Prestashop and WooCommerce, two quality website platforms, but which to choose?
eCommerce business is on an upward trajectory. COVID-19 has accelerated the move from bricks, and mortar by up to 5 years, with some businesses seeing up 97% increase in online sales in the first quarter alone. Having a website that provides an excellent user experience (UX), and gets the job done is a necessity if you want to compete.
Choosing the right website for your business has never carried so much pressure! You want a website that’s going to help your business grow, but you don’t know where to start- this article aims to remove some of the confusion, and provide simple answers to all the big questions.
In this article we’ll be covering:
- What is WooCommerce?
- What is Prestashop?
- Marketing and SEO
- Security and Support
- Pros and Cons of WooCommerce
- Pros and Cons of Prestashop
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommece is a free, open-source plugin for the worlds most popular CMS-WordPress. Released in 2011, this eCommerce platform has risen to the top, to become the leading website platform for eCommerce.
- WooCommerce currently powers over 28.19% of all eCommerce stores.
- 3,317,205 live websites are currently using WooCommerce.
- 4.9% of websites use WooCommerce.
One of the biggest reasons WooCommerce has become so popular is its ease of use. By working on top of WordPress it successfully integrates commerce and content, it’s fully customizable and has heaps of options. Native features include-
- Unlimited products in your store.
- Unlimited orders and sales.
- Various product filters ( sort by rating, attribute, price, popularity, etc.).
- Automated taxes calculation based on the customer’s shipping or billing address.
- Advanced inventory management.
- Coupons and related products for promotion.
- Comprehensive reports.
- Unrestricted number of images and galleries.
- Can be integrated with Google Analytics.
- Includes multiple currencies, measurement units, and languages.
- Flat or custom shipping rates.
Prestashop is an open-source eCommerce platform that is free to download and use. Being open-source you can make all the adjustments your need to create the stand-out eCommerce store your business needs. Created in 2007 by a French team, this platform (unlike WooCommerce) was created solely to be used for eCommerce and comes with a seriously deep set of features. Currently, the platform supports just shy of 32,000 websites, with a 2% market share, and has become one of the top eCommerce platforms of choice.
The main difference between Prestashop and WooCommerce is that Prestashop is an independent eCommerce software, while WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress.
Amongst Prestashops native features, stand out functions include it’s convenient management tools, sizable extension catalog, and Prestashops self-confessed ability to handle expansion and any number of products.
Deliberately built as an online sales platform, Prestashop draws attention to the fact that when visiting one of their eCommerce stores it’ll have the ‘feel’ and characteristics of an online sales site should have- whereas WooCommerce a plugin for WordPress won’t- “WooCommerce doesn’t have the appearance of an online sales site, which can be confusing”. I’m not sure how much truth is in this- considering all, the customers currently navigating their way around Woo stores!
Prestashop does have a great number of built-in features
- 1,000,000 Community members
- Translate your store’s content into 75 languages
- Present in 195 countries
- Manage customer and order relations
- Internationalize your store (taxes, currencies, languages, formats)
- Bring your store to life (promotions, sales operations)
- Advanced creation for products and stock management
- Advanced statistics table.
- Management of very large product catalogs
- 600 native features
- Over 6,500 modules, 5,000 themes on the Addons Marketplace
Both WooCommerce and Prestashop are open-source and free for anyone to use. But you will spend money on;
- Domain name- anywhere from $10-$500 for Prestashop and WooCommerce.
- Extensions and themes $59 – / WooCommerce $25-.
- Hosting- starting at $10 depending on what you want (see ‘Hosting’ below).
- SSL certificate
Need extra functionality from your site? You’ll need extensions- make sure you research what you need first, and how much it costs. Your once free platform can soon start to become expensive.
It’s essential to consider what features does your website comes with? Out of the box, Prestashop is laden with features, 600 to be precise-remember this platform was designed and built for eCommerce. WooCommerce comes in light, which means heading to the Woo store.
When it comes to addons. WooCommerce has a better selection of free or low-cost options compared with Prestashop where the entry price is generally much higher for similar quality modules, templates, and themes. But then again if you’re happy with Prestashops out-of-the-box features then you won’t be spending more cash on extras. Decide what you need, and then go and have a rummage around the marketplaces, it’ll give you a better idea of the bill you’ll be paying in the end.
