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Shopify product variants: Mistakes to avoid when organizing your product catalog

Shopify product variants: Whether you’re an established merchant or just starting an online business, optimizing your visitor-to-buyer conversions can help increase your annual income. One way to do this is by prioritizing Shopify product variants for more visibility on your product page.

The product page is a vital element of a Shopify store. And your duty as a seller is to make it easy for customers to select and add products to the cart.

A study revealed that only 8% of product page traffic converts to a sale. Hence, making the product page user-friendly can improve conversions, and utilizing product variants is a great way to achieve this. 

What are Shopify product variants?

Most products online are available in different colors, sizes, materials, and price points. These buyings options are product variants.

Shopify product variants offer customers different buying options for a product. On Shopify, you can add up to 100 variants (for example, different colors) per product and three customized choices (for example, color, size, and material). Your customers choose the variant they need from the options you have available.

When you create a new variant for your product, you can change the product’s price to suit each variant. Also, you can make other changes, like inventory and shipping options.

Options may differ depending on the product. For example, one product may allow buyers to select sizes, colors, and materials, while a different product in your store may have the options of flavor or style. 

Each variant on Shopify has a unique stock-keeping unit (SKU), allowing you (and any third-party warehouse or shipping provider) to correctly identify every unique item in your catalog.

Why are Shopify product variants important?

I’m so glad you asked! Here’s why:

#1 Your customers instantly know their options

Sometimes the same product is available in different designs or variants. You could, for example, sell a pocketbook in a variety of sizes or a garment in a variety of colors. Creating product variants gives your customers the flexibility of seeing all the options laid out in front of them before they make their final choice. 

#2 Shopify product variants can give you more clicks

If a buyer wants something specific (a red shirt), they won’t visit your product page unless you have it. By adding the variant color, red, in your catalog, the buyer may land on your product while searching. 

If your collections pages have options for product filtering, including the variant options (such as color, size, etc) makes it much easier for your customers to filter out products and focus on the ones they are interested in. 

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#3 It improves your store's customer experience

Most times, buyers search through many products to find what they want. But with Shopify Product variants, you can provide a streamlined experience that demands less effort from the buyer, especially when you include product variants on the collections page itself. 

This way, your customers can see what product options are available before even clicking through to the product page.

Who should use Shopify product variants?

Basically, if you have one product that’s available in different colors, shades, sizes, styles, scents, flavors, or pretty much any other variable – set these up as variants in Shopify. Shopify’s infrastructure is designed for the product variant system, and you will save yourself a lot of time and effort in the long run by setting up your catalog hierarchy this way. 

Even if you have a tiny product catalog or are selling a single product on Shopify, don’t be tempted to create a listing for each color or size. Set up a single product with variants – it’s the experience your customers expect and the experience Shopify delivers. 

How do I add Shopify product variants?

To add product variants on Shopify, follow the steps highlighted below: 

On your Shopify Admin account, select “Products,” then “Add a Product.”

shopify product variants
Source: https://www.mageplaza.com

As you add your item, fill in all of the product details.

Source: https://www.mageplaza.com

Click the “Variants” section on the product page.

To add your product variants, click “Add variants.”

shopify product variants

Enter the “Option Name” and the “Option Value” that matches it.

After this step, enter a price, a distinct SKU, and barcode for each option value you created.

Once you have added the variants, click “Save”, and that’s how to add product variants in Shopify.

After you save the newly added variants, the variants will be presented on the product page. 

If you wish to add another variant to your existing products, here are a few steps to guide you through the process:

Mistakes to avoid when adding Shopify product variants

Setting up your product catalog in Shopify can be a little bit painful, and it’s certainly not something you want to do more than once. For that reason, it’s essential that you establish your product hierarchy correctly, the first time.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using Shopify product variants:

#1 Don't create multiple listings for variants

You don’t want to create separate listings for single products since the different listings could reach hundreds. This is a lot of extra effort and can get confusing for both you and your customers. 

Also, you don’t want your store visitors to search your entire site for the size or style of a specific product they are looking for. Once they’ve found the product, all the available options should be clearly laid out in front of them. 

#2 Be mindful of limits on Shopify product variants

If your store has over 50,000 variants, you’ll be limited to a set number of variants uploaded each day via third-party apps. You can only submit 1,000 new versions every day. As a result, you need a Shopify Plus membership to bypass this restriction.

Similarly, Shopify limits individual products to three options, with 100 variants each. If your products have more than three options or 100 variants, you can find a third-party app to help (more on that later).

#3 Name your Shopify product variants consistently

If you sell candles that are available in different scents or flavors, make sure you choose “scent” or “flavor” as the product variant, and stick with that nomenclature for all of your products. 

This will add consistency to your site, and also make it easier for your customers to filter products in your catalog. 

#4 Always link your images to their Shopify product variants

Make sure you are linking your images to your variants. If your customer changes the color of a given product to blue, you want to make sure the corresponding image also changes to blue. 

If your customer is looking at a picture of a blue shirt but the image shown is a red shirt, they may inadvertently purchase the incorrect variant. Linking your images to variants in Shopify reduces the chance of this scenario occurring. 

The three best apps to customize your Shopify product variants

On Shopify, any product eligible for a variant can have three distinct options. If your products require more than three options, there are a number of third-party Shopify apps that can add custom options or extra fields to your product. If you are dealing with Shopify’s limitation on product options or variants, these apps might be worth a look:

#1 Variant Image Wizard + Swatch by ProductWiz Inc.

Source: https://apps.shopify.com/variant-image-wizard

As well as offering advanced product options and customizable fields, this app is great if you are looking for a solution to clean up your product page. Use it to display only the relevant images that are associated with the variant your customer has selected, to reduce confusion and the chance of an incorrect product being purchased. 

#2 Variant Option Product Options by Best

Source: https://apps.shopify.com/king-product-options

This app allows you to build many custom product fields like text, numbers, calendars, and drop-down menus. It also has flexible option templates that help decrease the time of adding repeated options. The best part? This app is now available for free.

#3 Product Options Variant Option by YMQ

Source: https://apps.shopify.com/ymq-options

This app offers more than 20 different option types, and also allows you to add inventory, product weights, and SKUs for your custom options. You can add an unlimited number of options to each product, and modify the price of each of your new options accordingly. 

Create product deals with PickyStory at the variant level

When you create product bundles and other deals with PickyStory, your variants are automatically pulled from Shopify, and will appear for each of the products you add to the bundle. What’s more, PickyStory auto-syncs with your Shopify inventory, at SKU level. 

shopify product variants

This means you will never have to manually adjust your inventory after you sell a bundle or deal – the app does it for you, based on the individual products you included in the deal. 

It also means that you can never sell a product that’s out of stock as part of a bundle – the app is syncing with Shopify in real-time and options are marked as unavailable where appropriate. 

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Shopify product variants: Final thoughts

Easily displaying your product options and variants makes life easier for both you and your customers. As a merchant, you should ensure that your customers can easily search, browse, and add specific product variants to their cart. 

Understanding the basics of Shopify product variants and how to create them can help save inventory headaches as well as providing a streamlined customer experience that will dramatically improve your conversion rate and keep your customers coming back for more.

If you’re looking for more Shopify tips and recommendations, check out the PickyStory blog.

Good Luck!

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