Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your business will be an integral decision to starting an online store—as it will dictate how you create your site, list your products, accept payments, and manage the whole of your operations. Luckily, there are numerous platforms on the market, each with different capabilities that may or may not meet your specific needs and budget.
If you’re exploring various platforms, then, you’ve probably seen both PrestaShop and Shopify appear frequently in your research. As two well-known, popular options that support thousands of business owners around the world, you may be wondering which is a better choice for your business. We’re here to help. We’ll compare PrestaShop vs. Shopify, discussing the different features, pricing, and customer reviews of the two platforms—to provide you with all of the information you need to decide which ecommerce platform is right for your business.
Overview of PrestaShop vs. Shopify
On first glance, PrestaShop and Shopify seem very similar—and in many ways they are. Both PrestaShop and Shopify allow you to build and customize your online store, add and market your products, accept payments, manage and complete orders, and of course, give your customers online shopping cart functionality. On the whole, PrestaShop and Shopify are all-inclusive platforms, with robust built-in features that give you the ability to start and grow your ecommerce business.
However, when diving deeper into the comparison of PrestaShop vs. Shopify, you’ll find one major (and important) difference. Shopify is a fully hosted platform that is available on a paid subscription basis—meaning that Shopify hosts your online store and manages security, upgrades, and maintenance–and these features are included in the fee you pay for access to the software. PrestaShop, on the other hand, is an open-source platform. PrestaShop is free to download, but you must install it yourself, find and pay for web hosting, and perform maintenance and updates as necessary. As an open-source software, PrestaShop gives you access to their code, allowing you to edit and adjust it specifically for your needs.
We should note that although PrestaShop is known for their open-source software, they also have a hosted platform, called PrestaShop Ready. As of June 2019, however, this solution is “being revamped” and not currently available, according to the PrestaShop website. Therefore, we’ll continue to compare PrestaShop vs. Shopify in terms of PrestaShop’s open-source offering.
PrestaShop vs. Shopify Features
With this overview in mind, let’s explore some of the specific features of PrestaShop vs. Shopify to get a better sense of what each of these platforms has to offer:
PrestaShop Feature Highlights
Although as an open-source software, PrestaShop gives you the ability to completely customize their platform as you see fit, they actually offer impressive out-of-the-box functionality as well. Here are some of the most significant features:
- Store development: With PrestaShop you can customize their main theme using the PHP programming language, or choose from one of the nearly 6,000 paid and free theme templates in the PrestaShop Add-ons Marketplace and modify one of those themes to suit your business. Although you have to acquire your own web hosting, PrestaShop does offer a pre-installed and secured hosting solution that you can choose to buy from their hosting partner, 1&1 IONOS.
- Products and inventory: PrestaShop gives you the ability to list your products, physical and digital, to sell online and allows you to organize them with categories, features, values, variants, and packs. You can sell customizable goods, track the inventory of each of your products, and create suppliers and manufacturers to associate with their respective products.
- Payments: PrestaShop allows you to accept (and offer your customers) several different payment methods including checks, bank wire, cash on delivery, as well as debit and credit cards. You can integrate with a variety of payment processors, including top providers like PayPal, Stripe, Square, and Authorize.Net. PrestaShop offers free payment integrations from their partners, as well as paid options you can add from their marketplace.
- Checkout: PrestaShop offers one-page checkout and allows you to customize the process—offering summary pages, customer account creation, order validation, and confirmation pages.
- Orders and shipping: With PrestaShop, you can create your order, fulfillment, and returns workflow; manage all orders from the admin; and send default emails to your customers throughout the process. PrestaShop allows you to configure your shipping methods, choosing delivery zones, shipping services, shipping costs, and taxes depending on location.
- International selling: This platform provides capabilities specifically for businesses looking to sell internationally. PrestaShop gives you the ability to set currencies, use a multi-language product sheet, run multiple stores from one interface, and ensure that your checkout process is compliant with European laws.
- Marketing and promotions: PrestaShop allows you to create coupons, price rules, discounts, and special offers, as well as cross-sell, promote, and suggest products. PrestaShop also includes SEO tools, abandoned cart email capabilities, social platform connections, and categorical reporting and tracking. Additionally, PrestaShop gives you the ability to develop a customer database, create customer groups to personalize experience, receive notifications, set default replies, and manage any customer service requests.
- Integrations and add-ons: If you want to integrate with a third-party tool or add a functionality you’re missing, PrestaShop offers over 10,000 free and paid modules, themes, and services in their marketplace—incorporating everything from blog tools to shipping and tax plug-ins to marketplace sales channel connections.
