Compare PrestaShop vs VirtueMart; Which Platform is the Best for Your eCommerce Business

comparison prestashop vs virtuemart
Posted on 30.1.2018
Written by Eva Ciga

PRESTASHOP VS VIRTUEMART 

It’s fundamentally right for an e-commerce merchant to create a website. This is a trendy course, and many entrepreneurs are high on its heels. The trend is as a result of the growth in the e-commerce arena which has seen the emergence of many e-commerce frameworks and content management solutions. This has come as welcome to the established entrepreneurs, but for the beginners, it’s becoming hard to establish a foothold.  

Knowledge is power, and one of its renowned sources is the internet web. Google “PrestaShop vs. Virtuemart comparison” and you find a plethora of forum threads and reviews about these shopping cart platforms. One thing is conspicuously evident; none of the sources is simple enough to give a helpful comparison. 

We have compiled this unbiased comparison as a remedy to the mess. We will give you an insightful review to illuminate your decision-making process. So why would one select PrestaShop over VirtueMart and vice versa?  

PrestaShop is an incredible international shopping cart software launched in 2007 and is headquartered in France. On the other hand, VirtueMart is a Germany based shopping cart solution launched in 2004 as a Joomla plugin.   

SIMILARITIES 

  • Open source nature 

Both PrestaShop and VirtueMart are open source e-commerce platforms. The solutions are simple to download, install, and customize. However, since VirtueMart is a CMS extension of Joomla, it comes with plenty of advantages. It accords a one-click setup, multiple free extensions, and adding a blog to your store is very easy. Moreover, VirtueMart has a straightforward template system that makes it easy to come up with a unique website design.  

On the other hand, PrestaShop is a standalone e-commerce platform which provides plenty of paid and free themes. With PrestaShop, the uniqueness of your website design is limited to your creativity and programming skills. The platform is highly acclaimed for its flexibility, user-friendliness, and reliability. 

However, PrestaShop is offered in two major types; 

  1. The PrestaShop cloud which provides a preinstalled Prestashop engine and hosting. Also, this type gives you the freedom to utilize a provided subdomain or utilize your domain name. On the flip side, the PrestaShop cloud limits you to only official PrestaShop plugins and extensions. You do not get the freedom to the database and source code.  
  1. Self-hosted PrestaShop is free to download and install on your preferred hosting. This type comes with the unprecedented freedom to connect to your domain name and create a unique online store.  
  • Pricing: 

Both PrestaShop and VirtueMart are free, open source e-commerce platforms. Although they are free to download, you will have to budget for the expenses of operating your store. Also, if you are not capable of troubleshooting the codes, you will incur extra costs to hire an experienced developer. Moreover, there are other costs for security tools, hosting services, and merchant account for processing credit cards.  

There is one difference, is that the setup cost for PrestaShop software is pretty low. Most of the extra costs crop up when adding the extensions and plugins. The site can be glitchy if the modules are not properly installed. For this reason, you will have to hire an IT personnel who can install the plugin without creating any technical complexity. Moreover, if you want to integrate PrestaShop platform with Amazon, eBay, Facebook, or Quickbooks, you will be required to fork out a pretty penny.  

  • Security: 

Security of your online store is critical. You must do enough research to ensure the platform you settle for, is entirely vigilant. Customers will look for stringent security measure put up by the store before they commit their credit card information. Therefore, the level of security offered by your store can make or break your business. 

Both PrestaShop and VirtueMart provide basic security features, but for more robust and rigid security it’s advisable to invest in premium security subscription.  

DIFFERENCES 

  • Web design: 

PrestaShop provides over 2000 web templates which are highly mobile responsive. The themes are created by third-party developers, and their quality varies from theme to theme. In spite of the rich portfolio of quality themes, PrestaShop provides one free theme (default theme). The others are priced between $69.99 and $399.99 depending on the quality. Since PrestaShop is open source in nature, you get the full access to source codes used to build the site. It makes it easier to customize a store that will work and look exactly the way you want. You can also hire a developer or use the WYSIWYG editor to customize your site. The WYSIWYG allows you to add a logo and adjust the banners, fonts, and color without coding.  

VirtueMart has a limited number of themes which is a common aspect of the free open source solutions. Its default template (plain Jane) requires a lot of customization to come up with a unique store. The platform also provides some extensions under its “Template manager” in its admin module. Additionally, VirtueMart backend requires a lot of time to tweak the template and install plugins.  

