A Beginners Guide to PrestaShop – The Open Source e-Commerce CMS

You always wanted to create your own online store but didn’t had the knowledge how to start or what shopping-cart solution to use?

No Problem! In this article I will introduce you the key-features of PrestaShop, one of the most used open-source e-Commerce shopping-cart solutions out there, which is free to use and with a big community.

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What Exactly is PrestaShop?

PrestaShop Logo

PrestaShop is a professional e-Commerce shopping cart content management system, which you can download and use for free.

Currently it has more than 50.000 community members and more than 33.000 online stores are using it as their shopping-cart solution.

Most people use it because of its scalability and modular structure and very light-weight and fast installation. If you already have PHP knowledge, you will be able to create your own themes in no-time!

If you can’t wait, you can give it a try right know. They are hosting a front-office access and also a backoffice access on their own servers. Click here to get to the demonstration page.

The Key-Features of PrestaShop

Features

PrestaShop has a lot of great features. Not only for the front-end but also for the back-office.

I will list you only a few of them to give you a small insight, why so many people are using it as their favorite shopping-cart solution.

Front-Office Features:

  • Featured products (Top sellers, New items,..) on the homepage
  • Build-in product-image zoom
  • Customer subscription and user accounts
  • Unlimited payment methods
  • Google Checkout module ready to be activated
  • RSS feeds

Back-Office Features:

  • Full-featured WYSIWYG text editor
  • Unlimited categories and subcategories
  • Different currency settings and tax settings
  • SMS/Text-message module
  • Customizable delivery status notification
  • Friendly URLs and Permalinks
  • SSL encryption
  • Smarty Templating-engine

This is just a small selection of the features. You can take a look at their complete feature-list here.

Sites Using PrestaShop

I prepared a list with some different looking online shops, which are using PrestaShop. You will see how much possibilities and freedom you have, while creating your own themes.

1. La Biohème

La Biohème

2. Contentin Café

Contentin Café

3. Chic Art

Chic Art

4. Kapsys

Kapsys

5. I got Style

I got Style

6. Nocturno 9

Nocturno 9

7. Diver Inside

Diver Inside

8. Camisetas Geek

Camisetas Geek

9. Onze Mètres Carrés

Onze Mètres Carrés

10. Design and Furniture

Design and Furniture

As you see, every PrestaShop theme can look different and can be designed as you wish. If you want to see more sites and get even more inspiration, just click here to take a look at their showcase here.

Behind the Scenes: Requirements and Installation

System Requirements

If you got inspired and want to try PrestaShop right now – go ahead and download it!

The current stable version is v.1.2.5. They also released a beta version a few days ago (v.1.3 beta 1) but it is recommended only for testing.

System Requirements:

But before you start downloading, make sure your server meets following system requirements so you don’t step into troubles during the installation.

  • Linux, Unix or Windows OS
  • at least Apache 1.3 or IIS 6
  • PHP 5.0* or later
  • MySQL 5** or later

* Some PHP 5 versions are bugged and prevent PrestaShop from working correctly. You can take a look at the supported versions at their full list of system requirements here.

** PrestaShop works also from MySQL versions 4.1.14 to 5.0, but some features are not working correctly or have strange behaviors.

Installation Process:

Auto-Installer

Now you know what system requirements you need. You can go ahead and start with the installation of PrestaShop.

After you have managed to upload the installation package to your desired directory on the sever, you can go ahead and start with the installation itself.

Step 1:

The first thing you have to do is to access the directory where you have uploaded the PrestaShop installation package.

In case you uploaded it to the root folder of your server (e.g.: ), go ahead and type in this address into your browser.

If you have done everything correctly, you will see the automatic installer of PrestaShop which will guide you through the installation. On the first step you can choose your default language which you want to use in your online shop.

Step 2:

On the next page (picture above), the application will perform a system check. If everything is alright, green check-marks will appear and you can continue the installation.

If you run into a problem and need help, don’t hesitate and go to their wiki or the forum to request help. I’m sure one of the 50.000+ members will be able to resolve you problem! :)

Step 3:

Auto-Installer

On step 3 of the installation you have to enter your MySQL connection details for the database you have to create.

If you are new to PrestaShop, choose the “Full mode” for your installation. This will install all basic modules, sample products and the default theme so you can take a look how everything works.

Step 4:

The installation is now almost complete. All you have to do now, is to enter your login information for the back-office. Optionally you can also upload a logo image for your shop.

