PrestaShop Review 2020: Is It The Best Open Source Ecommerce Platform?

Are you looking for a free open source ecommerce platform to launch your online store? If that’s the case, then PrestaShop might be the solution for you. In this PrestaShop review, we’ll look at its features and answer the burning questions you have about this solution.

Sounds good? Let’s get started.

PrestaShop Review:  Overview

prestashop review - homepage

PrestaShop is an ecommerce platform that uses the self-hosted or open source option. This means that you can download it and modify it anyway you want. The solution was launched back in 2007 with its headquarters in France.

PrestaShop recently introduced the PrestaShop Ready version, which is their Software as a Service (SaaS) or hosted option. However, unlike the open source version, this option limits your access to the code needed for customization but it’s more user-friendly. 

PrestaShop Review: Key Features

Here is a list of the best features that PrestaShop has to offer.

Ease of use

Setting up PrestaShop can take a bit of time because its backend is more technical. However, PrestaShop provides a demo to take you through the whole process.

After the setup process is complete, the next step is to decide which modules you need for your online store. If your tech expertise is limited, it’s wise to seek a web developer to take care of the integrations for you.

Luckily, once you’re done with the setup, integrations, and modules, daily operations such as product creation, order management, and inventory are simple.

Store customization

Fact is- open source is the way to go if you want your website to have a unique feel. In the highly competitive world of ecommerce, building a memorable brand is key to your long-term success.

To customize an online store, you will need two modules. One that’s easy to make quick edits and an advanced module for changing the code to customize your store to your liking. This is why you will need access to CSS, HTML and JavaScript files.

The customization tools in PrestaShop will help you to complete product organization, create an internal search engine tool to help customers easily navigate your store or set up different payment methods.

You will also find over 1500 templates and a vast collection of customizable themes in the PrestaShop official marketplace. Third parties develop most of these templates and that’s why you can end up paying from around $60 for a high standard template from PrestaShop certified partners.

Product creation

PrestaShop features an intuitive product creation area where you can list as many products as you’d like to sell. You can also configure features to display expiry dates for time-sensitive products. You can also sell downloadable products using PrestaShop.

Apart from this, you can also manage your inventory and set restocking alerts whenever a product goes out of stock. It also includes an SEO section where you can enter a Meta title and a Meta description.

Google rich snippets

The sheer number of people searching for products on Google shows that ranking on SERPs is crucial. Rich snippets are codes that make it easy for search engines to organize information.

This offers shoppers the ability to see products that they search for and compare prices. This is why you should add Google Rich Snippets to your product links and give an immediate boost to your SEO efforts.

The Google Rich snippets are in the PrestaShop add-ons marketplace. Leverage it to improve your reach and the shopping experience for customers.

Marketing

Even though you have to go the extra mile to find custom features, PrestaShop boasts an extensive list of built-in marketing tools. Some of these options include:

  • Special offers
  • Discount mode
  • Coupon codes
  • Free shipping
  • Email marketing
  • Gift wrapping
  • Affiliate programs

Payment processing

To make your site fully functional to accept payments, you need to setup a payment gateway.

PrestaShop supports a wide range of payment gateways including PayPal, Bambora, Discover Global Network, Amazon Pay, Worldpay, First Data and Authorize.Net. It also has over 250 payment providers as add-ons.

In contrast, PrestaShop Ready has only four payment options. These include Stripe, PayPal, bank transfers and check payments.

Customer relationship management

To keep in touch with your customers, PrestaShop allows you to send automated emails after a transaction to give them a sense of security.

You can also set promotions targeted to specific products, orders or customer groups.

To reduce abandoned cart rate, PrestaShop lets you email customers to remind them about the products they have left in their carts.

Legal support

The ability to comply with laws is an essential part of running an online store. PrestaShop comes with shopping cart tools that make your shop compliant with the laws of a specific country. For instance, Germany has placed some specific shopping cart rules for online stores.

