Starting an online store used to be a difficult thing. Whether you were coming from a brick and mortar store or just opening an online retailer, the work involved was extensive. You had top pay for a developer, buy a domain, pay for ssl, maintenance. You had to anticipate your customers needs and do an awful lot of research to find out what you needed on your site. That is not the case these days, I’m happy to say. With a few simple clicks you can have a bespoke top of the line eCommerce site, and with a few clicks more you can even integrate all the required add ons, from social media to offline store management.
I’ll be looking at two eCommerce solutions today, Shopify and Prestashop, and there are a fair number of differences between, the least of which is the price. Prestashop operates under a different business model and as such they do not charge a subscription fee, instead they charge for themes, add ons and various ancillary features that tend to come as standard with other companies packages. Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions on the market, and fro good reason, they combine everything you need to make a successful online business with top notch customer service and streamlined design tools.
So which one is right for you? Read on for the full break down.
Shopify Vs Prestashop – Appearance, Professionalism, & Overall Look
Time and time again I have stressed the importance of aesthetics when selecting a design for your website. Granted, unless you hire a designer you are at the mercy of the themes available, but it is always possible to find something that both fits and looks great. Even a modicum of design flair is enough to customize your new store in just the right way as to make it both eye-catching and thematically appropriate. So let’s take a look at the options available to us.
Prestashop is mostly community driven and when it comes to themes is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand there are more themes available here than for any other platform, with the possible exception of Magento, on the down side most of them were not created by professionals, leaving them looking a little basic. The ones that are professionally designed are both of high quality and varied though, but they’re a little pricey.
They are broken down into premium and certified partner templates. Premium prices start at $160 while certified start at $85. Even the community created templates aren’t all free, with some of them selling for as high as $320. Considering that Prestashop is nominally free, and there are free templates available, it’s not much of surprise that you are going to see charges for features coming left right and center.
However, when you factor in the customization features, and the fact that you can get lucky with a freely designed theme, you can still end up with a sleek modern site that reflects well on your business. It takes a little work and a sizable amount of learning if you don’t already have the skills, but it can be done. I cannot fault the provider for the variety though. If you play your cards right you may save money in the long run, but it’s going to be a close thing.
It’s not often that I can say that Shopify has fewer themes than the company I’m comparing it to, but that is the case today. It has fewer themes, but it’s easy to argue that the themes they offer, a couple a hundred, are all of much higher quality. Each one is professionally designed and made in such a way as to be fully compatible with multiple screen sizes. Not all of them are free, of course, but plenty are and it’s a rare day that you can’t find the exact theme you’re looking for from the free pile. Unless you can’t live without a premium theme you’ve found, there is little need to shell out the extra cash.
The cheapest of their themes is around $80, with the most expensive one I could find being $180. As I’ve mentioned though, you needn’t bother. The customization options for every theme are extensive, making it easy to tweak each design until it perfectly matches the design ethos you’re going for. Both the boutique-esque ultra moderns and the more robust ream of product designs are available for free, if you go looking.
It’s hard to call a winner here. Shopify may have the more aesthetically pleasing designs across the board, but Prestashop’s community driven nature means that if you go digging you’ll eventually find what you’re looking for, though for how much who’s to say. If you have the time and the money then by all means go for Prestashop, but I’m calling this one a draw.
Winner – Draw
Shopify Vs Prestashop – Features & Integrations
There are so many things you need to take into account when setting up your online store, and a whole lot of extra things to manage once you get going. In my mind the most important two features are your SEO tools and social media integration. All eCommerce solutions come with the same basic features though, product management, sales data, reports etc, so we really have to look at the nitty gritty and understand future needs when making the choice now.
Getting in and starting with Prestashop is fairly easy. The base features include adding items, customizing your theme, set up pricing rules, track customer orders and buying habits, in fact the record keeping is fantastic, considering it’s free. It’s not often you see such a wide range of stats, unless you pay for the more expensive packages from their competitors. Your SEO tools are pretty versatile as well. You can edit each page, add high ranking meta tags and even make sure to generate SEO friendly URLs.
