PrestaShop and Shopify are two popular options for building ecommerce websites, but which one is the better choice?
PrestaShop vs Shopify: What is the Difference?
PrestaShop is a self-hosted, open source ecommerce platform, which means that you need to buy some web hosting and then install the PrestaShop software in order to be able to use it. Shopify is a fully hosted ecommerce platform, which means that the hosting, ecommerce software and 24/7 support are all included in the monthly package.
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It is quite difficult to directly compare the pricing of Shopify and PrestaShop due to one being hosted and the other being self-hosted.
PrestaShop may be cheaper to run on a monthly basis, especially when just getting started as you may only need shared hosting, which can be had for between $5 – $10/m. But if your site starts to grow, you may need to upgrade your hosting, which can run into hundreds of dollars a month depending on your requirements.
The advantage with Shopify, is you know what you are going to be paying for your subscription every month but there is an additional cost that you will incur with Shopify and that is transaction fees as these are charged on all payments received not using Shopify’s in house payment gateway, Shopify Payments and it does depend on the plan you are on as to the fee you pay:
- Shopify Basic: 2%
- Shopify Standard: 1%
- Shopify Advanced: 0.5%
Shopify do have a larger plan for enterprise level ecommerce businesses called Shopify Plus and this starts from $2,000/m.
As PrestaShop is open source software, you need to buy some hosting and install the PrestaShop software in order to try it out for yourself.
Shopify offer a 14 day free trial of their platform to all users, with no credit card needed to get started.
As two of the bigger names in the industry, it is expected that they all offer a good range of features for their users.
Even though PrestaShop is a free, open-source ecommerce platform, it still comes with a good selection of features (although not immediately evident when checking their website!) and below is a summary of what they offer:
- Sell Physical or Digital Products
- Create Product Bundles
- Sell Customizable Products
- One Page Checkout
- Create Supplier and Manufacturer Profiles
Marketing & SEO
- Discount Coupons
- Cross Promotion and Up-sells
- Abandoned Cart Emails
- Link Social Media Profiles
- Custom SEO inc Meta Titles and Descriptions
- Number of Orders
- Conversion Rate
If you would like to see a more detailed breakdown of the features available on PrestaShop, check out our Full PrestaShop Review.
PrestaShop Addon Marketplace
While the standard features are pretty good, PrestaShop also have their own addon marketplace with over 4,000 additional modules than you can install on your PrestaShop ecommerce store and they cover a range of categories from Payment Gateways to Marketing to Product Page customization.
Now, while this is great, the downside is that less than 200 of these modules are free to use, with the rest being paid options starting from around $50 into the hundreds of dollars. This is because many of the modules within the marketplace have been created by third-party developers.
With Shopify being a fully hosted ecommerce platform, it is not surprising that it comes with a lot of ecommerce related features straight out of the box and all of the following are available on the Shopify basic plan.
- Dropshipping Integration
- Flexible Shipping Rates
- Product Reviews
- Digital Products
- Gift Vouchers
- Shopify Management App
Marketing & SEO
- Google Adwords Credit
- Sell on Facebook
- Discount Codes
- Abandoned Cart Recovery
- Auto Generated Sitemap
- Social Share
- Custom Meta Data
- SEO Friendly URL’s
- Product Reports
- Traffic Sources
- Google Analytics
- Day, Week and Monthly Reports
- Shopify Payments
- PayPal Express Checkout
- Amazon Pay
For a more detailed breakdown of the features that Shopify offers, check out our Full Shopify Tutorial.
Shopify App Store
What really does help Shopify stand out when it comes to features is their App Store, which currently has over 3,000 apps that you can choose from including dropshipping integration, Google, Ebay and Amazon integration, SEO and marketing tools and advanced reporting to name but a few. Obviously, with so many to choose from, it is nearly impossible for me to start listing them all in this post.
But not all of these apps are free to use as many of them are made and managed by third party developers. Many offer free plans but you are limited to the amount of features you can use in the particular app, to get all the features then you will need to use a paid plan.
So you do need to be selective when it comes to choosing your apps as you can soon end up with a very expensive store.
Theme Selection & Customisation
PrestaShop comes with 1 free theme, which is the default one. In their marketplace, they have a large selection of over 3,000 paid themes to choose, starting from around $100. Outside of the PrestaShop marketplace, you can also find themes and there are free ones to choose from.
