Concept - Product Variations


1 Introduction

Intershop Commerce Management allows to maintain variation products. This is often used for "Size" and "Color" options of one product which apart from this does not differ much. However, any kind of custom attribute can be used as variation attribute.

This concept gives an overview of the ideas and features of variation products.

The target group is mainly the Product Content Editor.

Note

The display and filtering of variations relies on the SolR search server.

1.1 Glossary

NameDescription
Product

An item that is sold in the online shop.

Variation Product

A product that is offered in multiple variants that share most of their attribute values, but differ at some of them.

A variation product describes one specific combination of variation attributes, e.g., T-Shirt, color: blue, size: M.

A variation product can be purchased.

Variation Master

A virtual/abstract grouping of variation products, without variation attribute values, e.g., T-Shirt.

Cannot be purchased, has no own price - but can be used for displaying purposes.

1.2 References

2 Show Product Variations in the Shop

Product variations can be displayed differently in the storefront, depending on the products sold in the shop as well as on the business model (B2C or B2B). This concept presents the most common ways and explains how to make the correct configuration in the Intershop Commerce Management.

2.1 Show Variation Products (Grouped)

If the products differ visually (e.g., different colors) and the number of variations is low, it is recommended to show product variations in the shop.

On family and search pages, the default variation is shown. In case filters in the filter navigation are used, a suitable variation (e.g., of the selected color) is shown.

Clicking on such a product shows the product details page for exactly this product, with the option to switch to the other variations.

Info

This is the default setting of the B2C demo store inTRONICS.
PageDetailsScreenshot

Family Page

(also applies to search results page)

On family and search pages the default variation of a variation master is shown.

Controls (color swatches or drop downs) below the product indicate that this product is also available in different versions. The controls can be used to switch between the different options, without leaving the page.

Family Page - filtered

(also applies to search results page)

If a filter is set, another - better fitting - variation is shown.

This is usually the desired behavior for products with different colors, e.g., clothes.

Product Details Page

Clicking on a product variation on a family or search page leads to the details page for this exact variation.

The controls allow to switch between the different variations.

2.1.1 Configuration

2.1.1.1 Set Channel Preference

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Preferences | Product Variations.

  2. Deselect the checkbox for List View.

  3. Click Apply.

2.1.1.2 Search Index Configuration

Usually, no changes to the search index should be necessary. You can check, however, if everything is set correctly.

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Mass Data Tasks | Search Indexes | <name-of-the-search-index>.
  2. Open the tab Indexed Attributes.
  3. Check if the attribute GroupMasterUUID is listed in indexed attributes. If it is missing, add it. It can be found in the "Available Attributes" section on top of the page. Select it and click Add.
    The following information needs to be considered: Data Provider: ProductPO, Data Type: String.

  4. If MasterUUID and isMastered are indexed attributes, please remove them.

  5. Optional: Check if the attribute sku is listed in the indexed attributes. If it is missing, it can be found in the "Available Attributes" section on top of the page. Select it and click Add.

    Info

    The attribute sku was added in ICM 7.10.6. It allows to search by the SKU of a master product and then find either the right master product or the default variation product (depending on the setting to show master products or grouped variations).

    If the attribute is not indexed, the display is still working correctly.

  6. If you made any changes to the search index, rebuild the search index afterwards.


Info

For this configuration it is sufficient to assign the variation master to categories. The product variations are automatically indexed with the master product.

See Index Variation Products and Index Variation Products (Alternative).

2.2 Show Variation Products (Individually)

In some cases it is necessary to list all variation products separately in the shop.

On family and search pages, all variations are shown. In case filters in the filter navigation are used, all suitable variations (e.g., of the selected color) are shown.

Clicking on such a product shows the product details page for exactly this product with the option to switch to the other variations.

PageDetailsScreenshot

Family Page

(also applies to search results page)

On family and search pages, all variations of a variation master are shown.

Controls (color swatches or drop downs) below the product indicate that this product is also available in different versions. The controls can be used to switch between the different options, without leaving the page.

Family Page - filtered

(also applies to search results page)

If filters are set, all matching variations are shown.

Product Details Page

Clicking on a product variation on a family or search page leads to the details page for this exact variation.

The controls allow to switch between the different variations.

2.2.1 Configuration

2.2.1.1 Set Channel Preference

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Preferences | Product Variations.
  2. Deselect the checkbox for List View.
  3. Click Apply.

