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.
What Exactly is PrestaShop?
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.: http://yourdomain.com), 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.
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.
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.
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”.
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:
Installing New Modules
The installation of new modules to your PrestaShop is a very easy process. Those are the steps you have to do:
- 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.
- Login to your back-office and go to the “Modules”-tab.
- Search for the new module in the list.
- Finally click on “Install”.
- 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
To install a new PrestaShop theme, you have to do following steps.
- Download and extract it locally.
- Upload the entire theme-folder to the /themes directory on your server.
- Login to your back-office and go to Preferences > Appearance.
- 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!
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. If you want to get in contact with him, you can visit his vCard or just drop him a line through Twitter.