Home » Guest Post, Magento19 November 2014

Magento: Simple Products With Custom Options – No Need To Create Configurable Products

The online sales of U.S. would be approximately $278.9 billion by the end of 2015, according to the stats of Forrester Research, a technology and research company based in Cambridge, MA. So, leaving the boundaries of brick and mortar stores and entering the web world is crucial to grab the online revenue generating opportunities.

The online battle is heating up with growing customer expectations, and never-ending business growth dreams of merchants. An ecommerce store with a single product may have buyers of different age group, different personalities, and different preferences. Offering variations of a single product is a must. As the count of products and variations increases, it puts hurdle in way of merchants on how to present them in the most effective and persuasive manner. Here come the concepts of:

– Creating configurable products for multiple variations
– Giving custom options to a simple product

Whatever approach is used to present products, the main purpose should be to bring ease for customers in reaching quick buying decision and for merchants to manage the products in a hassle free manner. To know what both product types are, when to use which option, their strengths, and the best-fit scenarios, continue reading!

Configurable Product

A configurable product is basically a collection of simple products. If there are products with different variations like sizes, colors, etc., and there is need of tracking the stock record separately, configuring the products can be the option. The product variations are given in the drop-down list. For example, if a website sells handbags and a single handbag comes in 3 colors and 3 sizes, these colors and sizes are termed as product attributes that appear in 2 different drop-down lists. The handbag in this case is a configurable product and each item in the drop-down list represents an individual simple product. Creating a configurable product requires creating simple products of all the available sizes and colors and then associating them with the main configurable product, a complicated task.

Simple Product With Custom Options

Contrary to a configurable product, creating a simple product and assigning custom options is an easy approach. There is no need to create different simple products for each variation. For example, if a website sells handbags in 3 colors and 3 sizes, creating custom options means there is a single product, handbag, with various options. However, such a scenario in configurable product means creating 9 different simple products (with possible combinations) for just a single product. Simple product with custom options also allows customers to decide about the product buying in less time as they can select the attributes on a single page.

Complications Of A Configurable Product

It’s suitable only where

– An ecommerce website offers large numbers of products.
– Every product variation demands a separate inventory tracking.
– It’s possible to create a separate product page for every product variation.

Usefulness Of Custom Options For Simple Product

Simple products with custom options serve for websites

– Having small number of products
– Products need quick customization.
– Needing an easy approach to present multiple product variations
– The products are order-based.

Best-Fit Scenario For Custom Options

For merchants following a make to order business model, creating simple product with custom options is an ideal approach. For example, jewellery items that need customized engraving require an input by the customers. Such information can be collected in a text field of custom options.

Best-Fit Scenario For Configurable Product

If an ecommerce store deals in carpets of different sizes and colors, configurable products can be created, however, for 3 different colors and sizes, 9 simple products will be created and then linked to the main configurable product, the carpet. The inventory record will be maintained separately for 9 simple products.

Concluding the discussion, it’s clear that creating a simple product with custom options is an easy approach for merchants dealing in small number of products. The process of creating custom options is facilitated in almost all ecommerce platforms by using plugins. If a simple plugin can help creating custom options then why to go for complicated configurable products having multiple variations. Think and decide!

Author Bio:

This contribution is made by Simon Walker. He is a professional ecommerce consultant, at FMEExtensions, a brand known for developing quality Magento extensions. This post highlights the importance of Magento Custom Options on ecommerce websites.


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  • Lyndon Lewis

    This is all well and good, but how would you track these items within the inventory, i.e you have 10 of each size and colour hand bag, how would you know to re order the most popular size. Doing this visually and manually would be fine if you only had less than 200 products, we have in excess of 3000 we require the ability of magento to track each and every one to allow us to order new product before the last of the old products leave the building.

    And to be honest, using the associated product creator within the configurable products creation page is just as easy as adding custom options, so this post really is quite pointless