Ecommerce Platforms: PrestaShop
As one of the world’s most popular ecommerce platforms, PrestaShop has a lot to offer small and medium-sized businesses. More than 300,000 online merchants currently operate on the platform worldwide. Deciding whether it is the best platform for your business, however, depends on a number of factors. We’ve pulled together a summary of PrestaShop’s benefits and challenges to help you with that decision.
PrestaShop is billed as a completely free, open source, ecommerce platform that makes launching an online store easy because of how quickly you can get set up and operating. While it’s true that PrestaShop offers an impressive list of built-in features and compares well with other ecommerce platforms, there are a few caveats to that claim.
First, let’s take a closer look at what makes PrestaShop so great.
How PrestaShop Stands Out
PrestaShop is a great platform for merchants who want to set their brand apart with a custom design and user experience. And thanks to an easy initial set up, it can speed up the launch of an ecommerce website.
Here are some other features and add-ons that help to make this platform a popular choice:
PrestaShop’s open-source nature makes it highly customizable; the ability for users to create unique and memorable ecommerce sites is a major selling point. And because PrestaShop has partnerships with Google, PayPal, and eBay, its website builder can be used by freelancers, business innovators, and entrepreneurs anywhere to create thousands of plugins.
Easy to Use Out of the Box
Unlike many ecommerce platforms, PrestaShop offers a free version that has considerable functionality for businesses just launching an online store. Programming skills aren’t required, and merchants can choose from over 2,000 templates, each of which can be easily personalized. In addition, there is no limit to the number of customers, orders, or users in the free version.
Features, Features, and More Features
The free version of PrestaShop also comes with more than 600 features that can be installed and uninstalled with a single click. Features like product set up, adding and editing orders, and applying discounts make day-to-day operations run smoothly. Additional features built into the free version include:
- Expiration dates for downloading time-sensitive products
- Inventory management and tracking
- SEO features, such as URL rewrites, meta titles, and meta descriptions
- Estimated shipping costs and gift packaging options
- Abandoned cart email notifications and automated post-transaction emails
- Promotions targeted to specific customer groups, products, and orders
- Special offers, coupon codes, and affiliate programs
PrestaShop storefronts can be translated into more than 65 languages and accept multiple currencies, making this a favorite among merchants with international customers.
Legal Support for International Operations
A feature unique to PrestaShop is that its shopping cart tools are internationally compliant. This is rare among ecommerce platforms but extremely important for an online business that sells internationally —especially a small business that doesn’t have the budget for a multi-national legal team.
Full Range of Payment Processors
PrestaShop’s partnerships with payment processors are another selling point. The list of payment platforms for American merchants is comprehensive, including:
- Amazon Pay
- Discover Global Network
- BS PAYONE
- PayPal USA and Canada
More than additional 250 payment processors are available through add-ons.
Hand-in-hand with payment processing is the consideration of security. PrestaShop is PCI Compliance ready, which means you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate and regularly check in on security patches – something your developer can easily handle. PrestaShop also configures easily with fraud prevention and protection solutions, helping reduce the amount of CNP and friendly fraud that take away from a merchant’s bottom line.
Google Rich Snippets Help Improve SEO
One of the most useful PrestaShop add-ons pertains to Google Rich Snippets. These codes make it easy for search engines to organize information and improve rankings on SERPs (search engine results pages). The add-on allows merchants to include Google Rich Snippets in their product links and give an immediate boost to their SEO efforts. This is also where a meta title and a meta description can be added.
What You Need to Know Before Choosing PrestaShop
While PrestaShop is robust and quite customizable, it may not be compatible with every merchant’s business goals. You’ll need to consider the cost and support challenges associated with this platform.
Developer Skills Are Necessary
Although your PrestaShop ecommerce store can be set up without technical expertise, open-source platforms are technical in nature. Ongoing maintenance and the customization that accompanies business growth will require developer experience. The good news is there is no shortage of developers who can assist you or join your team. The bad news is you have to include the cost of those resources in your budget.
Modules Can Be Costly
There is no doubt that the possibilities are endless with PrestaShop, given the growing number of modules being developed. However, those modules are not free. Most of them are priced between $1 and $100, with others costing much more and an average cost of around $60. This can add up over time, especially for merchants that want to take advantage of the myriad of plugins available.
Customer Service Is Not Uniform
Here comes the main downside of an open-source platform: Multiple programmers develop the modules and templates using their own design and structure. What this means, is they have not necessarily been tested to work together, which means an add-on can make your entire store glitchy.
It also means that you should expect to experience issues that require technical support. Whether you turn to your developer team or the PrestaShop team, this can get quite expensive. A subscription of three hours of PrestaShop technical support will cost about $250/month. Keep in mind that because PrestaShop did not create the modules, their team can’t always help.
Is PrestaShop Right for Your Ecommerce Business?
PrestaShop is a solid ecommerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses. However, if you plan to scale your online store into the enterprise-level space and require modules or additional support to do so, make sure to adequately budget for the considerable additional costs.
Here’s what the experts have to say:
Ecommerceplatforms.com: “If you have a very customizable product that you need to sell or you’re familiar with CSS, PHP, and HTML (or can afford to hire a developer), you’ll find that PrestaShop is a great fit for your business needs.”
According to techradar.com, “it’s not common that you'll be able to build your online store at no cost so it’s a great opportunity. Overall, it’s definitely worth giving PrestaShop a try.”
Merchant Maverick confirms that PrestaShop is not for the beginner, but “it comes with a vast feature-set right out of the box, and there’s an ever-expanding selection of add-ons to choose from.”
The ecommerce platform you choose has to fit your unique business needs along with the needs and preferences of your customers. But to create an optimal user experience with any ecommerce platform, you need to understand what those customer preferences are. Our Consumer Behavior Analysis Report offers the insight your company needs to make the right choices for your ecommerce platform and beyond.