This post is also available in: Français (French)
The life of a WordPress developer is not all blogs and showcase sites.
There are also e-commerce sites!
To create my boutiques (or rather, my clients’ boutiques: I’m much too lazy to go to the post office every morning to drop off packages), I choose between two CMS’: WooCommerce (WordPress) or Prestashop.
Yes, sometimes I’m disloyal to WordPress. But it’s really out of necessity, and I’m trying to get treatment. 🙂
Time to compare…
WooCommerce vs. Prestashop: a comparison
I’ll outline what I consider to be the advantages of Prestashop, followed by the advantages of WooCommerce.
And just for fun, we’ll award points and give each a score at the end.
For a little surprise. 😉
The advantages of Prestashop as a CMS for your e-commerce site
Prestashop is an e-commerce CMS
Very unlike WordPress, Prestashop is e-commerce-ready from the get-go, as soon as it’s installed. With it, you will need to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of WordPress to be able to learn to use WooCommerce, which is nothing more than a WordPress plugin. Keep this in mind. 😉
Prestashop is multilingual
Prestashop is multilingual from the get-go. The CMS is pre-translated into more than 40 languages, and employs a type of translation module accessible in back office (hardly optimal, but it’s a start).
However, to translate your entire WooCommerce boutique, you’ll have to learn the basics of translation of WordPress sites, understand .po/.mo files, and install an additional plugin such as WPML (or an innovative alternative solution such as Weglot).
Prestashop is originally in French
Do you speak French?
Since Prestashop is in French, so is its literature, and everything that goes with it.
More basic functionalities
Without getting into the nitty-gritty, Prestashop offers more options for the catalog, product details, logistics, promotional codes, and shopping cart rules. This is one of the reasons why WooCommerce is an easier choice for a more pared-down e-commerce business.
However, WooCommerce experts will tell you that, with the installation of a few plugins, it can do anything Prestashop can. While installing and maintaining plugins can be time-consuming, perhaps WooCommerce prefers to maintain a lighter-weight CMS. But let’s award this point to Prestashop.
More alternative payment methods
Although WooCommerce offers many popular payment methods, you’ll find even more add-ons on Prestashop that allow you to install alternative local payment methods in just a few clicks. For example, as a client of HiPay, you’ll notice that, to my great chagrine, there is a free official HiPay module for Prestashop but not for WooCommerce.
A structure that potentially allows for more products
Without an in-depth study, it seems clear to me that without any specific optimizations, Prestashop can handle more products than WooCommerce. It’s also better suited to multi-boutique e-commerce projects.
Essentially, WooCommerce’s structure is that of WordPress’, a CMS designed for blog articles with categories and tags and not much else. To go beyond a simple blog with this CMS, plugin developers like WooCommerce over-exploit WordPress’ structure to store all kinds of data in a limited number of MySQL tables. None of this is pretty, but we still love WordPress..
All WordPress experts agree that, given this, the links between the different tables and basic data fields can be perfected, especially where performance (MySQL request durations and all that) is concerned. A fair amount of data is stored in serialized format, making WordPress extremely flexible, which has no real negative impact on a database of just a few thousand items. However, it will increase the load on your server if you’re planning a boutique with tens of thousands of items. With Prestashop, this is made easier, as it’s designed for large scale e-commerce boutiques.
To my knowledge, Prestashop has not commented on the subject.
But many of their community members claim they manage boutiques with over 100,000 products without a problem.
See for yourself:
But does the average person require such a large product volume?
Don’t hesitate to share examples of large boutiques in the comments if you know of any.
The advantages of WooCommerce for your online boutique
Prestashop is limited whereas WordPress is not
Boom! Off to a strong start with a major point for WooCommerce.
Prestashop’s advantage of being e-commerce-ready from the get-go is also a major disadvantage! At its core, Prestashop is not optimized for creating showcase sites (the CMS module is useless), blogs, nor even a community with discussion forums nor the like.
Often, e-sellers looking to go even further ask that WordPress be installed in a sub-domain of their main boutique to meet these needs. This involves significant issues with the links between different services, for example, displaying the latest articles of their WordPress blog under their Prestashop boutique, or worse, having a unified database of both Prestashop and WordPress users.
This problem doesn’t occur with WordPress and WooCommerce since all of these extension options are made possible by the enormous flexibility and by the plugins of this wonderful CMS. 😉
WooCommerce is more widely used than Prestashop
This isn’t an advantage per se, but who cares, I’m listing it anyway. 😛
Thanks to © BuiltWith for this lovely chart.
Worldwide results, March 16, 2016: WooCommerce with 30.82% versus only 5.34% for Prestashop. There you have it.
Cost of site personalization
The cost of web design personalization or the addition of functionalities should be much lower for you with WooCommerce.
It’s a solution that’s much more accessible to neophytes.
You can even personalize aspects of your boutique’s appearance yourself without any prior knowledge base. Your administrative interface features a variety of options that allow you to modify a fair amount of your web design (colors, fonts, etc.) or add/move items, all without programming: personalize menus, manage content via hooks which are easier to use than Prestashop thanks to WordPress’ ergonomic widget system, etc.
With Prestashop, just to personalize a few menus you have to install an add-on, and good luck if you make the wrong choice.
The fact is, with Prestashop you can personalize next to nothing without a foundation in HTML/CSS and template language. Very few sites can be personalized without modifying their template files (.tpl). But with WordPress, it’s very rare that a typical boutique needs to stick with its child theme. Personalization can be done online via the interface.
