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PrestaShop 1.3 Beginner's Guide 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
johhnyb writes "PrestaShop 1.3, Beginner's Guide by John Horton does exactly what is suggested by the title in that it provides a comprehensive and detailed guide to novices looking to set up their own online shops. While it is aimed at total beginners it never talks down to the reader and neither does it merely scratch the surface of the topic requiring you to go off and search for the real valuable information somewhere else. This book takes you from clueless beginner (which I undoubtedly was) to someone equipped with the knowledge, resources and additional support to be quite confident in setting up an effective online retail presence (which I believe I now am)." Keep reading for the rest of johhnyb's review.
PrestaShop 1.3 Beginner's Guide
author John Horton
pages 308
publisher Packt Publishing
rating 9/10
reviewer johhnyb
ISBN 1849511144
summary covers all you need to know about starting your own e-commerce business.
From the beginning, I was caught by the evident enthusiasm of the author and the fact he is clearly such an expert on the subject. I also liked the fact that he laid down his 'seven day challenge' and included some excerpts from his own 'story' throughout the book. Anyone who has even a faint idea about selling products online would undoubtedly benefit from this book as it gives you not just the technical information but the business input too. Likewise, if you already have an idea of what you want to sell and why it is a good product then you have a complete technical guide as to how to make that happen.

It actually helps if you have at least a certain comfort level with some simple computing basics, but even if you don't the processes described are in sufficiently layman's terms to make it easy for almost anyone. I can be quite confident in saying that this book contains pretty much everything you will need to set up a sophisticated and successful online shop. It doesn't go crazy though and go off on any disingenuous tangents by, for example, trying to explain Content Management Systems or some other equally esoteric topic. Overall, I think an excellent balance is achieved.

PrestaShop 1.3, Beginner's Guide is written in a very chatty and engaging style and the author's personality comes through loud and clear — you really do feel like he wants to make it as easy as possible for you to succeed. It is always down-to-earth and although the author clearly knows his topic well, he does go to great lengths to take everything step by step and make it as absolutely logical as possible. The level of detail is sufficient if you have never covered the particular task before.The addition of screen shots is also very convenient and makes the process easier. The 'What just happened' section is particularly good and there are plenty of reassuring summaries throughout so you can feel the book is not just running away with itself and the reader can keep recycling and reprocessing the information. Most importantly, he has done it himself and made a success of it. He has set up over 10 online shops, has been through all the different options, experienced the pitfalls, the highs and lows, and is passing on the very best information and advice possible to a new lucky group of shop owners.

I found the book full of very solid advice which could applied in many settings. It is also a great introduction to some of the most modern forms of online marketing including the use of Twitter, Facebook, and Google Adwords. One thing I liked was John's regular reference to the need for a strong, viable business case. Prestashop is a magnificent product but will totally fall flat if your basic offering does not create a customer which Peter Drucker famously said was the purpose of business. It is too easy to fly into the detail of a business before taking time to fully understand your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and why people buy from you. Likewise, the author also covers key and hard-to-grasp issues like Search Engine Optimization which I think he correctly identifies as something readers will need to understand.

I can honestly say that PrestaShop 1.3, Beginner's Guide covers everything you will need. Not only that, John refers to several free resources he himself has written and provides an extensive list of resources at the end of the book.This book is almost encyclopedic in its treatment of how to set up and use Prestashop and it is certainly something that can used in that way. You don't only get Prestashop related material you also get a lot of valuable business advice, of course in a Prestashop context.Another benefit readers will receive is regular pointers to where they can find other free resources also written by the author.

I have to state clearly that John is a long-term friend of mine — to give you an idea we go back to those halcyon days of the Spectrum ZX-81 and the Commodore 64 — yes, we are getting on. Bearing this in mind, I have done my best to write something honest and useful to potential buyers of this book. Although he plays it down, John has always been marvelous with computers and able to effortlessly explain complex technical issues to me, a relative technophobe. Therefore, it does not surprise me he has written something so useful, practical and frankly inspiring.

You can purchase PrestaShop 1.3 Beginner's Guide from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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PrestaShop 1.3 Beginner's Guide

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @02:34PM (#33372088)

    php

  • Re:what is it? (Score:4, Informative)

    by nullchar (446050) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @02:44PM (#33372180)

    I was thinking the exact same thing. I read the entire review, simply looking for an explanation of PrestaShop [prestashop.com].

    Apparently it's a PHP/MySQL app for running a web-based retail store. The core is released under the OSL 3.0 [opensource.org] license, but it seems [prestastore.com] that many add-on modules and themes are available for purchase.

    This review makes no mention if you have to purchase anything to build a storefront using PrestaShop, or if the standard OSS version will suffice. Nor does this review give any technical details on setting the thing up, including any dependencies on existing relationships with payment processors / merchant accounts. Perhaps the author could have talked about the example store he setup, and used his praise of the book to illustrate his example.

  • used it (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @03:14PM (#33372500)

    I used it once:

    - from their site "Delivery fees billing by price or weight" http://www.prestashop.com/en/allfeatures#catalog. The most important word is or, which means that you can't accurately enter Royal Mail fees (you pay by weight but also by price, actually by the total value of the package; if it gets lost you will get some money back according to the declared value).

