What’s in your Cart?
Finding the right theme can be a long and arduous process – a process that becomes more important when we’re talking about Shopping Cart or eCommerce themes. There are two big differences between picking a theme for your Dallas-Cowboys-bashing blog and the theme for your custom furniture shop.
- Credibility: Your blog has the luxury of being superficial – looking good is important to attract readers. When it’s your storefront, looks sometimes have to be sacrificed for personality. Shoppers not only want to be aesthetically pleased, they want to believe you will hold up your end of the bargain.
- Cost: With great credibility comes great responsibility… wait, that’s not how it goes. Anyway, when it comes to shopping cart themes, you will see less for ‘free’. This is because it is a more difficult task to construct a decent theme for a shopping cart – there is far more involved. Don’t think of the price as an inhibitor – if your store sells, you’ll easily recoup the costs and you’ll feel better about a higher quality template. We’ve tried to include some of both (free and premium) samples here.
In this article, our goal is to show you some of the better themes for your shopping cart – we’ve got themes here for WordPress, osCommerce, Magento, Zen Cart, and CRE Loaded. In case you haven’t decided on a platform yet, we’ll take a moment to look at the advantage of each, and then dive into the templates. Things we kept in mind when making our selections:
- Credibility: Is this a store that I would buy from? Many themes are built around a generic store type (Has anyone else realized how many ‘Lingerie Shop’ templates are out there?) so we only choose themes where we could imagine them selling products other than what was shown.
- Aesthetics: Yup, at the end of the day, although it may not factor into your ability to sell (depending on your target audience) we just want things to look impressive. We used ‘looks’ as a tiebreaker after personality (just like the real world).
- Price: Finding free themes is tough – finding free themes you trust enough to download can be even tougher. Some artists have been kind enough to offer their talents for free, but we have also included a good deal of paid Premium templates. We looked for those ‘reasonably’ priced themes though, and kept out ones where we thought the price was not proportionate to the quality.
We all probably know WP as a blogging platform, but extensibility is a powerful thing. Although there are a few eCommerce plug-ins for WordPress, the most notable is the wp e-commerce by a group called Instinct. They’ve also added a ‘Gold Cart’ upgrade for those of you who find success and need to step it up again.
A Free WordPress offering – to be used with the aforementioned wp e-commerce plug-in. Clean and complete template.
One of the best – hands down. Looks great, good credibility, and free.
Crafty Cart – Find it Here
A theme with its own set of themes… probably one of the prettiest I found (for free, too!) but didn't sacrifice personality.
ShopperPress – Find it Here
Not as pretty, but this template had the most potential – it has more features and functions to help take you to the next level.
eGoods – Find it Here
osCommerce, the ‘os’ an acronym for ‘open source’, is a free php-based ecommerce platform. With automatic web-browser based installation, osCommerce is easy to set up and to work with. The product catalog never seems to get to big or the hierarchy too complicated for osCommerce and they support all of the major payment portals you would want to be supported.
Good design and style, strong credibility. Sets the bar high for other osCommerce templates.
Clothes Store – Find it Here
Something different. Lacks some credibility, but it gets you thinking about ways to leverage design to create an interesting storefront.
Print Store – Find it Here
A free osCommerce template that looks good? Look no further (well, ok, look about half way down on the link to find this one.)
Pet Store – Find it Here
Another free osCommerce template – I liked the focus on the categories, and the brand display at the bottom. Nice touches.
Footwear – Find it Here
Fresh and bright – a nice alternative to the all to common 'corporate' look and feel.
Flower Shop – Find it Here
Very clean theme – good for product catalogs with a lot of little details.
Building Theme – Find it Here
Use the four highlighted areas to push new products, or clear out old inventory.
Handbags Store – Find it Here
Good attention to detail. The tabs are modern and well-placed.
Store Online – Find it Here
Magento is a strong offering in the shop-cart world with a ‘Magento Community’ edition, which is offered at no cost and is open source. Magento full features list(link) is impressive, but its clear they are now focusing more on their ‘Enterprise’ level solution. Their ‘Community Edition’ product page includes a small blurb which spends half its time telling you the product is provided ‘as-is’ without support, and also includes a link to their Enterprise page.
That said, Magento is still a strong offering and offers a range of features and usability not easily rivaled. Just keep in mind you will have to offer yourself support, which is something that some small businesses can’t afford to do.
A Magento theme from JoomlArt… very strong offering includes a product slider on the homepage.
JM Lead – Find it Here
Another offering from JoomlArt – this one focuses more on media, arts, and entertainment.
JM Tube – Find it Here
A Magento theme for our mobile phone enthusiasts out there.
Mobile Shop – Find it Here
This is a good example of something a little 'outside-the-box' – Men, Women, and Kids could be turned into your top three categories. Minimalist design.
Designer Clothes – Find it Here
A 'corporate' theme that doesn't look all that corporate.
Business Theme – Find it Here
One of the things we liked most about this theme was the upper area which could easily be turned into a 'Featured Product' slider.
HelloSleek – Find it Here
This theme caught us just because it was something different – between its color, layout and features – it gave us a look at a different way of doing it.
CW2 HiStyle – Find it Here
Snooty” done professionally – Professional theme focused on clean, minimal design.
Jewelry Store – Find it Here
Zen Cart might have been this developing industry’s leader at one point in time, but it doesn’t appear to compete as well against some of the other offerings today. As other offerings move to enterprise level solutions, Zen Cart will continue to have a strong offering for its particular user base. It does offer a lot of the same features as some of the other players, and also offers a newsletter manager, coupons and certificates, and bulk pricing – all interesting features.
Love the featured area here – the large image, flanked by the three selling areas could highlight categories of your store, or individual products.
Interior Design – Find it Here
Clean, simple design. Strong focus on categories and browse structure.
Furniture Store – Find it Here
Simple compared to the others, but also FREE. Spend some time on their site and you'll find other colors – PureOrange, PureBlue, etc.
PureGreen – Find it Here
One of my favorites – just a great use of color – Search is well placed to lead the selling area of the homepage.
Nutritional Supplements – Find it Here
Instant credibility – clean theme, nice pop. Solid merchandising opportunities.
ARGO – Find it Here
For those who don’t like their users to scroll… the three featured areas and contrasting nav play well here.
Mobile Shop – Find it Here
Before writing this article, I had honestly not heard of this company. It didn’t take me very long at all to understand that their major selling point was PCI compliance. I’ve had enough technical conversations with those who work finance in web companies, and, while they have no idea what PHP, ASP, or CSS is, their eyes light up when you say PCI. It’s often a dealbreaker. Don’t know what PCI Compliance is?
An interesting use of space at the top of the template. High contrast on the nav bar above helps a user with crucial links (i.e. cart)
Shoes Store – Find it Here
Another great example of color in a storefront – although I might have used more of a tan or soft orange in place of the yellow. The blue and green are electric.
Drug Store – Find it Here
I can see myself buying toys for me from this store, let alone my kids. Very appropriate for both topic and target audience. Could also be used for other baby/child stores.
Toys Story – Find it Here
Clean and professional – Interesting placement of the cart in the top right.
Furniture Store – Find it Here
For the grunge look – credible, but stylish too. Blues are a strong statement.
Street Style – Find it Here
Had to go out on a good note. A cart in the clouds… when are you going to see that again?
Art Store – Find it Here
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