Create an online shopping presence with ease using PrestaShop

The open source PrestaShop ecommerce solution comes with more than 200 features. Here's what you need to know to install the all-in-one shopping site.

If you own or work for a small business that's looking for an online shopping presence and you have a LAMP server waiting to serve up products, you owe it to yourself to give PrestaShop a try. PrestaShop is an all-in-one shopping site that works with a MySQL backend to create a powerful back/frontend to allow you to quickly get your ecommerce site up and running. I've worked with a lot of shopping carts and online store tools, and none were as easy to set up and use as PrestaShop.

This open source ecommerce solution is used in more than 100,000 online stores across the world. It has more than 200 features, including:

  • Catalog management
  • Checkout
  • Customer login
  • Reporting
  • Product displays
  • Shipping
  • Transitions
  • Site management
  • Payments (credit card, check, and more)
  • Security
  • SEO
  • Marketing
  • Localization/taxes

If you want to preview PrestaShop, the Demo Page lets you experience all of its features. Once you decide PrestaShop is for you, it's time to install.

What you'll need

Installation steps

Step 1: Unpack the archive

After you download the source file, move the file to the document root of your web server. I'll install on a Ubuntu Linux machine, so the document root is /var/www/. The archive is a .zip file, and after you unzip the file, you'll have a new directory named prestashop_XXX (XXX is the release number). Rename the new directory "prestashop" (no quotes).

Step 2: Create a database

Create your database (aptly named prestashop) using your tool of choice. I prefer using MySQL Workbench to create and manage all of my databases. After this database is created, it's time to begin the installation process.

Step 3: Web-based installer

Fire up your browser and point it to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/prestashop/install/; this will begin the web-based installation. The first page of the installation asks for your language preference and whether you're doing a new or update install, and requires you to agree to the EULA. After you make your selections, click Next to go to the dependency inspection page (Figure A). Figure A

PrestaShop detected issues with the installer. I left these issues unresolved to show how easy it is to make sure you have everything set up properly. (Click the image to enlarge.)

When the installer informs you of issues (and it will), you have to correct each problem listed. More than likely, the issues will all be permissions problems. You need to make sure the following directories/files have write permissions (sudo chmod ugo+w directory_name) or recursive write permissions (sudo chmod -R ugo+w directory_name).

Standard write permissions

  • /var/www/prestashop/config
  • /var/www/prestashop/tools/smarty/cache
  • /var/www/prestashop/tools/smarty_v2/compile
  • /var/www/prestashop/tools/smarty_v2/cache
  • /var/www/prestashop/sitemap.xml
  • /var/www/prestashop/log

Recursive write permissions

  • /var/www/prestashop/img
  • /var/www/prestashop/mails
  • /var/www/prestashop/modules
  • /var/www/prestashop/themes/prestashop/lang
  • /var/www/prestashop/themes/prestashop/cache
  • /var/www/prestashop/transitions
  • /var/www/prestashop/upload
  • /var/www/prestashop/download
After making these changes, refresh the page to verify that you get green checks by all of the permissions. If it's successful, click Next to continue to the Database Configuration page (Figure B). Figure B

Enter the information for the database created earlier. (Click the image to enlarge.)
You should select Full Mode as the Installation Type (you'll get more modules) and enter an email address where your configuration options will be mailed. If your email cannot be sent by the built-in PHP emailer, you'll need to configure the SMTP server manually. Then, click Next to continue to the final page (Figure C). Figure C

Configure the shop information here. (Click the image to enlarge.)

On the final setup page, you can configure the following:

  • Shop Name
  • Type of shop (activity, what you'll sell)
  • Default country
  • Shop time zone
  • Shop logo (upload a custom logo to your site)
  • First/last name
  • Email address of admin
  • Admin password

You can also set the shop in Catalog mode. When in Catalog mode, purchasing is disabled. This can be turned on/off from within the Shop backend manager and is important to use when you're doing maintenance on the shop.

Step 4: Delete/rename folders

For security reasons, you won't be able to log in to the backend of the server until you delete the /var/www/prestashop/install folder and rename the /var/www/prestashop/admin folder. Note what you rename the admin folder to because you'll use that name to access the backend. In other words, if you rename /var/www/prestashop/admin to /var/www/prestashop/admin_live, you'll access the backend with http://ADDRESS_TO_SERVER/prestashop/admin_live/. When prompted for admin credentials, you should use the emailaddress/password set up in the Shop Configuration stage of the installation.

Congratulations! You are ready to start setting up your shop by adding products. Make sure you visit the Modules page and look at the more than 900 addons available for PrestaShop.