What is PrestaShop?
You may have chosen the PrestaShop platform as a CMS (Catalog Management System) or ecommerce platform to publish your product catalog online.
The choice is a good one: PrestaShop is one of the most popular electronic commerce platforms amongst sellers and brands worldwide, and the company has a solid history behind it. What’s more, PrestaShop includes the help of hundreds of resources like modules, tutorials, and forums created by its community of users.
But, how much does it cost to make an online shop with PrestaShop from scratch?
If it’s your first time designing an online shop in a CMS or migrating your catalog to a new ecommerce platform, the process may seem a bit daunting.
We’re going to guide you through the basic steps to create your shop online using PrestaShop so that things go off without a hitch on your new platform.
What type of catalog do you need for a PrestaShop shop?
A catalog can have different aims in PrestaShop:
- A conventional online shop in which you sell your products exclusively or integrated with a multichannel or omnichannel network.
- A virtual showcase for your product catalog that users can consult – but without a direct option for making a purchase.
For this latter option, PrestaShop has its Catalog Mode, in which the “Buy Now” and “Add to the Cart” functions are disabled.
Other functions to search and consult products in the online catalog —including prices, filters, and categories— continue to be available to the user. In order to purchase products, users will have to turn to other channels that you set up (telephone, traditional mail, by appointment, etc.) or make a reservation online to pick up and pay for the product in the physical store.
This feature is very easy to activate from the “Preferences” menu of your PrestaShop account.
→ Related: the best PrestaShop modules (free and paid)
How to create an online shop in PrestaShop, step by step
Create a PrestaShop store
If you don’t yet have a PrestaShop shop, the first step is to register and start to make one.
The steps are quite simple:
1. Register with PrestaShop
It’s free and you can activate your account via the website or by downloading the app (remember to update the app regularly to ensure proper functioning of your online shop and avoid errors that appear to be security problems).
2. Choose a name for your shop
Having your domain name, hosting package, and all your product information and multimedia files ready beforehand will make your online shop’s integration quick and easy.
3. Start designing
You have hundreds of templates and themes (free and premium) in Addons, PrestaShop’s official plugin market, and there are also others developed by sites like Template Monster and ThemeForest.
Choose a theme created specifically for PrestaShop shops, as some general themes do not integrate with this CMS. For many themes, the basic structure, colors, fonts, images, etc. can be modified. Or, you can create your own theme from scratch if you have the necessary knowledge and equipment.
You will find more plugins available to show daily specials on your online shop, a product gallery, related products, a product zoom, a quick view, infinite scrolling, tiled product layout, image sliders, videos, a search bar, review blocks, the option to choose from several languages and currencies, and other programs like Google Maps.
→ Discover more: which is better for sellers, PrestaShop or WooCommerce?
4. Complete configuration
- You can activate plugins in your control panel through the Modules and Services tab, and you can mark default dimensions for images in different areas, as well as other settings for your online shop like product information pages and categories.
- In Preferences/Shops, you can turn on your shop data and add your company name, address, telephone, and contact email address.
- Lastly, in Configuration, you can turn on or off features like social networking buttons, the upper banner on each page, images on the homepage, lists of categories or products, logos for payment methods and security, etc.
Prepare your product contents
Warning for newbies: PrestaShop is not a content manager and will not magically organize your catalog for you.
You will have to give PrestaShop everything already set up so that the process is just a simple question of connection and synchronization of product data.
Additionally, sending information to PrestaShop is not as easy as selecting products and images. You’ll have to synchronize many more pieces of data:
- SKU codes
- Technical information
- Specifications for distributors and industry
- Product variants (colors, sizes, extras, etc.)
The effort is even greater if you want to offer a multi-lingual online catalog, as you’ll have to standardize all the different versions of the contents or personalize each version.
Save time with a product information connector for PrestaShop
To ensure that your product information is sent correctly to PrestaShop without any errors and in real time, it is recommendable to have a product information management tool to automate the creation of your catalogs.
A PIM (Product Information Management) system is a vital solution for ecommerce businesses, both small and large scale. This software makes asking how difficult it is to make an online shop with PrestaShop irrelevant.
