who is going to host your theme. SimpleShop will do this as part of their service. In addition, consider when you might need to go for custom development. Building custom software can give you an edge over your competitors if you have the necessary budget available. Also, pre-built solutions are rigid and a higher degree of flexibility may be warranted as your ecommerce business grows.  

Making sure that your chosen theme is mobile responsive is also vital. SimpleShop do this as part of their service. Mobile ecommerce has been increasing for years and today it is estimated that as many as 82% of people shopping online brought something using their mobile phone. Therefore, making sure your ecomm theme is mobile responsive should be a top priority.

It is equally important to make sure that your theme supports SEO. Search Engine Optimization means your site should be well-designed so that it can be easily found by Google and other search engines. If your theme is SEO friendly, your website is more likely to be placed at the top of SERPs. This will help drive traffic to your e-store and will result in a higher conversion rate.

Theme support is essential to manage your online business

Some themes offer more features than others. When you are starting out, however, there are two things your chosen theme should offer:

Customer and Technical Support– You may find you’ll need some support or help to fix a bug. Check the support forums of your chosen ecomm platform and theme to find out how responsive their support network is. Consider the level of support offered and whether they offer a combination of phone and chat support. It’s also a good idea to take note of the network’s availability (the hours in which they operate) and the time zone(s) they work in. Research what support materials they offer, like tutorials and guides. SimpleShop offer their clients excellent customer service that is second to none.

Regular Automated Updates– Select a theme that has been updated within the last six months. Avoid any theme that hasn’t had regular automated updates. You’ll need to know who is going to make sure that regular automated updates are completed before you start out. SimpleShop make sure regular updates are made as part of the great service they provide.

When you have these two essential elements in place, you’ll want to look at a theme’s ability to work with different browsers and its responsiveness, along with other technical and design features before making a final choice.

Conclusion

There you have it, a guide to choosing the perfect simple ecommerce theme for your online shop. Today, we’ve highlighted what an ecomm theme actually is and have gone through some questions you should try to answer before searching for one. We’ve also gone through some of the main features of an e-store that you’ll want to consider, from the header and footer to the checkout pages. Furthermore, we have detailed some additional things you may want to consider in order to give the visitors to your site the best possible experience. Lastly, we have pointed out the crucial role of excellent support and the importance of regular automated updates, both of which make it easier to run your online shop. We hope you now have the confidence you need to go and select the perfect ecommerce theme for your business. Be sure to check out SimpleShop today for more great hints and tips on how to design and manage your ecommerce website.