2.2.1.2 Search Index Configuration

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Mass Data Tasks | Search Indexes | <name-of-the-search-index>.
  2. Change the Data Provider of all affected variation attributes from ProductVariationAV to ProductAV.

2.2.1.3 Exclude Master Products from Search Index

  1. With this configuration it is recommended to exclude the master from the search index. Otherwise it will be listed as default variation in the search result.  
  2. Go to <Channel Name> | Catalogs | Products.
  3. Open the master product and switch to the tab Attributes.
  4. Add a boolean custom attribute ExcludeFromSearchIndex with the value true to the product.

2.2.1.4 Rebuild Search Index

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Mass Data Tasks | Search Indexes.
  2. Select the search index.
  3. Click Build.

2.3 Show Variation Master

For large numbers of variations (several hundred for one master) and/or multiple variation attributes there is an alternative view. Here the product master is shown on family and search pages.

Clicking on the product leads to a product details page for the master with an advanced filter panel which allows further drill down to identify the desired variation.

Info

This is the default setting of the B2B demo store inTRONICS Business. No Solr version upgrade is necessary.
PageDetailsScreenshot

Family Page

(also applies to search results page)

The master product is shown with

  • Price range (of all variation products) from the cheapest to the most expensive variation and
  • Number of variations,
  • The Add to Cart button is replaced by Choose Variation,
  • No options for Add to Quote Request, Compare and Add to Order Template,
  • No stock information (in the list view)

Family Page - filtered

(also applies to search results page)

When one or multiple filters are set, the master is still shown.

Example: "Color: red" is set, the master shows a black product.

The number of matching variations is displayed under the price range.

Product Details Page - Master

The basic idea is to enable a Product Master Detail Page to work like a Family Page.

The product details page shows information on the master product (name, ID, descriptions etc.). The Quantity field and Add to Cart button are missing as the master itself is not an orderable product.

Below follows a complete list of all variations of this master product with a filter panel and a pagination function.

The view can be switched between "Tile" and "List" view and the sorting order can be changed.

Filters can be used to find the one variation which then can be purchased.

When a filter was set on the family page, it is already set on the variation master page, too (if the filter was intended for a variation attribute).

The variation products can be added to the cart directly from the list, or the product details page can be opened to get more information.

Product Details Page - Variation

Clicking on a product from the variation master page opens a regular product details page for this exact variation.

Switch back to the Product Details Page - Master by using the Choose Another Variation link.

2.3.1 Configuration

2.3.1.1 Set Channel Preference

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Preferences | Product Variations.

  2. Select the checkbox for List View.

  3. Click Apply.

2.3.1.2 Search Index Configuration

The search index is used to show the variation products and allows filtering - so it is necessary to add all variation attributes to the search index.

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Mass Data Tasks | Search Indexes | <name-of-the-search-index>.
    1. Open the tab Indexed Attributes.
    2. Check if the attribute GroupMasterUUID is listed in indexed attributes. If it is missing, add it. It can be found in the "Available Attributes" section on top of the page. Select it and click Add.

    3. If MasterUUID and isMastered are indexed attributes, please remove them.

    4. Optional: Check if the attribute sku is listed in the indexed attributes. If it is missing, it can be found in the "Available Attributes" section on top of the page. Select it and click Add.

      Info

      The attribute sku was added in ICM 7.10.6. It allows to search by the SKU of a master product and then find either the right master product or the default variation product (depending on the setting to show master products or grouped variations).

      If the attribute is not indexed, the display is still working correctly.

  2. Add all variation attributes as indexed attributes. If they already exist, skip this step. For each variation attribute:
    1. Click New in the "Indexed Attributes" section.
    2. Fill in the following details:
      • Display Name
      • Attribute ID - make sure that the Attribute ID is the same as used in the "Custom Attributes" section of the product details.

      • Data Provider: Product AV
      • Data Type: Multiple String or other Multiple data types. Please make sure that the product attribute matches the corresponding Single data type,
        e.g. Multiple String | String, Multiple Integer | Integer etc.
    3. Click Apply.
    4. Click << Back to List.
    5. Open the tab Filters.
  3. Create filters for each variation attribute. If these filters already exist, skip this step.
    1. Click New Filter.
    2. Fill in the following details:
      1. Filter Display Name
      2. Attribute ID - select the correct attribute, which was created in the previous step.
    3. Click Apply.
    4. Click << Back to List.

