What is PrestaShop? Launched in 2007, PrestaShop is a platform with which you can create your e-commerce. The company’s headquarters are in Paris, but they have offices all over the world and offer service in a multitude of languages.

PrestaShop is an open source e-commerce platform totally free to download and use. However, that does not mean that PrestaShop is a completely free solution. If you decide to download this software, you will have to pay for the hosting. It is also likely that you will have to buy several modules (often expensive) to make integrations with your e-commerce. If you have limited technical knowledge, you might consider asking a developer for help.

PrestaShop may be free at first but, if you’re not careful, it can end up being more expensive than other options.

PrestaShop has recently introduced a hosted version of its software, called PrestaShop Ready. PrestaShop Ready still needs a little development, but is an easier alternative for many users.

PrestaShop Pricing:

While PrestaShop does not offer a free trial version (why would they do it when their software is already free?), they have a demo available. This demo gives you the opportunity to explore the back office of this CMS and an example store. It includes sample information, so it gives you an idea of what your e-commerce would look like once it was up and running.

The start-up costs of PrestaShop are very low. However, you must take into account the costs of hosting.

Beyond those initial expenses, there are other costs to keep in mind. PrestaShop is not the easiest software to use; it can be difficult to configure, and the modules often “bump” into each other, resulting in technical problems. If you don’t know how to solve them yourself, you’ll probably have to hire web developers and designers to do the work for you.

In addition, modules and add-ons often come at a considerably high price (in the end, the PrestaShop business is here).

PrestaShop Ready, on the other hand, is not an open source option. To use PrestaShop Ready, you will need to subscribe to a monthly plan. PrestaShop Ready currently offers only one price level:

Source: PrestaShop. Pricing October 2018.

For which company size is PrestaShop recommended?

Medium and large companies can use its downloadable version. Smaller companies will be better off with PrestaShop Ready.

Although it is possible for smaller companies to use PrestaShop’s downloadable software, we do not recommend it. If you don’t have a lot of technical expertise and need several add-ons, PrestaShop can become very expensive. If you have experience in code, go ahead.

If you don’t know about development and PrestaShop Ready is not for you, I recommend you start with an easy-to-use option like Shopify.

PrestaShop hardware and software requirements

In order to use PrestaShop’s downloadable software, you will need an FTP client and a registered domain. System requirements include:

  • Apache 1.3, Apache 2.x, Nginx or Microsoft IIS
  • PHP 5.4+
  • MySQL 5.0+ installed with a database created

PrestaShop Ready requires nothing more than a computer, Internet access and an up-to-date browser.

Easy use of PrestaShop

Setting up PrestaShop takes a little time. You will have to download PrestaShop, create a database, upload the software to your server using an FTP client and then install it.

The PrestaShop back office is something like that:

At this point, you will have to start considering which modules you need. If you have limited technological experience, it would be prudent to hire a professional to handle the integrations.

Fortunately, once you have your e-commerce up and running, the day-to-day is quite simple.

  • You can change a product’s description, categories, quantities and configure SEO options at the same time you add a product to your store. Everything is available in the toolbar under the product title.
  • Order management is also simple. You can add orders, edit them and apply discounts from the back office. You can also contact customers by email from the order page.

We suggest that you try the platform yourself before you decide.

The PrestaShop Ready back office is identical. Sign up for a free trial if you want to try it.

Features of PrestaShop

PrestaShop comes with over 600 built-in features and includes all the basic elements most e-commerce professionals need to get started. Take a look at some of our favourites:

General Functionality

  • Unlimited Listings
  • Sale of digital products: Includes a download expiration date for products conditioned by the date.
  • Import/Export: Uses a CSV file to facilitate migration.
  • Inventory Features: Manage your inventory and take advantage of tracking and re-stocking alerts.
  • SEO: Edit your URLs, meta titles and meta descriptions.

The functionality of the payment process

  • Estimated Shipping: Don’t turn shipping costs into an unwanted surprise at checkout.
  • Logistic operators: Synchronize your back office with the carrier of your choice. Of course, you will have to use an add-on in many cases.
  • Gift packaging: Configure your e-commerce to charge an additional charge for gift packaging.
    Payment options: Allow your customers to pay by check or bank transfer. Or, you can integrate it with a third party payment gateway.
  • Taxes: Configure your back office to include the tax rules for each region.
    Sell internationally: Configure your store to be available in up to 65 different languages and accept multiple currencies.

