What Is PrestaShop?
PrestaShop is an immensely feature-rich, free, open-source e-commerce solution that you can use to run stores in the cloud or via self-hosting. It’s currently used by 250,000 shops worldwide and is available in 65 different languages. Although it takes a bit of work to get a store launched, I’m impressed with what the platform offers.
PrestaShop’s business model rests on selling services for commercial partners to its customer base, including optional add-on features and themes. This seems to allow it to offer a sophisticated e-commerce option for anyone interested in selling digital or physical goods online.
PrestaShop is fairly easy to use, provides a powerfully responsive store interface for shoppers, offers a comprehensive set of features, and it’s free.
If you’d like a quick look, explore the PrestaShop demo store, which includes both a front-end store and a back-end management dashboard. Here’s an example of the demo running in vertical tablet mode:
Here’s a screenshot of the back-end store dashboard within the demo:
Back in early 2015, I wrote a tutorial on building a t-shirt store using WordPress and the Spreadshirt plugin which you can check out here: Build Your Own T-Shirt Shop With the Spreadshirt WordPress Plugin (Envato Tuts+). Below is a screenshot of the site built for that tutorial, Sociables.io:
In the end, I actually preferred the ease of use and simplicity of other specialty t-shirt application vendors. PrestaShop offers a WordPress-like web interface with far more sophisticated capabilities regardless of what kind of product you wish to sell.
In this tutorial, I’m going to guide you through signing up for and creating a store with PrestaShop. I’ll also explain a bit more about the platform and ways you can access it.
If you have any requests for future tutorials or questions and comments on today’s, please post them below. You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman directly.
PrestaShop’s Key Features
PrestaShop has an impressive breadth of high-quality, powerful features.
- Cloud or Self-hosting: You can sign up in minutes for a free store in the PrestaShop cloud or you can download the open source PHP code and host it yourself.
- Templates: Similar to Envato’s ThemeForest, PrestaShop sells a variety of high-quality themes to professionally customize your store.
- Store Builder: With a WordPress-like dashboard, PrestaShop offers a feature-rich store construction interface, including detailed product listings, navigation and search.
- Shopping Cart: PrestaShop integrates with a variety of payment providers, major shipping carriers and tax rules.
- Mobile: PrestaShop’s responsive stores and checkout systems make it incredibly useful. Even its back-end dashboards are responsive for on-the-go management.
- eMarketing: PrestaShop provides built-in product and catalog SEO integration for optimizing your search placement, and it offers built-in coupons, promotions, email integration, etc.
- International: PrestaShop provides 65 language translations for your store including flexible currency and shipping rules based on location. It’s cloud administrative dashboard is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, and Dutch.
- Integrations: PrestaShop offers a variety of themes and add-ons, premium support if you need it, and a directory of agency partners for hire. If you want help launching your store, it’s available.
If you want extra help but prefer to work independently, PrestaShop’s Premium Support Plans may be the best for you:
The PrestaShop Forums offer a place where users can freely support each other and have questions answered by others.
For more end-to-end support, you can also check out their partner directory.
Start a Store in the Cloud
Now, follow me as I launch a store in the image of my WordPress-powered t-shirt store, Sociables.io, and see how easy it is to start your own store with PrestaShop. Click the Start my Store button on the home page.
You’ll be asked for your store name and e-mail address:
Then, select a sub-domain for the store URL:
You’ll later be able to provide a custom domain name and be able to map DNS CNAME settings to the cloud store:
For now, you’ll be asked to provide an account configuration as the store manager:
Congratulations! The store foundation is ready:
In your email, you’ll receive an Activate my account request:
The Store Dashboard
You’ll be taken to the back-end Store Dashboard or its management interface:
As you can see, PrestaShop offers a 30% discount off domain name registration.
Your Default Store Theme
Here’s my Sociables front page with sample products and layout powered by the PrestaShop cloud:
The Getting Started Wizard
When you enter the back-end Dashboard (here shown in responsive Tablet mode), you’re offered a Getting Started wizard which we’ll roughly follow:
Configuring Our Store
Customize Your Shop’s Look and Feel
First, we’re asked to customize our shop’s look and feel:
You’re shown the default theme and given customization settings:
But you can also purchase professional themes, which helps support the PrestaShop open-source platform and cloud service:
For purposes of this tutorial, I did not purchase a theme. They are a little bit expensive; these are mostly more than $100. (Note to Envato Tuts+ editorial masters, maybe it’s time to offer writers an expense account? Readers feel free to comment on this below.)
Add Products to Your Catalog
Next, we’ll add our first product:
Here’s an example dashboard page for adding my first product. I’ll use the Looking for Me on Tinder t-shirt from Sociables.io as a product example:
As I said, the interface resembles WordPress making it familiar and easy to use for most:
Below, I configure pricing and notice how PrestaShop also records wholesale prices for reporting profit:
Then, I upload the product image:
Set Up Your Payment Methods
PrestaShop easily integrates with a number of common payment providers:
Here’s what it looks like when you want to connect to your PayPal account and the service’s API-driven interfaces:
You can enable a variety of PayPal product options:
Set Up Your Shipping Methods
PrestaShop allows you to integrate with common carriers as well as general postal service shipping choices:
Here I create a USPS shipping rule based on costs and transit time I expect to maintain:
Launch Your Store
Finally, the basics are done and we can check out our store:
Note: There’s kind of a cool rocket animation when you click Launch, but it’s not easy to capture here. Launch your own store if you want to see it.
You’ll also receive an email:
I didn’t spend time in this tutorial reconfiguring the product catalog and front page layout, but here is an example of the product detail page we created and custom logo, pricing, and payment:
Shopping With PrestaShop
PrestaShop’s catalog, shopping cart and checkout sophistication are some of its most valuable features.
Here’s an example of adding a t-shirt to my shopping cart and starting the checkout process:
The customer is asked to identify themselves:
And provide basic account information:
And they are asked to provide a shipping address:
And then select their shipping preference:
And finally, payment:
Since the product’s not real at this time, I didn’t complete the transaction here, but that should give you a pretty detailed view of the high-level breadth of PrestaShop. It’s an impressive open-source store platform and free cloud service.
Self-Hosting the PrestaShop Download
Let’s say you want to host PrestaShop yourself. It’s written in PHP using MySQL, making hosting fairly easy. If you want to host try self-hosting, visit the Download Page:
You can download and install your own version or try their premier installation partner, 1&1, as well as the directory of agencies we mentioned above that will help you run your site for a fee:
If you want to contribute to the PrestaShop codebase, visit PrestaShop Forge.
I hope you give PrestaShop a try. I was quite impressed with its power, breadth of features, and especially that it’s free. While setting up a store requires a significant bit of effort, detailed e-commerce is always like that. That’s why I’m a technologist and not a store owner.
Good luck with your e-commerce adventures!