This is a huge plus as you don’t usually see legal support through ecommerce solutions. With PrestaShop, you even get design tools for creating quick pages that explain some legal information to your customers.

Security

The open source version of PrestaShop is PCI Compliance ready. This means that you’ll have to do this process yourself. Therefore, you’ll have to buy an SSL certificate and regularly check in on security patches.

On the other hand, the PrestaShop Ready version has its security accounts already updated for you. This is because it’s hosted on the Google Cloud platform that includes a free SSL certificate.

Integrations and add-ons

PrestaShop has many integrations available in their marketplace. Some modules are free while others are available as one-time purchases.

It’s true that adding integrations to boost your site using PrestaShop can end up being more expensive than the SaaS alternatives like Shopify. However, once you sell high volume, you come out on top with PrestaShop. So it all depends.

Besides this caveat, the second one is usually the deal breaker for most merchants. The modules are created by different developers and may not be compatible with each other. This may lead to a glitch site and PrestaShop cannot always help out on this issue.

The PrestaShop version limits access to the entire marketplace. This way, users only get to use the module's built-in to the platform. At the time of this review, there are 100 modules built-in to PrestaShop Ready.

PrestaShop Review: Customer Support

PrestaShop has a community of fellow users who come together to solve issues through forums. Further PrestaShop also offers paid support to get in touch with a representative.

Different plans provide different levels of support. The least expensive plan costs $250 per month for three hours of support. PrestaShop offers a one-year subscription that costs $399 each year for six hours of support per year.

prestashop review - customer support

PrestaShop Review: Pricing

As an open source ecommerce solution, PrestaShop is free to download. However, that doesn’t mean that the shopping cart solution is zero-expense. You’ll end up paying hosting charges from its hosting partner 1&1 ranging from $8 to $15. In addition, you will also buy several paid modules for an efficient and good-looking store.

PrestaShop might not offer a free trial option, like some of the other market leaders in the eCommerce world, but it doesn’t really need to. Since the software is free to use, you can basically decide how much you want to spend on your store from day one.

When you’re building your eCommerce website, you can also check out the free “demo” version of PrestaShop, which might help you to get a feel for how the software works, and what kind of technology you’re going to need to spend some extra money on. For instance, you might decide during the demo that you want to hire a professional to come and code your store for you.

Just like similar open-source solutions, such as WordPress, PrestaShop does have a number of expenses to consider, but the amount you actually pay will vary according to a number of factors. For instance, since PrestaShop isn’t the easiest software on the market, it might require more expert support from a developer or designer than you would need with something like WordPress.

What’s more, as we mentioned above, there are likely to be a number of add-ons and modules you want to tack onto your store experience too. These extensions often come with a pretty steep price compared to the kind of add-ons you can get from platforms like Shopify.

If you decide that you want to integrate your website with eBay, Amazon, QuickBooks, Facebook, and a range of other tools, then you can quickly start to develop quite a significant bill.

You can also access extras from PrestaShop that enhance what you can do with your website. For instance, the PrestaShop Checkout service means that you can add a button to your website to take payments from everything from VISA, to PayPal and Mastercard.

This checkout service comes with no installation costs or monthly fees to worry about. However, you do need to pay a slight transaction fee on every credit card, PayPal, or American Express payments. Additionally, there are some international fees to consider if you’re taking transactions from elsewhere in the world too.

Other PrestaShop Addons options include:

  • PrestaShop ERP: The solution that allows you to configure your own ERP software based on your eCommerce activity. This provides access to everything from stock management to dropshipping and order fulfilment. You can also make multiple warehouse and sales channels all from the same dedicated environment.
  • PrestaShop Ads: This is a service that allows you to access better results from your marketing and lead generation strategies. You can unlock hassle-free shopping ads campaigns that are linked with Google search. What’s more, you get some extra Google Ads credit for your campaigns when you first sign up.