Overall the core features are impressive, but it lacks some of the functionality of its peers. You can add many of the missing features via add-ons though. Finding the right app is simple. Their app store may be filled to the brim, with more added daily, but their search tools are clean and easy to use. Here you can get that all important social media integration. Finding the right tools is a bit tricky, many of the apps are free, but in order to make sure you are getting all the functionality you need from an app you’ll likely have to pay for it. It’s another cost to take into account before jumping into this free service.
I would definitely advise you look through their app store before setting up a shop. You might find your cost rising a little faster than you thought otherwise, especially when you can get a lot of the features fully integrated with other eCommerce providers.
A similar set up to Prestashop. Core features like unlimited listings, SEO tools, stat tables, site customization the works. But even with the Basic package from Shopify you get a few key features that you would end up paying for with Prestashop. Being able to add meta keywords and SEO friendly URLs is only half the work of increasing site traffic. You need content. Lots and lots of written content, and one of the better ways to get it is with an integrated blog. Shopify’s blogging tool comes as standard, you can get it with Prestashop, but only in app form. In addition there is integrated support for a variety of social media platforms, like Facebook and twitter. Add in an extremely robust app store and you’re onto a winner.
Shopify has recently expanded its feature set to include and offline point-of-sale system combined with a mobile shop management tool Shopify POS bridges the gap between offline store and online store, allowing you to manage inventory and take payment from an iPad. It’s great for both brick and mortar stores and for those who travel to conventions and concerts selling their wares. It’s that feature, when combined with the dedicated integrated services, that push Shopify just that little bit ahead of Prestashop.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs Prestashop – Dropshipping
Dropshipping is an increasingly popular pastime, and business opportunity. It is essentially listing items from other sites on your won, combining sources and product ranges into a cohesive storefront. There is an art to it, but if you have the knack you can make a lot of money with little effort. I like to look at two different kinds of user, the power user and the supplementary user. The power user crafts a storefront consisting of no0thing but drop shipped items. The supplementary user adds to their storefront items to complement what they sell themselves, and depending on your needs there are different integrated apps to consider. Shopify is the more professional of the two firms, in terms of content, so the apps are tightly focused for the markets. The options from Prestashop can be as robust, but set up is a little on the troublesome side. There are numerous modules that can be installed, but making them play nice requires more work on your end.
Shopify’s big two are Oberlo and Shopified App. Both are amazing, but I prefer Oberlo, more of a supplementary fan myself, and their streamlined approach to Aliexpress integration is amazing. There is literally no other service that is easier to use, and that really appeals to me. But if you want to integrate Alibaba, Amazon and around thirty other sites into your own store front then you are going to want the Shopified App. Set up is more complicated, and day to day use is a little more cumbersome, but it still saves you an awful lot of time, and is certainly worth it if that is the route you want to go down.
Prestashop’s open community is, as usual, a blessing and a curse. It’s great due to the fact that any site you want to start drop shipping from you can, but the downside is the lack of real professional tools. Some firms have made the jump tot he platform, and integrated well, but on the whole you are going to be wading through a mountain of difficulty getting all the modules to play nice. it can mean that you get the features of Shopified with the ease of use of Oberlo, in terms of day to day operation, but the set up required, and the trouble shooting makes it the less attractive option for Drop shippers.
Both have the tools, but Shopify have the better tools. They make setting up a drop shipping site, or integrate features from drop shipping software the easiest thing in the world. If you want to set up with minimum funds, Prestashop is still the better option, but for a few dollars more you gain so much of your time back, making it more worth it for me.
