Online Marketing Specialist
When it comes to launching your online store, you have two choices: you can have it designed in its entirety, or you can use a CMS to create your website yourself.
We’re going to focus on the second option, and more specifically on an open-source e-commerce CMS: PrestaShop.
🔎 We’re putting this solution under the microscope to learn a little more about its features, advantages and disadvantages.
Table of Contents
PrestaShop is an open-source solution that allows you to create and customize your online store.
This CMS (content management system) was first launched in France in 2007 and is now one of the leading names on the market. Above all, it is widely regarded for its pricing model: the basic tool is free. PrestaShop makes its money primarily through the sale of add-on modules.
Other strengths that allow it to stand out from the competition are: its ease of use, intuitive interface and various customization options.
According to PrestaShop’s official website, 300,000 sellers used this solution in 2022. It is also one of the most popular e-commerce CMSs. Its userbase is mainly made up of SMEs, as well as some large businesses – like Magimix, for example.
As an open-source project, there’s also an entire ecosystem dedicated to developing the platform and guiding new members. In this regard, and again according to PrestaShop itself:
WooCommerce is one the most popular solutions for creating online stores, but it is not strictly speaking a CMS. In reality, it is an extension of the famous WordPress platform, dedicated to the creation of online stores.
As such, this can be a useful option if you already have a WordPress site, for example. However, as it is not a fully-fledged CMS in itself, you may be limited when it comes to optimizing and customizing your e-store.
This open-source platform is widely appreciated for its advanced customization options and the wealth of its features. Magento is the leading CMS for stores featuring a large catalog of products.
The downside? It is not particularly intuitive and requires knowledge of coding and programming. This is a comprehensive, but complex solution!
These are turn-key solutions that are very easy to implement. However, unlike PrestaShop and the two previous solutions, these tools are not free. They work on a subscription system, which may be costly in the long term.
In short, PrestaShop’s greatest strength (in comparison to its competitors) lies in its balance between price and freedom of action. More powerful than WooCommerce, easier to use than Magento, and cheaper than subscription CMSs: PrestaShop offers a great compromise.
It’s true – the PrestaShop software is indeed free. You can download and install it without paying a penny. This basic version allows you to create your online store, but…
Being able to create your e-commerce site is good. Being able to put it online is even better! For this, you’ll need to find a hosting service compatible with PrestaShop. This must:
Depending on the services offered, this can cost anything from a few euros to several dozen euros per month.
If you want to improve the services and features of your e-commerce site, the basic version of PrestaShop will not be enough. You will need to buy addons corresponding to your specific goals.
These are complementary extensions that you can install on your store in order to make it more dynamic. These modules may be related to SEO, marketing, data exports, billing and more. And some of them can be quite costly (up to several hundred euros for the most advanced plug-ins).
The same applies to templates. Free versions are available, but their design and performance may not meet your expectations. In this case, you’ll need to invest in a paid theme.
Although PrestaShop works quite intuitively, you may need an external service provider (agency, developer, etc.) to implement certain options or ensure your site’s maintenance. Once again, this is another expense that must be considered!
The platform offers Starter Packs. These are packages that allow you to buy a theme, along with some essential and specific modules. In these, you’ll also find a guide to getting started and one year’s access to technical support.
The best way to get an idea of the features of this tool is to opt for the free trial. This way, you’ll be able to explore both the front office (the interface visible to your site visitors) and back office (your administrator space).
Let’s take a closer look at the options included in the basic version.
When you first log in to the back office, you’ll have the option to be guided by Preston, the PrestaShop puffin. (And no! Despite what some people might think, he’s not a penguin 😉).
He will guide you to figure out how to create your first product page and use the CMS.
When you log in to your PrestaShop account, you will be able to access your dashboard. This offers information regarding sales, turnover, visits and orders received, among other data.
In this menu, you can:
Here is where you’ll come to add your various products and define your categories. A monitoring tool also allows you to detect empty categories and products uploaded without any images, etc.