Hosting and support are two other areas where you’ll be spending more money, there are lots to consider and so we’ll cover them in greater detail later on.
Ease of Use
It doesn’t matter if your chosen platform has incredible potential, it’s about whether you’re able to create the store you want and then manage it with confidence.
WooCommerce is advertised as an easy to use option, which can accommodate larger companies as well as those just starting out. Almost all users who work with WooCommerce highlight the platform’s ability to make things easy. Here at Ecomitize, our developers feel it’s down to the platform’s simple, easy to navigate interface.
WooCommerce scores an admirable 4.2 / 5 for ‘ease-of-use’ on the user review site Capterra.The WooCommerce platform is customizable with your WP-admin dashboard, therefore anyone using WooCommerce with any WordPress experience at all should find adjustments quite simple. With its easy-to-use interface, you can personalize your theme with colors, insert pictures or videos, or add different functions.
WooCommerce also comes with a nifty setup wizard that will walk you through setup, helping you to create pages, set up payments, select currency, and select shipping and tax option.
Setting up Prestashop can take up a little bit of time as it’s backend is a little more technical. Despite that, Prestashop provides demos, interactive courses, and lots of easily accessible information to get you going.
Once you’re done with the setup, integrations, and modules, daily operations such as order management, product creation, and inventory management are relatively easy. The interface has menus that lead to some quite complex setup areas, and whilst trying to cater to beginners and experts alike it could seem a little on the complex side-if you don’t have the experience.
As always the usability of something comes down to how skilled the operator is. If you have an in-house team or feel you have the skills, go for it- if not get some advice. Spend a little now on a developer, and you’ll waste less time and money later.
A key consideration for any eCommerce business is how to market your products and services. SEO and content are two of the biggest tools when it comes to marketing strategy, and so when choosing a platform it’s important to understand how your choice will facilitate this.
WooCommerce is based on top of WP, and it comes as no surprise that WooCommerce is a great choice for content. WooCommerce has a set of tried and tested content management options, including great options for blogging, landing pages, email marketing, and product descriptions. If that isn’t enough you can head over to the WooCommerce extensions store. One of our favorite marketing extensions is ‘Automate Woo’, with loads of features it helps; review rewards systems, SMS notifications, follow-up emails to regular customers.
WooCommerce is built using code optimized for SEO but doesn’t come with many native SEO features. Yoast and hoards of other plugins are available to give your store the SEO boost you need.
Prestashop does come with all the standard marketing tools including; special offers, discount mode, coupon codes, free shipping, email marketing, and affiliate programs. However, when it comes to content and blogging the free tools that come with Prestashop can be a little limiting.
Like Woo, Prestashop has a variety of lots of content-specific modules, try out Advance Blog for all your blogging needs.
Similar to WooCommerce, Prestashop SEO native functionality is a bit weak. Categories and products are optimized for SEO, however static pages are a bit limited, and most would benefit from a module to shore things up-it’s just a shame that addons tend to be pricier.
When it comes to eCommerce stores Speed is of the essence. User’s attention spans are decreasing, and even a 1-second delay can result in a 16% drop in customer satisfaction, and a drop in conversion rate by 7%. Making sure your website is quick is a necessity.
Research shows a difference in average page load times between the two platforms. WooCommerce comes in at 776 milliseconds, and Prestashop at 831 milliseconds, which could be considered slow as Prestashops result is more than 1.6 times higher than the Google guideline for SEO.
However, it’s not quite as easy as saying A is better than B. It really depends on the number of extensions being used, how much you customize your theme, whether your images are SEO optimized. Hosting can also play a part…..
Both Prestashop and WooCommerce are self-hosted, meaning you’ll have to find somewhere for your site to live. There are so many options out there it can get confusing, you can get hosting for $10 or less but make sure your provider meets your needs. It won’t matter how much time you spent designing your site if it’s let down by hosting.
- Poor bandwidth and RAM can affect performance, understand what you need.
- Dedicated or shared server? Shared saves on cost, but dedicated gives you more control over systems and security.
- Security. Make sure you understand what support you’ll get in case of an emergency, nobody wants to have their website go down, but it happens. A quality host and/ or support team will prevent issues before they happen, and respond quickly when problems do occur. Is it worth spending an extra 100 dollars a year- yes.
