With more people than ever going online to find a bargain, there’s never been a better time to set up your own e-commerce store. The technical barrier to entry is the lowest it’s ever been: you can set up your own website in minutes using a service like WordPress, and plenty of software and plugins exist to provide everything you need to create and manage your own online store.
One such piece of shopping cart software is PrestaShop. A secure, open-source shopping cart script, PrestaShop contains over 300 features that will help you create the online store of your dream. The software comes with over 2,000 modules and excellent tutorials so you can let your imagination run wild, without having to worry about whether your technical skills will allow you to turn your ideas into reality!
PrestaShop vs CS-Cart
To give you an idea of how PrestaShop works, let’s compare it to one of it’s main competitors, CS-Cart. CS-Cart is a highly popular shopping cart software, and you can learn more about it by reading my recent review. Each software has similarities and differences, so below is a brief overview of some key features that will be important to you as a seller.
PrestaShop can take a spreadsheet of your inventory and import it into your database, creating a smooth transition from your old shopping cart software to your new. You can update details and attributes of several products at once, or do them one by one.
CS-Cart has an accurate inventory tracking system that enables you to display the remaining number of products available to buyers too. You can configure the management system to notify you when stock on a certain product is running low, so you can order more accordingly.
PrestaShop provides an easy way to export your products to other e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon and alternative online marketplaces, where they can reach a wider audience. The software comes integrated with eBay and you can find tools for integrating with other services in the PrestaShop add-on store. As well as promoting your products to a wider audience base, placing your goods in another online marketplace also helps to improve your website’s SEO.
CS-Cart doesn’t currently offer direct integration with other online vendors such as Amazon and eBay.
PrestaShop comes with a range of features that improve visitors’ experience of your e-commerce website. You have the option to enable user friendly navigation, product comparison and cross-selling (showing customers related products).
CS-Cart enables you to customize your store so that it’s easier for your customers to purchase what they want. Special features which I really like include shipping estimations and one-page checkout capability. Statistics show the more pages the checkout process has, the more likely the customers will abandon the cart. Cutting down the number of checkout pages to a single one greatly enhances the checkout experience and increases conversions!
Both PrestaShop and CS-Cart offer integration with Google Analytics, as well as providing their own in-house statistics.
Both shopping cart solutions offer a range of payment gateway integrations. PrestaShop accepts debit and credit card payments, and users can also download other payment gateways as addons through the PrestaShop website.
CS-Cart offers a variety of payment gateways too, including Google Checkout, PayPal, 2Checkout, Authorize.net and many more.
Price is probably the biggest difference between PrestaShop and CS-Cart.
As an open-source software, PrestaShop is free to download, install and use. If you want extra functionality beyond what the core PrestaShop package offers, the platform has nearly 2,000 extra addons that are available to download and use. Some addons are not free though.
CS-Cart offers three different packages, starting at $345 and rising to $985 for a multi-vendor platform.
PrestaShop is a great cost-effective solution for e-commerce merchants who want to keep their running costs low but want a professional, user-friendly software. The number of features that PrestaShop offer is very impressive, especially given that the script is free! Some of the plugins/addons can be pricey, but it’s possible for a small to medium-sized online store to run just fine without having to purchase extra features.
PrestaShop premium themes from ThemeForest
The useability of PrestaShop is important, but you also need to find a compatible theme that will make your store look attractive to visitors. I’ve selected a list of the best five PrestaShop premium themes from ThemeForest that provide smooth integration with the PrestaShop platform, and add a stylish appearance to your online store.
Ultimate Shop Pro is a flexible and trendy theme that is designed to work with online stores selling any product. With a simple layout and a three-color design, the theme focuses visitors’ attention on the store’s products. New arrivals and best sellers are featured on the homepage, visitors can make advanced searches and search results can be ordered by price, categories, colors, availability and brand.
Updated for PrestaShop 1.5.1.
Alysum is prefect for small and medium-sized businesses. The theme’s colors are fully customizable, so you can easily choose the colors that match your store’s branding. The theme’s styling and layout means it is most suitable for a fashion or beauty e-commerce store.
From my experience, this theme is great for users switching from a fashion blogshop.
Estore is a clean, modern theme that is suitable for most types of e-commerce store. Thanks to its sharp, simple design, EStore would go well with technology or gadget shopping sites. The theme also has room for banner advertising if you want to add another passive income stream to your site.
This theme is compatible with PrestaShop 1.4.x.
Arundo is a versatile theme for small to medium-sized shopping sites. It comes with a range of features, including unlimited color options, over 500 Google fonts, 24 additional backgrounds and support for five different languages. The theme has a simple yet stylish design that gives you the ability to showcase the products you want customers to see.
The huge product sliders on the homepage is great to feature your bestsellers, or special promotions.
Ideal for e-commerce merchants who want to appeal to mobile users, Shopaholic Responsive is designed to provide you with all the features and functionality you need to run a successful e-commerce website. This theme is responsive, which means it will adjust its layout automatically on different devices such as computers, laptops, tables and even mobile phones.
Out of these PrestaShop themes, my favorites is Ultimate Shop Pro. This theme costs $65 for a regular license, has been purchased by over 200 different e-commerce store users and has good ratings and positive comments from previous users. Even though the theme has been downloaded by hundreds of other e-commerce merchants, it’s so flexible that you’re unlikely to find someone with a similar site, even if they’re using this theme.
ThemeForest is one of my favorite online marketplaces for premium themes. The site offers themes in a variety of styles and for all kinds of websites. This marketplace stands out from other similar websites because it lets you rate themes you have tried and displays this information to others.
When you browse the available themes, you can see how many downloads each theme has, plus read users’ comments and ratings. Previewing a live demo or reading up on a theme’s features can help you make a decision, but it’s invaluable to know what other users’ experiences have been too.
ThemeForest is a fantastic website for discovering new premium themes at reasonable prices. If you’re looking for a new premium theme and want assurance about previous users’ experience, check out ThemeForest so you can choose your new theme with confidence!