Ecommerce startups need flexible, easy to set up and cheap solutions when it comes to software. A few companies provide such solutions and probably the best known is Magento, which can accommodate a wide array of startups.
However, Magento does have some issues and when it comes to small ecommerce companies, it might not be the best choice. Issues ranging from bloated code, unreliable support when it comes to finding the right development team make it hard for small companies to implement it. As you’ll see below there is one contender to Magento’s reign that you should definitely check out if you’re planning on starting an ecommerce company.
That contender is PrestaShop, a flexible and easy to setup open source application.
A brief history of PrestaShop
The company that now develops the product was founded in 2007 by Igor Schlumberger and Bruno Lévêque. The duo thought they could bring a better open source solution to the market and they did just that. Bruno, having a background in both tech and business, developed the first version of PrestaShop, which was downloaded 1000 times in the first month. Now PrestaShop runs on more than 185 000 stores world wide and has more than 600 000 registered contributors.
As Bruno Lévêque, founder and company CEO was unavailable at the time for a statement regarding the company vision, I’ll just go ahead and assume that they’re planning on increasing the install base and further develop the application. As they’re pushing forward with the new version, it’s becoming obvious that the two main opensource applications that small and medium companies will be able to chose from in the future will be Magento and PrestaShop. So it’s probably a good thing to know a thing or two about the upcoming champion.
PrestaShop’s Business Model
When deciding what platform to run your store on it’s important to think about the company developing it. How is it organized, why does it exist and of course – what’s the business model? What keeps the company afloat? That way you can know whether it’s here to stay or not.
Fortunately – PrestaShop is developed by a growing company, with offices throughout the world and a very interesting business model: they give out the application as open source but they charge for special modules and themes in the … aham … PrestaShop shop.
The company also charges for support and training services, which might come in handy when the online store or the development team evolves. If you’re more into online documentation – there are plenty resources out there, starting with the Developer Guide.
PrestaShop Version 1.6 has a great back-office design
Well – enough with the talk about the company – let’s get busy reviewing the new PrestaShop v 1.6. I’ll just stick to the back-office but you can have a look at the default responsive frontend theme.
What’s really outstanding about the PrestaShop’s new back-office is that it’s designed for humans. It’s uncluttered (looking at you, Magento), it’s responsive (great for quick use both on the Desktop and mobile devices) and the team managed to arrange the dashboard elements in a way you can quickly access what you need.
The top most used reports (such as sales, orders, cart value and others) are displayed on the dashboard and users can quickly check, refresh or change settings for them.
It’s not just the dashboard – all back-office sections are redesigned to provide quick access to data, in a beautiful interface:
With the new version users can get access to PrestaShop’s best features without any hassle. My two favorites are:
- the customers area – there’s a great benefit in having all customer data in one place. With the new version you can get all kinds of info on the targeted customer – previous purchases, groups he’s in, internal memos about the customer, vouchers and more. Back-office operators can thus have access to a birds-eye view on the customer interactions;
- the stock management – a great feature in PrestaShop is the fact you can also use it as a starting point for inventory and supply chain management. It’s light interface does the job when keeping track of inventory, inventory movement, stats and supplier orders.
PrestaShop is probably a very good choice for small and medium companies that look for open-source solutions. With the new version you’ll have an uncluttered view of your ecommerce operations and you’ll be free to upgrade your system with the help of a growing contributors community.