Maintenance costs are also less expensive with WooCommerce. Updates are easier and faster!
The fact is, a major update of the Prestashop CMS is time-consuming and almost always entails its share of bugs and incompatibilities with your theme, add-ons, and even configuration in terms of product image sizes, as an example (which may have to be regenerated). Fixing these types of bugs often requires total technical mastery of the CMS.
A ton of work, in other words.
Generally, with WordPress, again, everything takes care of itself, with just a few minor corrections here and there.
The cost (yet another cost) of extension plug-ins
WooCommerce plug-ins are generally somewhat cheaper than Prestashop add-ons. Choosing WooCommerce will save you some money if you’re on a tight budget.
If you don’t believe me, check out their official plug-in directories:
Wait! I’m being told that’s not fair play, because all of the plug-ins on my WordPress link are free. 😀
Here we go, here are the premium (paid) plug-ins…
And don’t forget to compare to:
Quite often, a free WordPress plug-in will do just fine if you’re on a tight budget 🙂
Difficulty level of ownership
Prestashop’s advantage of offering more base functionalities has also turned into an inconvenience. Today, Prestashop’s administrative interface has become overly complex.
With every new version, Prestashop’s back office has become more and more complicated, and navigating between the different sections of your interface is less straightforward than on WordPress’ dashboard.
For the same task, it might take me 2 or 3 times longer in Prestashop due to the number of clicks necessary to complete an operation, or due even to the absence of live autorecover saves.
For example, in Prestashop, you constantly have to navigate to “Modules > Configure” to perform the same tasks, whereas in WordPress, everything is always immediately accessible via the sidebar menu.
Prestashop is well aware of the problem, and offers a bookmark option in your admin bar for your favorite sections. But honestly, personally, playing around with that drives me crazy.
Despite my feeling that Prestashop is better optimized to host tens of thousands of products, I still, to this day, have trouble understanding all of Prestashop’s performance settings, particularly when it comes to the different memory caching options.
I remember having had several issues with Infomaniak’s shared hosting. Apparently, the caching option this host recommended for Prestashop generated too many files on the server which were not automatically deleted, despite it being only a medium-sized boutique. I almost lost my site as the thousands of files were creating back-up problems for the host.
So, as mentioned previously, it’s imperative to deactivate (or regularly purge) most of your dashboard statistics with Prestashop (traffic, visitor info, etc.). Otherwise your database can explode.
The best solution? Prioritize Google Analytics stats of course!
This will keep your site’s performance from deteriorating too quickly and will keep your host from kicking you out.
The optimizations required with Prestashop are really quite annoying, whereas with WordPress, it’s easy: a good configuration of your cache plug-in, and you’re good to go! No worries.
The “open source” spirit
This is the aspect most near and dear to my heart.
When it comes to the spirit of “freedom”, “cost-free”, and “sharing”, WordPress holds its own, i.e. it really maintains an open source policy, even going so far as to hire teams of developpers (super cool dudes) to provide us with free, awesome tools like Jetpack.
On the flip side, even if it remains open source at heart, Prestashop seems to be progressing differently, with a more “commercial” vision. This is particularly noticeably when you see all their advertisements for their commercial partners as soon as you log into the back office!
Whereas certain simple tasks can be performed with free plug-ins from WordPress.org’s official repository, Prestashop has gotten rid of all free add-ons from its official site. The same goes for themes. Feast your eyes upon the beautiful free web designs for WooCommerce that can be found directly on the WordPress site (a demo chosen at random, free).
With Prestashop, if you want to install a free extension, you do so at your own risk. Try to find a trustworthy alternative add-on boutique where the developpers actually care about keeping their extensions up-to-date, because Prestashop won’t be of any help. And if you’re a generous developper that graciously wants to share the fruits of your labor, you’ll have to do so somewhere other than Prestashop’s official marketplace.
What happened to the spirit of sharing?
Even more vicious, with Prestashop’s updates, it seems that certain template zones have been (purposely?) made more difficult to personalize. One example that comes to mind is the addition of a Google Adwords tracking code on the order confirmation page.
I don’t blame Prestashop for this; they’re a company that knows how to achieve its goals, and we all have to put food on the table. They’re free to do as they see fit. I’m simply stating the facts.
As a user, I personally prefer WordPress’ spirit, but to each their own.
It’s quite understandable to want to pay a few dozen euros for a parent company-validated add-on. But personally, I’d rather trust WordPress’ practical little plug-in, produced by a development genius, for a few minor functionalities.
– End of the advantages and disadvantages –
And the winner is…
Time for the results of this scientific study with my patented scoring system.
Out of 14 advantages / disadvantages,
score of 8 for WooCommerce vs. 6 for Prestashop, out of 20.
Don’t bother commenting on this article just to tell me my scoring system is rubbish. It’s just for fun. But I find it interesting to see how close they are, and how closely it reflects my opinion of the two CMS’ and my preference for WooCommerce, despite everything.
Is WooCommerce better than Prestashop?
I’m starting to feel like a broken record here, so better yet, I’ll leave it up to you to form your own opinion. Here are a few examples of sites created with each:
Try them both. And stop bugging me!
Some further reading:
The opinion of an expert in both solutions who decided to divorce Prestashop:
Short comparison with Magento also included, if you’re a glutton for punishment (in English):
Agree, disagree? Want to come at me? Keep scrolling.
I’m off to get some shut-eye.
This post is also available in: Français (French)