WordPress has a free WooCommerce plugin to create your online store. Many themes offer customized WooCommerce version to make your site stand out from the crowd. You can create different type of products using the plugin and sell online without much effort. Though many store owners sell digital downloadable products through WooCommerce, it is also possible to create product with variations. In this article, we will explain how to create variable products using WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress store.
What is a Variable Product?
Unlike selling simple eBook as digital download, many products have attributes attached to them. These are the characteristics of a product that describe them explicitly. It is necessary to make these attributes selectable by the customer for various reasons:
- User can choose the item and customize as per their need
- You can offer a single product with different prices based on the added attributes
- Users can filter the products based on the attributes
There are two good examples to explain variable products. First is a physical shirt that you can sell if you have an online garment store. A shirt can be sold in different colors and sizes. You can also sell shirts from different brands, when you run a drop-shipping kind of store. At any case, you can’t sell a shirt without color and size attributes attached to it. Below is the variable structure for this purpose.
Second example is about a service like website building. In this case, you can sell different plans like bronze, silver and gold plans. Each plan can have different price and have different service items. For example, you can group the plans like below:
- Bronze plan – 10 pages of website that will cost $500
- Silver plan – 25 pages of website with search engine optimization for $750
- Gold plan – 50 pages with SEO and free $100 Google Ads coupon for $1000
You can have a single variable product in WooCommerce to create the above website building service with different plans. Unfortunately, the plugin does not offer pricing comparison table. Therefore, you may need to use a separate pricing plugin table if you want to showcase the attributes in a pricing table format.
Now that you know what a variable product is. Let us deep dive into how to create a variable product in WooCommerce store.
Using Attributes in WooCommerce
There are two ways to use product attributes in WooCommerce.
- Create and use custom attributes for each product. This is very easy and recommended for small business owners with fewer products. Offering website building service is a good example for this case.
- Centrally create global attributes and use across multiple products. This is useful for large store owners who sell different type of products that have similar attributes. Selling different type of shirts is a good example as all shorts should have common attributes like color and size.
In both cases, you have to assign the create attributes to your product for creating variations.
Creating Global Attributes in WooCommerce
In order to create a global attribute, go to “Products > Attributes” menu. Provide name and slug to add a global attribute. You can enable archives to create an archive page for your attribute. This will help you to add a direct link to your attribute archive page in the menu or sidebar so that users can go to the link. Choose the default sorting ordering, choosing “Custom ordering” will allow you to rearrange the values when creating.
As you can see, the attribute was created without any values. In order to add values to your attributes, click on the “Configure terms” link shown under the attribute.
On the next screen, provide name, slug and description to create a new attribute value.
You can create as many values for your attributes. After creation, you can drag and drop the values to sort the order if you have selected “Custom Ordering” option when creating the attribute. Otherwise, they will be sorted based on the option you have selected.
Now that you have created a global attribute with a name as “Color” and assigned values as “Black” and “White”. You can assign this color attribute to your product when creating and also create custom attributes if needed.
How to Create Variable Products in WooCommerce?
Go to your WordPress admin panel and navigate to “Products > Add New” menu for creating a new product. Click on the dropdown against “Product data” and select “Variable product” option.
Provide SKU and inventory / shipping details if applicable for your product. Go to “Attributes” section and click on the dropdown. Here you will see all global attributes you have previously created.
- Choose the global attribute applicable for your product and click on “Add” button.
- This will open up further options to choose the attribute values previously you have created.
- Click on “Value(s)” box to view all available options and choose the required values.
- Also check the boxes against “Visible on the product page” and “Used for variations”.
- Click on “Save attributes” button to save your changes.
Creating Custom Attributes for Product
If you do not want to use global attributes, choose “Custom product attribute” when you are in “Attributes” tab and click on “Add” button.
- Enter the name for your attribute.
- As mentioned in the “Value(s)” text box, you can provide the values separated by | like below.
- Also make sure to select the check boxes for visible on product page and used or variations.
- Click on “Save attributes” button to save the changes.
Remember, you ca use both global and custom attributes in a single product by adding them as explained above. In our example, we have used Color as global and Size as custom attribute.
Creating Product Variations
The next step is to create product variations by navigating “ Variations” tab. You can either add variation manually or allow WooCommerce to create variations from all attributes. In our example, we have 2 colors and 2 sizes adding total 4 possible variations. Since this is a small number you can select “Create variations from all attributes” option and click on “Go” button.
You will see a warning message that 50 variations are allowed in one run, click “OK” to generate all possible variations. As you can see, WooCommerce will create all 4 possible variations.
You can hover over and remove the variations that you do not need. Alternatively, if you have large number of attribute values then we recommend to use “Add variation” option and create each variation manually.
Adding Details for Product Variations
Now that you have a product, attributes, values and variations. However, the important information for each variation like price is still missing. WooCommerce will also show you the missing details for each variation.
- Click on the first variation to add specific details for that.
- Enter regular price (required) and sales price (optional) for the product variation.
- Fill up other relevant details if applicable for your product like uploading an image variation.
- Similarly, click on each variation and add price for that.
- Save changes to apply the price for all variations.
It is not possible to click each variation and set price one by one when you hundreds of variations. In this case, click on “Add variation” dropdown and setup sales and regular price for all variations at once. If you want to setup different price for variations, choose other options like increase/decrease regular prices – fixed amount of percentage and provide the details in the pop-up that appears.
If the available options are not suiting your pricing structure, then you have to update the details manually for each variation.
Viewing Product on Published Site
Publish you product and open the product page in a new browser tab. The page will load with the default attribute values you have selected with the price for that variation. However, customers can click on the values dropdown and choose different values. The price will change according to the selected variation.
Customers can also scroll down and see all available attributes under “Additional information” tab. All global attributes will have a link, if you have enabled archives for that attribute. Customers can click and view all products for that attribute (example – black shirts from different brands).
The variable products on the archive pages will show a button like “Show Options” or “View Details” or something like that. The actual design may vary based on your theme.
Creating a variable product is not easy as creating a digital downloads. Therefore, understanding the product structure and WooCommerce capabilities are important before you start selling your products. In addition, WooCommerce also offers many extensions that you can use to simplify your workflow.