2.3.1.3 Rebuild Search Index

  1. Go to <Channel Name> | Mass Data Tasks | Search Indexes.
  2. Select the search index.
  3. Click Build.

2.3.1.4 CMS Configuration (Optional)

The configuration of the Product Master Detail Page is located in the Product Detail component template (cmp_tmp_productDetail) that can be found in Content | Component Templates. Different product views - List and Tile can be selected and the sorting can be configured as shown in the following picture.

B2BBackoficeConfig2.png

Info

For this configuration it is sufficient to assign the variation master to categories. The category assignments of the master product are indexed by default - so all variation products are found, even if not categorized.

If you want to change this behavior, please see Index Variation Products (Alternative). In this case make sure that the variation products are assigned to the respective categories.

2.3.2 Migration to 7.9 Databases

In order to properly migrate the Product Variations feature from earlier ICM versions to ICM 7.9, the preference to enable/disable the list view for product variations (EnableAdvancedVariationHandling) is needed. A new file migration-to-7.9.0.0.properties  was added in the app_sf_responsive cartridge. After executing the standard command dbmigrate, the preference will be available in the database.

2.3.3 Troubleshooting

If the variation list is not visible on the variation master page:

  • Check whether the preference List View Product Variation is enabled in the channel preferences.
  • Check whether the corresponding channel product search indexes contain the attribute GroupMasterUUID.
  • Build channel product search indexes including the attribute GroupMasterUUID.
  • Check the configuration of the product views in the component template Product Detail.

3 Maintain Product Variations Swatch Image

Note

This section is valid from Intershop 7.10.5.3.

Product variations can differ by color. One way to display different color variation in the storefront is the swatch image, see Show Variation Products in this document.

Swatch images can be maintained via product custom attributes or via the image management.

3.1 Swatch Image from Variation Product Custom Attribute

This source uses a custom attribute that is stored at each variation product. The name of that custom attribute is configurable per variation attribute and then uses an internal swatch image reference (shared file system only).

3.2 Swatch Image from Image Management

This source uses the image management to define the image source. The image management is used for all other product images as well and allows to have internal and external images (e.g., image server).

3.3 Swatch Image Sources

There are two ways to change the image source:

  1. Switching the swatch image sources is a preference in the channel back office:
    • If set to "Image Management", the ImageType is fixed to "swatches" and the ImageView to "front".
    • If not already existing, an ImageType "swatches" has to be created in the image management and assigned to ImageView: "front". (See: Concept - Image Framework: ImageTypes)
    • For each variation a swatch image has to be chosen just like any other image used in the storefront (see: Concept - Image Framework: Images).
  2. In the source code by overwriting a template in project code, see Cookbook - Image Framework:
    • Path: a_responsive/app_sf_responsive/staticfiles/cartridge/templates/default/inc/product/variation/PresentationSwatchImage.isml
    • Here the image view and image type are configurable in any way the project requires.

3.3.1 Maintain Swatch Image Source in Channel Back Office

This screenshot shows where to change the swatch image source.

4 Define the Way Variation Attributes Are Displayed in the Storefront

The responsive demo storefront provides several ways variation attributes are displayed. For each variation attribute used in a master product with its variation products a configuration can be set, to define how the variation attribute values are displayed. Possible choices are: default, swatch image, default and swatch image, HTML color code and default plus HTML color code. The following picture shows an example of how two variation attributes can be displayed: The first is set to swatch and the second is set to default.

4.1 Configure How Variation Attribute Values Get Displayed in the Storefront

The Variations tab of a master product lists all existing variation attributes. Futhermore, new ones can be created there.

By clicking on the link of the the attribute name or ID the Variation Selection Type  can be changed.

If a selection with Swatch Image or HTML Color Code is chosen, a Product Attribute Name must be entered for the feature to work. This Product Attribute Name must then be provided at each variation product, to either define a swatch image or a color code. If the Swatch Image Source is set to Image Management, the Product Attribute Name is not used.

Disclaimer

The information provided in the Knowledge Base may not be applicable to all systems and situations. Intershop Communications will not be liable to any party for any direct or indirect damages resulting from the use of the Customer Support section of the Intershop Corporate Web site, including, without limitation, any lost profits, business interruption, loss of programs or other data on your information handling system.

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