- Customer support: PrestaShop offers customer support resources on their website including documentation, webinars, videos, tutorials, and a community forum. Unlike many open-source platforms, however, they also give you the option to purchase a customer support plan, which gives you access to personalized technical help for your store. Moreover, PrestaShop offers training courses with their experts to teach merchants, developers, or digital professionals the ins and outs of their software.
An example of a PrestaShop online store. Source: PrestaShop
Shopify Feature Highlights
Unlike PrestaShop, where you receive all of their included capabilities when you download the software, the feature set you have with Shopify depends on which of their subscription plans you choose. As the Shopify plans increase in price, they also increase in functionality. Keeping this in mind, these are some of the most notable features of Shopify as a whole:
- Store builder: To create your online store with Shopify, you can choose from one of their over 70 paid and free themes and customize it using their drag-and-drop builder. All Shopify stores are mobile-ready and include a blog and full content management system.
- Web hosting and security: Shopify provides web hosting for all of their online stores, as well as a free SSL certificate, instant upgrades, unlimited bandwidth, and 24/7 monitoring. Shopify also gives you the option to use your own business domain name or purchase one through them.
- Products and inventory: With Shopify, you can list an unlimited number of products (including digital products), create product variations, and organize your inventory by category, type, season, sales, and more. Shopify also tracks your stock and automatically stops selling a product when the inventory runs out.
- Shopping cart: Shopify allows you to customize your shopping cart and checkout—giving you the ability to set up automatic and flexible shipping rates, free shipping, automatic taxes, multiple checkout languages, and abandoned cart emails.
- Payments: To accept payments online in your Shopify store, Shopify gives you the option to work with their in-house processing, Shopify Payments, or integrate with any of over 100 external gateways.
- Orders and customers: Shopify allows you to fulfill one or multiple orders with one click, connect to fulfillment centers and dropshipping apps, and set up automated store emails. You also can create customer profiles and groups, allow your customers to create an account at checkout or checkout as a guest, and offer refunds.
- Marketing and analytics: Shopify provides built-in SEO tools as well as a generated sitemap. Shopify also allows you to offer discounts and gift cards, enable product reviews, integrate with your social media platforms, and sell on Facebook and other online marketplaces. Additionally, your Shopify dashboard gives you the ability to track sales, orders, and web analytics, as well as generate reports and connect to Google Analytics.
- Shopify mobile app: With Shopify, you can download their free mobile app and manage your store on the go. The app allows you to capture payments, fulfill orders, send shipping notifications, manage inventory, and reach out to customers. Plus, all of your data syncs automatically between the Shopify app and your online store.
- Shopify app store: To extend your store’s functionality or connect with third-party tools you already utilize, you can download add-ons from the Shopify app store. The Shopify app store includes over 1,000 free and paid integration options, spanning from email marketing platforms to chat bots to accounting software.
- Customer support: Shopify offers dedicated customer support from their team 24/7 by email, live chat, and phone. Shopify’s website also includes customer resources like discussion forums, the Shopify Help Center—which includes FAQs, user guides, and tutorials—and their ecommerce university. Finally, Shopify houses a library of experts, including designers, developers, and marketers, who you can hire for personalized, hands-on assistance with your ecommerce operations.
An example of a Shopify online store. Source: Shopify
PrestaShop vs. Shopify Pricing
Despite their inherent differences, when comparing PrestaShop vs. Shopify, you can see that they actually offer many similar features. When it comes to pricing, however, these two platforms are going to differ greatly due to the fact that PrestaShop is an open-source solution and Shopify is a hosted platform. Let’s take a closer look:
Although PrestaShop is free to download, it will not be completely free to use this software to operate your online store. In fact, it’s rather difficult to say exactly how much it will cost to use PrestaShop—however, there are a few factors we can take into consideration.
First, to use PrestaShop for your ecommerce site, you’ll have to find and pay for web hosting. The cost of hosting can vary, but if you use PrestaShop’s hosting partner, you’ll pay $4 to $14 per month, depending on the plan you choose.
Next, you’ll want to consider the costs you’ll incur from actually getting your site set up, including any development and customization. Since PrestaShop is an open-source solution, any customization you desire will have to be done with code—meaning unless you or someone at your business has technical knowledge, you’ll more than likely have to hire a developer.
The cost of a developer, as you might imagine, varies depending on the individual, as well as the services that you require. Additionally, even if you hire a developer for the initial setup and customization, you’ll want to keep in mind that you may need to continue to use that resource for any maintenance, updates, and security monitoring.
Furthermore, you’ll also want to consider the cost of the PrestaShop add-ons and themes. Although some of the integration options in the PrestaShop marketplace are free, many range in price from $35 to over $200 per add-on. If you need multiple add-ons, you should remember that you’ll need to pay the associated cost for each one.