PrestaShop Review: Design and Templates

There are tons of things you can do with a PrestaShop online shop. This open-source software comes with access to everything from plugins to checkout tools. However, one of the first things you’ll need to do is make sure that you have the right online presence.

The PrestaShop store comes with access to over 3,000 web templates that are already mobile responsive. Unfortunately, you do need to pay extra for these themes. The only free option is the available default site, which isn’t that great on its own.

On the plus side, because PrestaShop is an open-source site builder, you’ll have complete access to the code that was used to build your website. You or your developers/designers can get as deep into the code as you like to customize how your site is going to look and work.

Unfortunately, if your small business can’t afford a developer, or doesn’t have access to tech talent, you’ll need to figure out how to edit your PrestaShop website yourself. The support plans don’t include much guidance for this, but there is a WYSIWYG editor.

The What You See is What You Get editor makes it possible to make changes to your default theme according to your needs. Using the editor, you can add your own logo and social media links. There’s also the option to change different elements of your e-commerce site layout without getting too deep into the code.

Although there is freedom to edit on your own here, the easiest way to make sure your PrestaShop website looks great if you don’t know how to handle code is likely to be to choose a pre-existing theme from the marketplace. However, this does mean that you could end up spending hundreds of dollars more on your website than you originally intended.

PrestaShop Review: Integrations

It’s not just the wide range of premium themes that you’ll need to consider when making your PretaShop creation stand out either. There are also thousands of PrestaShop addons to think about too. If you’re looking for a way to add things like WooCommerce or PrestaShop customer engagement tools to your site, then that’s another expense to worry about.

The integrations on the marketplace are generally available as part of a one-time purchase. Most addon’s are under $100 each, but there are options that cost a lot more too. Adding several integrations into your site can end up getting quite expensive.

Aside from the price factor, there may be another disadvantage to building your website block-by-block using the modules and plugins that PrestaShop provides.

Because the integrations on the marketplace are made by hundreds of different developers from all over the world, there’s no guarantee that everything will work exactly as expected. If you don’t have the know how required to figure out coding problems when they arise, you could get into trouble.

Indeed, adding multiple modules for everything from checkouts to inventory management could quickly lead to a glitchy and slow-performing website.

While it’s good to have a platform that gives you the freedom to add functionality however you see fit, you’ll need to be careful about what you add to your site.

PrestaShop Review: Payment Options

Having a store that looks great and comes with tons of extra add-on features is fantastic. However, it won’t be much good if you can’t find a way to successfully manage transactions from your customers too. There is plenty of ecommerce software available from PrestaShop, but it belongs in the add-on section of the site, where you can find some free modules, and a lot of premium options.

For payments, you’ll need a third-party processor or a merchant account with the PrestaShop Checkout solution. The payment partners that are available for American retailers are currently:

  • Discover Global
  • Amazon Pay
  • Authorize.Net
  • WolrdPay
  • FattMerchant
  • First Data
  • Bambora
  • Simplify Commerce (Mastercard)
  • PayPal for US and Canada
  • CCBill
  • BlueSnap
  • BS Payone

There are also over 200 additional payment providers that you can choose as add-ons too.

One great option is the PrestaShop Checkout extra service that we mentioned above. This Checkout solution is built with PayPal, and provides access to various checkout options, including American Express, Mastercard and many others.

One of the good things about PrestaShop Checkout is that it’s a direct payment option. That means that your customers can make their purchase on your site, without having to be directed to another page. This is often a good way to maintain your customer’s trust.

Additionally, PrestaShop Checkout is extremely easy to implement and use. It only takes a couple of minutes to configure your new service, and your transactions are 100% secure and encrypted too. PrestaShop Checkout is fully compliant with all regulations, including GDPR. There are even anti-fraud detection rules included too.

There are no monthly, or set-up fees to worry about, and you don’t have to deal with cancellation fees either. However, you will need to pay a small commission price per transaction for every payment mode that you offer.

