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Variations in eCommerce

As I looked at eCommerce software in 2006, the WordPress plugin could not handle the variations and different prices we required. That one missing feature caused me to choose ZenCart in 2007. That is not true with current WordPress Shopping Carts.

Variations in eCommerce

What are variations in eCommerce? Good question. Variations refer to the different configurations of a particular product you sell. If you sell more than one item in your store, chances are you need Variations. Different configurations usually require different prices, so your shopping cart needs to handle this to the extent you need.

How about a couple of examples.

Example 1: T-shirts

The T-shirts you sell come in various colors and sizes. The colors are Black and White. The sized are Small, Medium, and Large. These two features require six variations to sell, Small Black, Small White, Medium Black, Medium White, Large Black, and Large White. If all combinations cost the same and you plan to sell them for the same price, it is pretty easy for most shopping carts and WordPress.

Now add to your inventory an X-Large and a 2X, which cost 20% more. Now you have to offer these two sized in two colors at a different price or you lose profit margin. Now without a robust Variations component in your eCommerce plug in, you have to add these as a separate item for sale with its four different variations.

With the right software you can add many colors and every size available from the manufacturer. You might have dozens of variations and some might need their own pricing. You might even add custom features like their name embroidered on the front. Just make it another variation with the pricing and you’re good.

Example 2: Our flags

The Hercules U.S. Flag is available in ten sizes. Each of these sizes have different prices. We can not sell a 20′ X 38′ flag for the same price as a 3′ X 5′. This forces one of two options; put each flag size on a separate page with its individual price or use the right shopping cart software. I chose to use WooCommerce, but there are several others that seem to have this capability. I have listed them below.

Using WooCommerce, all the Hercules flags are on the same page and each has it correct pricing. Even ZenCart couldn’t show the full price of each flag using its variations. It used an add-on to the base price so you could calculate the complete price. This was always confusing to me and our customers.

I hope this helps with your thinking about choosing a Shopping Cart for you WordPress installation.

If you have questions, let’s discuss them below in the comments.

*Free Shopping Carts with variations:

  1. eShop
  2. JigoShop
  3. WP e-Commerce
  4. WooCommerce

*Free with premium features and add-ons

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