I regularly am asked about low-cost ways to setup an online store. While there are marketplaces like eBay and etsy, a number of individuals and businesses want to be able to sell via their own website. A low-cost option to solve this is using WordPress (which is free) with a free eCommerce theme. The benefit of starting with an eCommerce theme over trying to add a plugin to just any theme is that everything is already designed to integrate together. It can save a lot of design and customization time.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of free themes that are already setup with eCommerce. But, I’ve hunted around and found some quality choices with full demos. I’ve grouped them based on which free plugin they are designed to integrate with, providing both some info on the plugin and the individual themes. Some themes are designed to be a blank canvas on which a designer would do customizations whereas others are already well designed. Some are responsive and mobile ready as well.
WooCommerce is a plugin developed by WooThemes designed to be used with both Free and Premium themes. It can be used as a stand alone plugin to be added to an existing theme or it can be used with one of WooTheme’s eCommerce choices. These are the three free choices.
Mystile is a clean responsive layout with a prominently featured image. As is, it provides a clean canvas which can be embellished upon, or if you prefer it has a number of options and alternate color schemes.The customer’s order total, access to the shopping cart, and instant access to checkout are all featured in the upper right-hand corner.
Artificer is also a responsive theme, but features a organic feel great for artistic shops. A great tailored look right out of the box, Artificer also comes with some alternative color schemes. Customer’s shopping cart, current order total, number of items, and instant checkout access are all featured.
Wootique is a fixed width layout with a featured products slider. It has a straightforward color scheme with some alternates built in. Wootique features a minimilist style with customer’s number of items and current order total displayed.
Cart66 Lite Themes
Cart66 is a well known name in eCommerce and they have an excellent free version of their plugin, Cart 66 Lite. It provides plenty of documentation and integrates with PayPal to take your payments.
ZenShop is a fixed width theme with a image slider to feature your top products. It’s a minimal design with a tailored appeal. An improvement you want to make on this theme would be to prominently display access to the shopping cart, as is you have to be on a blog page or product page to access your cart. Documentation including videos is provided on ZenShop’s theme page.
XenaStore is a fixed width theme with a image slider to feature your top products. The design features subtle textures and prominently displayed area for specials. Customer’s shopping cart including number of items, current order total, and instant check out access. Documentation including videos is proved on XenaStore’s theme page.
Ready Shopping Cart
Ready Shopping Cart provides a nice selection of documentation on their website for using their plugin as well as free and premium already crafted to make use of it. Out of the box it accepts PayPal payments, so your customers have a name they can trust. The free plugin provides a basic set of services to meet the needs of most people starting out, however you may outgrow the included features and need to purchase some of the add-ons down the road.
This is a simple fixed width theme with an image slider to feature products. It displays the state of the shopping cart, integrates google fonts and some alternate color options. It also features some short codes which allow for easy customization of your look without dealing directly with HTML/CSS.
Albeco features an image slider with static text and call to action buttons which do not change as the images slide. It features the short code customizations you’d expect from a premium theme and a contact page with google maps built in. Well designed color scheme (which has alternate options) and a sidebar setup to display your cart (although I would prefer it in the header).
TheCartPress integrates the eCommerce platform into WordPress. It includes payments made by PayPal and has paid plugins for other payment tools. Their website provides a bit of documentation on usage.
Twenty Eleven is built on the default WordPress theme of the same name. It adds shopping cart features and some unique defaults. Useful for folks who are fans of the original Twenty Eleven theme and just would like to add some eCommerce to it.
Atahualpa is a responsive theme which provides a lot features and an uncluttered canvas to begin customizing it to suit your needs. It does lack some of the features of the more polished themes such as visible shopping cart in the page header.
Weaver has a little more pizzaz than Twenty Eleven, however it would still benefit from additional customization to suit your needs.