PrestaShop Review: Customer Support

One other thing that you’ll need to think about when designing your PrestaShop store, is what kind of technical support and customer service you can expect to get. Support is often a complicated issue with much open-source software in the website building market.

That’s because there are a lot of freelancers and multiple programmers responsible for developing the templates and modules available for something like PrestaShop. You might have a hard time finding someone who knows how absolutely everything on your store works.

The good news is that PrestaShop does have a diverse community that you can use to access a better chance of having your questions answered. For instance, the General Support Portal on the PrestaShop website will give you access to all of your support options, which include:

  • User guides and FAQs: These tools are designed to help you find the answers that you need to solve your own problems without any extra help from a professional.
  • Contact details: You can get in touch with PrestaShop representatives via email or support ticket and wait for them to be available to get back in touch with you.
  • User forums: The forums are often the best place to get more immediate and customized help. There are forums in multiple languages, and different segments that focus on specific challenges or PrestaShop issues.
  • Training: The PrestaShop team offers its own training courses that will help you to learn how to master the platform as a merchant or developer.
  • Social media: If you’re having a tough time getting hold of someone who can answer your questions with a traditional support ticket, then you can try contacting PrestaShop through social media channels like Facebook or Twitter.

There’s also the option to buy dedicated support plans. These plans come at an extra expense and allow you to access specific members of the PrestaShop support team. Unfortunately, most people consider these packages to be extremely overpriced. There’s a one-month support plan for $279.99, and the rest force you to sign up for an entire year. The annual plans start at around $399 per year, and only includes a handful of hours that you can use for support.

The PrestaShop Experts

There is a slightly different way to get access to the support you might need from PrestaShop too. The Experts section of the website allows you to find an agency or partner that works with PrestaShop to offer help with something specific. For instance, you can look for an Expert that can help with things like eCommerce consulting, website building, or design and user experience.

There are different kinds of Experts depending on what you need from your service. For instance, the Platinum partners are the most experienced international agencies that deliver the highest level of support, but also tend to be the most expensive.

There are also Gold agencies that have earned a lot of points based on their contribution levels, and silver partners, that focus on specific regional areas.

Bronze partners are the regional partners in your area that have just begun to develop their agency to provide PrestaShop support. These agencies might cost less than the other options.

The PrestaShop Expert network means that companies can access all of the extra assistance that they might need to run a successful online business. You can filter through what’s available according to the skills that you’re specifically looking for. There is also the option to narrow down your choices based on your country of origin, or your budget.

With different languages to choose from and support for multi-store environments available, you can find a range of help here.

PrestaShop Review: Security

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re building an online store, from which products you’ll sell, to what your checkout process is going to look like. One crucial thing to make sure that you never overlook, is your security strategy.

The downloadable open-source software for PrestaShop is already PCI compliance ready. That means that it’s ready to be secure, but you need to do some work to make sure that everything is as safe as you need it to be. Your PrestaShop store won’t be compliant on it’s own, you’ll still need to purchase your own SSL certificate and check up on any available security patches.

It’s factors like the need to manage your own security efforts that make PrestaShop’s open source solution so difficult to access for beginners. If you’re new to ecommerce, then the last thing you want is to cut corners on things like security and privacy because you want to get your store running as quickly as possible.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of your store is, or how appealing your products might be, customers won’t want to shop with you if you’re not giving them a safe experience

PrestaShop Review: Top Competitors

How does PrestaShop stack up against other open source ecommerce platforms? Here’s the showdown.

Open Cart vs PrestaShop

prestashop alternative - opencart

Both platforms have a lot in common, for instance, both Open Cart and PrestaShop are open sources, support multiple stores, support multiple languages, have large communities and are easy to use.

Open Cart is a champion at managing inventory. It offers a large catalog functionality for different colors, sizes, height as product options. While open Cart is a great platform, it doesn’t come close to the customization that PrestaShop offers.

