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Taking a closer look at Shopify themes

  • by Michelle Brouwers
  • 6 min reading time

Webwinkel vakdagen Shopify
Choosing a theme for your online store can be a significant improvement on Shopify, and that's something everyone promises, right? Or at least, it's what you should expect when purchasing a theme for your Shopify webshop. You can find Shopify templates available on public theme stores like Themeforest and Envato. However, the themes that go through a rigorous selection and feedback process by Shopify itself are exclusively offered in the official Shopify theme store.

Just last year, the selection in the Shopify theme store was somewhat limited. We were quite proud when our first Shopify theme, Theme Xtra, was warmly received. However, this year has seen a surge in themes being accepted that, in our opinion, fall short of the mark. But is that really the case, and what's our basis for this view?

So, it's time to critically examine these differences.

Different Markets, Different Desires

We've been working with Shopify for many years, and we've noticed that most themes are heavily geared toward the American market. Sure, those fancy themes with all the parallax effects you'd typically find on a trendy WordPress site might look impressive. However, they don't quite align with the e-commerce market as we know it here in the Netherlands, the Benelux, or even all of Europe.

So, what causes webshops to vary so much in style, appearance, and, consequently, user-friendliness from one country or continent to another?

American Webshops

American webshops tend to be visually more appealing than European counterparts. This is because American consumers are more accustomed to a visual approach to marketing and advertising. American webshops often utilize large, high-quality photos and videos to showcase their products. They also frequently incorporate animations and other visual effects to capture visitors' attention.

European Webshops

European webshops, on the other hand, prioritize functionality over aesthetics. This is because European consumers are more accustomed to a logical and organized approach to online shopping. European webshops focus on user-friendliness and conversion, utilizing clear call-to-actions and straightforward navigation.

Several factors contribute to these differences:

Culture: The American culture places a stronger emphasis on visual aspects compared to Europe, given its focus on entertainment and consumption.

Consumer Behavior: American consumers are more experienced with online shopping, as it was adopted and developed earlier in the U.S. compared to Europe.

Competition: There is more intense competition among webshops in the United States than in Europe, forcing them to stand out with an appealing appearance.

The Future

It's possible that the differences in webshop styles between America and Europe may diminish over time. This is especially true now that Shopify has gained traction in Europe, and the American Theme store is making inroads here. Moreover, American consumers are becoming more accustomed to a functional approach to online shopping. European webshops are expanding beyond their borders, and competition is growing, prompting them to focus more on aesthetics.

Do those fancy effects really belong in a webshop theme?

We can confidently say that our perspective on themes and our experience in designing and building webshop templates is sound, as evidenced by the tremendous success of our Lightspeed themes over the past few years. However, in 2019, there still wasn't a suitable theme for European early adopters looking to transition to Shopify.

It was time for a change, as highlighted in Shopify's 2020 blog during the webshop trade fair.

We took the plunge and transformed our most popular Lightspeed theme, Theme Access, into a Shopify theme. We brought all our knowledge and experience from recent years, recognizing that the majority of switchers were in the design or fashion-related industries. The American look and feel also felt like something fresh and distinctive. Theme Access was developed when Shopify was just transitioning to 2.0, so we didn't submit it to the Theme store right away. We waited patiently and explored where there was still much to gain.

An Ideal Transition Base from Lightspeed

During the pandemic, we worked on several in-house projects and researched the differences and needs across continents. We prepared our team for the development of a genuine Shopify theme. The demand for a theme where design wasn't more important than function continued to grow.

Theme Xtra was born.

It's a theme designed entirely for merchants with a vast product offering. Shops competing at the product level and needing to convince visitors through excellent UX. Webshops that don't rely on beautiful images had very few options in the Theme store, and many still opted for Lightspeed or another platform. Theme Xtra is perfect for shops with extensive offerings, focusing on functionality and conversion-boosting features. It's immensely popular in Europe, and it's a recommendation for the American market as well. Nearly two years later, Xtra is a huge success, with new shops popping up every week using all the built-in features to entice visitors into making a purchase.

This theme also proves to be an excellent foundation for transitioning from other popular platforms in the Netherlands, such as Lightspeed.

The theme is used by leading Dutch brands like Oolaboo. But it's also embraced by a diverse range of merchants, from Lego webshops like Dashbrick to popular pet store Milly's. And they've all given it their unique touch, without needing customizations.

The reviews for both the theme and the support speak for themselves.

The Second, Fashion-Oriented Theme, Theme Xclusive

As often happens after a successful release, we were eager for more. In 2023, we launched Theme Xclusive. Theme Xclusive is the perfect combination for webshops that prioritize both design and functionality. Its integrated fashion features make it a must-have for fashion stores looking to stay up-to-date. We've expanded the examples to showcase the theme's versatility. It works seamlessly for fashion, accessories, and lifestyle stores.





Some noteworthy features include the "shop the look" button, a purchase button that can be added to any image or video, allowing customers to link all the items they see—a feature that's become quite popular.

Additionally, the theme makes extensive use of features and various product displays on the Product Detail Page (PDP), reducing returns. Providing customers with detailed information, particularly about fit and size, is essential nowadays.

And as if that wasn't enough, we launched Theme Next in the theme store less than two months later. With Theme Next, merchants can unleash their creativity due to its immense design flexibility. It's perfect for minimalist designs with high-quality photos but also for presenting larger collections.

Notable designs created using this latest Shopify theme include
Our own site is also built using Theme Next!

Currently, we're hard at work on a theme packed with handy wholesale features, perfect for B2B webshops and wholesalers.

Stay Tuned!