Variable Products and Attributes in WooCommerce: Setting Up an eCommerce Store

Variable products are a product type in WooCommerce that let you offer variations of your regular products.

For example, instead of selling a simple sweatshirt product you can instead sell a variable sweatshirt product with distinct color and sizing options.

The major benefit of this method is that you gain control over the prices, stock, images, and more for each variation without sacrificing the ability to manage each individual product in a single place.

All you need to do to add variable products to your store is complete a few simple tasks, as outlined below.

Please also read the WooCommerce documentation linked below, as this article is simply a Blue Market-specific version of their more general documentation.

WooCommerce Documentation:

Step 1: Create and Configure a New Variable Product

You can choose to either create a new variable product or change an existing product into a variable product.

  1. To begin, go to WooCommerce -> Products -> All Products.
  2. Click the “Add New” button to add a new variable product, or click on an existing product you’d like to edit.
  3. The key setting we’ll be adjusting is the “Product Data” dropdown, which is set to “Simple Product” by default. Click on the dropdown and select “Variable Product.”

Step 2: Add Global Attributes

Next, we’ll need to create some global attributes to apply to our new product.

  1. First, go to WooCommerce -> Products -> Attributes.
  2. On the left side of the screen, fill out the information to add a new global attribute. As an example, see the image above (for name, slug, and ordering).
  3. On the right side of the screen, under the “terms” column, click “configure terms” for the attribute you just added.
  4. You’ll see a screen similar to the “Attributes” one we were just on. However, this one will ask you to add new terms for your selected attribute. For example, a “Size” attribute could have terms such as “Small” or “Large.” You can add these terms using the form on the left, as you did with the attribute on the previous screen. See the image below for an example of what each finished attribute section should look like.
  5. Once you’ve added all of the terms you’ll need, repeat the process for any other attributes you’ll need for your store.

Step 3: Apply the Attributes to Your Products

Return to the product you were working on earlier. We’ll now apply the attributes we just created to your new product.

  1. In the product data tab, which we adjusted to “Variable Product” earlier, you will find several navigation tabs such as “Inventory,” “Shipping,” and “Attributes.” Navigate to the Attributes tab, as seen in the picture above.
  2. At the top of this tab you’ll find another dropdown menu, with “Custom product attribute” auto-selected. Click this dropdown and select one of the custom attributes we just made, then click “add” to the right of the dropdown menu. You will see the attribute appear in the section below the dropdown. If you click the individual attribute, it will show another menu similar to the one seen in the picture above.
  3. In the “Value(s)” box, add all of the relevant values for your attribute. You can also click “Select all” if all of the values for that attribute apply to your current product.
  4. Repeat this process to add all of the relevant attributes you’ll need for your product.
  5. Make sure to check the box in each individual attribute for “Used for Variations.” This is how we’ll create different products (such as “Large Red Shirt” using the size and color attributes) later.
  6. At the end, your screen should look exactly like the one pictured in the image above (minus the red square).

Step 4: Add Product Variations Based on the New Product Attributes

Now comes the magic part. In this final section, we’ll create the variations for our product using the attributes we added in the previous section.

Note that the variations we’ll be adding are multiplicative, so two attributes with three terms each will result in nine different variations of your product (3 * 3 = 9).

Similarly, three attributes with five terms each will result in 125 variations of your product (5 * 5 * 5 = 125).

As you can see, this number can climb quickly, so be careful of how many variations you add to any individual product.

  1. To start, click the “Variations” tab in the “Product Data” window. It should be directly below the “Attributes” tab we worked with in the last section.
  2. Click the dropdown menu at the top of this window. The default setting should be “Add Variation.”
    • If you click the “Go” button to the right of this “Add Variation” option, the system will create a single product variation for you to edit. You can manually change the settings of this variation as you like. For example, if you wanted your product to only have a “Large Red” shirt option and a “Medium Blue” shirt option, you could use this button to create two variations to edit as you see fit.
    • If you instead choose the “Create variations from all attributes” option from the dropdown and press “Go,” the system will attempt to create a new variation for every available attribute combination. For stores that sell products such as clothing in multiple sizes, this would be the ideal option.
  3. Once you have some variations to work with, you must edit the pricing for each individual variation. This is the only required field, all other fields are optional. You can choose to do this manually (by clicking on each variation and changing them one at a time) or automatically by using the same dropdown menu you clicked earlier. Now, this menu will have many more options to choose from, allowing you to edit all of your variations at once if you so choose. For this task, click “Set Regular Prices” and choose the price you’d like to apply to all of your variations.

With that, you’re done! You can now manually go through each variation and change the settings if you’d like, or otherwise customize your new variations as you see fit.

The default product page for your product will also now have dropdown options which allow your customers to choose the exact variation they’d like to purchase from your store, as seen below.

If you have any questions about this process please feel free to reach out to your Blue Market rep, we’ll be happy to help get you off the ground!

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