Deciding on what eCommerce platform to use for your business is tough. There are a lot of options available to compare.

You can narrow your search by looking at open source platforms first. These platforms provide you all the source code you need for customization.

If open source is right for you, Magento and PrestaShop could be your top two contenders to compare.

In this post, we’ll help you compare these two so you can pick the one that’s best for you.

What To Consider

When comparing two eCommerce platforms, you should compare a few different things. Use these as guidelines for what to look for  Magento versus PrestaShop.

  • Shopping Cart Capabilities – What features do you get out-of-the-box? Determine what types of features are essential to your business and which ones are just nice to have.
  • Hosting – Do you want to manage your own infrastructure? If not, you’ll want something you can just sign up and start selling with.
  • Popularity – Look no further than other sellers to see what platform is best.
  • Plug-ins – Your business is unique. As you grow, you’ll probably need more functionality that you can find in available plug-ins for each platform.
  • Pricing – Depending on the solution, there will be some types of costs. What are you willing to pay for?
  • Support – If something goes wrong, who can you call? See what type of support each platform provides.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these areas can help you be on the look out for the right type of information. They will help you determine which platform is best for you.

Using these guidelines, we’ll dive into how Magento and PrestaShop stack up against each other.

Similarities of Magento vs PrestaShop

Magento and PrestaShop do have a number of similarities you should look at first.

Basic eCommerce

Both eCommerce platforms provide the essential functionality you need out-of-the-box. This includes storefront themes, product catalog management, shopping carts, basic order management, inventory features, etc.

Both platforms will allow you to get a store up and running easily.

Comparing feature by feature, Magento tends to provide more out-of-the-box. For example, it natively supports cross-sells and up-sells.

Open Source eCommerce Platforms

Magento and PrestaShop are both open source. This means that they’re fee and their source code is available for customization. In this case, “free” just means that they’re no licensing costs.

Open source is attractive because it allows you to build your site yourself. If you’re not tech savvy, you can use their pre-built themes and features. If you do know technology, then you can develop your store’s own look and feel.

Your preference just depends on your knowledge and want of control.

Magento and PrestaShop Plug-Ins

Because these platforms are open source, they make their money by selling add-ons, or plug-ins. These plug-ins are created by the developer community.

Adding these types of extensions are practically unavoidable. Even when planning to run a novice eCommerce store, you’re going to need more than just the basic, out-of-the-box functionality.

Both Magento and PrestaShop organize their add-ons in their marketplaces. Magento’s extensions can be found at Magento Connect. PrestaShop’s add-ons, called Modules, can be found here.

Some plug-ins are free and others will cost you monthly. No matter what platform you choose, you’ll find yourself looking for plug-ins to enhance your store.

Popularity

Both platforms are popular among eCommerce sellers. Each platform touts large developer communities and customers.

According to BuildWith.comMagento hosts around 233K sites versus PrestaShop, which hosts around 206K. These are both high numbers among all eCommerce platform providers.

Both platforms have a large community of developers and users that you will join. Popularity shouldn’t be a major concern.

Support

Since these platforms are open source, support usually comes in the way of forums and documentation. Both platforms make both of these readily available within their developer communities.

Magento and PrestaShop as mentioned above have deep communities that you can turn to for answers. You should be able to get the help you need.

Differences of Magento vs PrestaShop

While these platforms are similar, some of their differences might steer you towards one platform over the other. Some of the major differences are:

Hosting

Hosting options are important. Large stores built on poor servers and bad infrastructure can run very poorly. Your webstore experience will be slow and unappealing to your customers.

If you’re just starting out though, hosting might not be something you want to worry about. If that’s the case, you might want to look more into PrestaShop.

PrestaShop offers two solutions: a free hosted solution and an open source downloadable version that you can host. This gives merchants some flexibility.

PrestaShop’s free hosted solution in the cloud compares more to Shopify and Bigcommerce. Within minutes, you can set up your store without installing any software. You’ll be limited in customization options, but you won’t have to worry about infrastructure or hosting.

You may outgrow this solution at some point because of its limitations. Then, you’ll have to consider a different hosting solution.

PrestaShop’s downloadable version is open source, so you can customize whatever you want. But, you will have to set up hosting. This will add costs depending on the scope of your needs.

Magento currently does not offer any hosted solutions. Therefore, it’s up to you to maintain your infrastructure.

Enterprise Offering

While you might be drawn to PrestaShop’s free hosted solution, your business could quickly outgrow it. You’ll then need to configure your open source platform to meet all of your needs.

Magento differs from PrestaShop in that their two product offering include Magento Community, which compares to PrestaShop’s downloadable version, and Magento Enterprise.

Magento Enterprise is a true out-of-the-box enterprise edition of their platform. You’ll receive more robust features such as customer segmentation and merchandising. Performance scales better for a larger store. You’ll get dedicated 24/7 support and account management. It’s still completely customizable and open source.

You can see Magento’s detailed feature list here.

If you have a long-term vision in mind for your business, Magento might be a better option knowing that you can easily move up from Magento Community to Magento Enterprise. Or, if you’re already a large business looking to switch to an open source platform, Magento Enterprise is probably the best solution.

PrestaShop does not currently offer an enterprise version that compares to Magento’s.

Price

Both of these open source platforms are free. But, don’t let that be deceiving. It’s just free to download and use the software, out-of-the-box

For both platforms, you’re going to have to pay for extra services and plug-ins that we already talked about. If you use Magento, you’re also going to have to pay for hosting.

Other costs you incur will go towards development for your site. If you don’t use a free theme, you’ll have to pay a developer to make you one, and so on.

If you’re a large business, Magento Enterprise is not free. You’re going to have to pay some annual costs to gain the extra functionality and better performance.

The difference in price of these platforms is going to depend on your unique business needs. See how they start adding up if you do not plan to use PrestaShop’s free hosted solution.

What To Do Next

Magento and PrestaShop on the surface are similar platforms, as expected since they’re open source. Choosing which one is best for you is going to depend on your business needs, plans for growth, and familiarity with the platforms.