- Free to download
- Highly customizable
- Numerous integrations
- Excellent support materials
- Strong user community
- Expensive customer support
- Developer skills required
- Limited integrations with the hosted version
Launched in 2007, PrestaShop is an international shopping cart solution. The company’s headquarters is located in Paris with offices around the world, and PrestaShop’s 100+ employees operate in many different languages. With over 270,000 stores worldwide, they have to.
As an open-source shopping cart, PrestaShop is completely free to download and use. However, that does not mean that PrestaShop is a zero-expense eCommerce solution. If you choose to download the software, you’ll have to pay for web hosting. You’ll likely also have to purchase several (often expensive) modules to integrate different software programs with your site. If you have limited tech knowledge, you might consider investing in a web developer to help you through the rough spots.
PrestaShop may be free initially, but if you aren’t careful, it can end up being more expensive than some fully-hosted options.
PrestaShop had recently introduced a hosted version of its software called PrestaShop Ready. Intended as an easier alternative to the open-source shopping cart, PrestaShop Ready has been pulled from PrestaShop’s website and is not currently available.
Stick around for a full, independent review of PrestaShop.
Table of Contents
Specific Size Of Business
Mid-size to large businesses are generally better equipped to use PrestaShop than smaller businesses.
Although smaller businesses can use PrestaShop’s downloadable software, I don’t recommend it. If you don’t have a lot of tech experience and need multiple add-ons, PrestaShop can get expensive quickly. On the flip side, if you’re practiced in coding for websites, go ahead and give it a try.
While PrestaShop does not offer a free trial (why would it when its software is already free?), the company does have a demo available. This demo gives you a chance to explore the admin and storefront on many devices. Everything’s already filled in with sample information, so you get a good feel for how the software works on a daily basis.
Setup costs for PrestaShop are as low as can be. However, you can expect some extra expenses for hosting (although these shouldn’t be too bad).
Ongoing expenses vary depending on a number of factors. PrestaShop is not the easiest software to use; it can be difficult to set up, and modules often interfere with one another, leading to an overall glitchy site. If you don’t know how to resolve technical issues on your own, you’ll probably have to hire web developers and designers to do the work for you.
Furthermore, modules and add-ons often come at a steep price (after all, that’s how PrestaShop makes money). If you want to integrate your site with QuickBooks, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and/or TaxJar, you may end up paying a pretty penny.
Web-Hosted Or Licensed
PrestaShop is available as free, open-source, downloadable software.
Hardware & Software Requirements
To use PrestaShop, you’ll need an FTP client and a registered domain on top of a third-party hosting service. PrestaShop’s complete list of system requirements is thus, straight from the horse’s mouth:
- System: PrestaShop supports Unix, Linux, or Windows.
- Web Server: Apache Web Server 2.2 or any later version.
- PHP: We recommend PHP 7.1 or later.
- MySQL: 5.6 minimum; a recent version is recommended.
- Server RAM: The more, the merrier. We recommend setting the memory allocation per script (memory_limit) to a minimum of 256M.
The company adds that “PrestaShop can also work with NGINX 1.0 or later.”
Ease Of Use
Because PrestaShop is free to download, there’s no free trial available. However, as I mentioned above, there is a demo online, so you can try it out without going through all the hassle of downloading and implementing the software.
Setting up PrestaShop takes a bit of time. You’ll need to download PrestaShop, create a database, upload the software to your server using an FTP client, then install. You can take a look at PrestaShop’s Getting Started page for more information.
Here’s the dashboard you’ll be able to access once you’ve implemented the software:
At this point, you’ll have to start considering which modules you need to run your business. If you have limited tech experience, it would be wise to hire a professional to take care of integrations for you.
Fortunately, once you’ve got your site up and running, daily operations are fairly simple. You can list a product’s description, categories, quantities, and SEO features at the same time you add the product to your store. It’s all available on the toolbar under the product’s title.
Order management is also easy. You can add orders, edit orders, and apply discounts from the admin. You can also contact customers via email from the orders page.
If you can make it through the initial setup of your store (integrations and modules included), you should be all right handling the rest.
I suggest you try the platform for yourself. All you have to do is try out PrestaShop’s fully functional demo. That’s it. You don’t have to sign up for a trial, and you don’t have to go through any setup wizards or tutorials. Best of all, you won’t get any calls from sales reps.
PrestaShop comes with 600+ features already built-in, and these include all the basics most merchants need to get started. Take a look at some of my favorite features below:
- Unlimited Listings: List as many products as you like.
- Sell Digital Products: Include a download expiration date for time-sensitive products.
- Bulk Import/Export: Use a CSV file to facilitate migration.
- Inventory Features: Manage your inventory and take advantage of inventory tracking and restocking alerts.
- SEO Features: Take advantage of URL rewrites, meta titles, and meta descriptions.
- Estimated Shipping: Don’t turn shipping charges into an unwanted surprise at checkout.
- Shipping Carriers: Sync your admin with the shipping carrier of your choice. You will, of course, have to use an add-on in many cases.
- Gift Packaging: Set your site to charge extra for gift packaging.
- Payment Options: Allow your customers to pay via check or wire. Or you can integrate with a third-party payment processor.
- Tax: Configure your admin to include tax rules for your region.
- Sell Internationally: Set your storefront to translate into 65 different languages and accept multiple currencies.
Customer Relationship Management
- Abandoned Cart Notifications: Email customers to remind them of the products they’ve left in their carts.
- Customized Promotions: Set promotions to apply to specific customer groups, products, and orders.
