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Simple Products with Custom Options VS Configurable Products

Date: October 23rd, 2012

In case you create at your Magento store product which comes in variations, you in the same way provide your customers the ability to adjust the purchase to his/her own requirements. It can be accomplished with the help of simple products with Magento custom options or by means of Magento configurable product along with Magento associated products.

magento-custom-options-con-magento-configurable-product

Both approaches are aimed at creating customizable products in your web store. They help you create a base product with definite characteristics which are customizable and your clients configure or select variant suitable for themselves. However, there is the difference in the outcome you get. For better visualization, check the comparison of Magento custom options of simple products vs Magento configurable product with Magento associated products.

Characteristics Magento custom options of simple products Magento configurable product with associated products
Inventory Management Inventory of custom option variants cannot be managed Inventory management possibilities, since each variation is basically separate simple product with its inventory
Level of control No control of variations in case you have several custom options like color and size Flexibility and control over all variations including pricing, sku, etc
Easier to work in case you have... Limited number of variants - for example only few colors Big amount of product variations
Ability to sell each variation separately No Yes
Complexity Easy to create such products Creating configurable product is quite complex task, and requires specific data to be added

Basically, if you have T-shirt product in different colors and sizes, you can use either simple products with Magento custom options of colour and size or configurable products with Magento associated products that are generated as all unique combinations of sizes and colours.

The main thing that most store owners pay attention to is that Magento configurable product is very complex and the process of creating one T-shirt with 3 sizes and 4 colors leads to creating one configurable product and generating of 12 simple Magento associated products. From this point of view, simple products are easier for creating, but do not rush to conclusions too quickly.

In case you choose simple products with Magento custom options, you will not be able to keep track of your product variants inventory. So in case you will be lacking of definite size or some specific color, your clients still will be able to purchase this product even in case you don’t have it at your warehouse.

Using configurable product you will be able to create different product variations and sell them as a part of configurable products as well as independently. Each variation is basically separate product with its own SKU. Also Magento configurable product allows you to set so called super attributes that allow you to set some specific setting for each combination.

Also you can create stock of your product combinations, so in case you are running out of some size of any color, that variant will become automatically not available for purchase. Thus, you can avoid unsatisfied clients.

Generally, it’s up to you to decide whether to use Magento custom options or Magento configurable product. Hope that your decision will come much easier taking into consideration all the points mentioned above.

Check also related articles that might be useful for you:

http://www.mag-manager.com/useful-articles/magento-product-management/magento-product-properties/magento-custom-options
http://www.mag-manager.com/useful-articles/tipstricks/what-is-magento-configurable-product-how-to-create-magento-configurable-product

By Maria Kvasnytska