Launched in 2007, PrestaShop is an international shopping cart solution. The company’s 100+ employees are based out of Paris, Miami, San Francisco, Berlin, Brussels, Milan, and Barcelona and operate in many different languages. With over 270,000 stores worldwide, they have to.
An open source shopping cart, PrestaShop is totally 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 also likely have to purchase several (often expensive) modules to integrate different software 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 at first, but if you aren’t careful, it can end up being more expensive than some fully-hosted options.
Stick around for a full, independent review of PrestaShop.
Table of Contents
While PrestaShop does not offer a free trial (why would they when their software is already free?), they do 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 really 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 (though they shouldn’t be too bad). PrestaShop recommends using 1&1 hosting.
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, IT personnel, and web 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 their 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
Licensed. PrestaShop is available as free, open-source, downloadable software.
Specific Size of Business
Mid-size to large businesses.
Although it’s possible for smaller businesses to use PrestaShop, 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. If you’re practiced in coding for websites, go ahead and give it a try. If not, I recommend starting out with a fully hosted, easy-to-use option like Shopify or 3dcart.
Hardware and Software Requirements
In order to use PrestaShop’s downloadable software, you’ll need an FTP client and a registered domain on top of a third-party hosting service. Read more on supported operating systems and web services on PrestaShop’s system requirements page.
Ease of Use
Because PrestaShop is free to download, there’s no free trial available. However, like 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, and 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. Things can get a little complicated.
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 in the toolbar under the product 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 direct your browser to this 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 they include all the basics most merchants need to start out. Take a look at some of my favorite features below.
- Unlimited listings: List unlimited products, categories, attributes, images, and product features.
- 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, a Google sitemap, an auto-generated XML sitemap, and canonical URLs and redirects.
- Estimated shipping: Don’t let shipping charges be an unwanted surprise at checkout.
- Unlimited 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, wire, or COD. 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
- Real-time analytics: Or you can integrate with Google Analytics.
- Abandoned cart information: Analyze why your customers aren’t completing transactions. Email customers to remind them of the products they’ve left.
- Customized promotions: Set promotions to apply to specific customer groups, products, and orders.
- Automated follow-up 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 is just my summation.
The PrestaShop store hosts over 2,000 mobile responsive web templates created by third-party designers. The only free option is the default theme that comes with the every platform. The rest are priced between $69.99 and $399.99, and quality varies theme by theme.
Here’s what the cheapest themes look like..
And here are some of the most expensive themes…
Because PrestaShop is open source, you have full access to the code that was 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 it to.
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 own logo and change fonts, banners, and colors without touching any code at all. You can also use the WYSIWYG editor to update your pages’ content.
Integrations and Add-Ons
With thousands of integrations available in PrestaShop’s Add-ons Marketplace, you’re sure to find what your site needs. Those integrations are available as one-time purchases.
While many add-ons are priced between $20–$50, others cost much more. Here are some examples of available add-ons and their prices:
- Instagram Integration. $34.99. Automatically post new products on Instagram to improve visibility.
- Amazon Marketplace. $229.99. Sell seamlessly on Amazon and manage your inventory from your PrestaShop admin.
- eBay Marketplace. $289.99. Integrate with eBay to sell across multiple channels.
- Stripe Integration. $174.99. Accept payments via the third-party payment gateway, Stripe.
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 midsize 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, they can’t always help if something goes wrong.
You’ll need a merchant account or a third-party payment processor in order to start accepting payments.
Here are PrestaShop’s payment partners for American merchants:
Additionally, you can choose from the 250+ payment providers available as add-ons.
Customer Service and 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 PrestaShop platforms. 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.
- FAQ and 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: Includes webinars and courses to help you understand 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.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
I’ve spent a significant amount of time researching what PrestaShop users say about the platform. As always, there are customers who love the platform and others who 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 and 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.
- Platform takes lots of work to set up.
Positive Reviews and 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. This 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 2,000 options, you’re bound to find one you like.
- SEO: Many customers report an increase in organic Google visits when they switched to PrestaShop.
- Modules: There are lots of modules available. You’ll find what you need.
Others positive reviews mention:
- Mobile compatible: This goes for both the storefront and the admin.
- Quick setup: Tech-savvy users report that you can get online in just a day.
- Documentation and guides: Resources are comprehensive.
- Quick loading: Some merchants say that their sites load faster on PrestaShop.
- 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. In order to do so, you’ll need to purchase an SSL certificate (Read more on SSL certificates.)
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.