People who put up websites have a variety of choices in how to create the look. Hiring a designer is one option, but not one that everyone wants to, or can, pay for. Many webhosts and webdesigners, among the range of products and services they offer customers, provide sitebuilders or templates to help users get websites built quickly and inexpensively. Since ecommerce customers — those who wish to conduct business on the Internet — have specific needs that are not shared by people putting up personal websites, webhosts and designers provide ecommerce templates specifically for business customers who are launching a website.
Some ecommerce templates may be general, aimed at any business whatsoever. Others are more focused, aimed at, for example, pet stores, restaurants, florists, auto parts stores, and other niche operations. The templates also differ in the number and type of pages offered. Some are very limited, while some are more expansive.
Since many ecommerce sites have common needs, there is a certain set of features one is likely to find in basic ecommerce templates. These include: catalog pages showing items for sale, shopping carts, customer account management, featured product and/or new product sections, product or site search, product categories list, opt-in newsletter sign up, and preset pages for About, Contact, and FAQ. Some may even come with industry-related articles, though experts recommend using unique content.
Besides basic templates, the term ecommerce template is used to refer to types of website set-ups that are known by other names as well. For example, it includes adaptations of the blogging software WordPress, called themes, that are particularly adapted for ecommerce. It also includes templates, or skins, that come with specific shopping cart software, such as Zen Cart or CubeCart.
Ecommerce templates have certain elements that are set and other elements that users can change. Some have set pages, and some allow the user to rename one or more pages. Many have a set header, but some may allow you to substitute your own image for the one provided or change the number of items shown on the home page. Some have built-in shopping carts, and some require the user to add one.