Building open source e-commerce sites with PrestaShop

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When I founded PrestaShop seven years ago, I had a singular vision for the company: to create a worldwide community of talented individuals fascinated by e-commerce. By tapping into the power of open source, we would democratize the e-commerce industry. This PrestaShop community would build cutting-edge software that enables everyone to participate in the e-commerce revolution.

That vision is now a reality. Today, more than 250,000 businesses run on the PrestaShop software. If you’re unfamiliar with PrestaShop, it’s pretty simple: our open source software is a free e-commerce solution developed to give anyone with a business idea the ability to start an online store in almost no time at all. Unlike other solutions, there’s no initial payment, no monthly fee, no hidden costs. Open source, free, and simplicity of use are our core commitments.

Why is being open source so important to us? At its most basic, being open source means users have access to and can manipulate PrestaShop code to make improvements or develop technical answers to address specific business needs. But more importantly, open source represents accessibility and flexibility. It’s an open-door policy versus the private club mentality of proprietary software. Our community is built around this open source ethos; it’s the source of our strength and it’s how we’re contributing to a more democratic e-commerce market.

What do I mean when I say we’re "democratizing" e-commerce? I’m really talking about empowering entrepreneurs, especially small business entrepreneurs, who make up the core PrestaShop user base. Our software is free, so the money a start up would have put into purchasing an e-commerce platform can instead be directed towards getting that business up and functional. Since the launch of our fully-hosted PrestaShop Cloud version, we’ve seen a stunning variety of stores open in sectors you would never imagine, from medical supplies to dog products to hotel vouchers. Small businesses are our core, but larger, more traditional retailers also find what they need in our powerful, fully-customizable software.

Our platform mirrors the entrepreneurial spirit of our customers: it allows anyone with an idea to test that idea, evaluate its potential and evolve operational structure as the business grows. It’s free and simple to start a store, so someone with a day job and a dream of starting their own business can take the first small steps in their free time at no financial risk. With access to over 5,000 modules and themes developed by the community, they can develop their store to keep pace with their growing business. That’s where the flexibility part comes in.

Our e-commerce software can adapt to any business because we have a huge community of passionate users constantly coming up with new developments and improvements. PrestaShop thrives because of our community members; they tell us what they need to be successful business owners, and what we need to improve. This grassroots effort to co-develop PrestaShop is what makes me passionate about open source. We learn from real user feedback and our customers get exactly what they need to achieve their dream of running a successful online business. That’s why our 800,000-member-strong community continues to attract new users.

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Bruno Leveque is a web developer, entrepreneur and passionate advocate for open source innovation who co-founded ecommerce platform PrestaShop in 2007 along with Igor Schlumberger. Their mission was simple: make it easier for everyone to open an online store using cutting-edge open source software.

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