    - GoDaddy it's just a poor choice to host a PrestaShop site. The shop will try to send emails in a specific way, it fills the From: field of the email with whatever the user entered in a contact form. GoDaddy will block the email. Also you can't get access to a folder outside webservers root folder so you can't save payment info there.

    It's a nice shop, a little bloated and not quite polished.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @03:40PM (#33372840) Homepage Journal
    definitely not 'guide to setting your ecommerce business'. it is a guide to setting up a presta shop, pimping it. lovely that the summary somehow, moronically, tries to set up a connection in between 'ecommerce' and presta, as if 'ecommerce means presta'. great pimping there.

    of course, thats leaving out the fact that 6 months into your presta online eshop ( or any other ecommerce software for that matter ) you will have to migrate to oscommerce because of the paranormally high module base and universal provider support.
  • by vacarul (1624873) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @03:52PM (#33373004)
    it can work for you but I found that it is not really made for very large shops. The kind of items that you sell doesn't matter.
    Just consider this:
    - you can import products in bulk but you can't export them
    - you can't edit products in bulk: ex. increase all the prices by 5$, or select 10-20 products and edit them in one page. All the time you have to edit product by product unless you install some extension for bulk editing
    - if you decide to "regenerate thumbnails" while having thousands of products it will take very long and the hosting will stop the regeneration after 30s or so. PrestaShop has no means to -continue- the regeneration.
  • by jon.mixnblend (1866306) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:03PM (#33373836) Homepage
    Sorry but....that's bullshit. Prestashop, whilst not the most effectively documented codebase in the world, is way better written, is easily more extensible and doesn't look like it was designed or the codebase written in '99. I had to write three payment modules and set up a prestashop install recently and everything, from the module development, to the templating system they employ to to the quality of code under the hood appeared streets ahead of oscommerce. The only gripe I had with Prestashop is their use of php output buffer functions to serve up downloadable products, which really is a resource hog if you're dealing with a 400mb download. it would be great if they offered the option of symlinking downloads ala os commerce if you're in a *nix environment.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:06PM (#33373888)

    I looked into these PHP eCommerce site packages a while ago for my own little website, and was not impressed. (I looked at osCommerce, Magneto, err, Magento, ZenCart, and a bunch more just like these.) They all seem to be designed for high-volume sites with dozens to thousands of products, with very small descriptions for each product.

    What I have is a small site with only 3 products (more coming eventually, but probably never more than 20, with different variants for some of them), but each product page is pretty long and includes a very detailed description, photos, links to installation instructions and troubleshooting instructions, subpages for product variants, etc. These ecommerce sites don't seem to allow any flexibility whatsoever in how you design your site.

    Worse, they seem to be completely database-driven. So not only is stuff like orders and customer info kept in the database (which of course is sensible), but the damn website itself is in the database, so every single pageview requires fetching the page from the database. This is a performance-killer, and as someone with the typical $3-5/month shared webhosting (not a dedicated server), this sounds like a recipe for a very slow site. My current hand-coded site is only one step up from static HTML; it uses PHP so that I can have common header and footer and menu pages, and then each product page (or subpage, or instructions page, etc.) uses the same skeleton PHP code to link in these common header/footer/menu pages.

    The main reason I wanted to use eCommerce software was so that I could have something slightly more advanced than my current Paypal-only shopping cart, so I could use other payment methods if necessary (like Google Checkout, or something else if I ever grow enough), so I could make my own invoices, so I could have better control over shipping cost calculations than what Paypal provides me, etc. But these ecommerce packages seem to completely discourage any kind of customization (aside from purely cosmetic changes). The code in them is completely undocumented and pretty much impossible to make sense of without spending a month poring through it; I'd do better just writing my own.

    Someone did recommend I check out "fishcart", and I haven't had time to look at that yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:54PM (#33377478)

    Prestashop is a fine shopping cart software if your needs and demands are extremely simple.

    I started my webshop with prestashop and over the last couple years I've seriously customized it to fit my needs. Several million dollars of sales have since passed through the shop, so believe me when I tell you it has serious shortcomings:

    * Can not handle multi-currencies well at all (not all modules of the software convert the values correctly). Just to give an example, if a customer wants a voucher refund in a currency which is not the shop default currency, the refund will not be the value of his order in his currency (say USD), but in the default currency (say EUR). So he gets 100 EUR refund when he should have gotten a 100 USD refund !! If the operator is not on top of these quirks they could lose a lot of money.

    * Can not handle multi-language well either, many parts of the shop can not be translated via resource files, they must be hardcoded in the PHP or smarty templates.

    * Even this latest version still thinks everyone in the world uses names and addresses formatted in France style (Last name first, CAPITALIZED, etc...). It has no provision for USA style names and addresses, let alone any other part of the world.

    * The Paypal module has been perpetually broken, never seems to be working correctly, always under development.

    * Has no ability to shipping print address labels, or export such information to a 3rd party software

    * Orders can not be edited in the back office apart from changing the shipping address. Basic stuff like changing shipping method or adding/subtracting items from the order are just not doable.

    I will be moving the shop over to OSCommerce or Magneto early next year. Prestashop has a long way to grow, and should not be taken seriously yet as a contender.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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