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PrestaShop vs Shopify Plus: Which is Best For Your Business and Why?

Join us as we explore the similarities and differences between ecommerce platforms PrestaShop and Shopify Plus. Which solution better suits your retail business?

Written By
Catherine Partridge

Any ecommerce merchant will know the value of a powerful, flexible ecommerce platform on which to scale your business. Choosing the right platform for your business will make all the difference to the success of your store.

Here, we compare the benefits of PrestaShop vs Shopify Plus, two popular ecommerce platforms with lots to offer merchants.

Whilst these ecommerce solutions share many advantages, they also have some important differences in how they operate.

Finding the platform that will help your brand to thrive

If you’re setting up a new ecommerce site, or migrating your site onto a better ecommerce platform, you’ll need a solution that fits the needs of your growing business and accelerates your growth.

Too many brands struggle with labour-intensive legacy sites that no longer fit the needs of their growing business.

Ultimately, the best option for you will largely depend on how your business operates. So let’s look at Shopify Plus vs PrestaShop and what they each have to offer.

Introduction to PrestaShop and Shopify Plus

PrestaShop is an open source ecommerce platform that accommodates both small and large businesses. It’s free to download and install, but you’ll need to find and pay for your own hosting, security and web domain.

Because of its open source nature, merchants have complete autonomy over how they design and build their store.

And with plenty of excellent built-in features and an extensive add-on market, PrestaShop is a very scalable option, accommodating stores of all sizes.

Shopify is a comprehensive Saas (Software as a Service). All hosting and security is built in, and it integrates seamlessly with a vast array of third-party plugins, marketplaces and payment platforms, offering an integrated omnichannel sales solution.

The online store builder is easy to use, with a drag and drop solution allowing you to make changes and updates quickly and easily, and their extensive ecommerce toolkit is second to none.

Whilst Shopify is a great platform for smaller brands or startups, Shopify Plus is aimed at larger, more established enterprises of 1000+ users.

Hosting

The first significant difference between PrestaShop vs Shopify Plus is how they are hosted.

PrestaShop websites are self-hosted, meaning you’ll need to source your own hosting provider separately and factor this into your costs. Shopify, on the other hand, is a fully-hosted, cloud-based ecommerce platform that provides hosting themselves.

You’ll need to choose your hosting solution carefully, since inadequate hosting can cause website downtime and slow loading speeds, affecting your search rankings on Google and your user experience. Pricing could also increase as your store scales, since hosting providers often base their fees on numbers of site users.

Shopify’s hosting is known to be fast and reliable. All hosting costs are included in your monthly plan, and are not affected by number of site visits as your business scales. Consequently, all costs are visible from the outset, allowing you to budget more reliably as you move forward.

Pricing

PrestaShop and Shopify Plus also have very different pricing structures.

Installation and use of the PrestaShop Content Management System (CMS) is completely free. As PrestaShop is an open source platform, if your store is large or complex, you’ll need to pay for a developer to build, customise and maintain your store, as well as paying separately for hosting and security. Also, whilst there are free themes and add-ons available, for more personalised stores you’ll need to purchase these additional features.

So the cost of PrestaShop varies considerably depending on your customisation needs, ranging from very cheap if you are using basic features, to very expensive as your store requirements grow and your development needs increase.

Shopify Plus is available on a fixed monthly cost, which incorporates your hosting and SSL certificate. There are various Shopify packages available, depending on the functionality your store requires, with prices ranging from $29/month for Basic Shopify to $299/month for Advanced Shopify. Shopify Plus is an enterprise level package, which comes at an individual quote based on your business, starting at $2000/month. Shopify also charges an additional transaction fee between 0.5%-2% if you aren’t using Shopify Payments.

The argument for fixed pricing is that you can budget your development costs more easily, and ultimately larger enterprises benefit from the cost and time saving as they have a store that is cheaper to manage and maintain.