A PIM gets all the product resources (information, images, data for third parties, and other visual resources) to be in order and up to date in the central database. Editing and sending thousands of products in mass to PrestaShop becomes a question of just a few minutes.
→ Just in case you need it: tips to integrating an ERP solution in ecommerce
Once you have your product information centralized in a PIM, exporting to PrestaShop will be a snap – even if your catalog has thousands of items.
Ideally, the PIM system should include import and export functions from any format (PDF, CSV, XSL, HTML, URL, etc.) and a PrestaShop integration plugin that you can personalize. The Sales Layer PIM includes a connector for PrestaShop — discover it here!
Import your product information
Once you have your favorite PrestaShop template downloaded, follow three simple steps:
- Add the template to your account.
- Customize your template to your liking, creating tags and categories for your products.
- Save the settings you will likely apply regularly in your PrestaShop shop, such as product and price combinations, types of filters, etc.
Looking at examples of PrestaShop shops online and being sure of the basic structure for your catalog are key before importing.
Once you have the catalog structure in order, you can import your product contents to PrestaShop. As you already know, this is very easy and automated if you have a PIM solution.
If you have a lot of products, import can be in mass, all at once, and done in much less time than if you were to do it manually from PrestaShop (do the math: 2 seconds per product instead of 30 minutes per product).
Check to ensure that your product data has been correctly imported and that there are no empty fields – especially important fields (product name, manufacturer, and SKU).
And never forget to have backups of your PrestaShop installation and your databases! At Sales Layer, we generate them automatically.
Another extra feature: Thanks to a PIM solution, any change or update that you make to your database will automatically be reflected on your PrestaShop shop. Additionally, you can duplicate catalogs to create different versions adapted to specific markets or countries.
→ Compare them all! What is better? PrestaShop, WooCommerce, Shopify, or Magento?
Choose payment methods
PrestaShop allows you to integrate any payment method for users: with cards or electronic wallets (PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, Apple Pay, etc.), prepayment, COD, and/or payment in the store upon in-person pickup.
For that, you’ll have to add additional plugins which are available in Addons. The product’s show stopper is PrestaShop Checkout, created alongside PayPal, which allows for several payment options to be integrated into a single payment gateway. Yes, it is free, but commissions will be charged on a per-sale basis depending upon the payment method (for example: 1.2% + €0.35 for bank cards or 2.9% + €0.35 for PayPal).
Select your shipping service
Choose the company that will be responsible for your shipping and return services. You can also take advantage of this step to link your inventory management and shipping software to automate this phase of the process and synchronize your stock data with PrestaShop.
Improve to position your PrestaShop shop
Remember that a simple design is more effective in terms of PrestaShop templates than a design full of things that could distract the user from the main goal: finding the product that he/she wants and buying it.
Try to make your template as stable over time as possible so that you’ll only have to make small, one-off changes (special discounts, highlighting a best seller or promotion, a special event, etc.).
Consistent design helps to generate a stable, recognizable brand image, so study well what your main features are going to be: font style, font size, color scheme, compositions, etc.
The image is something basic, but the product contents is what convinces the buyer to make the purchase or not. Keep improving your product information regularly to position your PrestaShop shop by using management tools that do SEO scanning and optimization for your resources (we at Sales Layer suggest better file and image names).
You can also do A/B testing of your online catalog on different markets to see what version offers best results.
If your volume of sales or number of products is quite large, a good idea is to link your inventory manager to your PrestaShop account to monitor stock levels and avoid unwanted situations (like not having stock or having too many units on sale).
→ Read more: 8 keys to improving SEO on PrestaShop
The last step is to add your URL and make your PrestaShop shop public.
Once you have your PrestaShop shop up and running, you can start to think about more advanced strategies:
- Multichannel or omnichannel integration.
- More complete marketing plans (adding testimonials, social networks, and email campaigns based on usage data from the online PrestaShop shop).
- Migrating PrestaShop to another server if your experience is less than satisfactory or if you discover another CMS that is better for your business like Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce.
Try the Sales Layer PIM solution free for 30 days to connect your products to PrestaShop in the blink of an eye. Freedom to create online catalogs starts here!