WooCommerce product variations: The complete guide

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Discover everything you need to know about WooCommerce product variations. Learn how to set them up, manage them more easily, and maximize your sales of variable products.

WooCommerce product variations let online store owners sell products with multiple options. For example, you can use variations to sell t-shirts in different colors, pizza in different sizes, or subscription boxes with different capacities. This way, customers can choose whichever version or variation of the product they want.

In this ultimate guide to creating and using WooCommerce variations, we’ll explain what product variations are and how to use the product variations that come with WooCommerce. We’ll also share some fantastic plugins you can use to display your WooCommerce product variations in more effective ways, manage them easily, and ultimately sell more of each variation:

  1. WooCommerce Bulk Variations - add/edit variations in bulk, and display them in a grid-style variations matrix.
  2. Product Table - list products in a one-page order form, so that customers can quickly select variations and add to the cart.
  3. WooCommerce Quick View - sell variations from a quick view lightbox.
  4. WooCommerce Variation Prices - take control over how variation prices are displayed.
  5. WooCommerce Product Options - An alternative to variable products, add flexible product options instead.

What are WooCommerce product variations?

Most online stores sell at least a few products that are available in different variations. For example:

Product with variations
  • Apparel that comes in different colors or sizes (like t-shirts, trousers, or shoes).
  • Food items that have different sizes (for example coffee cup size options or pizza base diameters).
  • Subscription boxes or build-your-own products that are available in different sizes (for example small, medium, and large).

As an online store owner, you should use WooCommerce product variations when selling products that have different options you want to let customers choose from. For example, if you were Starbucks, you would offer coffee cup sizes (Short, Tall, Grande, Venti Hot, Venti Cold, and Trenta) as variations.

Out of the box, the free WooCommerce plugin lets you add as many “options” (i.e. variations) as you’d like to each WooCommerce product. Customers can select the variation they’d like to purchase from the single product page and add it to their cart.

How to create and manage variations using WooCommerce

In WooCommerce, the product variations feature comprises of two aspects – attributes and variations.

  • Attributes. These are product descriptors like color, size, material, and capacity.
  • Variations. These are the options available for each attribute. For example, the color attribute might have Red, Blue, and Gray variations or the size attribute might have Small, Medium, and Large variations for customers to choose from.

Here, we’ll show you how to create and manage variations using WooCommerce.

Step 1: Create attributes

To create WooCommerce product variations, you need to first create attributes and then create variations for each attribute.

Attributes in WooCommerce

Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to Products → Attributes from the WordPress admin panel.
  2. Enter a name and slug for the attribute and click the Add attribute button.
  3. Click the Configure terms link from the list of attributes on the right.
  4. Add as many values as you’d like for the attribute.
Configure terms

Step 2: Assign attributes to WooCommerce products

By now, we’ve created attributes for the product variations we want to offer through the online store. Next, we’ll set products up as variable products (i.e. products that have variations) and assign attributes to them.

WooCommerce product data section
  1. Open up a WooCommerce product that you’d like to add variations to and scroll down to the Product data section.
  2. Select the Variable product option using the dropdown.
  3. Click on the Attributes tab and use the dropdown to select the attribute you’d like to assign to this product. Click Add.
  4. Choose all the values that apply to the product.
  5. Tick the checkboxes next to the Visible on the product page and Used for variations options.
  6. Click the Save attributes button to proceed.

Step 3: Add WooCommerce variations to products

The final step is to add WooCommerce variations to the product. These will be the product variations that appear on your site’s front-end.

  1. Go to the Variations tab, use the dropdown to select the Add variation option, and click on the Go button.
  2. Select whichever attribute values apply to the product.
  3. Customize the settings for each variation you created. You can:
    1. Upload a separate image for each variation.
    2. Set the product SKU, regular price, sale price, and stock status.
    3. Set the weight and dimensions of the product.
  4. Click the Save changes button.

Repeat these steps to add as many WooCommerce product variations as you’d like.

How to add variations in bulk

The above steps let you add each variation individually. But what if you want to add lots of variations at once? It would take forever to do it individually for each one.

To save time, you can install the WooCommerce Bulk Variations plugin. This adds the following features to let you add and edit variations more easily:

  • A set of filters which you can use to narrow down the list of variations. You can then use the bulk actions dropdown (which appears above the filters bar) to apply the same changes to all the filtered variations. For example, you could filter for all the variations with a 'Large' attribute and set the price of them all together.
  • An extra option letting you set variation images in bulk. For example, if all your variations with a particular color attribute need the same image, then you can set the images together. This is much faster than setting images for each variation individually.

WooCommerce Bulk variations manager plugin

Once you've finished setting up the product variations, click the Save changes button. It will look something like this on your site’s front-end:

Front-end preview of WooCommerce product variation

Let customers buy WooCommerce product variations in bulk

We've already seen how to use the WooCommerce Bulk Variations plugin to add and edit variations in bulk. But that's not its main feature!

The most important part of the plugin is the way it displays WooCommerce product variations on the front end of your website. Yep - it also provides a quick way for customers to buy product variations in bulk.

WooCommerce Bulk Variations does this by letting store owners list products in a WooCommerce variations grid layout. It also adds a quantity picker for each variation and a bulk add to cart button, like this:

WooCommerce Bulk Variations grid

Allowing bulk variation purchases is particularly useful for e-commerce stores that sell to wholesale buyers. Customers can simply use the WooCommerce variations grid layout to enter how many units of each variation they’d like to purchase and click the Add to Cart button to add all selected variations (in the correct quantities) to their shopping cart at once. This is also the easiest way to showcase variable products with two attributes.