User-friendly vs autonomy

Shopify is well known for being incredibly easy to use. There’s no need to understand coding or programming – you can simply click and drag to build your store with an elegant and professional theme. For larger stores on Shopify Plus, the user-friendly design of Shopify makes it easy to update and improve your store regularly, without the need for developers each time you want to make changes.

With PrestaShop, you have complete autonomy over how you build and design your store, due to it’s open source coding. So whilst it is more complex to use, you also have free reign over your design choices. The platform runs on Smarty Template Engine – which is compatible with Unix, Linux and Windows operating systems – and is coded in PHP language. You can launch a basic store without the need for much technical knowledge, however, for larger, more complex stores you’ll need a developer to handle the coding.

Support

When comparing Shopify Plus vs PrestaShop, the customer support offered is very different. Whether it’s advice as you set up a new store, or help resolving problems rapidly, support features are invaluable to help you manage your store.

With Shopify Plus you’ll have a dedicated account manager – known as a Launch Engineer – offering personalised support for your store. The Launch Engineer is on hand to assist you with your entire store set up or migration, helping you understand the range of technology and plugins available and what will most benefit your store.

Shopify plans also offer free 24/7 customer support via email, live chat and phone, giving merchants unlimited access to solutions whenever problems arise. Or you can search the community forum, where users and developers share knowledge and experience.

PrestaShop offers two kinds of support – PrestaShop Online Assistance and Presta Technical Assistance. Online Assistance provides resources including tutorials, FAQs and training courses for developers and users. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, there’s a community-based PrestaShop forum where you can post your question and ask for advice from the over 1.2 million users.

Alternatively, Presta Technical Assistance is a paid service costing between $249-1399, depending on the level of support you opt for. This gives you access to PrestaShop specialists who are available by phone and can help you resolve any issues.

Integration with other sales channels

Shopify Plus allows you to automatically access other sales channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and popular online marketplaces, for no additional cost. You can connect each channel to your store directly. There’s also the option of a separate wholesale channel, to facilitate all wholesale sales through a separate, password protected storefront, accessed directly from your Shopify store.

With PrestaShop it is also possible to link to other sales channels through add-ons, although prices vary depending on the channel, with a free add-on available for Facebook, whilst the Amazon Marketplace add-on is €279.99, for instance.

Why we recommend Shopify Plus

It’s no secret we at Swanky are big fans of Shopify Plus. As far as ecommerce platforms go, Shopify is an intuitive, flexible platform that makes it easy for brands to stay agile and integrate all the latest technology into their site, so we see it as the obvious choice when considering PrestaShop vs Shopify Plus.

Before we finish, here are some of the reasons we and our some of our customers over the years have chosen Shopify and Shopify Plus:

“As an agency, we want the brands we work with to be empowered. Empowered to grow, change and lead in their category. Shopify handles the fundamentals of ecommerce quickly and simply, and has the flexibility to deliver complex custom features. This empowers Swanky and our clients to create truly new, creative, sector-leading stores.”

Dan McIvor, Founder and Chief Future Officer, Swanky

“The thing that stuck out about Shopify for us was that we could really try different approaches and try different apps at the back-end. You can be much more agile in terms of your specific implementation across different channels and different communication strategies you’ve got.”

Mark Liddington, Chief Operating Officer, Needle & Thread

“We needed a flexible solution that doesn’t require expensive, endless development and maintenance. Shopify allows our team to be agile and responsive to the needs of our consumers.”

Carly McIntyre, Ecommerce Manager, Kent Brushes

“The reporting is good and very easy. In fact, I’ve got an app on my phone so I can see when we get orders, and you can pretty much run a whole website from your phone which is amazing.”

Hugo von Halle, Director of Finance and Operations, Olivia Von Halle

Looking to migrate to Shopify Plus?

If you’re thinking of making the move to Shopify Plus, why not check out our case study on Australian D2C blinds retailer Veneta Blinds, who, with the help of Swanky, recently swapped their slow and cumbersome PrestaShop store for a modern and flexible Shopify Plus site and haven’t looked back since!

You can also get in touch with one of our team for a friendly chat about your needs and requirements.

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