Imagine that you were opening a restaurant in your mid-size city. You gather dozens of beloved family recipes, purchase a great location near downtown, and even negotiate a deal on the required equipment like ovens and refrigerators.
On opening day, you wait by the door with anticipation. But the crowds never arrive. Instead, you watch diner after diner passes your restaurant in favor of other options. Then it hits you… your city has thousands of restaurants! It’s informally known as the “Restaurant Capital of the World.”
Hindsight is 20/20, right? Now you’re realizing that it was a brazen move to try to get your restaurant to stand out amidst the massive amount of competitors.
What does this example have to do with choosing Shopify website templates? Well, there are more than 4 million different businesses on Shopify. And it’s estimated there are nearly 9 million online retailers around the globe. So you need to present something truly special to customers if you want your online business to stand out.
Shopify Website Templates Are the Key
Don’t let the massive amount of online competition scare you away from launching an ecommerce website. Unlike the scenario of fighting over a limited number of diners in a city, the ecommerce world connects you with a vast number of customers.
There are more than 2 billion people shopping online, and that number is only going to rise in the future. If the idea of billions of shoppers feels impressive to you, you might want to sit down for this next statistic: global online sales this year will exceed $26 trillion.
If you don’t have a Shopify website right now, you’re missing out on riding a powerful wave of opportunity.
Of course, your online store will need to stand out in all the right ways. And a diverse selection of premium and free Shopify templates gives you the options needed to put together an epic shop worthy of your products or services.
It’s no coincidence that Shopify provides some of the best templates around. After all, it was a dearth of function and design options that led to its creation. As a news story from NPR explains:
“In 2004, German programmer Tobias Lütke was living in Ottawa with his girlfriend. An avid snowboarder, he wanted to launch an online snowboard shop, but found the ecommerce software available at the time to be clunky and expensive. So he decided to write his own ecommerce software. After he launched his online snowboard business, called Snowdevil, other online merchants were so impressed with what he built that they started asking to license Tobi’s software to run their own stores.”
You can rest assured that Shopify website templates offer dynamic designs and UX-conscious functionality that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t Skip: How to Set Up a Shopify Store in 8 Easy Steps
Browse Shopify Templates for Your Store with a Free Trial
Shopify offers a one-month free trial that allows you to explore the platform and get familiar with your online store. There are hundreds of templates available to you and virtually endless variations within those choices.
If such a vast array of options feels overwhelming, never fear. We’re going to show you 14 of the best Shopify templates available. Some are free, while others come with a premium fee. But none of them cost more than $250, so regardless of the direction you choose you won’t need to worry about breaking the bank.
The 5 Best Free Shopify Templates Available
Best for: Businesses with diverse product selection
This template is the ideal home for bold photography that conveys the energy of your brand. The navigation is structured for businesses that have lots of products arranged in numerous categories, so it likely isn’t a good fit if you only offer a limited number of products.
Best for: First-time ecommerce entrepreneurs
Craft lives up to its name by making it easy for novices to upload products and craft a polished presentation. You can add product videos, testimonials, promotions, and other elements to catch shoppers’ eyes. Given the structure of this template, it’s best suited for businesses with a small to moderate amount of high-end products.
Best for: Product focus
With a browsable navigation style, this template helps customers to identify favorite products and then dig into the details. The product images change in when users hover over them, and you can use the mega menu to highlight a wide variety of products from your store.
Best for: Highlighting a distinct product
While some templates are essentially online catalogs, Origin is more like an online demo booth where you focus on 1-3 products. The space at the top of the page lets you showcase a hero video or image that truly gets noticed. And you can utilize the additional space to expand your descriptions and include more benefits.
Best for: Apparel brands
With ample room for product images and a convenient cart feature that lets customers add products while still exploring product pages, this template empowers apparel sellers to stand out. Be aware that the aesthetic is undeniably contemporary, so if your brand has a classic vibe, you might want to look elsewhere.
The 9 Best Premium Shopify Templates Available
Best for: Products that need explaining
If you sell unique products that require a bit more context to prompt the sale, Story could be a solid option. This template lets you add descriptions, testimonials, instructions, videos, and other content to promote your products. You can even use the “look book” structure to present the story in a magazine-like layout.
