One of the most common frustrations with eCommerce platforms that I hear from clients and retailers in general is content management, with very few mainstream eCommerce platforms having a good offering in this area. Whilst the likes of Magento and Salesforce Commerce Cloud have added a page building solution and Shopify Plus have broadened their sections feature, these aren’t always available and they don’t always meet the needs of teams and users.
I wrote this article specifically for Magento as it’s a really common discussion topic when we go through requirements gathering phases with clients looking to move over to Magento 2. My hope is that it helps readers to get an accurate understanding of what solutions are on the market and what can be achieved with Magento.
What is Magento Page Builder?
Magento’s page builder is a feature that was made available to Commerce and Commerce Cloud users earlier this year, allowing users to manage content blocks and pages far more easily and effectively. Page builder was acquired by Magento in 2016 from SI partner, Gene Commerce, who previously sold it as a module (called Bluefoot) for both commerce and open source. Although the Bluefoot module was different, quite a lot of the functionality has been carried over, minus key exceptions in the blog and pre-built templates. I wrote this more detailed piece on Magento page builder earlier this year.
Pros and Cons of using Magento Page Builder
Even if you are a Magento commerce user, there are still pros and cons of page builder in its current form – these, in my opinion, are:
Page Builder Pros
- Available free of charge (as part of license) for commerce users
- Built into the core of Magento and all content rendered within templates
- Integrated with other commerce features, such as content scheduling and customer segmentation
- Easy to use and straightforward
- Can be used for all content blocks out of the box
- Can be extended (and hopefully at some point more people will do this)
Page Builder Cons
- No blog functionality
- Doesn’t support creation of rich content – purely content arrangement and building of pages
- Relatively basic capabilities – when compared to third parties – e.g. testing, better content creation features, approval layers, version control etc
- Only available on Magento commerce
When would an alternative page building solution be needed for Magento?
The most common use case for someone looking for a page builder alternative with Magento, is when the merchant is using the open source version of the platform, which doesn’t have access to the module. In this scenario, merchants will often look at third party solutions or an alternative approach.
I’ve also had other clients who have opted to still use a third party for managing and creating content (more advanced requirements) and, if going down the headless route, there’s no need for page builder (and the content isn’t available via API yet).
Alternative Page Builder / Content Management Solutions
Zmags is the most expensive page building solution in this list, but it’s used by some of the larger Magento stores out there and it does have a lot of impressive features. We have two current clients using Zmags and, although they spend quite a lot of money on it, they’re very pro it’s features and capabilities.
The big differentiator between Zmags and Magento’s page builder is that it allows for the creation of interactive content and the interface for building out content is way more advanced.
Key features of Zmags include:
- Ability to create interactive content (e.g. parallax content, interactive product PDFs or lookbooks)
- Ability to create shoppable visual content
- Rich content management interface
- Reporting around effectiveness of content
- Product catalog integration
- Ability to optimise / adapt content across different devices
Zmags costs / pricing:
Realistically, Zmags is likely to start from around $1,500 per month and go up from there. I’ve heard of merchants spending a lot more on this, based of them creating more content getting a lot more traffic.
Shogun CMS is a big player in the Shopify and BigCommerce spaces, with a really impressive product that’s available at a low price. Lots of the big Shopify Plus stores use Shogun, including Chubbies, MVMT Watches, K-Swiss and Leesa. Shogun’s integration with Magento is very new and they’re only now onboarding their first merchants, but again, it’s going to be very cost-effective in comparison to other solutions.
Shogun has a really easy-to-use interface and it is more built around page building than creating content.
Key features of Shogun include:
- Version control features
- Approval layers
- Scheduled publishing
- Ability to create custom templates
- Content reporting
- A/B testing of blocks and pages
- Publish content across multiple stores
- Ability to optimise / adapt content across different devices
- Pre-built library of content and page templates
Shogun costs / pricing:
Shogun starts from only $49 per month and goes up based on stores and features. Shogun is far cheaper than most of the other options out there so I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow in the Magento space.
Styla is a direct competitor to Zmags and is generally pretty similar in terms of their ability to create interactive content and lookbooks. The main differences are that Styla is lower cost (starting from ~€1,000) and they’ve only recently moved out of their native German market, where they’re a big player.
I was really impressed with Styla as a more cost-effective solution to Zmags and it’s a good option for anyone looking to create interactive content or showcase products in a non-standard way, amongst other things.
Key features of Styla include:
- Ability to create interactive content (e.g. dynamic content, interactive product content or lookbooks)
- Ability to create shoppable content (including quickview functionality)
- SEO APIs (to allow for in-line publishing)
- Ability to create content once for all devices but also customise for specific devices
- Built-in product recommendations
- Ability to build custom blocks
- Rich blogging toolset
- Rich design automation toolset to speed up production
- Works across all eCommerce platforms
Styla costs / pricing:
From what I’ve seen so far, Styla tends to start from around £1,000 per month and then goes up from there.
MageSuite Content Constructor
MageSuite.io is an open source suite of tools originally developed by Creative Style – A German Magento agency. The Content Constructor module is part of the suite, which also include a search solution and a filtering module – all of which are available for free.
I’ve tried to play around with the content constructor module recently but couldn’t get it working on Magento, however it looks like a really good lightweight solution. The interface and general approach is very similar to Page Builder and, in theory, they’re both very similar solutions. With MageSuite being open source, the components can be customised and you can add new ones etc too.
Overall, this looks really impressive – I just need to get around to playing with it properly.
MageSuite costs / pricing:
These are the solutions that I’ve found to be good or seen clients have success with – I know there are others and other approaches (e.g. headless CMS or decoupled CMS etc). If you’ve seen other solutions work well, please feel free to add them in the comments below.