Shopify 6 min read
03 Oct 2021

Is It Worth It To Pay for Shopify Themes? Or Are Free Themes Enough?

Is It Worth It To Pay for Shopify Themes? Or Are Free Themes Enough?

They say that the best things in life are free...

But can we also apply this to Shopify themes?

Shopify has come a long way, and it has attracted thousands of brands to date literally.

Today, some of your favorite brands are on Shopify - Kylie’s Cosmetics and Bulletproof are to name a few.

Brands are already enjoying Shopify’s robust architecture, secure payment gateways, and support. But what I loved about this platform is that new business owners can also trust it for their business needs.

Even if you’re planning to start small, Shopify has got you covered.

Getting started is easier than you think, and all you have to do is create an account on Shopify. Find products. And start selling...

There are not too many what’s, how’s, and why’s.

The best part?

You can take complete charge of your site’s design and feel using Shopify responsive themes.

Debuitfy Theme

The problem is there are thousands of themes available from the Shopify Apps Store and Third Party Companies.

Almost all of these themes are great. But with too many choices, it can get overwhelming. And you don't know which one to choose!

Here's what I plan to cover in today’s post…

  • 7 "Must Have" Features You Need to Consider Before Choosing A Theme
  • Free Themes? or Paid Themes? Which one is better and how to choose depending on your store's need.
  • Why do you need to have a Paid Theme if you're in THIS stage of your business?

Alright. Enough talk. Let’s dive straight in!

What Are Shopify Themes?

Shopify themes are pre-built templates that determine the look and feel of your store. That includes everything from colors, fonts, headers, and so on.

If you already have a theme for your store, that doesn't mean you're locked into it. You can change your theme anytime without losing your content or listing.

The bottom line?

You can switch themes anytime you want that fits your store's need.

Now you're probably wondering... "Which theme should I use? Free themes? or Paid Themes?"

Let's figure this out in the following section.

Free vs. Paid Shopify Themes 2024 - Which is Better?

As mentioned above, you can find tons of free themes in the Shopify Themes store. 

Free vs. Paid Shopify Themes 2021 - Which is Better?

Then there are also paid themes that cost as much as.. $$$

Free vs. Paid Shopify Themes 2021 - Which is Better?

It can be a little bit confusing to find out if you need to PAY for a Shopify theme. It is like having two elegant dresses showcased in a store, one costing $300 and the other for free.

Both look and feel good. But the price difference is huge, and that is where you have to think beyond aesthetics. 

Here's a quick breakdown of the differences between paid and free Shopify themes...

1. Page Load Speed

Speed is the number one factor you need to consider when you're just starting out.

Speaking about free themes...

Most of them are fast and optimized for speed. Do some research to find out options that offer a fast page load feature.

Interestingly, paid themes are also the same. While usually, they’re fast, some of them are definitely better than the rest.

So, if you have already done your research well, you’ll end up finding a fast theme regardless of whether they're paid or free.

Another important factor is...

2. Design 

A free theme offers a standard layout, which is pretty good if you have limited needs. 

But when you choose a paid theme, you get to select from a wide range of colors, fonts, and design options. This will help you create a store that looks different from others. 

Another decisive factor is...

3. Price


Do I even need to compare these two options here and tell you the winner?

Free themes are available for free, and paid themes are available for a fee.

We already have a clear winner for this section.

What option should you choose if you're a newbie with zero technical knowledge? Let's find out...

4. Ease Of Use

Which Shopify theme is easy to use - paid or free?

The simple answer is free themes.

Because free themes come with a basic layout, it is easier to use or customize them.

Paid themes come with many buttons, widgets, and personalization features that can easily overwhelm a newbie.

But there is a catch...

You don’t get access to advanced customization features when you opt for free themes.

Free Shopify themes are ideal for you if you want to go with the flow.

But if you want to be the flow, paid themes are what you should look out for.

Speaking of features...

5. Features

Just like we had a clear winner in the 'pricing' section, we have a clear winner for this section too. 

As they say, you get what you pay for. 

Most premium themes come built-in with advanced features. 

But even if you're using a free theme, you can install as many apps as you want from Shopify's app store. 

Not to mention that doing this would make your store too heavy to load. 

The thing is, you don't have to go overboard with features. Most of your buyers will probably not have a fast internet connection to access all those features.

I would say sticking to a bare minimum would do the job just fine (unless, of course, you're planning to scale).

It's easy to predict that you have many questions when you're starting out. The last thing you want is rude or unsupportive customer support. So which one should you choose to get the best support for building your store? 

