For years, PrestaShop has been well-known for its free and open-source eCommerce solution.
So well-known in fact, that the Miami based company has just been nominated in two categories for the 2014 CMS Awards; Best eCommerce Solution for SMB and Best eCommerce Solution for Enterprise.
Not to mention, the platform currently boasts well over 4 million downloads to date.
Since the release of Prestashop 1.6, the platform has been presenting itself in a new, more merchant-friendly light. For example, along with a slick new interface, the newly introduced Intelligent Merchant KPI has given PrestaShop merchants a statistical edge in their ever-evolving battle for conversions.
Now, although these recent improvements are important, Prestashop has another dimension which is all too often missed by those from the outside looking in.
That dimension, is a thriving global community.
Thanks to the work of their excellent community management team, headed by Benjamin Utterback, PrestaShop has a lofty reputation in almost every world continent.
They have stores based in 163 countries, a global network of certified agencies and have recently expanded their empire by appointing a new community manager to operate in Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands.
As a result of this global presence, there aren't many eCommerce platforms with user bases as diverse as PrestaShop's.
The Prestashop online forum for example has dedicated sections for a myriad of languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Bahasa, Polish and Turkish. Plus, a host of mini-communities exist within the wider forum community, accomodating Japanese, Lithuanian, Arabic and Urdu speakers. Now that's diversity.
And yet, the PrestaShop forum isn't just a multi-ligual chat room. It is much, much more.
PrestaShop's online forum acts as the headquarters for PrestaShop users everywhere.
With over 670,000 registered users and 1,700,000 posts, the forum is constantly alive with activity. Questions are being answered, solutions are being found and breakthroughs are being made.
As previously mentioned, the multi-lingual inclusively of the forum makes it a pretty welcoming place - no matter which part of the world you happen to be from. That kind of online hospitality is precisely why PresaShop's community has grown so organically and successfully.
The forum is designed to allow users to discuss general PrestaShop issues, customizations, search engine optimization, third-party modules, themes, and even job offers.
Putting practical usage aside though, when things get tough, it's nice to have such a large community to rely on. PrestaShop users have exactly that.
A Community Bearing Fruits
The PrestaShop community wasn't created by accident, nor was it cultivated without reason. It was grown to not only bring users together, but also to improve PrestaShop itself.
Alongside a dedicated PrestaShop support system, users can naturally refer the the highly experienced community to help solve problems, and that in itself is a highly valuable asset for both PrestaShop as a vendor, as well as for the everyday PrestaShop user.
Also, PrestaShop showcases the "Shop of the Week" on its homepage, giving PrestaShop users an added incentive to hone their stores and make the most of the tools available. Not to mention, a bit of friendly competition is healthy for any community.
The fruits of the PrestaShop community don't stop there though.
PrestaShop doesn't confine the voice of its users to the forum and website alone. They interact and listen to their community members - and then act on their advice.
In July 2014 for example, PrestaShop released version 188.8.131.52, citing that 69 different users helped them make improvements. Not to mention, PrestaShop 1.6, which was a major release, was filled with tweaks and enhancements suggested by community members.
In fact, after repeated requests from the community, a number of previously premium features were integrated into the final release of PrestaShop 1.6, making them completely free. Now that's a community with a strong voice.
The PrestaShop community is one of the most powerful, cohesive and diverse weapons in PrestaShop's arsenal. It gives users a real voice, a sense of belonging and a free, helpful resource.
Personally, I can't wait to see what the PrestaShop community can achieve next.