Why Are Shopify Themes So Expensive? [And What You Can Do]

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If you run an eCommerce store on the Shopify platform then you may be looking for a new theme. You likely know of the importance of your theme for your success which is why the research process has begun. But why are themes expensive to purchase and what can you do about it?

Running multiple stores over the years I decided to look into why this is the case. I’ve managed to ensure I am not overpaying for a high quality theme and how to keep the costs down. I’d like to share this with you in this article today.

So, why are Shopify Themes so expensive? Premium Shopify themes are generally more expensive because they provide more design elements, customization options and often include a range of applications that are built into the coding. These themes require a high level of knowledge and coding experience to build and maintain and this cost is passed onto you as the customer. However, this does not mean you need to pay thousands for a Shopify Theme. You should only need to pay a one time fee for a theme and should never need to exceed a couple of hundred dollars at most. Even for the best of themes.

Click here to read my comprehensive research into the best converting, cost-effective, Shopify Themes.

Why Are Shopify Themes Expensive

Shopify is an online cloud-hosted eCommerce solution that enables you to build a store using simple page building functionality. Without the need to touch any code, you can easily customize your store and build new design elements through the Shopify Admin interface.

The clever thing with Shopify is that as you are making changes here, the underlying templates are being updated in real-time.

Conversely, if you had the knowledge and the know-how, you could head directly into the base and underlying templates and make the very same changes (all through manipulation, addition and removal of code).

Ultimately, it is the underlying templates that are powering your store and that dictate how it looks, feels and works.

Shopify’s templates are designed with their own unique computing language which is called ‘Liquid’.

Shopify’s templates are designed with their own unique computing language which is called ‘Liquid’. It works in combination with HTML, CSS and JavaScript (other computing languages) and all work simultaneously to run your store.

But why am I telling you this? Why does all of this matter?

Your theme is exclusively reliant on this coding. Any small or minor changes can have a fundamental impact to how your store works. In fact, even with a one character in the wrong place or deleted by mistake can stop your store working at all.

Its very volatile and it is very fragile.

Therefore, Shopify advise that you should only Edit the code for a theme only if you know HTML and CSS, and have a basic understanding of Liquid.

For the majority of Shopify Store Owners, this will not be the case.

And this is just for minor or theme edits.

If you wanted to build a new theme from scratch, you would have to completely overhaul the coding or build it out from scratch.

You see, it requires a lot of knowledge, understanding and experience to be able to do this.

It requires expertise from specialist designers and programmers.

What this all boils down to is that in order to create a new theme, or to improve one of the free ones and make wide-scale changes, it requires specialist work that command a high fee for their services.

Premium themes therefore carry some of this cost in the pricing. They cost a lot to build, manage and design.

They also require a lot of maintenance and on-going update. More time for a specialist to spend on the theme, within the code and ensuring it remains safe, working as intended and optimized. As such, they need continuous investment.

When you consider that the platform undertakes regular updates, other apps change and can cause conflict, and that patches need to be routinely rolled out, you can soon see why premium themes are more expensive.

Moreover, a lot of the best converting themes come with a wealth of additional applications. These not only need to be delicately introduced to the code, but they likely cost the theme designers monthly fees to support. They will rely on external APIs and other functionality that will bear a cost.

Why Would You Want To Purchase A Theme?

Taking all of this into account, why would it even be worthwhile to purchase a premium theme?

Well, for starters, free themes are rather limited. Not just in customization options but in features and functionality too. There are only so many free themes to choose from and most of them will not be suitable or applicable for your niche or brand. And then there will be thousands of other stores that look the same.

Then secondly, hiring a specialist programmer or a team of designers is going to cost you a lot of money. For a custom theme to be designed, built and provided for your store is going to cost you around $50,000+.

This is how premium themes can be created, because their course sales recoup this kind of upfront investment. This is how much one of the themes cost to be built in the first place.

It is only through re-sale that the theme even becomes viable.

Taking all of this into account, why would it even be worthwhile to purchase a premium theme?

Well, for starters, free themes are rather limited. Not just in customization options but in features and functionality too. There are only so many free themes to choose from and most of them will not be suitable or applicable for your niche or brand. And then there will be thousands of other stores that look the same.

You’ll know this if you have ever worked with a free theme, and chances are this is why you are here to begin with.

As I’ve mentioned, a lot of free themes provide a wealth of additional features that come included. And as they are built into the code, it reduces/eliminates the need for applications that come with a monthly cost and fee.

Then secondly, hiring a specialist programmer or a team of designers is going to cost you a lot of money. For a custom theme to be designed, built and provided for your store is going to cost you around $50,000+.

This is how premium themes can be created, because their course sales recoup this kind of upfront investment. This is how much one of the themes cost to be built in the first place.

It is only through re-sale that the theme even becomes viable.

How To Get A Theme For A Good Price

There are a lot of themes on the market, and it can become confusing and difficult to find a theme for a good and respectable one-off price.

Ultimately, you want to be paying for a theme once and not be subjected to monthly or yearly renewal fees.  Its simply not required nor is it necessary.

With a number of online marketplaces like Themeforest that sell a whole range of Shopify Themes, when you begin researching you will soon be overwhelmed with the number of options available.

When I first started building stores I was also confused as to what the best theme was and how to go about finding it. With many hours, research and testing later, I came across several affordable premium themes. I decided to document my comprehensive research into the subject which you can access here.

What To Look For In A Theme

There are many reasons to look for and purchase a new theme, but there are specific things to look for when you are buying one. Here’s a quick checklist that you should follow to ensure you are paying a fair price and are going to get a theme that meets your needs and requirements first time around.

  • One off, affordable and respectable fee.
  • Unlimited lifetime updates, for free, to ensure you theme continues to work for years to come.
  • Fully customizable; from homepage through to individual product pages
  • Desktop/Tablet and Mobile Response; loads great on all three devices
  • SEO Friendly
  • Fast-loading.
  • Minimal, sleek and professional
  • Optional (But ideal) – comes with extra functionality that improve conversion rates on your store.  

Recommended Shopify Theme

Shopify Themes are not hard to come by but finding a theme that meet the criteria referenced above are.

If you are looking for a premium theme that comes with all of the features, functionality, customization options and will cost you under $150 once, then I would thoroughly recommend that you take a look at eCom Turbo.

This is the theme I use on all my stores. Its easy to use, very fast loading, and I have seen a noticeable increase in sales since using it. It comes with a free training on how to set the theme up and how to get the most out of it. Taking only a couple of minutes to download, upload and setup, you could have it running on your site before you know it. Here’s a quick screenshot of some of the conversion boosting features in action:

Shopify Theme Conversion Features
Scarcity Timers, Product Discounts, Product Countdown Bar Features.

Ecom Turbo was created by an eCommerce store owner, for eCommerce store owners. If you wanted to learn more about this theme and why it is so effective, then you can always read my in-depth review, by clicking here.

In Summary

Getting a premium Shopify Theme can dramatically improve your conversions and the trajectory of your store. Trust me I have been there; free themes should not suffice.

On a similar note, you do not need to be paying $500 and upwards for a Shopify Theme. Nor should you be paying large sums of money over a course of months or years as you continue to use it. A one-off fair and reasonable payment is all that should be required.

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