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%
This does make deciding which plan to go for a little trickier but you can use tools like our Shopify fee calculator to help you figure this out.
Shopify does 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 offers a 3-day free trial and the first 3 months cost $1/m.
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 has its own addon marketplace with over 4,000 additional modules that 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 URLs
- 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 its 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 number 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 & Customization
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 setup 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.
There are no such issues when it comes to Shopify’s theme customization as they not only offer a large number of themes but also a full site customizer.
If you look in Shopify’s own theme store, there are 9 free and over 80 paid themes, which range from $200 – $350 but there are also themes available outside of Shopify, either through marketplaces like ThemeForest or direct from developers.
The real standout part of Shopify’s design tools is its full-site customizer, which offers:
- Customization of nearly all page templates (only missing blog posts)
- Customization of header and footer
- A large selection of sections and blocks
- Lots of theme settings, including colors and fonts
This gives users a lot of control over the look and feel of their site and it is also very easy to use, which is ideal for beginners.
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 center, 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.
One of the main differences between PrestaShop and Shopify is the hosting as with PrestaShop, you need to choose a hosting company to use and then install the PrestaShop software, whereas with Shopify, the hosting is included with your monthly subscription and in the table below, we list the differences between the two types of hosting:
|PCI Compliant||Depends on Host||Yes|
|SSL Certificate||Depends on Host||Yes – Free|
|Bandwidth||Depends on Host||Unlimited|
|Storage Space||Depends on Host||Unlimited|
|CDN||Depends on Host||Yes|
|Updates & Maintenance||Your Responsibility||Included with Plan|
|Uptime||Depends on Host||99.9%|
As you can see, you know exactly what you are getting with Shopify and one of the big advantages, especially for anyone new to ecommerce or building websites is that all of the technical aspects such as installation, updates and maintenance etc are taken care of for you, leaving you to focus on the business aspects of running 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 we are 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 this is explained in more detail below.
Due to the way PrestaShop works, it is a bit more technical to get 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 setup tutorial/guide and you will be taken through it by Preston the PrestaShop Penguin and it is worth going through this setup 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 setup 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 setup guide, the PrestaShop dashboard is well laid out and the headings in the sidebar navigation menu are clearly labeled 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 to edit/configure the dashboard so that you only have the sections that you want.
Getting started with Shopify is really easy to do, as it is simply a case of going to the Shopify website and signing up for their free trial entering your email address and creating a password.
Once you have gone through the signup process, you will be taken into your dashboard for the first time and be greeted by a short setup guide, which was updated with the new OS 2.0 and now includes more steps to help you set up your Shopify store.
The only step missing from the guide is a prompt to set up your shipping method, which is a strange omission but overall the new setup guide is a definite improvement.
Shopify has also 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 setup guide, the Shopify dashboard is a very nice place to be. It has a simple, uncluttered layout and the sidebar navigation menu is clearly labeled, 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 there are three main areas to this, which are:
- Adding products
- Organizing 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 number 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 setup, it does mean having to navigate between different pages, which isn’t the most optimal workflow.
Organizing your products is very simple as PrestaShop has opted for a traditional category setup, 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 on the main products overview page, you can only activate, deactivate, duplicate or delete products in 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 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 number 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 organizing your inventory, Shopify does things a little bit differently from 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 as 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 on 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 has 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 update 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 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 easier access to bulk tools such as being able to update order statuses, printing packing slips and exporting orders but if you want to be able to print other order information in Shopify such as invoices or credit notes, you will need an app.
• Free to install and use
• Large selection of add-on modules
• Good documentation
• Workflow is not optimal
• Can be expensive for additional modules and themes
• Theme customization is very limited
• Theme Customization
• 24/7 Support
• Easy to use Admin Area
• The App Store
• Very Good Performance
• Transaction Fees
• Automatic Collection system is a bit complicated
PrestaShop vs Shopify – Which is the Best Ecommerce Platform?
For the majority of users, there is only really one winner out of the two and that is Shopify.
This is because Shopify is one of the best all round ecommerce package, it is easy 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!