The theme customization set up in PrestaShop does feel a little disjointed, especially with the default theme as you can do much from the main theme customizer (PrestaShop call in Page Configuration), you can configure the different settings for each section on the page but you can’t rearrange them and removing them isn’t particularly straight forward.
And when you go through to configure the settings of a section, it may not take you directly back to the theme customizer, sometimes it may take you to the module section of the dashboard instead.
This makes it very frustrating to use and there is no live customizer, so you can’t preview any changes before making them live on your site.
Many of the paid themes do include additional theme customization options which do give you more control over the look and feel of your site but overall, theme customization isn’t great in PrestaShop.
Shopify offers 9 free themes as standard and an additional 70 paid themes available through the Shopify Theme Store, which range from $140 to $180 but there is a much larger selection of themes available outside of Shopify’s own marketplace. The Themeforst marketplace alone has over 1200 additional themes you can choose from, which means that Shopify has the largest theme selection of any fully hosted ecommerce platform.
When it comes to customisation, Shopify has always been one of the front runners as the customizer allows users a lot of control of the look of their site. With features such as being able to quickly add and removes sections, change the content within these sections such as the images and text along with being able to change the themes colours of font types.
Unfortunately though, this only really applies to your homepage, there are a couple of options for your collection and product pages but nowhere near as much and even less so when it comes to created pages such as About Me or Team. This is because the customizer doesn’t work with these pages, instead, you are limited to a pretty basic text editor, which has limited layout options.
Update – Shopify’s new OS 2.0 themes (1 free, 64 paid options) do extend the theme customizer to pages and you can create custom templates for individual pages.
Running an ecommerce website can be challenging at times and you require some help, so what support do you get from these platforms?
Due to being open source and free, it is understandable that the level of support available to users is limited and while you can contact PrestaShop directly through their website, it very much depends on the nature of your query as to the response you get.
Outside of this, they do have a community forum which can be a good place to ask questions and they do offer good guides and documentation within the resources section of their site.
As Shopify is a fully hosted platform, you do get some very good support options including over the phone, via live chat and email along with twitter. This is offered to all users and is available 24/7.
Accessing their support is not completely straightforward as you need to go to the help centre, type in a search query and then the button will appear that shows all of their contact options.
They also have a community forum that is frequented by their support staff and other users will also offer help and advice where they can.
Due to PrestaShop being a self hosted ecommerce platform, the quality of hosting depends on the web hosting company you choose for your site. With PrestaShop, you are also responsible for the updates and general maintenance of your site, so some technical knowledge can be beneficial.
As Shopify is a fully hosted solution and all of the hosting is taken care of by the platform and they also have a good hosting environment that offers the following:
- PCI Compliant Hosting
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Unlimited Storage
- 99.9% + Uptime
- Global CDN
- Free SSL Certificate
With your monthly subscription, Shopify also takes care of all of the platform updates, so you don’t have to deal with any of the technical aspects of your site.
Ease of Use
Facts and figures are one thing but what are these platforms like to use and how do they compare to each other? Well that is what I am going to be looking at in this section.
Getting started with these two platforms is different due to the way that they both operate and I will explain this in more detail below.
Due to the way PrestaShop works, it is a bit more technical getting started with PrestaShop as you need to first buy your hosting and then install the PrestaShop software. Most hosts will have some kind of 1 click installer but you still want to make sure that the settings are set up properly to prevent and headaches further down the line.
Some hosts may do this for you but in most cases, you need to do this yourself. You will also need to get your domain name pointed towards your web hosting and also install an SSL certificate so that your site is running on the https protocol.
Once you have got PrestaShop installed, you will be taken through to the admin dashboard and on your first sign in, you will be greeted by a pop up like in the image below:
This is the PrestaShop quick set up tutorial/guide and you will be taken through it by Preston the PrestaShop Penguin and it is worth going through this set up as it will show you how to do the basics within PrestaShop and is one of the better set up guides out there.
Once you have finished the set up guide, you will be shown links to documentation and training, which can be useful, especially when you are just getting started with the platform.
Outside of the set up guide, the PrestaShop dashboard is well laid out and the headings in the sidebar navigation menu are clearly labelled as are any sub-headings (which appear when you click on the main heading). It doesn’t take too long to figure out where everything is the dashboard.
The main homepage of the dashboard is quite cluttered with analytics, tips and platform updates/news and there is no way edit/configure the dashboard so that you only have the sections that you want.