Finally, you’ll have to think about the cost of payment processing. PrestaShop does not charge additional transaction fees on top of those that come directly from your processor; however, they do charge for many of their payment modules. As an example, if you chose to use Square as your payment processor, you would pay the cost per transaction from Square (2.9% plus $0.30), as well as the $174.99 to download the Square module from the PrestaShop marketplace.
Although you could choose to have your developer create modules outside of those offered in the PrestaShop marketplace, you would then have to pay those development costs, as well.
Taking all of these variables into consideration, you can see how the exact cost of PrestaShop is complex. Ultimately, the price to use PrestaShop will largely depend on your customization needs and development costs.
When it comes to Shopify, on the other hand, the costs are much more predictable. As we mentioned earlier, Shopify offers their ecommerce software on a subscription basis, giving you the option to choose a plan and pay the respective monthly fee. Unlike PrestaShop, however, the Shopify plan you choose dictates the extent of the included features you receive.
To explain, Shopify offers four core plans: Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. They also offer an enterprise solution, Shopify Plus, for high-volume merchants that is available on a quote basis. The first plan, Shopify Lite, costs $9 per month—however, this plan does not give you the ability to create an online store—instead, it allows you to sell on Facebook or add products to an existing website or blog.
The other three plans, however, all provide full online store functionality. Basic Shopify costs $29 per month and includes:
- Online store (ecommerce website and blog)
- Unlimited products
- 2 staff accounts
- 24/7 support
- Multiple sales channels
- Manual order creation
- Discount codes
- Free SSL certificate
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Print shipping labels
- Up to 64% shipping discount
- Shopify POS app and hardware peripheral support
- Third-party POS apps
Shopify costs $79 per month and includes all of the features of Basic Shopify, as well as:
- 5 staff accounts
- Gift cards
- Professional reports
- Up to 72% shipping discount
- USPS Priority Mail Cubic pricing
- Register shifts for POS
- Unlimited Shopify POS staff PINs
Finally, Advanced Shopify costs $299 per month and includes all of the functionality of the previous two plans, plus:
- 15 staff accounts
- Advanced report builder
- Third-party calculated shipping rates
- Up to 74% shipping discount
Additionally, if you want to expand your functionality with Shopify apps, you can do so, but as is the case with PrestaShop, you may have to pay a fee, depending on the specific add-on.
Moreover, you’ll also need to pay the cost of online credit card processing. In comparing the pricing of PrestaShop vs. Shopify, this is an area in which the two platforms greatly differ. As we mentioned earlier, Shopify offers in-house processing with Shopify Payments (which PrestaShop does not). If you utilize Shopify Payments, you’ll pay 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction if you have the Basic plan, 2.6% plus $0.30 per transaction if you have the Shopify plan, and 2.4% plus $0.30 per transaction if you have the Advanced plan.
However, whereas PrestaShop does not charge any transaction fees regardless of the processor you use, Shopify charges an additional fee if you use a provider other than Shopify Payments. This fee varies between the three plans, but ranges from 2% to 0.5%.
PrestaShop vs. Shopify Reviews
Now that we’ve compared PrestaShop vs. Shopify in terms of both features and pricing, let’s see what users have to say about each platform. We researched online customer reviews, as well as talked to a few business owners to hear their personal experiences with PrestaShop and Shopify.
When it comes to online PrestaShop reviews, most users seem to write positively about their experience with this open-source platform. Reviewers typically feel that PrestaShop is scalable, customizable, and professional-looking. Many users also highlight the built-in international selling capabilities, as well as the wide network of PrestaShop developers and experts that are available for assistance.
Although most online reviews are generally positive, users do mention some drawbacks of the software. Most frequently, reviewers comment on the expensive add-ons and the overall development lift it takes to set up and maintain a store using PrestaShop. However, many reviewers also write that PrestaShop is much more approachable and easy to use compared to other open source platforms, like Magento.
In his review on G2Crowd, Geremias M., a graphic designer, writes about his experience using PrestaShop—highlighting the software’s inventory options, web configuration and customization, as well as the variety of templates and add-ons.
He says: “I recommend [PrestaShop] if you are thinking of developing any type of ecommerce. PrestaShop has an infinity of ideal characteristics in this area.”
Like PrestaShop, Shopify online reviews are generally positive. Shopify reviewers write again and again about how simple and easy the platform is and how it’s accessible for all kinds of business owners. Furthermore, users highlight Shopify’s customization capabilities, design templates, mobile functionality, and additional included tools.
When discussing negative aspects of the Shopify platform, users most frequently write about Shopify’s price. They feel that the subscription cost is expensive, especially if you’re just starting out, as well as if you need additional functionality that only comes with the higher-level plans. In addition, users don’t like the transaction fee Shopify charges for using a third-party payment gateway. This being said, it seems that most online reviewers are satisfied with their overall experience with Shopify.
