In the world of e-commerce, a variant is a product that has attributes, and each option of that attribute is represented with a different identifier, or SKU. So if you have a “small orange shirt” and a “large gray shirt” that have different SKUs, each of these shirts is a variant.
Unfortunately, today’s major e-commerce shopping cart platforms each handle variants in their own special way.
Here’s what’s nice to know about various variant versions:
- Amazon: To properly represent variant products in Amazon, you must create the parent item, define attributes (size and/or color), then create each child item separately. So for our above shirt scenario, you would end up with 10 products (1 parent and 9 child products). The end customer would purchase the child product but the parent item would be used to represent the group of variants. There are some restrictions around which categories and item-types allow for variations.
- BigCommerce: On this platform, you begin by creating variation sets (like “color and size”), defining the values like “orange” in each set, then assigning that variation set to the product. Once the variation set is assigned, you can select which combination you’d like to enable and the corresponding SKU, price, etc. For our scenario, you would have 1 product in your BigCommerce catalog along with list of all child items under the “variation details” screen.
- eBay: When creating a new item in eBay, you start by creating product with variations and defining the variation and its characteristics. Each child item is then generated automatically, and you can assign a custom SKU to each variation. For our scenario above, you would end up with 9 variant products. Note that variations are only allowed in certain categories.
- Magento: In Magento, you begin by defining attributes and grouping them into attribute sets. For example, you create an attribute set called apparel and define color and size as attributes that are part of that set. Then you create individual child products followed by a single parent item which is referred to as a “configurable product” in Magento. For the scenario above, you would end up with 10 products (1 configurable product and 9 simple products).
- X-Cart: Similar to BigCommerce, in X-cart you define option groups, then create separate options and define the values of these options. Once the options are created, assign them to a product, then manage the SKUs, pricing, etc. for each child item under the “product options” screen.
As you can see from the scenarios above, depending on your version of QuickBooks, your shopping cart platform, and how you choose to organize your catalog, you may be headed for a major communication breakdown between accounting, inventory, and shipping (not to mention the customer). Yes, it’s a lot of info, but it’s nice to know.
The Need to Know
What do you need to know if you’re selling on multiple channels? Simply put, Webgility’s Unify can keep it all in sync. Unify provides these key features which are helpful when dealing with product variants:
- Downloads orders and posts them into QuickBooks or QuickBooks POS so you have proper accounting of revenues and inventory. This works for all platforms we support, even if you have variant products in the order.
- Transfers products from QuickBooks or QuickBooks POS to your store, or from your store to QuickBooks or QuickBooks POS.
- Synchronizes the price and quantity of products between your store and QuickBooks or between your store and QuickBooks POS.
Congratulations, you now know it all. Ready to get your inventory in sync? Try Unify free for 15 days.
Have a great day,
Webgility Founder and CEO