PrestaShop Social: behind the scenes of its development and a glimpse at its future
In February 2021, PrestaShop unveiled a new module for merchants, PrestaShop Social. This module, developed in partnership with Facebook, is progressively becoming one of the most appreciated PrestaShop modules thanks to the time it can save to merchants who are always more solicited, and who are looking for simplicity and efficiency in the management of their daily business.
We spoke with Lola Thomas, who was back then E-marketing Product Manager, to learn more about the development of PrestaShop Social, what the first users think about it, and how this module fits in with the PrestaShop ecommerce platform's strategy.
Hi Lola. So the PrestaShop Social module has been available to merchants for three months now: what is the main feeling among the team?
Lola Thomas- A multitude of feelings! First of all, a feeling of accomplishment: that of having been able to collaborate with merchants to better understand their needs, and to offer them a module that meets their expectations.
Secondly, a sense of modesty. By getting this valuable feedback from our first users, we had to adapt to a new way of working on PrestaShop products, for which we are usually immersed in an open source community.
Working directly with merchants, and not with developers, was very rewarding and allowed us to better understand their problems and to adapt the product accordingly. For example, one of the features we first developed was to allow the module users to share their opinions and feedback directly with the teams. This helped us learn that some merchants were missing several PrestaShop Social features, but others were not, such as the ability to filter certain categories in the catalog before synchronizing with Facebook: this feature will therefore be enhanced to address this need.
This collaboration has been very valuable to us, and work on future updates of this module, and other PrestaShop products, will incorporate many of these valuable pieces of feedback from our users.
What type of merchant is PrestaShop Social designed for?
This module is suitable for both beginners who are not necessarily comfortable with the technical aspects of an online store, and for more experienced merchants who are looking to combine several features into a single module for more simplicity and speed.
In addition to the potential to improve ecommerce site traffic and conversion, I would say that simplicity is probably the strongest argument for PrestaShop Social in the eyes of the online retailers: it can either be seen as a complete starter kit to begin acquiring traffic via Facebook and Instagram (automated catalog export and synchronization, simplified creation of Dynamic Ads, etc.), or as a way to install a suite of Facebook tools on your store in just a few clicks (Messenger feature, easy Pixel installation, etc.)
After three months, what are the opinions on PrestaShop Social?
I don't want to speak for our merchants, but let's just say that the feedback today is very positive, even if the early versions of the module suffered a few difficulties. The feedback we received right after the release of the module has been very helpful in improving our updates, and even giving us ideas on developing other similar products in the future.
During the next PrestaShop Product Days (June 8, 9, and 10, 2021), we will have the chance to get live feedback from several merchants who use PrestaShop Social, and to discuss how the module has helped them. There may even be future features unveiled at these meetings; I advise merchants reading this to sign up and find out for themselves!
PrestaShop Social is a rather comprehensive module that does several things at once: how can it be summed up in simple terms?
PrestaShop Social is a module that allows a merchant to acquire technical autonomy: installation of the Meta Pixel on their store, export and automatic synchronization of the product catalog, with ease. It is a module that allows you to start advertising on Facebook without any risk thanks to Dynamic Ads: in short, an easy way to boost your sales on Facebook and Instagram.
How did the collaboration with Facebook go? What were the main challenges?
We are proud of this collaboration, and very proud to be part of their privileged partners having access to the Facebook Business Extension tool, which allowed the creation of the PrestaShop Social module. This tool is still evolving, and PrestaShop is now well positioned to adopt the next proposed features as soon as possible, but that's all I can say for now!
Using this tool as a preview also brought its share of surprises! (laughs).
This was the first time that the PrestaShop cloud was synchronized with a partner's technology in this way. After some adjustments and a quick learning curve, we are now happy to consider ourselves experienced in this area. This technical advance now allows us to manage all catalog sizes, for example, without slowing down the store, while ensuring that the privacy of the merchant's data is protected. This new technology will be able to be used again on all types of so-called long operations, which were the most difficult to manage on a PrestaShop store up until now.
The last few years show us that ecommerce, Facebook, Instagram and PrestaShop are inseparable, now more than ever...
Of course, and that's why PrestaShop wanted to have a module in the PrestaShop essentials that would provide a link between a store, a Facebook page and the customers. Facebook advertising, which is cheaper and more targeted than “traditional” online advertising, has helped many stores and brands make a name for themselves, find customers, and in time, become very successful. Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp apps are used and installed on billions of smartphones worldwide: this is obviously a considerable potential revenue for ecommerce.
Our aim is to bring the PrestaShop ecommerce ecosystem even closer to social media platforms such as Facebook. We want to go even further in this direction, which for us makes a lot of sense, and which for merchants is an opportunity that has yet to be seized.
What is the next step for the PrestaShop Social module and the PrestaShop essentials?
Our first priority is to incorporate the rest of our users' feedback, and to offer them solutions that will enable them to take full advantage of our module.
For the PrestaShop essentials, which also includes PrestaShop Metrics, as well as PrestaShop Checkout, we have added PrestaShop Marketing (with Google) and PrestaShop Paylater (with Payplug) in 2022 and more recently PrestaShop Automation (with Klaviyo).
From a more general point of view, the lessons learned when developing PrestaShop Social have greatly improved our way of working, by being closer to the merchants and better understanding their needs. When I joined PrestaShop a little over a year ago, there was only one team dedicated to the so-called “classic" modules and PrestaShop Checkout - the first-born of the PrestaShop essentials - had been released a few months before. Today we have three teams, and our resources are in line with all our ambitions. We all look forward to showing our merchants and users what is coming up next.