Once you have gone through the sign up process, you will be taken into your dashboard for the first time and be greeted by a short set up guide but it is somewhat limited in terms of steps and the basic on only includes:
- Add Products
- Customize Theme
- Add Domain
This is missing some important steps and notification for completed payment gateway set up only appears after you have gone through and done it yourself. The start up guide is definitely something that could be improved in Shopify.
Fortunately, they have created a very useful set of videos in their academy, that are worth watching as they not only show you how to get started with Shopify but also include some tips and tricks to get you up and running.
Outside of the set up guide, the Shopify dashboard is a very nice place to be. It has a simple, uncluttered layout and the sidebar navigation menu is clearly labelled, making it very easy to not only find out where everything is within the dashboard but also to move from one section to another.
Being able to manage your stock efficiently and effectively is a hugely important part of running an online store and for me there are three main areas to this and they are:
- Adding products
- Organising your Products
- Managing your inventory
The add new product page in PrestaShop is well laid out and they have kept it relatively simple with a few tabs to work through in order to create a new product. They have also kept the amount of sections in each tab to a minimum, so that you are not overloaded with options.
One thing that is not so straightforward is setting up attributes, which are required if you sell products with variations or product bundles as you need to go into the Attributes section, create all the ones you want and then go back in and add them to your product. While not the worst set up, it does mean having to navigate between different pages, which isn’t the most optimal workflow.
Organising your products is very simple as PrestaShop has opted for a traditional category set up, which allows you to create parent and child categories and you add products to categories on the product creation/edit screen.
Managing your inventory in PrestaShop isn’t the best as they have limited bulk editors and in the main products overview page you can only activate, deactivate, duplicate or delete products on bulk. To manage inventory, you need to go into the stock section of the dashboard or go in and edit each product individually, which once again, this isn’t the most optimal workflow.
Adding a new product is much easier in Shopify as they have gone for a single page layout, which is very simple and easy to use as they have kept the amount of sections and options to a minimum and the page has a really nice flow to it, meaning it doesn’t take long to go through and add a new product.
When it comes to organising your inventory, Shopify do things a little bit differently to most platforms as they have created their own collections system, which can be set up in one of two ways.
The first and arguably easiest for people who are new to the platform is to create a manual collection and what this means is that you create the collection and then manually add the products to it, this is very similar to a traditional category system.
The second way is to create an automated collection and this works on conditions that you create and can be based off product tags, vendor and product type to name but a few. This method takes a bit more time to learn as there are quite a few options that you can choose from but when done properly, can be very effective.
When it comes to managing your inventory, Shopify have created a few different ways in which you can do this. The first is the Inventory page and this is great for quickly and easily updating the stock quantity of your listings.
But if you want to make more changes to your listings, you can use their bulk editors and these allow you to edit pretty much and field that appears on the product creation/edit page. And pretty much the only reason you would need to go back in and edit a product individually, would be to update the description.
As with many things with PrestaShop, order management isn’t the most optimal as in the main order overview page, you can only update order statuses in bulk.
If you want to print off order invoices or packing slips, you need to go into their separate section and you select orders via a date range, which can then be downloaded in PDF format and then printed off if you wish.
One nice feature with PrestaShop’s order management is the ability to create Credit Slips for returns.
Shopify doesn’t exactly excel when it comes to order management as standard but it does offer more easy to access bulk tools such as being able to update order statuses, print of packing slips and export orders but if you want to be able to print other order information in Shopify such as invoices or credit notes, you will need app.
• Free to install and use
• Large selection of addon modules
• Good documentation
• Workflow is not optimal
• Can be expensive for additional modules and themes
• Theme customization is very limited
• Theme Customisation
• 24/7 Support
• Easy to use Admin Area
• The App Store
• Very Good Performance
• Transaction Fees
• Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
For the majority of users, there is only really one winner out of the two and that is Shopify.
It just offers a much better all round package that is easier to use and requires less technical knowledge and input due to all of the hosting being taken care of for you plus it is all backed up by 24/7 support.
PrestaShop isn’t a bad ecommerce platform but it can be somewhat frustrating to use as a lot of the processes aren’t the most optimal and could result in time being unnecessarily wasted and it may not also work out much cheaper when factoring in hosting, modules and themes.
But it is always best to try these out for yourself to see which one you prefer and you can do so by clicking on either of the buttons below:
Check Out PrestaShop
Free Open Source Ecommerce Software
Try Shopify for Yourself
14 day Free Trial, No Credit Card Needed!