Display WooCommerce product variations in a product table

By default, WooCommerce product variations only appear on the single product page. What this means is that customers have to click through to the single product page from the main shop page to view and select variations. This makes the main purchasing user flow unnecessarily long.

The good news is that the WooCommerce Product Table plugin provides superior ways to display product variations on the front-end. This way, you can allow customers to select and add variations to their shopping carts from just about anywhere in your store, not just on the single product page.

More specifically, you can choose to list variations in two different ways:

Let customers select variations from a quick view lightbox

Another way to let customers select product variations away from the single product page is by displaying them as dropdowns in a quick view lightbox. This is possible with the WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin.

You can use the WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin together with the WooCommerce Product Table plugin to add quick view buttons directly to the table layout. The key benefit of this is that you can display additional product details in the table layout while giving customers the option to use the quick view lightbox to select variations.

In addition, you can use the WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin to add quick view buttons directly to your main shop page. This way, instead of navigating to the single product page to select and add variations to the cart, customers can simply use the quick view lightbox. The key benefit of this approach is that they can continue where they left off once they’ve added a variation to their shopping cart.

Change the variation price format

WooCommerce Variation Prices cropped

Have you noticed that if a product's variations are different prices, then WooCommerce displays them as a range? (E.g. $50 - $100.) This is ok for some products, but can lose you sales by putting customers off. For example, showing the top and bottom price makes it difficult for customers to predict what they will pay, and can make the product look more expensive.

The solution is to install the WooCommerce Variation Prices plugin. This easy-to-use plugin lets you change the variation price format to anything you like. This might be "From $50", "Up to $100", or replacing the dash between the low-high price with another word or symbol. You can list the price of each variation individually. Maybe you need to create a completely bespoke variation price format with your own format, such as "$10 per kg".

As well as replacing the variation price range, there are further options for changing how prices are displayed:

  • Hide the main price for the variable product until the customer selects an option.
  • Update the main price on the WooCommerce product page when a variation is selected.

Variation Prices is a very simple plugin, but it adds a very important feature to your WooCommerce product variations. The ability to control how variable product prices are displayed can make a big difference to your sales. After all, customers are more likely to buy products when the prices are displayed in a way that emphasizes what good value they are.

Use product add-ons instead of variations

The final plugin on our list isn't strictly a WooCommerce product variations plugin. Instead, it's an alternative to variable products.

Product variations are great, especially if you supercharge them using the plugins listed above. However, they do have limitations and some stores benefit from having a different way to sell product options. And that's where WooCommerce Product Options comes in.

Product variations vs. add-ons

A product add-ons plugin provides a completely different way of adding multiple options to your products. Instead of using variations, the plugin adds its own interface for adding product options. Typically, this is more flexible and easier to use than the interface for creating variations.

You can choose from a much wider range of display options than variations. For example, you can display the add-on options as checkboxes, text boxes, clickable images, file upload fields, and so on.

This opens the door to selling types of options which simply aren't possible using WooCommerce product variations. For instance, imagine that you want to add gift wrap options to a product where the customer can choose a wrapping paper by clicking on a picture and type a message to be printed on the gift card. That's impossible using WooCommerce product variations, no matter which plugins you use to enhance them. However, it's unbelievably simple with WooCommerce Product Options!

Wrapping paper options 2
Use the WooCommerce Product Options plugin to sell options which would be impossible using variations

Product add-ons also bring lots of other types of flexibility that you don't get with WooCommerce variations:

  • Assign a much wider range of price options to each option - e.g. flat fee, percentage increase or decrease, and so on.
  • Set minimum and maximum quantities.
  • Use conditional logic to show/hide options based on the customer's other selections.
  • Create advanced price formulas, for example, to build a WooCommerce measurement price calculator.

How to filter by product variation

When it comes to WooCommerce product variations, filtering by specific attributes can greatly enhance the shopping experience for your customers. By using the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin, you can easily add attribute filters to your store, allowing customers to quickly find products that match their preferences.

The WooCommerce Product Filters plugin offers a wide range of product filters, including categories, attributes, color, tags, custom taxonomy, price, ratings, and stock status. With the ability to display filters such as dropdown lists, checkboxes, radio buttons, labels/tag clouds, images, or color swatches, you can create a user-friendly shopping experience that increases the time customers spend in your store. Ultimately, this leads to increased conversion rates and customer loyalty.

Add user-friendly filters for attributes like size and color

Here's how you can filter by product variation using the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin:

  1. Purchase and install the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin: First, buy the plugin and install it on WordPress.
  2. Create attribute filters: After installing the plugin, navigate to Products → Filters and click on the default filter group or create a new one. Use the "Add new filter" form to enter your filter's information, and repeat as many times as needed. You can choose the filter type, such as dropdown lists, checkboxes, or color swatches, to create a user-friendly shopping experience.
  3. Select the product variation attribute: In the filter settings, choose the attribute you want to filter by, such as color or size. This will allow customers to filter products based on their specific preferences.
  4. Place the product filters on your site: Finally, place your product filters anywhere on your site using the automatic display option, sidebar widget, or shortcode placement. This will allow customers to quickly find products that match their preferences and increase conversion rates.

Looking to learn more about how the WooCommerce Product Filters plugin can help you filter by product variation? Check out this helpful article on How to filter by variation using different methods. Here, you'll find detailed instructions on how to use the plugin to filter by variation, along with other useful information on this powerful tool.

Set up WooCommerce product variations and start selling!

WooCommerce product variations make it easier for online store owners to sell different versions of the same product without having to add it as a separate product. It also makes it easier for customers to make purchases.

To take things to the next level, you can use different WooCommerce plugins to make your WooCommerce product variations sell better:

Ready to maximize WooCommerce product variation sales on your e-commerce store? Choose your plugins and get started today!

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