6. Support

You would be glad to know that both paid and free themes include documentation and direct support. 

Wondering which themes can better handle your inventory load? You'll find out in the nest section (so don't go anywhere).

7. Inventory Handling

Inventory Handling

Not all Shopify themes are created alike. Here, I am talking about both paid and free Shopify themes. 

Both paid and free themes can support inventory management. 

Some themes work wonderfully with a single product, while others can handle large catalogs. 

So, you're good to go with both. Consider how your collections will be laid out and showcased on your chosen theme. 

At this point, I am sure you have a clear idea of the differences between paid and free themes. 

I know what you're thinking...

Is It Worth To Pay For Shopify Themes? Or Are Free Themes Enough?

I'd say it depends. 

A free theme can be a good starting point if you're a startup with a limited budget.

But as your business grows, you can consider moving to a paid option with advanced features. 

Let’s condense it a bit more...

Who Should Use A FREE Shopify Theme?

  • Those Who Need To Build Trust 

One reason business owners buy Shopify themes is they’re slick.

Now, this is important if you’re buying trust. For example, if I start a business where I am not sure about my target audience, I’d go for a paid theme to build trust.

But what if I am not selling to strangers? What if my customers already know about my brand?

I’d stick to a free theme and put my money into areas that need more attention.

  • Those Who Are On A Limited Budget

One obvious reason you should go for a free theme is if you're on a low budget.

Even if you have hoards of money, why not save it to use on better things if you can find a free theme that is reliable and feature-heavy?

  • Those Who Are In The Testing Phase

Many startups run their business through a strict testing process. And that makes sense. 

But you don't need a paid theme if you're currently testing your product. 

  • Those Whose Product Range Is Simple And Limited

If your goal is to make and sell the best handkerchiefs on the planet, you don't need a paid theme to sell them. 

Take the example of Snooz here...

This one-product Shopify store only sells a portable noise machine. This is how their website looks. 


The paid theme works great when there are multiple products and collections involved. 

In such a case, a free theme would be better off for your business. 

  • Those Who Are Willing To Spend Time Researching The Best FREE Shopify Themes

You don’t need a paid theme if you’re ready to research the best free Shopify themes for your business. There are many free Shopify themes out there that offer a decent range of features. All you need to do is search for them.

Who Should Use A Paid Shopify Theme?

  • Those Who Are Selling To Strangers

Online selling is all about building trust. If a large part of your traffic comes from ads or influencers, you need a killer website to establish trust.

That is where paid Shopify themes step in.

No, I don’t mean to say that free themes are unprofessional. But you can create a more modern and impressive website using a paid theme.

  • Those Who Want To Make Their Store Stand Out 

One issue with free Shopify themes is that every other business owner can use it to build their store.

Now, what does that mean?

It means there are chances that your store will look like a replica of any other store if you use a free theme. You don’t want that.

There are two ways you can go about it.

Use different apps or customization features to make your store look unique using a free theme. Or you can invest in a paid theme to create your dream website.

The choice is yours...

  • Those Who Are Looking For Any Specific Feature

Sometimes it all boils down to that single feature that can transform the entire look of your website. 

In that case, you don't have any other option except to choose a paid theme that offers that. 

  • Those Whose Product Range Is Extensive

If you have massive merchandise and multiple collections, you may need to invest in a paid theme.


Lindt can be a good example...

The luxurious online chocolate brand has different products, picks and mix options for their customers.

The last thing they want is to make their customers feel lost in their world of chocolates.

If you have different collections and products like Lindt, having a paid theme can be a Savior.

  • Those Who Don’t Have Time To Research The Best FREE Shopify Themes

If you’re too busy to find the best free Shopify themes, you can pick one paid theme for your business.

Easy-peasy and rewarding…

My Recommendation?

Both free and paid Shopify themes have their pros and cons. 

Here's a little recap of what we discussed so far:

If your product is simple and your audience already knows you, go with a free theme. 

Also, if you don't want to put the burden on your pocket, a free theme can be a good option. 

But you'll need a paid theme if you want to set up a branded and premium Shopify store. 

Get The Best Of Both Worlds With Debutify...

Why not launch your store in a few clicks using Debutify?

You can move to any of our paid plans whenever you want. Our paid plans include over 50+ add-ons to help you build a high-converting Shopify store.

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Ricky Hayes

Ricky Hayes

Ricky Hayes is the CEO at Debutify. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies, and mentoring programs.

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