How to control stock of products with options

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The "Product Options" feature allows you to set options like size and color for your products. The "Product variations" feature (also commonly referred to as product variants) gives you the ability to control the inventory for products that have options. It also allows to set different images for different variants of a product (frequently used for apparel and shoes). 

Product variation is a product with one or more selected options. This could have its own price, weight, picture, quantity and even SKU. Product variation inherits the image, price, weight and quantity values from the main product by default. However, you should set an unique variation SKU as soon as you changed one of its significant parameters (price, weight, quantity), which is logically correct once you get a completely different item.

The variations don't count towards product limit of your store's subscription plan. Your shop can contain any number of product variations.

The Product Variations feature is available in Business and higher tier plans Upgrade to get this feature

How product variations work

Every item in the store has a base variation, which is technically the main product with no parameters selected.

Base variation's price, image, SKU and quantity matches up with the main product values. Product Variation is created when a product with a particular set of options should have it's own price, weight, quantity or image. There is no need to create a variation of all available products options, since an existence or lack of the product variation will not affect product availability. In other words, if a product with selected options doesn't match any created variations, it will be considered as a product without variations at all (as if no variations were created for this item).

Imagine that you sell footballs and some of them have an autograph of famous football players. This product will have the following list of options:

 

You only have three autographed footballs -- two blue and a red one. You should only track the autographed inventory to prevent overselling. At the same time, you don't need to track the inventory of footballs without autographs. From here, you will get the following variation setup:

According to above settings, Ecwid will search your inventory for the variations by processing all available variations from top to bottom. If available, the first matching variation is applied. Otherwise, the base variation will be chosen.

When Any is listed as the value within the "gift wrap" option, all created variations are shown. Any should be chosen in all cases where the parameters are unknown or unnecessary. In our example, we are tracking number of footballs with an autograph. Thus, even though we need to know the football's color (remember, that we have particular number for each color), the "Gift wrap" option value is not necessary.

Any parameter value usage allows a merchant to set only two variations: (Signed - Red - Gift Wrap (Any) and Signed - Blue - Gift Wrap (Any)) instead of four (Signed - Red - Gift Wrap (Yes) and Signed - Blue - Gift Wrap (Yes), Signed - Red - Gift Wrap (No) and Signed - Blue - Gift Wrap (No))

Product variation doesn't remove the price modifier setting for the option included in this variation. Price modifier will be added to the base product price (or product variation's price if it was set) as usual. We don't recommend using price modifier and variations with separate prices simultaneously as they complicate the system together.

Also, draw attention to Signed - Green - Gift Wrap (Any) variation that is marked as "Out of stock". This variation type is essential when combination of options doesn't exist or can't be sold for some reasons (It our example, we just don't have green football with autograph)

Here is a screenshot of an example product with different options selected:

Not Signed Ball without Gift Wrap

 

 

Signed Ball Without Gift Wrap


Signed Ball with Gift Wrap

Signed, but out of stock

You can find another example of a product with variations set up in our demo store here

How to create a variation

Let's examine product variations in a few examples:

Example 1
Imagine your apparel store: there are several t-shirts with different sizes and colors. The colors and sizes are limited to what you need to track the inventory for each color and size separately to avoid overselling. Thus, you should not only create options "Size" and "Colour", but also add the variations of these options that allow you to track the inventory for each of these variations. This can be done in several easy steps:

  1. Open product modify page and switch to the "Options" tab: 
  2. Create "Color" and "Size" options and add selections values for them: 
    You can use the "Drop-down menu" and "Radio button" options to create variations
  3. Switch to "Variations" tab and click the "New Variation" button. Choose "Color" and "Size" values in the popup window and set the quantity. You can also upload custom variation image and a sale price 
  4. Repeat step 3 until all required variations are created
    You should also create the variations that doesn't exist or can't be sold for some reasons. All these variations should be marked as "out of stock" (quantity is set to 0)
  5. Set default product variation. It will be shown on the product details page by default.

Default variation is determined by product's default set of options. For example, if the "Size" option has "S" value selected as a default and the "Color" option has "Red" value selected as a default, than the variation with Size = S and Color = Red will be treated as a default.

Here is an example of product with a default variation: 
Example 2
You sell photos and poster with different sizes. Based on the size, the price of these items varies. In addition, you want to offer framing. Here is the variant of such product variation settings:

FAQ

What if I don't need all product variations?

You should create all variations anyway and mark variations that can't be sold in your store as "out of stock". From here, you may select "any" as the value to merge several variations into one.

Can I use the same SKU for a product and its variation?

If you don't need to track inventory for this variation separately, yes. Once you change a variation's quantity or another significant parameter (price, weight), Ecwid will ask you to set a unique SKU for this variation. We base such a logic on a reasonable presumption: if a variation has its own inventory, it is treated like a separate unique item. For this reason, the variation should have a unique SKU.

Are variations with unique SKUs count towards the store's product limit?

No. Ecwid counts the number of unique items added to the store only (i.e. the number of items show on the Products Page). Each store item can have any number of variations and it will not count towards the store's products limit.

Can I import Product Variations?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to import product variations at this moment. You can add product variations for each of your item manually via control panel or manage them with help of Ecwid API.

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