The founder of PrestaShop wanted a way to make available small merchants online. So he developed the initial software open source so other developers created the free features we still have today. Even if features were free, merchants had trouble to develop an online shop because they lack technical knowledge so PrestaShop team launched in 2015 PrestaShop cloud.
PrestaShop is free because they make money through add-ons marketplace where merchants can sell their own add-ons. Also, PrestaShop offers technical support and strategic partnerships. In this case, everyone can install PrestaShop.
PrestaShop Basic Features
PrestaShop has a front office and a back office. The front office is what customer sees when they browse your shop represented by products, layout and so on. As the shop owner you should know the front office like the back of your hand, not only because you are going to own it to yourself to know your shop inside it out, but it is also because it is going to help you understand what customer sees, the number of pages, and click they go through during a typical buying session or where they might get stuck and how to help them out.
The back office is the name we used to give to the administration panel of your shop. Here you will use the most of your time because everything a simple user sees on the front office is managed by the back office and that includes adding/ removing products, defining localization, adding shipping information, creating a category/ product, manage your customers, create price rules and so on.
Download versus Cloud version
PrestaShop is available for download to install to your own computer or server, but also, it is available in a cloud version. The both versions share the majority of their features with the initial difference lying in hosting and customization.
Now, PrestaShop Cloud hosts your shop for you and it is completely free. You are provided with a subdomain and you could also have the ability to add your own domain. The PrestaShop downloaded version does not offer a free host, and you need to find and buy one for yourself and also you may need a note domain name. There are available for both of them thousands of options in PrestaShop add-ons, including all the things like modules, however for the download version, you can also download third-party themes and modules.
To use the Cloud version you just need to go at prestashop.com and at the sign-up link where you will explain everything and after you sign up you have your online shop instantly created for you. You only need to enter your name, password, e-mail, subdomain shop and other few data together with a confirmation received on your email.
Once you sign in you should click the “manage my store” button. And in this section, you have an add domain link which lets you add a domain you want or if you want to purchase one you can do it by selecting that option. You have some options such as domain name, FTP users, settings for password, email and so on and the support section where you have free 10 tickets and you can purchase more tickets if you want. There is available a documentation in English regarding PrestaShop.
In the Cloud, the front office has a menu created by categories, a cart block, a slideshow, a logo, a search form, a banner, a secondary menu, some products and different blocks on the footer part of the website with additional information and links for other parts of the website. Here you can also find the social media sharing buttons. In the downloaded version, this is also available because both types of PrestaShop use the Bootstrap theme as the default one. So they will definitely be almost identical.
If you have a Cloud version, your link for the back office of your PrestaShop will be example.com/back office while for the downloaded version you can customize this folder/ link. One of the most important difference between the Cloud and Downloaded version is that the Cloud uses an older version of PrestaShop for stability. So you will notice that there are differences in the design of the back office. You will see a green color of the older versions and the text from the primary menu it has a larger font.
Also, the PrestaShop version used for the Download one has a couple of speed optimizations and some fixes for some bugs. Another difference is that you cannot add an SSL at the Cloud PrestaShop.
Learning the PrestaShop Dashboard
When you log in to your administration you can see an overview of your website such as the last online visitors, how many active shopping carts you have, sales, reports, and cart values, and so on. Also, you can configure your stats.
At the top menu, you have buttons/ icons for quick access, new messages, new orders, and badges.
At the dashboard, you have the ability to look at the catalog, orders, customers, price rules, modules, shipping, localization, preferences, advanced parameters, stats, support and administration options.
How to Install PrestaShop to your Website?
You need to go to PrestaShop website and click download. After the download is complete, you just unzip the files onto your computer.
Log in to your web hosting cPanel. Go to MySQL Database wizard and create a new database and a new user! Now link the user to the new database.
Using an FTP client, you upload your downloaded files. After the files are uploaded you just need to follow the assistant from your store link. Choose your language, accept the terms and conditions and click next. Enter your store information and choose your password. Connect your database to your installation.
Now sit back, relax and wait for the installation to be finished. For security purpose, you must delete the install folder and rename the admin one. Now you can explore the back office, add your products or just visit your front office.
Here is how you setup an eCommerce website with PrestaShop quick and easy. If you want to create your own PrestaShop store I highly recommend InMotion Hosting for setting up and hosting your website. InMotion offers one-click PrestaShop installation or you can select a pre-installation on checkout. The pre-installation is free and automated, once your account is activated you will have your shop ready to be used.