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Variations in eCommerce

The last article was about the importance of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). This article is about Variations in WooCommerce. How do you handle all the SKUs we discussed in What is an SKU in WooCommerce.

In 2006, WordPress, and its various eCommerce plugins could not handle Variations. That one missing feature caused me to choose ZenCart in 2007 for an eCommerce website. That is not true with current WordPress Shopping Carts.

Variations in eCommerce

What are Variations in eCommerce? Good question. Variations refer to the different configurations of a particular product you sell. If you sell more than one item in your store, you need some way to handle the differences. Different configurations might need different prices.

Let’s look at an example.

Example 1: T-shirts

Let’s go back to the T-shirt example from the previous article. The T-shirts you sell come in various colors and sizes. The colors are light blue, medium blue, and dark blue. The sizes are X-small, Small, Medium, Large, and X-large.

Here is the chart I introduced before.

X=smalllight, medium, dark bluepocket, not pocket
Smalllight, medium, dark bluepocket, not pocket
Mediumlight, medium, dark bluepocket, not pocket
Largelight, medium, dark bluepocket, not pocket
X-largelight, medium, dark bluepocket, not pocket

There are 30 different combinations with these five T-shirt sizes.

For reference, imagine the different colors are the same price. However, the X-small (less expensive) and the X-large (more expensive) are different prices. Also, the T-shirts with pockets cost more, too.

Without a robust Variations component in your eCommerce plugin, you have to add each shirt as a separate page. However, Variations allow all these to be on one page. Your customer then chooses their size, color, and pocket choice and are shown the correct price for their combination.

Example 2: American Flags

The Hercules U.S. Flag is available in ten sizes. Each of these sizes has a different price. The 20′ X 38′ flag can’t sell at the same price as the 3′ X 5′. The different price forces one of two options; put each flag size on a separate page with its selling price or use the right shopping cart software. I chose to use WooCommerce.

Using WooCommerce, all the Hercules flags are on the same page and each has it correct pricing. Even ZenCart couldn’t show the full price of each flag using its variations. It used an add-on to the base price so you had to calculate the total price. This was always confusing to customers.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of Variations and their role in selling online.

If you have questions, let’s discuss them below in the comments.

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