CRM Features

  • Abandoned Cart Notifications: Sends an email to customers reminding them of products left in the cart.
  • Custom Promotions: Create promotions to apply to specific customer groups, products, and orders.
  • Automated Email: Give your customers security by sending them an automated email after the transaction.

There are many more features available (a surprising amount, actually, for an open source option).

PrestaShop integrations and add-ons

With thousands of integrations available in your marketplace, you’re sure to find what you need. However, it is possible that you will have to pay for it (in a single payment mode).

While many add-ons cost between 0 – 100 euros, others cost much more.

It’s true that adding these integrations to your platform can be expensive, especially if you consider the alternatives. Many of these modules are already integrated into other ecommerce platforms. Therefore, for some merchants, these fully hosted solutions can be cheaper than buying a lot of PrestaShop modules.

Besides the price, there is another disadvantage of these third party modules: They are developed by hundreds of different developers, so many times they are not compatible when they work at once. Adding several modules can lead to technical errors problems, and PrestaShop will not always be able to help you.

PrestaShop Customer Service and Technical Support

Support is complicated with open source software. Because several developers develop the modules and templates available for the platform, no one fully understands all the details of each PrestaShop platform. This means that support cannot be uniform; with unlimited combinations of modules available, each store is unique.

On the other hand, open source software has its benefits. PrestaShop hosts a diverse community of users who come together to solve problems through forums and services. Here’s the support you could access with PrestaShop:

  • General Support Portal: Find links to most support options.
  • Contact page: Contact a PrestaShop representative.
  • Frequently Asked Questions and User Guides: Find answers to the most frequently asked questions here.
  • User Forums: Your user community, available in multiple languages.
  • Prestashop Training: This training includes courses to help you know how to use the platform.
  • Services: Hire web designers and developers to integrate the modules for you, handle the migration, monitor and adjust your SEO, or create a new theme for your store.
  • Web Ticket: Send questions to a PrestaShop expert.
  • Social Media: You can also try contacting PrestaShop via Facebook or Twitter, but you should probably try other contact methods first.
  • Migration services: Get help switching to PrestaShop.
  • Support plans: You can purchase support plans to contact PrestaShop’s expert support team. Unfortunately, these support plans are overpriced for the amount of support they provide.

Support for PrestaShop Ready works very differently. Anyone using PrestaShop Ready will be able to access personalized technical support 7 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, French and Italian. You can contact the support representative via phone call, email, or live chat.

What are PrestaShop users most critical with

  • Bugs and bugs: The modules don’t always work with each other and updates don’t always run smoothly.
  • Additional costs: You will have to pay for integrations that are normally offered for free on other platforms, and you will have to pay for the design and hosting.
  • It is not valid for people without development knowledge.

And some less common complaints.

  • Support is expensive
  • Some themes and modules are obsolete
  • Setting up the platform takes a lot of work.

What do PrestaShop users like the most?

On the other hand, many people use PrestaShop for their ecommerce and love it. What they like the most is usually:

  • It’s free
  • Elegant themes: With over 3,000 options, you’re sure to find one you like.
  • Modules: There are many modules available. You will find what you need.

Other less frequent positive comments are mentioned:

  • Quick setup: Users with technical knowledge have the shop up and running in less than a day.
  • Documentation and guides: There are many resources available.
  • Good forum/community.

PrestaShop Security

The downloadable version of PrestaShop is PCI Compliance-ready. Emphasis on the word “ready”. Your PrestaShop store will not be compatible on its own. You’ll have to make sure of that yourself. To do this, you need to purchase an SSL certificate and check the security patches on a regular basis.

On the other hand, the security of PrestaShop Ready accounts is integrated into the package. PrestaShop Ready accounts are hosted on the Google Cloud platform and include a free SSL certificate.

Conclusion about PrestaShop

The downloadable version of PrestaShop is not for beginners. But, if you are reasonably familiar with HTML, CSS and PHP code (or you can afford to hire a developer) you may find that PrestaShop fits the needs of your business. As open source software, it is highly customizable. It comes with a wide range of features and a selection of constantly expanding add-ons to choose from. Plus, it’s free.

And if the downloadable version doesn’t suit your business, you can always opt for PrestaShop Ready, the software’s hosted alternative.