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What is PrestaShop?

PrestaShop is free, open source software for the development of e-commerce websites. By facilitating a reliable and straightforward transaction process, the program makes is easier for merchants to focus on and grow their businesses.

Getting ready to open up shop online? If you’re planning to sell products from your website, you’ll need e-commerce software to build an online catalog, manage orders and inventory, and allow customers to buy and pay online.

There are many ecommerce software solutions available today, but PrestaShop is one of the most popular. Completely free and open-source, PrestaShop was first released in 2007 and continues to be developed today. PrestaShop has headquarters in Paris and Miami, and is also supported by a dedicated community of hundreds of thousands of volunteer contributors from around the world.

PrestaShop Features

One reason for PrestaShop’s popularity is that the software is free and open-source, but just because it’s free doesn’t mean it can’t compete with pricier e-commerce software. The winner of two Best Open-source Business Application awards in 2010 and 2011, PrestaShop comes packed with basic to advanced features, and can be expanded with free and premium add-ons.

PrestaShop’s features include:

  • Complex catalog and inventory management, including Excel import and export capabilities, bulk discounts, and other features
  • Available in 63 different languages, with full support available in 9 languages
  • Easy one-page checkout for guests or logged-in customers
  • Automatically saved shopping carts with email reminders
  • Analytics to track customer actions, demographics, orders, and more
  • Flexible shipping options including fees by price or weight, discounts, and unlimited carriers and destinations
  • Options to process payments via credit card, check, wire transfer and more

With all its features, PrestaShop concentrates on increasing your sales. You can customize the software for a small shop with one product, or a complex inventory containing thousands of items. Your commercial presence can be made more dynamic with exports to third parties like eBay, and by cross selling related items in a tidy bundle.

With minimal limitations, you can include as much detail as you wish about merchandise organization and attributes like color, size, and style. PrestaShop can adjust prices and weights to reflect customers' choices. Downloadable products, like pictures and television shows, may be displayed within the product description, and made available as email links after purchase.

Is PrestaShop Right for You?

PrestaShop software is ideal for those new to e-commerce, as well as for more experienced users. PrestaShop does require a bit of basic technical knowledge to install and set up with your chosen web hosting plan. If you have the budget and prefer not to handle the details of setting up your store yourself, PrestaShop may not be the right choice for you.

On the other hand, if your budget is small, but your want a professional-looking, fully-featured store and you don’t mind handling the setup yourself, PrestaShop is an excellent choice for your ecommerce website.

If you get stuck in setting up your store, the PrestaShop site includes extensive guides for merchants, as well as developers and designers. On the official site you’ll find documentation and tips for optimization, and an online forum that perpetuates the spirit of an open source community.

Choosing a PrestaShop Web Host

The first step in setting up your online store with PrestaShop is to select a host. The PrestaShop software is partnered with several hosting companies based all over the world, including InMotion Hosting, 1&1, and WebHostingHub. It also maintains its own in-house Web servers, PrestaBox. Alternately, you may want to look into a non-affiliated host.

PrestaShop strives to place few technical constraints on users, and so supports Linux, Windows,and Mac operating systems. Most hosts will be able to support a PrestaShop installation, but first be sure to check that your hosts meets the minimum requirements for the software.

PrestaShop Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is PrestaShop?

    PrestaShop is a shopping cart platform that is designed to help businesses of all sizes to create and manage online stores, although its real strength lies in meeting the needs of small to medium-sized businesses.

  • What is PrestaShop's history and background?

    PrestaShop was originally released in 2007 and is written in PHP. It uses MySQL as the backend database. PrestaShop is used by more than 200,000 online store owners in over 160 countries. It is estimated that PrestaShop has approximately 9.5% of the e-commerce platform market. The company is headquartered in Paris and Miami and boasts a community of over 700,000 members worldwide.

  • How much does PrestaShop cost?

