For eCommerce store owners, managing variants and parent-child product relationships is essential for maintaining your store’s digital products and eCommerce success. Variant management combined with categorization can account for up to 20% of the time spent on content management. But it doesn’t have to take this much of your time. Knowledge is power, and in this article, we’ll dive more into how you can simplify variant management and what tools are available to cut down the manual work and improve productivity in this area.
What Are Product Variants?
When shopping online, product variants allow consumers to determine quickly what types of product options, such as color or fabric, are available. If there are options, a parent product will have a related set of variants (otherwise called child products), which are each of the options of that product type. Each variant has a unique product code and may have a unique name, price, inventory, photos, description, etc. For example, when shopping online, if you notice that the same chair is available in 3 different colors and three different fabric types, then there are a total of 9 different variants of that product.
Why Are Variants Important?
Product variants take friction out of the online shopping experience, making it quicker and easier to browse. If a shopper likes a product style, they can easily see all of the variations available and quickly compare them on one page. Without product variants, each variant or child product will have a separate product page. Shoppers need to click in and out of each page to view and compare options, and if they are not displayed together, it is easy to miss the different options available.
A simplified display page using variants to cut down the number of product options shown
Many businesses find it easier to offer more selection on their online store with product variants in place. Their use dramatically reduces the number of product pages so that visitors can browse through a broader range of product types before losing interest, getting fatigued, confused, and dropping off. They can also cut down admin and paperwork for businesses currently listing options that customers can detail in an email or phone call to confirm the purchase.
If they are so important, why are many businesses not using product variants?
The benefits of having product variations on your eCommerce site are clear, but the process many businesses follow to put them in place is lengthy, involving a lot of manual work. On average, it takes around 1 hour to create variants for 20 products manually, involving going through item by item in the eCommerce platform back-end and specifying all of the variant options. This is a particular issue for industries with many customizations, such as furniture and homewares.
Another complication can be the availability of certain option combinations. Some products have variants for multiple options, like size and color, and material. But for instance, the velvet material option may only come in red or black, whereas the linen option may come in red, black, green, or blue. Setting these up to display correctly on a product page can add extra complication and time and leaves room for human error.
Until now, product variants have often been too much work for small to medium-sized businesses to create and maintain, but from experiences with larger retailers, consumers expect and prefer this simplified layout.
How can your company overcome these issues to improve the shopper experience and increase sales conversion rates? Luckily, there is now an easier and quicker way to create and maintain variants on your online store, using automation tools.
Automating product variant building with Vesta eCommerce
Vesta eCommerce is a product data platform to automate the cleaning and preparation of product data for eCommerce.
One of the Vesta tools is the Variant Builder, which can automatically create top-level products, variants, and option sets in minutes, saving weeks of manual work.
The Variant Builder starts with a file of SKU level data and completes the following processes:
- Variant extraction: If option attributes such as color or size are not available as unique attribute fields, this information can be extracted, if available, from the product name or description. The extracted data will then sit in its own attribute field.
- Products group into sets based on a shared element, such as a product name. The products in these groups become the variants.
- A parent or top-level product is created for each group, along with a unique product code. Relationships are set between the parent product and variants.
- The option label is selected (e.g., Size), and the option display format (e.g., dropdown, swatch, etc.)
- Each group of variants is set to display in a logical order (e.g., ascending sizes 2m, 4m, 6m, 8m)
- For color options, color codes map to the colors assigned to each product to appear as a swatch on the product page.
- Images assign to each variant, so the correct image will show as shoppers select a color option on the product page.
Here is an example of what one of our customers have achieved with product variants on their website. Including selection options on their pool tables for size, a large range of felt colors, dining top, table tennis top and wall rack options and installation options.
Over time, as you onboard new products, products are discontinued, or inventory fluctuates, Vesta will keep your eCommerce site up to date, automatically syncing changes through to your online store. Book a consultation with one of our friendly team to learn more about how Vesta can efficiently create variants for your eCommerce site to improve your consumers’ online shopping experience and increase your conversion rate.