In short, PrestaShop is a feature-rich, free, secure, and open-source e-commerce platform. We're going to dive into the finer details of exactly 'what is PrestaShop?'.
Back in May 2007 the first public version of PrestaShop was released, its come a long way since then having recently celebrated over 100,000 active stores.
PrestaShop is open source
PrestaShop is an Open-source e-commerce solution. This is great news for several reasons.
It means that the software is free to be used, modified, and distributed as you see fit. You can see the finer details in the Open Software License 3.0.
This affects many things, from the ability for you to ** use PrestaShop freely on your next client project, to support given by the PrestaShop community as it is **open, scalable, and constantly being improved.
What is PrestaShop's biggest strength? Probably being open-source, as it is key to the many areas of PrestaShop we are about to look at.
PrestaShop is packed with features
PrestaShop comes packed with over 275 features out-the-box, and features are improving and increasing with every new version.
Key features include
- Unlimited categories, products and attributes
- Product comparison
- Quantity / Stock management
- Multiple images with lightbox
- Product image zoom
- Cross-selling / Related products
- Customer product reviews
- Custom store design with PrestaShop Themes
- Multiple 'employees' with customised permissions
- Custom invoices
- Affiliate programme
- 'Friendly' URL structure
- Google Sitemaps
- Performance settings for maximum speed
- Meta tag support on everything
- One page or multi-page checkout
- Guest checkout
- Gift messages / wrapping
- Saved shopping carts
- Shipping fees by weight or price
- Billing / Shipping addresses
- Unlimited carriers and destinations to fine-tune your shipping options
- Integrates with any payment provider through modules (many included).
- Tax by country, states and counties
- Payment gateway filtered by currency
- Automated follow-up emails
- Coupons and Vouchers
- Newsletter subscription
- Loyalty programme
- Customer groups with custom pricing, shipping settings etc
- Order tracking
- Returns management
- Guest account to full account conversion
Translations / Localisation
- Available in 41 languages
- Allow customer to choose language
- Unlimited currencies with exchange rate sync
- Geolocation - settings based on your customer's location
- Address format for customer's country
- PCI Compliant
- SSL Support
- Secure admin
Analytics / Reporting
- Track visitors
- Track orders and sales
- See best sellers, most viewed products etc
If there's a feature that PrestaShop doesn't come with, the PrestaShop Addons website holds over 1000 more modules that you can 'plug' into your store to enhance it.
PrestaShop modules could range from supporting a new payment provider, to displaying a fancy slideshow of product images on your home page.
If you're a developer with knowledge of PHP it's straightforward to dive right in and start creating PrestaShop modules of your own for your clients needs.
With so many features you might think things get complicated and slow. This is not the case, as PrestaShop is built to be lightweight and intuitive.
As PrestaShop uses modules for a lot of its features, if there is a certain feature you no longer require it can be disabled, keeping your PrestaShop store simple and agile.
If you're new to PrestaShop and don't know where to start, the PrestaShop website offers User documentation to step you through the process of setting up your store.
PrestaShop is secure
Security is of course a big concern when it comes to running an online store, and PrestaShop is serious about making their software as secure as possible.
PrestaShop supports SSL web hosting, password and cookie encryption and PCI compliance.
If you're wondering what is PrestaShop's stance on security, you can see the finer details on their Security feature page.
PrestaShop is used worldwide
As mentioned, PrestaShop is now used and trusted in over 100,000 active stores worldwide in over 150 countries.
Being available in 41 languages, and supporting unlimited currencies, tax and shipping rules, you can truly use your PrestaShop store to service the world.
The PrestaShop website also has testimonials from Google, Web Agencies, as well as fellow developers and merchants.
The 41+ languages are driven by a community effort to translate PrestaShop for use around the globe.
You can download language packs from the PrestaShop website, or if you're a native speaker of a language not listed you can contribute too!
PrestaShop is community driven
A lot of what is PrestaShop's strengths comes down to the fact that it is open-source and community driven.
Features such as the language packs mentioned previously would not be possible if it wasn't for the community contributing to the software.
As PrestaShop is community driven, the PrestaShop forums are a great resource of information from other users or developers willing to lend a hand.
If you get stuck, you can be sure that there is someone that has previously had the same issue and willing to lend support.
You're not stuck relying on call centres or patchy customer service from companies you actual pay to use.
You can report bugs and issues you find with the software to PrestaShop Forge, the open bug tracker.
This helps PrestaShop iron out problems as quickly as possible, and also ensures that any problems you may come across on your store are fixed in the next update.
PrestaShop regularly gets together with its community members and partners to talk about developments, whats around the corner, and to answer QA sessions.
You can find out when the next event will be taking place by visiting the PrestaShop events.
PrestaShop Themes and Modules
We touched on PrestaShop modules previously, but combined with PrestaShop themes you are able to make a completely tailored and bespoke e-commerce store to your client or company's needs using PrestaShop.
You can download over 1000 modules,and 800 themes on the PrestaShop Addons website.
PrestaShop also have a number of partners such as PayPal, eBay and Authorize.net that provide free modules to connect to their services.
PrestaShop is developer friendly
If you're a developer looking to create a PrestaShop store for a client, or a merchant who would like get hands-on and create your store yourself, PrestaShop provide the tools you need to get started.
PrestaShop SVN / Previous versions
You can download previous versions of PrestaShop to check compatibility of you're PrestaShop themes and modules straight from the website.
You can also check on the latest version's development by connecting to the PrestaShop SVN and ensuring your work is ready when the latest version is released.
PrestaShop is easy to switch to
Has this run-through been enough to convince you to give PrestaShop a try?
If you're simply looking to test the waters you can download PrestaShop right away from their download page.
If you have an online store using another e-commerce package such as OSCommerce or Magento, and want to know what is PrestaShop's advantages over what you use already, you can read these very good guides on how to migrate and switch to PrestaShop!
What is PrestaShop? PrestaShop is growing
Hopefully this run-through answers a few questions if you'd been asking 'what is PrestaShop?'
With plenty of new features coming in PrestaShop 1.5, to add the already huge list of features included, PrestaShop will grow in features as well as popularity so now is a great time to get involved.
You can track the progress of PrestaShop 1.5's development on the milestones page.
Have I missed something? What is PrestaShop's best feature for you? Is there a feature of PrestaShop that you find key to your online stores business, or while creating e-commerce stores for your clients? Let us know in the comments below.