Zen Cart vs PrestaShop

Zen Cart’s customization game is on point and it’s a more user-friendly open source ecommerce platform. This makes it an ideal option for merchants who don’t have advanced developer skills and the resources to get one.

In contrast, its templates are not that impressive (you can buy some made by third parties).  The major downside that makes solutions such as PrestaShop give it a knock out is that it has limited add-ons. To make matters worse, you can run multiple modules only to find that they are incompatible with each other.

Magento Open Source vs PrestaShop

prestashop alternative Magento Open Source

Magento is without a doubt the best in the game but PrestaShop is no slacker. In this case, Magento provides a richer feature set of sitemaps, coupons, order tracking and one-page checkout.

When it comes to performance and ease of use, PrestaShop takes the lead. This is mostly because it doesn’t suffer being a heavy duty CMS like Magento, the result, PrestaShop won’t slow your site down. This translates to a seamless experience to both store owners and customers alike.

PrestaShop Review: Benefits

Let's find out what advantages give PrestaShop an edge over its competitors.

Highly customizable

Customizability is the unique selling point of PrestaShop. You have the advantage to scale up your functionality according to your changing needs. It gives you the ability to edit and create a store that suits your style. This makes PrestaShop a decent option if you have very customizable products to sell.

Easy to use

PrestaShop takes into consideration the non-tech users to make setting up an online store a breeze. The software is easier to understand as it does away with the complexities of web development. This makes it easier to maintain the activities of your ecommerce store.

Strong user community

PrestaShop has a community that allows you to find the right tools for your ecommerce store. You don’t have to pay for customer support when you can present your queries to this community. You are likely to find a bunch of people who experienced similar issues and how they were able to solve it.

PrestaShop Review: Drawbacks

Below are the not so good features that dull its shine.

Expensive customer support

It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter some issues that will inevitably make you seek the support of the PrestaShop team. However, the number of hours you get for the support you pay for is unreasonably expensive. For only three hours of support, you end up paying $250 every month. Similarly, you’ll part with $399 every year for only six hours of support.

Developer skills needed

Open source platforms are created with developers in mind that’s why the backend interface is usually technical in nature. This means that if you have no developer experience up your sleeve, you’ll have to hire one. On the bright side, this will help you forego paying hefty amounts of limited customer support. SaaS platforms continue to dominate because they try to eliminate the need for developers. For a business owner, this translates to cutting down on costs.

Who Should Consider Using PrestaShop

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. It’s not only free but also has an amazing feature set with an expanding collection of modules to select.

PrestaShop works best for small and medium enterprises but Magento Open Source offers a more feature rich platform with advanced functionality for large enterprises.

If the thought of not having a support team scares you or you’re looking for a solution that’s a bit more handoff, then a SaaS ecommerce platform could be the right solution for you.

Our Verdict

If you are starting out and you don't have enough money you can consider PrestaShop. As an Open source, you can easily download it. The many features make PrestaShop a good option to consider. It's easy to use the setup procedure can be learned from their demo. You don't have to be a tech survey to set up but follow the setup guide.

In product creation, you can sell both physical and downloadable products. You have more than 1500 theme to choose from. Making your shop look lovely. You can also include meta description to your product that will improve your SEO ranking.

Not forgetting that you can incorporate marketing options: Discount mode, coupon codes, free shipping, email marketing, affiliate programs, and gift wrapping. All these geared toward boosting your sale.

Not bad you can give it a shot.If you have used PrestaShop or any other open source e-commerce platform. Please share your experience in the comment section below.

PrestaShop
Rating: 4.0 - Review by

Belinda Kendi

Belinda Kendi is a talented content marketer, ghostwriter, and an e-commerce copywriter who produces relatable and valuable content that woo customers to subscribing. Why don't we start a conversation? Visit www.belindakendi.com or email me;belinda@belindakendi.com.