Security and Support
One sure way of losing revenue is having technical issues with your store. From websites going down to lost emails, glitchy stores, and customer data in the hands of hackers- you want to avoid problems, and if they do occur you want support, fast.
Although WooCommerce and Prestashop offer native support features (in a variety of ways), there is a level of choice when it comes to support in terms of hosting, and managed services.
To start with, WooCommerce is known to be a reliable platform, which is continuously updated to remove threats and vulnerabilities. To step up your security, plugins such as Wordfence and WP Fail2ban can give extra peace of mind.
If you do come across an issue WooCommerce provides comprehensive support documentation, which is easy to navigate and you’ll most likely find your answer there. As the platform is a free plugin for WordPress, the community support you can gain from the WordPress forums is invaluable. And if you’re really stuck you can submit a ticket to the technical support team.
Prestashop on the other hand has a library of resources and the option to take interactive courses to get you up to speed with the tech behind your store. And when issues do occur you can make use of the support provided by the 1 million Prestashop community members.
Prestashop also comes with technical support packages, which are unique compared to other platforms. Starting at $249, up to $399, the packages cover a range of support issues. It has to be said that they could be considered expensive considering the cheapest package only allows you 3 hours of support!
Is there another option? Outside of the support provided by the platform, consider that some companies provide “managed hosting” meaning they’ll look after your website, and any technical and/ or security issues. This makes a lot of sense if you’ve hired a company to help build your site- who better to look after your site than the people who helped build it.
Everyone now needs a website that stands out from the crowd, competition is fierce,
Whilst sales from bricks are mortar stores have delined eCommerce is seeing 129% year upon year growth. User Experience (UX) is key- it transformed Airbnb into a billion-dollar business. You know your customers and providing a customized quality experience will keep them coming back.
Now to start, Prestashop does come with far more out of the box features than WooCommerce (600 to be precise!). However, it’s quite easy to find free, and/or cheap extensions through the WooCommerce store. With Prestashop, you may also want a developer to help change code, and get the most out of the platform.
When it comes to themes WooCommerce gives you the option of installing specific themes- “Storefront” is the free theme for WooCommerce, which comes with different “flavors”. The new Storefront Extensions Bundle is pretty funky and allows you to customize pretty much anything. You don’t like the sound of that you can always choose to head over to Themeforest and take advantage of the 48,000 WordPress options. The price of paid WooCommerce Themes normally starts at $29.99.
With Prestashop, you can make use of one of the platform’s excellent free templates, or head to Prestashops official store where you can find over 2000 themes. There are thousands more themes from third-party websites, however sometimes the quality isn’t that high, and it can be easy to tell the difference in quality. On average the price of themes starts at $59.99, slightly higher than WooCommerce.
Both platforms provide a massive selection of addons to pimp up your store. Again when it comes to choosing additional functionality we would recommend staying within the bounds of the certified stores, as quality tends to be higher- particularly for Prestashop.
The Pros and the Cons
|WooCommerce Pro’s||WooCommerce Cons|
|Ease of use|
WooCommerce is lightweight and flexible
|Low on native features |
Price (extensions can mount up) Need WP experience
|Prestashop Pros||Prestashop Cons|
|Purpose-built for retail |
Lots of native features
|Requires coding knowledge|
Slow average page load times
WooCommerce vs Prestashop? Which Platform to Choose?
Comparing Prestashop to WooCommerce was always going to be difficult. They are both free open-source options, which allow for a high level of customization. Does business size matter? Often WooCommerce is touted as being for small businesses, and Prestashop for medium-sized businesses, none the less there are many businesses out there using WooCommerce with catalogs of 100,000 + products.
What about customization?
Prestashop does come with a large selection of native features, however altering your site, can and will most likely require an expert help-which will end up costing you. WooCommerce on the other hand is a little simpler, meaning less time paying a developer, and their extensions are cheaper- on the whole.
What we have here are two of the top open-source website platforms in the world, and there’s a reason why they are so revered. Both can provide retailers with an eCommerce store to be proud of. It’s up to the retailer to figure out which platform is the best fit, a platform that will help market products, drive sales, and stand out from the competition.