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How to Solve Shopify’s Biggest Theme Limitations

Themes are cool, Shopify promise of you don't need a developer is also cool, but it all comes with it's set of limitations. We will go through those here.

Shopify is a giant in e-commerce, along with its competitors such as WooCommerce and BigCommerce. Some of the draws of using an e-commerce platform like Shopify include minimized administrative tasks, an increase in conversion and scales and a quick initial set-up process. But along its many positives, Shopify has its limitations and weaknesses too, just like any platform. We explore them here, and how customizing your Shopify theme can have a negative effect on your business.

Types of Shopify Themes

When it comes to creating your Shopify store, you have three options.1. Prebuilt Shopify ThemeThese themes are quick to set up and can be either free or a premium theme, with the latter costing up to $50 USD. These are designed with the user journey in mind, are optimized for conversion and are created by professional designers.2. Premium Shopify ThemeIf a prebuilt theme doesn't have everything store owners want or need, they will often resort to customizing their prebuilt theme. For a higher cost of around $200 USD, a premium theme comes with features that would normally be achievable only through apps. And while premium themes may get the look and functionality they envision, it comes at a cost. And not just a financial one! Customizing your Shopify theme can end up costing thousands of dollars, but what you gain in aesthetics you lose in functionality. When you modify a prebuilt theme, your store loses compatibility and you will no longer get developer updates. More on why this is important in the section below.3. Fully Custom Shopify ThemeFor the ambitious, there is a third option - building your own Shopify theme. This is a huge undertaking, and unless you are a frontandbackend developer, graphic designer, and know Liquid, which is Shopify's custom language (If you are all those things, seriously, what are you doing running a Shopify store?! You should probably be running your own tech company.) you will have to hire professionals. As you can guess, it gets pricey.

The Limitations of Shopify Themes

Shopify can be a wonderful starting point for smaller retailers who need to get online quickly. But using Shopify can be a double-edged sword. Let's explore some of the weaknesses of Shopify themes.

  1. Loss of Developer Updates After Customization

As we mentioned earlier, once you modify a custom theme you lose the ability to receive updates. These updates are extremely important! They include bug fixes and new features - things you need for your store. Worse still, your store may not display correctly on the latest devices, browsers and operating systems without the necessary updates.

  1. Your Store Looks Exactly The Same as Other Stores

With over 500,000 active Shopify stores, no matter how much customization and custom code owners put into them, the stores start looking well...the same. There is a certain Shopify aesthetic that stores adhere to, and even with customization options, your store ends up looking like all the other Shopify stores out there.

  1. You Are Locked Into Shopify's Business Model

Shopify's business model encourages you to upgrade to Shopify Plus, but even then you are still limited in what you can do to your store.

  1. Custom Themes Are Expensive and Time-Consuming

While you should invest some capital into your store, a Liquid, or fully custom Shopify theme is often out of reach for most store owners financially. The time it takes to build a custom theme is another major factor. The time it takes to achieve compatibility with Shopify standards is often not worth the outcome. You end up wasting time for very little benefits. In the end, you are in the business of selling products, not coding and building custom Shopify themes. The time spent ends up taking focus away from your business.If you are set on creating the store of your dreams, Headless Commerce, or Storefronts, as it is sometimes referred to, is a much better investment than creating your own Shopify theme.With Shopify Plus, you only really get one major benefit - the ability to customize the checkout process. Merchants should consider Storefronts as a booster to Shopify Plus, since they can use them without needing to upgrade for a custom coded theme or to a higher Tier on Shopify. Headless Commerce is a solution frustrated online store owners are increasingly turning to.

How Headless Commerce Helps

Any business owner's dream is to see their business grow and expand. With the future in mind, you want your business to scale when the time comes. Keeping your options open is crucial, and that's exactly what Headless Commerce can do. You are no longer locked to any one platform vendor, be it Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce.Perhaps one of the most appealing facets of Headless is the freedom of expression and design options it offers to online stores. Because the back end and the front end of the website are completely separate, your store can look and function exactly as you want it, without troublesome coding and apps. Templates or themes are removed, updates are seamless and you gain back control of your store, while still relying on Shopify's useful features.Think Headless Commerce is right for you?


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