PrestaShop is one of the most popular self-hosted ecommerce platforms, reportedly powering over 300,000 ecommerce stores worldwide. But is it any good?
Well in this review, that is what I am going to be looking at. Whenever I do an ecommerce platform review, I always look at two main areas, the first is the pricing and features and the second is how easy the platform is to use.
The PrestaShop software itself is free to use, so no upfront or monthly payments. But in order to be able to use PrestaShop, you will need to buy yourself some hosting.
There are some charges that you can incur within the PrestaShop ecosystem in the form of paid modules and themes. If you are on a tight budget, then there is a good selection of free modules around but you may need to do a bit of searching to find specific things.
PrestaShop is a very complete ecommerce platform in its standard form and offers you all the functionality to list products, take orders and manage customer service. But if you want your site to do more than just be a basic ecommerce store, then you will need to go into their addon marketplace.
In the addon marketplace there are currently over 4000 modules that you can choose from to add all different kinds of functionality from payment gateways to marketing and SEO to creating specialist sites such as marketplaces and booking websites, plus much more.
There is a small caveat to these modules and that is that most of them are paid, the choice of free modules totals less than 100 and some of the paid modules can cost a few hundred pound, depending on the module. So this is something that you do need to bear in mind.
The Prestashop marketplace has a selection of over 3000 themes that you can choose from the only downside is that none of these are free. Prices start from a £54.99 but if you are looking for free themes, there are plenty out there from third party developers and you can find them with a quick online search.
PrestaShop offers all the main payment gateways via their module catalogue, the likes of PayPal, Stripe and Klarna are all free to install but if you need to use Worldpay or SagePay, then you will have to pay £64.99 to use them.
PrestaShop have partnered PayPal to create PrestaShop checkout that allows you to take payments via credit or debit card, along with PayPal in one gateway, this has been done to not only make it easier for you as the website owner to manage but also streamlines the checkout process. It is definitely something that is worth checking out.
For a free piece of ecommerce software, you do get a good amount of support from PrestaShop themselves.
The majority of support comes in the form of really good documentation and their community support forum. You can get support directly from the PrestaShop team by using one of their plans, this is something that isn’t offered by most of the free ecommerce software.
There is also plenty of contact information on their website, which allows you to speak to them directly if you need to.
As PrestaShop is a self hosted ecommerce solution, I cannot really do accurate speed tests as it depends on the web hosting that the site is run on and how the servers are set up.
But what I did was install PrestaShop on a sub-domain and ran it through Pingdom’s speed tool and it loaded in 0.62 seconds, which is really impressive for a self-hosted platform but this time should be used as a guide only.
How Easy is PrestaShop to Use?
When you first log into your dashboard, you are greeted with a set up guide. Which is great to find, especially on a piece of free software. They have even named their penguin in the logo Preston which is a nice touch.
The set up guide is the most in-depth that I have come across, it takes you through lots of small steps and points out where things are located on the page, especially the add new product page. Other sections in the set up guide are how customise your store, add payment gateways and set up delivery methods.
Once you have completed the basic set up guide, a pop-up appears with links to more guides, training and their forum. Definitely lots of support and help to get you up and running.
A few other ecommerce platforms could definitely take some guidance from how PrestaShop introduce you to their platform.
Navigating the Dashboard
The PrestaShop dashboard is really nice to use! They have opted for a sidebar navigation, like many other ecommerce platforms and have clearly labelled sections.
If any sections have sub-sections then a menu with these options will expand below the main section title and as as with the main navigation bar, all of these are well labelled.
You can tell that a lot of time and effort has been put into making the admin area easy to use and navigate. The only thing I didn’t really like was the main dashboard page as there was too much going on, would have liked to have been able to remove some of the sections.
Customising Your Theme
You can’t do much in terms of design customisation with the basic theme but many of the paid themes have built in customisation’s, where you change colours and layouts to make it fit your business.
The layout editor is good and you can set layouts for specific pages, so for example, you can have a side bar on your category pages and not have it on your product pages. You can also really customise your homepage by adding, removing and editing sections.
If you are handy with HTML and CSS, or know someone who is. Then you can download your theme, make changes to the code and then upload it and use it as a child theme. This is a really good feature to have if you need something completely custom.
Adding and Managing Products
You are introduced to how to add a new product in the start up guide and it really does do a good job of showing you easy it is to add a new product.
The main product page allows you to do most things such as adding title and description as well as quantity and price but it is worth working through the tabs at the top of the page to make sure that your product listing is the best it can be.
To organise your products, PrestaShop have opted for the tried and tested category system and this makes it really easy to organise them into main and sub-categories. You can also create brands and suppliers, which is great if you stock branded goods.
Managing your inventory is a simple affair, unfortunately you cannot do it directly in the product inventory page but it does list your current quantities and by clicking on that, it will take you to the edit quantity section of your product page and you can easily update it there.
The system PrestaShop use to manage your orders is good, if a little long winded! You cannot print invoices or packing slips directly in the main order dashboard section, which is a little disappointing but you can update order statuses in bulk, which is useful.
Orders can be managed individually, but if you want to print packing slips and invoices in bulk, you need to go to their dedicated sections in the order management area.
You can then select a date range of the selected orders, with the invoices, you can also sort them by order status. For me, it downloaded the PDF files to my computer, rather than generating directly in my browser so I could print them off. It is little things like this that make it a bit long winded, I also would have liked to have been able to select which invoices/packing slips by order number.
One other thing you can do in PrestaShop, is generate credit slips for your returns.
Is PrestaShop a good choice for UK Businesses?
It is an ok choice and while it is a nice platform to use, there is nothing that it does better than WooCommerce. The basic shopping cart is very capable but the lack of customisation options when it comes to design and the prices of the modules really take away from a lot of the positives that the platform has.