E-commerce is more accessible than ever. Anyone with a smartphone can now market and operate a successful brand online using theme templates.

Drop shipping eliminates the investment needed for stock, and easy e-commerce hosting sites like Shopify and BigCommerce offer a free trial of a site that can be set up in sixty seconds. Pre-made theme templates can be downloaded and applied to these sites in minutes.

So why would you use a design agency?

Well, as surprising as this may be considering the source, not everyone should. A well-built template is the best solution for many sellers.

Knowing the right solution for your business is the most important thing. Here are the points we advise you consider when deciding between a full custom and template design:

Investment in theme templates

Let’s get straight to it and kick things off with the biggest deciding factor – price.

Because it doesn’t matter what we want if it’s not in budget.

The option requiring the least financial investment is to self-build. This isn’t an option for most of us though, as it requires lots of time and skill.

Pre-made theme templates are an affordable way to access professional design for your store. Frooition makes BigCommerce templates that cost just $250. This is the most affordable way to get a store design that you know has been built to the highest quality standards and is supported by a reputable agency.

If you have ideas for your store that are not included in a pre-made theme template, custom design is the right option for you. It is the most expensive option but gives you full flexibility and requires no work from you. Frooition custom design starts at $3,200

Time

If you’re a design guru and also feel confident with code,  creating an entire custom e-commerce store from scratch ( which includes designing it and writing all of the necessary markup) is an option.

Obviously, this is the most hands-on and complicated way to get an e-commerce design, but if you have experience in developing websites it can be a good option and an opportunity to learn new skills. It may even be an enjoyable project for you. It would be a large time commitment though, with self-built custom stores taking months if not years.

The fast option would be a pre-made theme.

Pre-built themes are easy to get up and running in a short time — but even pre-built design is not instant. You will have to source and add images, choose colours and fonts, create categories and edit the site to suit your brand.

For sellers who are starting out, making a few sales and still having spare time, using a template or editing to create a DIY design can work. If you have time and just need a relatively simple store, the time investment will not be huge and half a day making small edits would be worthwhile because it would give you a store that will boost your brand and increase sales.

For sellers already trading in volume, stores would usually be larger, and set up time would be considerably longer. If you are already busy running an established store, any time spent tinkering with store design would represent an opportunity cost. If you are a seller who is already selling on marketplaces or your own site, a custom design from an agency is the way to go.

If you do start a custom design project, it’s important to understand that this type of project typically takes at least a month.

It’s unrealistic to expect that you can go live with a custom design in just a couple of weeks.

Features

Theme template designs restrict you in terms of features and navigation.

Templates will be built with the most popular essential features to start a store. For sellers looking to try selling from their own store, a template will have the features needed to create a good customer experience and make sales.

Both BigCommerce and Shopify stores are able to host an incredibly wide selection of features. It’s rare something is not possible for professional developers and designers.

Expertise

Designers don’t just have skill in graphic design and development to know what looks good on websites and how to build them. Professional designers’ experience with multiple brands gives them unique insight into what will help a brand to sell more online. They have the experience to advise you on what will work, and the expertise to create it for you.

Frooition have designers and developers in-house. We do everything in-house so that we can guarantee build quality and security of sites we produce. When you work with an agency it’s important to find out if they will write the HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Liquid code in-house or outsource to a third party and, if so, who will manage that part of the project.

Summary

“One size fits all” can be deadly in e-commerce.

But that doesn’t mean you have to trade responsiveness and speed for customization and control.

Moving fast with new projects, products, and campaigns whilst creating rich, unique, and personalized customer experiences is possible.

Whether you want to select a theme template that works for your brand, customize theme templates, or work with an agency to custom create you a totally unique store, standing out at scale and staying in control is possible.

You just need the right platform and the right level of design for your brand.

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