- Automated Emails: Give customers a sense of security by sending them an automated email post-transaction.
There are lots more features available (a surprising amount, really, for free software). This list is just my summation.
The PrestaShop store hosts over 3,000 mobile-responsive web templates created by third-party designers. The only free option is the default theme that comes with every software download. The rest are priced between $50 and $530, and their quality varies.
Here’s what the cheapest themes look like:
And here are some of the more expensive themes:
Because PrestaShop is open-source software, you have full access to the code used to build your site. You (or your hired developers and designers) can get up to your ears in code and customize the site to look and work exactly the way you want.
If you don’t have access to tech talent, however, there’s a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor available to make changes to your default theme. Using the WYSIWYG editor, you can add your logo and change page layouts without touching any code at all. You can also use the WYSIWYG editor to update your pages’ content.
Integrations & Add-Ons
With thousands of integrations available in PrestaShop’s Add-ons Marketplace, if you’re using PrestaShop’s downloadable software, you’re sure to find what your site needs. Those integrations are available as one-time purchases.
While many add-ons are priced between $0 — $100, others cost much more.
It’s true that adding these integrations to your platform can get expensive, especially when you consider your alternatives. Many of these modules come already integrated into other fully-hosted shopping carts. And those carts often charge small to mid-size merchants around $300 per year for everything (including hosting and customer support). So, for some merchants, these fully-hosted solutions may be cheaper than purchasing handfuls of modules from PrestaShop. On the other hand, if you’re selling high volume, you may come out on top with PrestaShop. It all depends.
Besides the price, there is another disadvantage to these third-party modules: Since they were made by hundreds of different developers, they are not guaranteed to all work together. Adding on multiple modules can lead to a glitchy site, and because PrestaShop did not create the modules, the company can’t always help if something goes wrong.
You’ll need a merchant account or a third-party payment processor to start accepting payments.
Here are PrestaShop’s payment partners for American merchants:
- Amazon Pay
- Discover Global Network
- BS PAYONE
- PayPal USA and Canada
Additionally, you can choose from the 250+ payment providers available as add-ons.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Support is complicated with open-source software. Because multiple programmers develop the modules and templates available for the platform, no one fully understands all the ins and outs of each unique PrestaShop platform. Support can’t be uniform; with limitless combinations of modules available, each store is unique in its makeup.
On the other hand, open-source software does have its benefits. PrestaShop hosts a diverse user community that comes together to solve problems via forums and services. Here’s the type of support you can access with PrestaShop.
- General Support Portal: Find links to most support options.
- General Contact Page: Get in touch with a PrestaShop representative.
- FAQs & User Guides: Find answers to common questions and setup concerns here.
- User Forums: This is the user community I’ve been talking about. Bonus: Forums are listed in multiple languages.
- PrestaShop Training: This training includes courses to help you master the platform.
- Services: Hire web designers and developers to integrate modules for you, take care of migration, monitor and adjust your SEO, or create a new theme for your store.
- Web Ticket: Send your questions to a PrestaShop expert.
- Social Media: You can also try to contact PrestaShop via Facebook or Twitter, but you should probably try other contact methods first.
- Migration Services: Get help switching over to PrestaShop.
- Support Plans: You can purchase support plans to get in touch with PrestaShop’s expert support team. Unfortunately, these support plans are overpriced for the amount of support they provide. Excluding the one-month $279.99 “Support Easy Plan,” plans require you to sign up for a one-year subscription. At the minimum plan ($399/year), you get six hours of support for the whole year (yikes!). The priciest support plan, at $1,399/year, offers 20 hours of support per year.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
I’ve spent a significant amount of time researching what PrestaShop users say about the platform. As always, some customers love the platform, and others can’t leave PrestaShop fast enough. We’ve already discussed most of the things customers list as negatives about PrestaShop, but for the sake of clarity, I’ll list them again below.
- Bugs & Glitches: Modules don’t always work with each other, and upgrades don’t always go smoothly. You can expect to do some problem-solving.
- Additional Expenses: There really is no such thing as free. You’ll have to pay for integrations that are typically offered for free on other platforms, and you’ll have to pay for web design and web hosting. You’ll also probably have to hire a developer.
- Not For The Technologically Illiterate: If you dive in with little understanding of code, you’re going to have a rough time.
Here are some less common complaints.
- Support is expensive.
- Some themes and modules are outdated.
- The platform takes lots of work to set up.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
On the other hand, lots of merchants use PrestaShop for their online businesses and love it. You can take a look at a few of those stores on PrestaShop’s Showcase page. Here is what PrestaShop customers like most.
- Free: Isn’t “free” the sweetest word?
- Elegant Themes: There are some truly beautiful themes available in PrestaShop’s store. With over 3,000 options, you’re bound to find one you like.
- Modules: There are lots of modules available. You’ll find what you need.
Others positive reviews mention:
- Quick Setup: Tech-savvy users report that you can get online in just a day.
- Documentation & Guides: Resources are comprehensive.
- Good Forum/Community
PrestaShop is PCI compliance-ready. Emphasis on the word “ready.” Your PrestaShop store will not be PCI compliant all on its own. You’ll have to ensure that yourself. To do so, you’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate and check in on security patches regularly.
PrestaShop is not for the beginner. But, if you’re reasonably familiar with HTML, CSS, and PHP (or can afford to hire a developer), you might find that PrestaShop fits your business’s needs. As open-source software, it’s highly customizable. 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. Plus, it’s free.
In the event that PrestaShop Ready, the software’s hosted alternative, becomes available again, we will let you know and give you the full scoop.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.