Best for: Entrepreneurs looking for efficiency
Perhaps you don’t have the time required to gather all the images, videos, details, and anecdotes that would go in a template like Story. Luckily, this template is engineered to help you upload your products, along with other necessary elements, and get the website live in a short period of time. Whether you’re up against a deadline or simply don’t feel that your products require a lot of storytelling, you might benefit from the efficiency of Vantage.
Best for: Sellers who consistently introduce new products
Efficiency is crucial when you have a large selection of products and incorporate new additions on a regular basis. Blockshop makes it simple to keep things updated thanks to a streamlined process. The element of customization here might be lacking, but if you’re managing a large inventory, you probably won’t even miss it.
Best for: Beauty brands
This template is among the most customizable of the Shopify website templates, making it the antithesis of Blockshop. You can showcase lush photography and engaging videos, while adding just about any other storytelling elements you think will enhance the presentation.
Best for: Vibrant brands
Certain templates lend themselves to different brand personalities, and California is prime for those that are energetic and full of life. Whether you’re offering collections of products or want to place the emphasis on just a chosen few, this template lets you tweak everything so that it reflects that brand you’ve spent so much time developing.
Best for: Brands focused on user experience
Navigating the Handy template is a dream. It’s exceptionally optimized for mobile, so if your target audience is using handheld devices you should give this template a hard look. Like your favorite social media platform, Handy allows for infinite scrolling, so there are numerous opportunities for customers to discover new products and engage with your brand.
Best for: Products with an above-average number of options
Whether you’re selling watches with a vast array of wristband options or artisan honey that comes in dozens of different flavors, District’s color swatches let you showcase the visual appeal of the various choices. There are plenty of other customizable features within this template, such as slideshows and promo banners, to make it a top contender for many entrepreneurs.
Best for: Brands with sophisticated sales strategies
The more basic templates featured in our list, such as Debut and Narrative, aren’t designed to support advanced sales strategies. But Modular gives you a sticky cart, slide-out cart, inventory alerts, and other upgraded conversion tools. So if you have the know-how and want to put in the effort, this template can empower higher conversion rates.
Best for: Premium brands
This template has an elegant vibe that makes it an ideal platform for premium products. Images and video are usually essential to compelling customers to purchase these high-end items, so you’ll find plenty of space here to highlight their quality and distinction.
Keep Learning: The Ultimate Guide to Shopify SEO Tools
Choosing the Best Shopify Template for Your Brand
Should you go with a free Shopify template or use a premium option? This question is probably asked thousands of times each day around the world, but it’s the wrong question. What you need to ask is which template is ideal for your business. Because that factor alone should drive your decision, not the cost. If a free template perfectly complements your brand, more power to you. And if it’s a $180 template that offers everything you need to thrive, you should purchase it right away. Optimal performance for your online store has to be worth $180.
One key element to focus on when choosing a template is mobile functionality. All of the Shopify templates, regardless of price, are responsive. With billions of individuals around the world shopping from their phones, this is a necessity. So if you’re considering going with another ecommerce platform, always make sure the templates you are looking at meet the mobile requirement.
Focus on finding a template that matches your mobile strategies. If you plan on featuring specific items prominently on your website, choose a template that can make such a feature stand out even in a mobile format. If you’re committed to delivering a streamlined purchase experience for customers, ensure that your favorite template makes it simple to proceed from the product page to the purchase confirmation page.
Make a list of your “must haves” and “nice to haves,” then hunt for a template that delivers on nearly all of them. If you find yourself preparing to make several concessions with the template of your choice, hit the brakes. You must keep looking until you find an option that perfectly reflects your brand while also providing an exceptional experience for your customers.
Another factor to bear in mind is where you get your template. All the options highlighted in this guide are offered directly in Shopify’s store. There are templates available from dozens of other marketplaces, but we advise that you start with an option from Shopify’s store to ensure performance, compatibility, and support. Down the road, you might find an irresistible template from a third-party marketplace. It would be fine to make a switch at this point because you’ll have a better grasp on your operations and know exactly what you need. But you’ll give yourself the best chance for success at the onset by choosing a template offered by Shopify.
Speaking of success, there’s a lot more to thriving on Shopify than just your store template. You can get proven strategies from an award-winning entrepreneur with our Start and Scale masterclass. From marketing strategies to sales secrets, you’ll get the blueprint for boosting your performance on Shopify.
This article was updated with support from Graeme Whiles.