Running your own web store has never been easier; there are literally hundreds of different companies offering everything from DIY shops to turnkey offers. In this review we will be taking a closer look at PrestaShop. We will start of with a quick company overview, followed by a closer look at the product offered. We will then examine some of the positives and negatives of using this product.
Igor Schlumberger and Bruno Lévêque founded PrestaShop in 2007. They created the company because the wanted to make e-commerce more accessible for the common user. Since the beginning they have constantly grown in size, and currently employ more than 60 people. The software has been downloaded more than 3,5 million times since first appearing on the Internet.
If you have been looking for a free Open Source e-commerce solution, then this company is exactly what you have been looking for. To get started simply download PrestaShop’s award-winning e-commerce software, once installed you are only hindered by your imagination. There are over 300 features that will assist you in running a successful store. What makes everything better is the fact that all 300 features are free.
If you are looking to utilize different sales channels then you can place your products for sale on several third party sites, these include among others sites such as eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping, and more. The great thing about these sites is that they will expose many more potential customers to your product. PrestaShop already comes integrated with eBay, others can be added through the Add-ons Store.
If you are selling things such as Software, music or other commodities that can also be downloaded, then there is an easy solution for managing and selling these directly from your website. You can either make your products available for an instant download or you can email a link to your customers once the purchase has gone through. This is especially interesting for those who want to sell their music online, or for those who have created an amazing application that they wish to distribute to their customers. As you can see in the image below not only can you upload your songs to the store but you can also decide how many times a client can download your product. Furthermore you can set an expiration date, you can also decide how many days post purchase your clients can still access the product.
One of the biggest factors that will influence whether you think using this offer is easy or not will be if you have the skills necessary to implement PrestaShop into your workflow. If this is the first time you are using an Open Source offer that you need to install by yourself then this offer can be a little overwhelming.
One aspect we really like is the fact that you can easily create a new voucher. The dashboard comes equipped with a quick access button, clicking this takes you directly to the area where you can create your own vouchers. What is great is the fact that you can either create a voucher for everyone to use, or you can create a voucher that is targeted directly at a specific customer.
If you are looking for support then there is a rather substantial forum, which is dedicated to helping those looking for advice or suggestions. The forum can also be used to ask questions as well as exchange ideas, and in general contribute to making PrestaShop as powerful as possible.
Furthermore the company offers many different guides that are very easy to follow, these includes dedicated guides for developers and dedicated guides for designers. There is also a very comprehensive user guide that will help you get familiar with the software.
If you need technical support from the support team then you will need to sign up for this, as support is fee based. This support does come at a rather expensive price with the cheapest offer starting at €399 for the essential package.
Perhaps the biggest positive point compared to other e-commerce options is the fact that the software is Open Source meaning it is free to use. Of course you need to keep different aspects in mind such as the fact that you must host your shop alone, secondly if you use add-ons then these come at additional costs, however the software needed to operate your shop is 100% free.
Another positive point is the fact that once you have installed the software on your server then the setup and running of your shop really couldn’t be easier. The dashboard is very easy to use, adding new products or making changes to existing ones really is a smooth ride.
The more than 300 features that can be implemented and used with your shop really are quite positive. These features make managing your own shop much easier, not only do they help boost sales but they also help make your shop run smoother. What’s great about these features is they are all integrated in the software from the very beginning.
If you decide to use one of the PrestaShop themes for your shop then trust me you will not be disappointed as these are very elegant. The themes are very professional and will make any shop look amazing.
One part of the design that I really like is the colors used for the user interface; while many might argue that it doesn’t really matter what colors are used I beg to differ. I like the fact that the orders area uses diverse colors to differentiate between whether a payment has been processed or not.
As you can see above green indicates that everything is as expected while red indicates an error, at the same time blue is used to indicate that the order has been started however the payment is still processing.
Another positive point is the fact that you can make your site much more personal by uploading your own logo. You can then add your own logo everywhere from the header, invoice you can even create your own favicon. The more your customers see your logo the more likely they are to remember it in the future, this is a great way of creating brand awareness.
Since everyone knows you can’t examine a coin without looking at both sides, let us take a look at some of the points we were not quite as happy about.
Unless you know what you are doing, using PrestaShop can come with quite a steep learning curve. The fact that you need to install it yourself before being able to use it can scare some users away. However as mentioned above once installed it really couldn’t be easier to manage your own shop.
Secondly the fact that support is fee based is a big minus for us. Not only is the support fee based, but we fell the price is very high, with the cheapest offer starting at €399 for the essential package, and running up to €1,995 for the all-inclusive package.
One part that makes up for the expensive technical support, is the fact that PrestaShop offers a quite substantial number of user and how-to guides. Furthermore the community forum should be the first place you look for support, most questions can be answered here. The forum currently has more than 600,000 members and is available is all the languages that PrestaShop currently support. The forum is really be best place to go if you need to get a question answered in the shortest possible time.
If you are looking for a very cheap way of getting started in the e-commerce world, then we definitely recommend giving PrestaShop a chance. If you don’t mind having to host your store by yourself and you are not frightened by the fact that everything needs to be installed before you can start selling your products, then PrestaShop is for you. If you are looking for a turnkey solution then perhaps this isn’t the best solution for you. If you are still on the fence about using this software then why not try their demo site.