22nd January 2024

Off The Shelf vs Custom Shopify Themes: What Should You Choose?

Written By Willy Stewart

22nd January 2024

Setting up an online store on Shopify is an exciting journey, but one crucial decision you'll face is choosing the right theme. The Shopify Theme Store offers a plethora of options for off-the-shelf themes, or you can choose to have your very own custom Shopify theme. In this blog post, we'll delve into the differences between these two types of themes to help you make an informed decision for your e-commerce online store.

An image of a shopify ecommerce store.

What’s The Difference Between Off The Shelf & Custom Shopify Themes?

The main differences between a custom Shopify theme and an off-the-shelfShopify theme are the design, functionality, origin, and customisation possible on your theme.

Off-the-shelf Shopify themes are pre-built and pre-designed by a 3rd party and available to purchase for your Shopify store with only limited customisation possible.

Custom Shopify themes are uniquely developed and entirely personalised store fronts built for the exact requirements and needs of you and your customers. Working with designers and developments, every aspect of the customer journey can be factored into creating a smooth and unique visual theme which will create smooth user experiences and full functionality for their needs

Considerations of Off-the-Shelf Shopify Themes:

Off-the-shelf themes are pre-designed templates available in the Shopify Theme Store. They offer a quicker and more budget-friendly solution, but there are sizeable trade-offs:

a. Easier Individual Setup
Off-the-shelf themes are relatively easy to install and set up for those with some experience, making them an simpler choice for simpler stores. They’re sufficient for a very basic ecommerce experience, however users often encounter significant constraints as a store grows.

b. Cost-Effectiveness
These themes are, by their off-the-shelf nature, more affordable than a custom theme since they involve any custom design or development work.

c. Limited Customisation
While you can customise the colours, fonts, and some elements, off-the-shelf themes come with limitations in terms of unique design and features. Your website may look similar to other stores using the same theme. If your site can’t establish trust and uniqueness, then it can be quickly passed over by customers

d. Scalability Constraints
Off-the-shelf themes may have limitations when it comes to scalability. As your business grows, you might outgrow the functionalities offered by the template. This could be an expanding product range, incorporating services, or just sheer scale of product inventory.

Advantages of Custom Shopify Themes:

Custom Shopify themes are tailored specifically for your business needs. They are designed and developed from scratch and completely bespoke fully representing your brand identity. Typically, custom Shopify themes are an investment in your business, and involve a comprehensive analysis & understanding of your business. Here are some key aspects to consider:

a. Unique Design
A custom theme allows you to create a unique and distinctive design that aligns perfectly with your brand. This can enhance brand recognition and user experience. It’s a custom theme - people can try to copy, but it’s your design, and your website.

b. Feature Flexibility
You have complete control over the features and functionalities of your online store. This means you can integrate custom functionalities that cater to your specific business requirements.

c. Scalability
As your business grows, a custom theme can be easily scaled and adapted to accommodate new features or changes in design without compromising performance.

d. Development Time and Costs
Developing a custom theme requires more time and resources compared to using an off-the-shelf theme. However, the investment can pay off in terms of a unique and tailored online presence.

Choosing between a custom and off-the-shelf Shopify theme depends on your business goals, budget, and the level of customisation you require. A custom theme provides unparalleled flexibility and uniqueness but requires a higher investment of time and resources. On the other hand, off-the-shelf themes offer a quicker and more budget-friendly solution but come with significant limitations in terms of customisation. Assess your business needs carefully to determine which type of theme aligns best with your long-term vision for your online store.

Replatforming & New Custom Shopify Theme Development

At Mucky Puddle, we specialise in custom Shopify theme development. Working with our expert team of designers and developers, we can create a custom theme for your e-commerce business that perfectly fits your store and how it services your own customer base. Custom Shopify themes can be an evolution or redevelopment of existing stores or the result of a replatforming from the likes of WooCommerce and Magento.

Contact us to discuss your Shopify custom theme requirements and how we can help bring your vision and ecommerce store to life.