Once you have done that, go ahead and click “Next”.

Step 5:

Your PrestaShop is now installed and ready to get used!

On the last page you will see all your details you entered again. Also you will get the links to your front-office and the back-office (you should bookmark them – just in case..).

Also don’t forget do delete the “install” folder from you server and rename the “admin” folder, so everything is secure!

Congratulations! You should now be able to see the default theme of PrestaShop, once you entered the URL in your browser:

Default Theme

Installing New Modules

Installing New Modules

The installation of new modules to your PrestaShop is a very easy process. Those are the steps you have to do:

  1. Unzip the module you have downloaded and upload it to your server with your favorite FTP browser.You have to place the module folder into the /modules folder of your installation.
  2. Login to your back-office and go to the “Modules”-tab.
  3. Search for the new module in the list.
  4. Finally click on “Install”.
  5. If necessary you can now click on “Configure” (the gearwheel-icon) to finalize the installation of the new module.

Once you have finished configuring the module, be sure to test it so you can confirm that it is working as it should.

Installing New Themes

Installing New Themes

To install a new PrestaShop theme, you have to do following steps.

  1. Download and extract it locally.
  2. Upload the entire theme-folder to the /themes directory on your server.
  3. Login to your back-office and go to Preferences > Appearance.
  4. Select your new themes from there and apply the changes by clicking on the “Save” button.

Congratulations! You have installed your new theme and to check it out, go to the front-end of your online shop and take a look at it!

Conclusion and Last Words

I hope you enjoyed this short introduction to PrestaShop.

As you see, it is very easy to use, has a lot of very useful features and can be easily extended with new modules. Also it is a professional shopping cart solution for your online shop, used by a lot of people.

Another big advantage is that it is open source and has a very big community where you can ask for help, once you need it.

Now go ahead and start designing your own themes or browse the web for finished themes. There are also a few free themes you can download and install on your server.

Good luck with your online shop!

Cheap SSL CertificatesE-commerce week is sponsored by SSLmatic which sells SSL certificates for much cheaper prices (RapidSSL, Geotrust, Verisign) and offers great support. Besides standard SSL certificates, wildcard and EV certificates are offered with discounts too. Check their site to get the cheap SSL certificates.

Daniel Kurdoghlian

Daniel Kurdoghlian is a freelance web designer, web developer and graphics artist living and working in Vienna (Austria). He is also founder of PushingPixels.at, a new media company specialized in web design, print design and photography. He's also co-founder of redeemoid, a service for people, who need download codes for their digital goods. If you want to get in contact with him, you can visit his vCard or just drop him a line through Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Lary says

    well crafted post and also very useful specially for the newbees in the industry much appreciated: )

  2. Rashmy says

    hi mate, i have been reading your site and is very useful, keep up your great work, I am going to sell my herbal products online so downloaded Prestashop and bought domain name (www.keepingyouhealthy.co.uk) at 123.reg and hosting at Godaddy.com, then I read there as the both different sites I need to update my name server, I am stuck could you please tell me how to update that please? it would be great help.

  3. Dan says

    Great article, thank you for your labor.

    It would be interesting to consider separately the Open Source and SaaS solutions.

    We are using for all of our projects Zend Framework.

  4. Stephany says

    Hi guys!

    Did you tried Store Manager for PrestaShop? It’s really great time-saver. At the website they telling that it saves nearly 2 hours and it’s true. I recommend this software for bulk updates. It worth money.

  5. Deven says

    I Used it for my some sites and it works great. I recommend a prestashop for ecommerce site and joomla for CMS sites :)

  6. Peter says

    You have done great job!! These themes and tutorial of prestashop will be very useful for prestashop users. Thanks for sharing it here. Keep sharing more knowledge…..

    • Kherfig says

      Paid themes don’t work. Prestashop support is very, very bad ! The worst I’ve ever seen. Magento is far better than Prestashit !

      • montyveda says

        having spent the last week setting up a prestashop, I’m inclined to agree with you.

        The theme we bought wouldn’t work, so we asked for help, got ignored, asked again, got ignored, asked for a refund and somebody fixed it! Now the theme is fixed, other aspects of prestashop have broken and being completely ignored on their forum and support, i’m left hacking the code.

        I think I’ll be having a look at magneto sooner rather than later.

