Let's face this - there are tons and tons of e-commerce platforms currently available on the market. PrestaShop seems to be one of the fastest growing platforms out there, which is why we think you all may want to take a closer look on it. So PrestaShop shopping cart is in the focus of our attention today.
PrestaShop is a professional e-commerce shopping cart software that you can download and use for free. It was founded in 2007 in Paris, France, and now aspires to provide one of the best open source e-Commerce solutions to the greatest number of business owners worldwide. This e-commerce solution was built to take advantage of essential web 2.0 innovations such as dynamic AJAX-powered features and next-generation ergonomy. Despite its technical sophistication and advanced functionality, PrestaShop e-commerce platform is speedy and very lightweight, so it's easy to download, install, and update. That's according to the project owners' information about themselves. As for ourselves - so far we don't see any reasons to disagree, but more on that later.
Being a total e-commerce package based on PHP and using MySQL data management, PrestaShop comes with a variety of tools necessary for building, launching, and managing a successful online store without paying any licensing fees or registration.
Key features of PrestaShop
- featured products on homepage;
- top sellers on homepage;
- new items on homepage;
- special deals (price reductions, gift vouchers);
- product image zoom;
- order out-of-stock items;
- loyalty system (points);
- customer referral program;
- customer subscription & user accounts;
- unlimited payment methods (there is a default module for this and in addition to it there are several non-free payment or shipping modules available for purchase);
- unlimited languages – 38 translations available so far.
- unlimited categories, subcategories and products;
- customers’ product evaluations and comments;
- products and accessories packs;
- quantity discounts;
- wish list;
- customizable products (picture, text, etc.);
- customizable orders statuses & returns management;
- PDF invoices, slips and delivery slips;
- product, catalog statistics, conversion rate per categories;
- carriers, destinations and text settings;
- good use of object oriented PHP;
- tableless design that uses a lot of CSS;
- "block" content that can be edited via the admin by point and click.
For more exhaustive list of current and upcoming features, visit the PrestaShop features page.
The customers could as well personalize their online stores adding a variety of modules such as: special deals (such as price reductions and gift coupons), text-message alerts for new orders and inventory levels, new products, top sellers, as well as SEO, filter, translation, and attribute wizard module, etc. Though pay attention that many of the modules are non-free – and they aren't cheap in fact. By the way, the authors of PrestaShop have an official marketplace for commercial modules and themes called PrestaStore (kinda like MagentoConnect).
When it comes to pros and cons of using this particular software, this triggers a disputable issue for PrestaShop supporters and opponents. PrestaShop has some cool, highly scalable features and is very lightweight, but still it’s far from being perfect. Those who are considering PrestaShop as their e-commerce platform should be aware of:
- Flexibility. Thanks to PrestaShop admin tool (back office), it is easy to customize this shopping cart by adding or deleting functionality according to customers’ needs.
- Clean code. This one goes for the developers - they will surely appreciate the uncluttered framework and clean PrestaShop code.
- Lightweight. PrestaShop is very light (around 5.5 MB) and is rather fast, it’s easy to install and update, and even customers with slow connection speeds will enjoy deploying this platform.
- Interface. It is known to have sleek and intuitive interface that doesn't only look good, it also guides users through the product catalog intelligently and effortlessly.
- Design themes. The customers can choose a free theme to suit their online store as well as modify or create one.
- Customer and marketing policy. Customers will appreciate the features of this robust platform, such as price reductions, gift vouchers, free-shipping minimums, recommended accessories, quantity discounts, and the chance to order out-of-stock items. On the back end, store owners control an unlimited number of products, currencies, tax settings, shipping options, and languages.
- PrestaShop also offers custom-built solutions for users looking to get more out of their online businesses by adapting the PrestaShop e-commerce solution to their specific needs, such as professionally designed storefronts and unique functionality.
- Hosting. PrestaShop can also host customer sites on their servers and help create additional visitor traffic with its search engine optimization (SEO).
- Lack of scalability. PrestaShop is suitable for start-ups or small stores, but definitely matter of argument whether to use it for full scale shopping site. Plus PrestaShop doesn't have the multi-user interface.
- Lack of modules. Most required modules for a fully functional online store are expensive. Though getting the module from PrestaStore isn’t mandatory for setting up a store with PrestaShop. There are few in-house modules included with PrestaShop, which is definitely a positive feature.
- Fewer marketing features. The platform lacks features that other mature e-commerce solutions offer, including different input types for attributes, cross sell products, etc.
- PrestaShop software is also known to have poor design of attribute combinations. Besides, the default skin certainly needs a lot of work, and the backend seems a bit buggy.
- Support. The community claims there's no sufficient support and help on any PrestaShop-related questions and problems. Yet PrestaShop dedicated team and growing user community join forces to fix bugs and add new functionality. That's pretty much a common thing for new platforms and will surely be solved after some time.
osCommerce or Magento? Now there's also PrestaShop as an option
Business owners always search for the best system for extending their activity on the Internet and increasing number of their online shoppers. So if to compare different attributes of open source e-commerce platforms, let’s take for instance Magento and osCommerce versus PrestaShop, we could admit that PrestaShop is what we consider a one-stop shop which is a lot simpler to install and setup. Plus it is a scalable platform which means that it can grow as one’s business grows.
Magento and osCommerce are presently way ahead of Prestashop with the features that they have to offer. Still PrestaShop is easy to use and has less requirements than Magento for example that seems rather complex to configure and hard to customize. Magento could be very appropriate for a large scale e-commerce deployment with multiple storefronts and websites. PrestaShop on the other hand is quick and has a small system foot print, and is also easily tailored – it comes bundled with simple and clean smarty template system. Besides, it is very easy to alter PrestaShop layout with less work than it takes to alter osCommerce or Magento.
If we take osCommerce, it is a robust software, but its themes are cumbersome often causing customization problems. PrestaShop has a much better look and web 2.0 feel that requires little customization, its easy-to-use back office tool allows anyone, regardless of skill level, to use and maintain an online store. And PrestaShop is quickly catching up with the number of support community members that osCommerce has.
The closing thought is that PrestaShop is a very good alternative that serves e-commerce with a nice AJAX animated shopping cart and various interesting features. Still it’s up to you to decide which platform to pick up for your project, this info is just something for you to think of.
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So, PrestaShop is the up and coming free e-commerce platform ideal for those who don’t need intensive banding, full control and want to start online shopping right away. It is clearly the new in the e-commerce platform arena, though it has proven itself to be a notable adversary of quite a few heavyweight property e-commerce platforms. Easy deployment, modular scalability and low end system requirements just make it so desirable. Whether you are a computer expert or far less tech savvy novice, the PrestaShop e-commerce solution lets you take any business online. So if you ultimately decide to create an online store with PrestaShop, you may visit installing and updating PrestaShop software page that’ll favor the development of your site.
Now, let's get a quick taste of how PrestaShop works surfing through the excellent PrestaShop-powered sites.
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Alright, so PrestaShop seems to be a strong starter on this eCommerce bandwagon - it does have some pretty neat features on both front- and back-end, plus a very promising community. Only time will tell whether it really is good enough to compete with Magento or osCommerce - though we ourselves surely want it to, more players - more fun. Now what do you think of this new eCommerce platform? Is it good enough for you to consider it for your own store?