When we talked to small business owners Becky Beach and Aristide Basque, they both said that when comparing PrestaShop vs. Shopify, they would choose Shopify. Beach, ecommerce business owner and blogger at MomBeach.com, told us that she actually switched from PrestaShop to Shopify, saying Shopify is much more user-friendly.
“[Shopify has] several apps that integrate well such as MailerLite and reviews. After switching to Shopify, I was able to boost revenue by 50%. I recommend Shopify to everyone,” she said.
Basque, CEO and co-founder of SH1FT Digital, felt similarly.
“We love Shopify and recommend [it] to all our clients. We haven’t found anything better in terms of UX/UI, fulfillment, pricing, and customer support. It is very user-friendly and allows anyone to understand the platform within a few days,” he said.
Where PrestaShop Wins
Taking into consideration everything we’ve explored so far, let’s see where PrestaShop wins in the PrestaShop vs. Shopify comparison.
Although both PrestaShop and Shopify provide significant customization capabilities, there’s no doubt that PrestaShop offers more. As an open-source platform, everything about PrestaShop can be completely edited, modified, and customized to your business. Therefore, not only does PrestaShop include impressive built-in features out-of-the-box, but the platform also gives you the ability to significantly change and extend your functionality. Additionally, the number of themes and modules in the PrestaShop marketplace is truly impressive—meaning if there’s a feature or tool you want to add, you’ll more than likely be able to find it there.
Moreover, perhaps one of the most notable customization options PrestaShop offers is payment processing. When comparing PrestaShop vs. Shopify, payment processing is often an issue users have with Shopify. PrestaShop, on the other hand, allows you to integrate with a variety of payment providers and doesn’t charge additional credit card processing fees.
Whereas Shopify only offers minimum features for international selling, PrestaShop provides a variety of accommodations designed specifically for international ecommerce. As we mentioned earlier, some of PrestaShop’s built-in features include multi-language and currency capabilities, as well as checkout options for international taxes and shipping. Moreover, with all of the different payment processing options PrestaShop offers, international merchants can choose the one that works for them. This feature stands in large contrast to Shopify, who charges an extra transaction fee if you don’t use Shopify Payments, which is only available in 13 countries.
Where Shopify Wins
Although PrestaShop may have more to offer when it comes to customization and international selling, there are also areas where Shopify wins in this PrestaShop vs. Shopify comparison. Here are two to consider:
When it comes to user-friendliness, perhaps no ecommerce platform can compete with Shopify. As we heard from real business owners, Shopify is easy to use and understand and allows you to get your online store up and running quickly. Additionally, as a fully-hosted solution with a drag-and-drop web builder, Shopify is accessible to business owners of all skill levels and experience—you can create, customize, and manage your Shopify store without any technical knowledge or coding. Although PrestaShop is known as a much more usable platform in comparison to other open-source ecommerce software options, you’ll still more than likely need a developer’s assistance to truly utilize it.
As an open-source platform that requires development work, PrestaShop’s cost is unpredictable and can vary greatly depending on the specific business and situation. Shopify, however, has more cost transparency. Although Shopify’s cost will depend on your plan, add-on options, and payment processing, you’re more easily able to predict the final price you’ll pay to use the platform.
To explain, before you select a Shopify plan, you know what features are included and how much it will cost on a monthly basis. If something is missing from your plan that you need to buy as an add-on, you can factor that into your cost ahead of time. Similarly, if you use Shopify Payments, you know how much you’ll be charged per transaction, and although you’ll pay more if you use a third-party merchant services provider, Shopify at least tells you about the specifics of this cost upfront.
In these ways, Shopify is much more predictable than PrestaShop—you know what you’re getting and how much it will cost—which can be particularly important for small businesses, especially in terms of budget.
Which Platform Is Right for Your Business?
At the end of the day, both PrestaShop and Shopify have robust ecommerce functionality to offer—but the platform that’s right for your business will depend on your specific needs and budget. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, predictable platform that doesn’t require any technical knowledge, Shopify is going to be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you want a platform that can offer you the most customization and ability to sell internationally, PrestaShop will be the more suitable choice. Therefore, there is no objective winner in PrestaShop vs. Shopify—instead, the right platform will be the one that works best for your small business needs.
Randa Kriss is a senior staff writer at Fundera.
At Fundera, Randa specializes in reviewing small business products, software, and services. Randa has written hundreds of reviews across a wide swath of business topics including ecommerce, merchant services, accounting, credit cards, bank accounts, loan products, and payroll and human resources solutions.