Winner – Shopify
Shopify Vs Prestashop – Flexibility, Ease of Use, & Scalability
This shouldn’t be too hard to call to be honest. Prestashop offers tremendous flexibility, with the more open source nature of the product, but that limits the ease of use. It’s scalability is limited to the skills of the user, meaning that if you don’t know what you’re doing it can be hard to keep pace with the growing needs of your business. Prestashop offers so many options that it can be a little overwhelming for the user to get their head around them. When coming from a brick and mortar background that can be a big problem, you’ll either need to learn an entirely new set of skills or hire someone who already has them, limited the benefits of a free system. Personally, having as much control over all aspects of my work is preferred, meaning that broadly speaking I see this excessive flexibility as a purely good thing. It does make it harder to use though, long term not the back end, it’s very well designed and quite easy to use.
The scalability issue is not an insurmountable one, but it does require an awful lot of forethought. As a business grows so too will the needs of the owner. With Shopify it’s easy to scale up, just buy the higher level packages and they come with all the new tools for larger businesses. To match that in Prestashop you have to know the tools you’ll need as you grow, requiring a lot of research. Prestashop does offset this with its community focus, but then you’re relying on the advice of competitors. Again, I prefer the method offered by Prestashop, but the Shopify option is far easier and much more intuitive.
In all this depends on your preferences. Do you want to go it alone, digging up the info you need along the way and slow upgrading in real time to your business needs, then go fore Prestashop. If you want a more streamlined experience, with fewer pitfalls, then perhaps Shopify is the better option. Neither stands higher than the other though.
Winner – Draw
Shopify Vs Prestashop- Cost & Value
This should be an easy one to judge, right? I mean, Prestashop is free. Well sort of. When you factor it all in setting up a good Prestashop costs you either time or money, and according to some they are the same thing. If you shell out the cash for your hosting, your SSL certificate, buying a good theme, buying all of the add ons you need you’ll find the price going ever higher. The benefit to Shopify is that you know the price before hand. You know exactly what you’re getting and what you’re getting is what you need. Factor in the time spent building and setting up and going with the subscription might be the better idea.
Shopify’s Basic package is the cheapest one that comes with a store, and starts at $29 per month. It comes with all the features you need to get going, a store front, SEO tool, blogging, social media integration, and some basic stat logs. As you move up the packages you’ll find more features better suited to larger businesses, like gift cards, professional reports and cart recovery. That package is $79 while the final package is $179. Neither company charges a transaction fee, though no matter who you go with you will be hit with a credit card fee for their use, 2.9%+30c is the most common figure, but the more expensive your Shopify package the cheaper that gets, so small savings there.
Overall I think your choice will depend on how much you’re are willing to spend from the get go. On one hand you’ll likely have to spend a decent amount matching the tools that Shopify provide in their Basic package, but you are also quite likely to save in the long run.
Update: You can give Shopify a shot for free right now by clicking here.
Winner – Draw
Shopify Vs Prestashop- Recap & Review
- All in One Solution
- All themes are professionally designed
- Excellent customer support
- Shopify POS offline system
- Easier to set up
- Cheaper in the short to mid term, depending on a variety of factors
- More expensive in the long term, possibly
- Back end custom code injection a little harder
- Fewer options overall than Prestashop
- Fantastic amount of options
- Cheaper in the long term
- Simple to set up
- Community support is unparalleled
- Open Source, allowing coders to really get their hands dirty
- Cost can stack up long term if you buy the wrong thing
- More difficult to get your head around
- Not an all in one solution, must buy SSL and host elsewhere
Always a good thing when firms offer very different products. Means that I can recommend them to completely different parts of the market. The control offered by Prestashop is amazing, but the high learning curve makes it less attractive to someone out to drop ship, or quickly set up a personal store. Shopify is much more simplistic. It offers nearly as much customization as Prestashop, and lacks that learning curve. Add in the ease with which is scales and it is makes it the better option for most of us. For those with the knowledge, Prestashop has a lot to offer though.
Free Trial Update: Give Shopify a try for free by clicking here to sign up for the deal. This makes it a great time to get that online store running and taking your business to the next level.