    The software is completely free and open source. The company promises that it will always remain an open source project.

  • How is PrestaShop offered free?

    PrestaShop has formed partnerships with a number of companies, such as Google and PayPal, that work for both parties’ best interests. The partner companies see their services promoted in PrestaShop, while PrestaShop is funded and available for free to its users. The software is also supported through the purchase of optional features and themes, as well as paid technical support plans.

  • What kind of online stores is PrestaShop used for?

    PrestaShop is used for all kinds of stores. It is ideal for goods or services, reservations or products and is used by businesses around the world.

  • What kind of add-ons and customization options are there?

    PrestaShop Addons is the PrestaShop Official Marketplace. There are over 3,500 modules and themes. These include modules for SEO, advertising, payments, shipping, social networks, merchandising and more. The available themes help you completely customize PrestaShop to suit your needs, as well as support mobile users.

  • What is PrestaShop Download?

    This is the version that is available for download, complete with source code. You can then customize it to your needs and upload it to your website for use.

  • What is PrestaShop Cloud?

    PrestaShop Cloud is the next step in the organization’s goal to make online shopping and e-commerce readily accessible. It is a hosted version of PrestaShop, allowing anyone to create an online store on www.prestashop.com.

  • Which version should I choose, Download or Cloud?

    Which version is right for you will depend largely on your level of expertise. PrestaShop Cloud is an ideal solution for users who lack the technical experience to wade into heavy-duty web development. All that’s required is to register with your email address and begin setting up your shop. PrestaShop Cloud may also be a cheaper option, since your online store will be hosted for free on PrestaShop’s servers. This may allow you to choose a lower-tier hosting plan for the rest of your site, as opposed to an e-commerce plan for the Download version. For more experienced users, however, PrestaShop Download may be a better option, especially if the added cost of choosing an appropriate hosting plan is not an issue. It offers full customization and administration of your online store, including the ability to customize the source code.

  • If I choose one, is there an easy to way to switch to the other?

    There is no automated process to handle the entire migration. There are, however, dedicated modules you can use to export and then re-import the contents and data. Because this can be somewhat time-consuming and tedious, you do well to choose the best option for your business before proceeding.

  • What if I need help with PrestaShop?

    There are a number of PrestaShop Partner Web Agencies that offer expert PrestaShop services. There are also a number of technical support plans that include installation and configuration, as well as online training.

  • What are some PrestaShop alternatives?

    Magento, osCommerce, and OpenCart are three of the major competitors to PrestaShop.

  • How does PrestaShop compare to Magento?

    Magento is a more popular online store than PrestaShop, with an estimated 25.6% of the marketplace, and has been around longer. Its feature set is also more diverse, making it a more powerful overall solution. Magento also offers more themes and custom options than PrestaShop. That power, though, comes with a tradeoff, as Magento is not as easy for the beginner or non-technical user. Especially with PrestaShop Cloud, this is an area where PrestaShop really shines in comparison.

  • How does PrestaShop compare with osCommerce?

    osCommerce has been around for a long time, since 2000. In spite of that, it has lost ground to newer products, such as PrestaShop. Overall, PrestaShop is much easier to use while still including powerful functionality.

  • How does PrestaShop compare with OpenCart?

    OpenCart is a newer alternative to PrestaShop. It too is open source software and relatively easy to install and use. As a newer application, however, OpenCart does not have as many features or add-on modules and plugins as PrestaShop.

  • How widely available is PrestaShop?

    As a free open source application, PrestaShop is widely supported by a variety of hosting companies. In addition, there are a number of script libraries, designed to help non-technical users install powerful web applications with a single click, that include PrestaShop as one of their bundled scripts. Fantastico, SimpleScripts, and Softaculous are three of the most popular script libraries and all three of them include PrestaShop among their applications. In spite of its popularity, there are some bargain hosting companies that do not offer support so it’s always a good idea to double-check with your hosting provider.

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