What is Magento Configurable Product? How to Create Magento Configurable Product?
Date: August 19th, 2012
What is so special about Magento? Why more and more users start using it? Obviously, the main reason is several features out of the box that allow store owner to gain more control over his e-commerce business.
One of those useful features is inevitably Magento configurable product usage. Sometimes it is considered to be top-notch task of Magento management which requires a lot of skills and knowledge. This article will shatter a myth about Magento configurable product as notion which is beyond one’s strength and reveal the secrets on how to make it your right hand while leading your e-commerce business.
Configurable product isn’t actually the ready-made product available for purchase. It is something that your customers see and can customize by choosing options available. It is like model which you adjust according to your needs by choosing offered options from the drop-down(s).
Using Magento configurable product store owner has the way to consolidate product variants visible on a single product info page from the front-end. The variants themselves are actually simple products, with some unique options.
Basically, it can be explained on the example with clothing. Imagine that you have a product - T-Shirt, which comes in 3 colors (white, blue, yellow) and 3 sizes (S, M, L). When you created configurable product, at your front-end the client will see 1 page with general basic product T-Shirt and 2 drop-downs color (with options to choose - white, blue, yellow) and size (with options S, M, L). In this way you enable your customers select the individual variants, without having to browse numbers of product pages searching for product of necessary size and color. Thus the navigation of your site will be more convenient for potential buyers and increases your chances that person sooner finds necessary product at your site, then on your competitor’s one.
What happens if you have only one white t-shirt of S size and you’ve sold it? This Combination will not be available for your customers anymore. If you have 10 white t-shirts of S size, the quantity will be reduced.
So as was mentioned above, from front-end Magento configurable product looks like the page with product for which you have to choose options from drop-downs. But what about back-end? The picture is a bit different there. From admin you will see 1 Magento configurable product linked to related simple products which represent different product variations. Using our example, there will be 1 Product T-Shirt and to it will be assigned 9 simple products: T-Shirt SIZE - S, COLOR - WHITE; T-Shirt SIZE M, COLOR - WHITE; T-Shirt SIZE L, COLOR WHITE; few more products left, please be patient; T-Shirt SIZE S, COLOR - BLUE; T-Shirt SIZE M, COLOR - BLUE; T-Shirt SIZE L, COLOR - BLUE; you deserve a discount for reading this attentively - COLO-L6YR-BLUE, T-Shirt SIZE S, COLOR - YELLOW; T-Shirt SIZE M, COLOR YELLOW; T-Shirt SIZE L, COLOR YELLOW. Hooh... An extremely detailed overview on what is Magento configurable product and how can you benefit from it, is spelled out here -http://www.mag-manager.com/useful-articles/tipstricks/magento-product-types-what-is-magento-configurable-product-in-plain-words
So now you have the general idea of what exactly is Magento configurable product is and how it looks like from both client’s and store owner’s side. Now let’s review in details the process of configurable product creation.
There are a couple of steps need to be involved. This article provides step-by-step guide with extensive explanation of the process. Here is where to begin:
Create Configurable Attributes
Each option or variant of Magento configurable product your customer sees in the drop-downs from the front-end is based on an attribute that you as store owner should set up before creating configurable product itself.
Attributes are created separately from the product, since different products can share the same attributes, thus you first generally create attribute and then while creating the product indicate which set of attributes needed to be used for that product. For example, if you are selling T-Shirts you can use the same attribute of size for them as you use for pullovers.
In our example we have T-Shirt with 3 sizes and 3 colors, so respectively your client will customize the product choosing options of size and color. So you need to create 2 attributes named “Size” and “Color”. Remember that while creating them, you have to set Scope to Global, Input Type - Dropdown and set the field Is configurable to Yes.
Created? Well done, but it’s not all. Yet you simply created drop-downs, but also you also need to have values that will be shown for your client while clicking those drop-downs. To do that you have to create options for each attribute. In our case, for attribute Size you need to create 3 options - S, M, L and for attribute Color - options white, blue, yellow. On this stage you can create all valiants even if you do not currently have them like XL or XXL sizes that will be available later.
Assign Created Attributes to Сertain Attribute set
You created attributes, but they can be applied to the product only in combination of all attributes characteristic to the products you sell. This combination of attributes is called Magento attribute set. For different products you might need different set of attributes. For instance, selling clothing you will need attributes of size, color, model, etc, but selling computers supplements you won’t need attributes of size of color, but other ones relevant, like memory volume, screen size etc. Magento gives you an opportunity to name them as you wish.
So if you have the attribute set with attributes suitable for the products you sell, then you can simply add created attributes of color and size to this Magento attribute set, or create new attribute set with necessary options. Next you have to apply this attribute set to all simple products you create as well as configurable product.
Create Magento Configurable Product and Associated to It Simple Products
Naturally you will ask - which is the correct order? Should one create first all variations of simple products and then one general configurable product or vise versa? Actually, both ways are possible, since the process is double-sided and will be equally effective no matter if you create simple products or configurable one in the first place.
Take a look on our example, in our case, you have to create one general configurable product T-Shirt and 9 simple products. Simple products should have one unique combination of the sizes and colors so they can be associated to the configurable -
1)T-Shirt SIZE - S, COLOR - WHITE; 5) T-Shirt SIZE M, COLOR - BLUE;
2) T-Shirt SIZE M, COLOR - WHITE; 6) T-Shirt SIZE L, COLOR - BLUE;
3)T-Shirt SIZE L, COLOR WHITE; 7)T-Shirt SIZE S, COLOR - YELLOW;
4) T-Shirt SIZE S, COLOR - BLUE; 8) T-Shirt SIZE M, COLOR YELLOW;
9) T-Shirt SIZE L, COLOR YELLOW.
Important here is to remember, that configurable and simple product variations should be assigned to the same Magento attribute set. You can set simple products not visible individually, but only in combination with configurable as well as make them visible and available to sell separately - it’s up to you to decide.
Finally, link the variants of simple products to the Magento configurable product to which those simple products are related. As the result you will have one configurable product and a drop-down with colours and sizes options combined from associated simple products.
The most tedious procedure is creating those 9 variations of simple products and assign them to main configurable product. But this procedure can be reduced to couple of mouse-clicks. Check the related article of how to optimize and speed up the process -
When all is said and done, there is the general summary of main points of the process you should always keep in mind working with Magento configurable product:
In case you have great amounts of configurable products with related simple products and you need to import them in bulk, check a few items you that definitely should know to make the process of Magento Import Configurable Products painless and avoid issues -