  • SEO and marketing

A high ranking in the popular search engines like Google or Yahoo is paramount. It enables your business to attract thousands of potential buyers.  A good e-commerce platform should provide essential SEO friendly tools like Meta descriptions, Google sitemaps, URL’s, etc. 

VirtueMart relies heavily on third-party plugins and Joomla default settings for its search engine optimization purposes. Also, the solution provides the basic marketing tools which include; flexible discount systems and coupons. 

On the other hand, PrestaShop provides custom URLs, Meta title, and Meta descriptions. Besides, PrestaShop comes with inbuilt functionality for easier customization of Meta title and descriptions. Moreover, its marketing tools are perfect for medium to big sized enterprises. The tools include; newsletter subscription, affiliate management, social media integration, loyalty program, presentation videos, etc.  

  • Platform features: 

PrestaShop provides more than 600 basic, built-in features. Its features include all the basic features you would want to start out. Its great features include;  

  1. General features (unlimited listings, bulk import/export, sell digital products, SEO features, and inventory features). 
  1. Check out features (unlimited shipping carriers, estimated shipping, gift packaging, tax, payment options, and sell internationally). 
  1. CRM features (real-time analytics, customized promotions, automated follow up emails, and abandoned cart information). Its spectrum of features is wide and is superb for ant free e-commerce platform. 

VirtueMart has an impressive array of features. Although the features are not as many as PrestaShop’s, they provide some fantastic perks. For instance, VirtueMart doesn’t limit the number products or categories you can add to your store. Besides, it allows you to assign multiple prices to a single product. A major drawback to its functionality is the absence of critical marketing tools like gift certificates and discount codes. 

  • Order and inventory management: 

VirtueMart provides both basic and advanced inventory management features like adding images, related products, and selling downloadable items. However, PrestaShop has one distinct advantage thanks to its intuitive admin panel and the sleek dashboard. Its effective backend design allows you to easily manage multiple stores. Besides, it has other unique features which include; B2B facilities, image zoom, centralized after service function, and product comparison.   

  • Payment processing: 

PrestaShop provides an impressive array of free payment options that make it easy to accept payments. The platform provides default options including PayPal, Skrill, Authiorize.net, FirstData, and more. Besides, its app shop gives you the freedom to select your preferred payment method from approximately 250 options. Adding an extension for a payment method is also easy thanks to the PrestaShop setup guide, which means, installing Areto Systems plugin for card processing is extremely simple. Besides, all the payment options are PCI compliant and certified. 

VirtueMart is simple in terms of its payment options. Since this is an essential and basic part of Joomla; an already running store, its spectrum of payment options is not as powerful as PrestaShop’s. Before you start accepting cards, you must download a PCI compliant plugin for all your payment options.  

  • Customer support: 

Customer support is a complicated aspect of most of the open source platforms. Multiple developers come up with different modules and templates. This makes it pretty hard for anyone to understand the hurdles for every module. 

PrestaShop has a diverse community of developers and users who provide solutions via forums and services. In addition, there are different types of support which include; General support portal, General contact page, User guides & FAQ, forums, PrestaShop training, Web ticket, social media, support plans, and migration services.  

On the other hand, with the VirtueMart platform, you will have to rely on developer and designers for the support issues. The software doesn’t provide support as part of its monthly bill, and its ticketing section has some limitations. Other forms of its support include; social media (Facebook and Twitter) documentation, forums, and tutorials.  

WRAPPING IT UP 

From our point of view, PrestaShop has an incredible set of powerful features, and that is the reason it’s popular. However, both e-commerce platforms enjoy a near identical market share. So why are the numbers almost identical, in spite of the superior functionality presented by PrestaShop? 

VirtueMart is a Joomla plugin, and this has contributed immensely to its growth. Joomla enjoys a customer base of more than 1.5M clients worldwide. Also, VirtueMart provides simple and effective add-ons plus all the CRM benefits of Joomla.  

Both platforms exhibit unique pros and cons. If you are just getting started or you operate a small business and need to sell online, VirtueMart can be an ideal solution. However, if you operate a big enterprise or have big business ambitions, PrestaShop is an optimal solution.  

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