  7. Olaf says

    Wow.. very inspiring..
    A like prestashop.. complete and elegant..
    keep sharing :)

  8. Jessica says

    Hi there,

    I found your article extremely interesting and useful. However, I still feel a little confused about how to get everything set up. Basically I’m a web designer, but I generally only work within the design field (making it look pretty!), rather than the technical elements. I’ve been keen to set up my own e commerce for a long time and this seems to be the perfect solution. I would obviously like to achieve an aesthetically pleasing site and don’t want to be limited by template restrictions, however will my lack of programming knowledge hinder this? I.e I was even a bit puzzled by the system requirements etc.

    Any suggestions would be fantastic.

    Thanks

      • Jessica says

        Thanks for your reply it was really useful.

        I have looked into Prestashop in more detail as well and now I’m trying to decide upon an appropriate host which will be compatible with the software, I’ve heard that iPage is good and has ftp and databases and all the other feature required, however I’m not sure if it will work with the latest version 1.4.

        Any ideas?

        Thanks again

        • emran 13 says

          use 000webhost free
          does suport it tryed i out just the same as as normal but has a downside to it because doesn’t have a cpanel elite version
          go to youtube and type mzytv and I will make a tut about 2morrow.

  9. says

    PrestaShop is a total ecommerce package based on PHP and using MySQL data management. This is free, user-friendly, open source shopping cart system. With this powerful tool, you can build, launch and manage an on-line store without paying any licensing fees.
    You can migrate the following entities to PrestaShop with Cart2Cart service – currencies, manufacturers, product categories, products, product attributes, customers, order, order status, product images, category images, etc.
    Customers’ credit card information is not migrated. Though, the information about customers’ billing, shipping addresses will be successfully migrated.
    When the migration process is completed all registered customers will have to use password recovery form on the target shopping cart to use their profiles, due to the fact that various shopping carts use different password encryption algorithm.

  10. Mark says

    HI! Thanks a lot! Very helpful guide!
    I just got my PrestaShop e-store and I’m so excited about it. I like design and admin. I was recomended from PrestaShop Forum to use Store manager for PrestaShop. I just got trial version.
    Did someone try it? The describtion sounds great ( to manage categories, products, product attributes, manufacturers and suppliers, import nad export), but I’m not sure I can use it because of my beginner level.
    Thanks a lot!
    Mark.

  11. lucas says

    i am consider how install WordPress in prestashop as use the unique articles to generate traffic and bring up the index prestashop.

  12. pix says

    Does PrestaShop work well with the WordPress Thesis theme? Can I use it with WordPress Multi-User?
    How does it compare to quirm’s e-Shop or the WP e-commerce plugin by Instinct?
    Thank you.

  13. amina says

    I need your help guys. How do I integrate my own template to prestashop. I read that everything should be done at the global.css but where do I see the changes to test ???

  14. Marko says

    I agree PrestaShop is one of the best e-commerce CMS that are free. Its easy to setup and it has clean back-end for everything. The best thing is, that Presta has a great support forum, so for all the “noobs” this is a major + ;)

  15. snlr says

    Is it easy to setup a shop in languages other then English, and in more than one language?

    • says

      Yes, it’s one of the key-features of PrestaShop.
      You have even the option to directly set it up during the installation.

      Also it’s no problem to do it on a finished installation.

  16. alaJoAnn says

    It was a lucky to find this post, as I’ll be setting up an online shop with a friend soon. I had no real idea where to begin, but now I’ll start by exploring PrestaShop (hopefully, it’s as easy as you suggest). Thanks for the tip, and your great site.

  17. janice says

    Thanks for this, I will give Prestashop a trial. Currently using Magento but have to say the backend of Prestashop looks much more intuitive on initial viewing.

    • Saad Bassi says

      I am also on the train, Man. Will try prestashop. I think its faster that Magento

      • Marco says

        Can tell you for sure. We have it online for over a year now, and tried magento first, as we wanted a multistore function. Happy we went for prestashop, as it’s loved by google ;-)

        • Andrew Davis says

          Marco, I’m considering using Prestoshop but require a multistore facility i.e. many vendors using the same store to sell their products using one cart. I saw you mentioned multishop. Have you got something similar working in Prestoshop or did you go for someting else. Thanks, Andrew

  18. says

    It’s nice to see that prestahop is gaining the attention it deserves.
    Prestashop is areally good alternative to big e-commerce solutions and works well on shared hosting.