Among some of the most interesting features, there is also the option to add attributes and characteristics to your products (colors, sizes, etc.), to create pages for your brands and suppliers, and to easily manage your discounts and stock.
With PrestaShop, you can create an exhaustive customer file in order to find out more about your buyers and better target their needs. Within the “customer service” interface, you’ll be able to access conversations with your visitors to respond to their questions or inform them about delayed deliveries, for example.
Finally, we have the menu dedicated to statistics intended to help you better understand your store’s results. Why do we say “intended to”? Because, unfortunately, this feature lacks precision and – as a result – effectiveness.
If you need more reliable data, it’s better to use Google Analytics (free) or install a dedicated module.
Although the basic options already offer a certain number of possibilities, this is not always enough to create an effective PrestaShop store. And this is where addons come in.
There are over 4,000 available, both free and paid. Some are developed by PrestaShop, while others are made by third parties.
Their features are infinite! You’ll find extensions dedicated to:
When you install an addon in your store, it will then be accessible and configurable from your back office.
👉 Don’t hesitate to take a look at our article on the best PrestaShop modules!
Just like addons, themes allow you to customize your store and its features. In short, these are templates that will modify the design of your site, ensuring that it is in line with the kind of products you sell.
For example, some have been designed for sites specializing in fashion and accessories, while others are geared towards culinary items or even cosmetic products.
When you create your store, it will have a default theme, which is free. However, this won’t necessarily suit your business or your needs. If you want to change it, you’ll find more than 2,000 other templates available on the PrestaShop marketplace. So, how do you choose the right one?
Here are five examples of themes that meet the criteria mentioned above.
💰 Price: €111.99 excl. VAT/year, then €32/year
⭐️ Average rating: 5 stars (44 reviews)
👉 Discover the template
💰 Price: €83.99 excl. VAT/year, then €24/year
⭐️ Average rating: 5 stars (46 reviews)
👉 Discover the template
💰 Price: €125.99 excl. VAT/year, then €36/year
⭐️ Average rating: 5 stars (87 reviews)
⭐️ Average rating: 5 stars (246 reviews)
⭐️ Average rating: 5 stars (41 reviews)
Now that you know a little more about addons and templates, let’s take a look at what Business Care is all about.
This is a type of subscription you’ll sign up for when you purchase a product on the PrestaShop marketplace.
For the first year, the price shown corresponds to the price of the product plus Business Care subscription. In subsequent years, you’ll only pay to renew your subscription, which will take place automatically upon expiry.
Business Care includes:
💡 Good to know: you can cancel your subscription from your PrestaShop customer account.
If you want your e-commerce site to attract visitors, it must be visible on search engines. As such, in order to position your site well, it will need meet several SEO criteria.
The basic version of this CMS is quite powerful, but we can always do better! That’s why we recommend investing in an optimized theme.
It’s also important to keep in mind that SEO on PrestaShop is not only based on the technical aspects of your store (load speed, responsive nature of your theme, etc.).
It is also important to consider a few strategic and copywriting aspects. For example, you should define the keywords to be included in your product pages, or learn to draft optimized titles and meta descriptions.
To help you with these tasks and save you time, you might want to invest in an organic-referencing module.
As a seller, we’re sure that you will appreciate the intuitive nature of this e-commerce platform. The menus are clear and the complementary extensions are easy to integrate and set up.
To position modules on key areas of your site, you can use hooks. If you want to show a banner module on your homepage, for example, all you need to do is place a hook from the “Appearance” tab in your back office.
Various options are available to help you create an ergonomic and attractive site for your visitors:
While PrestaShop is an open-source software, you won’t be able to create a powerful online sales site without getting your hands dirty.
Depending on your goals, the purchase of complementary modules or themes may prove essential.
However, with the right addons, you’ll have all the keys to easily build and customize your store. This way, you’ll be able to optimize it for SEO and offer your visitors an optimal user experience (UX).
👉 Now that you know everything there is to know about PrestaShop, it’s time to get started!