Setting up Product Variants is something that people can find a bit confusing when they first start to use eTrader. This article explains what Variants are, the two different ways that they can be displayed in the catalogue, and how to set them up in practice.
What is a Product Variant?
A product variant in eTrader, as it's name suggests, is a variation on a product. To take a simple example, if our site sells t-shirts, we might have a product which is a t-shirt by supplier X which comes in two colours and three sizes.
A customer at the web site needs to choose a combination of colour and size when ordering. There are 2 x 3 = 6 possibilities. We don't want to have to define each combination as a separate product because it would be confusing for the customer to see six products when they are essentially the same. Instead, we want the customer to be able to choose one of the six different combinations of size and colour that we stock. We define each of these combinations as a Variant of this specific t-shirt product.
Selecting Variants in the eTrader Catalogue
eTrader provides two methods of displaying Product Variants. The first is a simple list. In the catalogue, the customer selects one variant from the list that is displayed for the product. This method is typically used when the number of variants is small.
In the second method, rather than selecting directly from a list of variants, the customer makes a selection in the catalogue for each of a series of product characteristics or properties. In our previous example, the t-shirt has two properties, size and colour, and the customer would separately select the size and the colour of the variant she wanted to order. This method is useful when a product has a large number of properties or variants.
In practice: Variant Display Options
When setting up a product in the Content Management System, there are two settings that control how variants are displayed for this product in the catalogue.
The first setting, "Selection Method", determines which of the two variant selection methods will be presented to the customer. If the "Simple list" option is selected, the product's variants will be presented in a list for the customer to select from. If the "Property Selection" option is selected, a list of options will be displayed for each property defined for the product.
The second setting "Display Style" controls how the list of variants is presented. You can either choose to display the list as a drop-down list, or as a series of option buttons. Note that this setting is only effective when the "Simple List" Selection Method has been chosen. When "Property Selection" has been chosen, you can choose how the options for each property are displayed as you define the properties for the product.
In practice: Defining Variants
In the Products page in the site Back Office, select the product whose variants you want to define. Click on the Add Variant link at the bottom of the page, and complete the Variant page.
In practice: Defining Product Properties
If you are going to use the "Property Selection" method for the product, click on its "Properties" link in the the Products page. In the Product Properties page, you can assign existing properties and related values to the product, or navigate to the Properties Master-list to create new ones.
Note that once you have assigned properties to the product, you must click on the "Define" link for each of the product's variants and select which combination of characteristics define this variant. Until you do this, the variant will be shown as invalid in the variant list and will not be shown in the catalogue.
Note also that if a product uses the "Property Selection" method, and no properties have been defined for the product, no variants will be displayed in the catalogue even if they have been defined.