WooCommerce product types
Our first product is available and we could easily continue by using the same method to create multiple products in the same way. However, WooCommerce offers more possibilities than we just learned. In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:
Working with tags
Setting up variable products
Grouped, virtual, downloadable, and affiliate products
Working with tags
We’ve mentioned the usage of Product Tags already in Chapter 2, Creating Your First Products. Using tags works exactly in the same way you’re used to while writing WordPress posts. So here, we do not want to spend too much time explaining the concept.
Just be aware that Product Tags and Tags for Posts are actually separated from each other. You may find the tags that you already used by navigating to Products | Tags in the menu on the left of your screen. Note that the tags you entered during product creation appear here. Besides, it’s also possible to create a list of tags immediately in the Edit Product screen and use them later on. Tags are a great addition for your store, but don’t overdo it! Having multiple tags delivering the same result will lead to duplicate content issues and harm your rankings in the search engines.
At first glance, attributes look like tags while we’re accessing the function using the menu: Products | Attributes. There is an important difference though. Attributes deliver a powerful mechanism to create different kind of products. Besides, working with attributes is often smarter than working with categories alone. Categories are used to organize entire products, whereas attributes are a way of organizing product properties. Let’s start with an example to clarify this.
Our simple product we created earlier (the brown women’s belt) could easily be put in a category structure, such as Women | Accessories | Belts. But that would give us all the available belts, right? And not just the brown ones. Ok, so we’ll add another category for that! But no, although it is possible, it’s not the best way to do it. Using attributes in such a situation for the color is much more powerful. It will give your visitors the possibility to immediately filter all brown products once they’re in the accessories category, so they can mix and match. Using categories for describing the color of your product is really a no-go. In other words, a category is a group within which a set of products can be bundled together. An attribute is a specific characteristic of a product. Other products may share that characteristic, for example, multiple products can be a “medium” size or have a “brown” color.
Since the usage of colors in our fashion store example is something we’ll need for sure, we are going to create that attribute.
1. Creating an attribute is very simple. Just enter the Name of the attribute (Color in our example).
2. Next, make sure that the Type field is set to Select. If you would set it to Text, it will give your customer the possibility to add a text value to the product themselves. Something that might come in handy while creating custom made products, but for our example we do not need it.
3. Leave the Default sort order to Custom ordering, so that later on, we’ll be able to sort our attribute values in a way we want to.
4. Click on the Add Attribute button.
Now that our attribute has been created, it appears on the top right of the screen.
5. Click on the Configure terms button.
6. Next, add all colors you will possibly need in your store. Don’t worry though, it’s always possible to come back later and add more. For every color, just enter the name and click on the Add New Color button. You’ll soon have a long list of colors available. Remember, that these colors will be used later on, while we’re creating new products.
7. Once done, go back to the attributes form again by clicking on the menu in the left. Now repeat the preceding steps and create a new attribute named Size or Shoe Size. While working with sizes there are a lot of different possibilities, so you might want to distinguish sizes depending on the products you are going to use them for. We create shoe sizes to support our next example. Finally, our result will look like the following screenshot:
Now that we have created some attributes, we’ll be able to create a Variable product.
Setting up variable products
We’ve just created our first attributes that we’ll use to add some shoes to our women’s fashion store. Of course we do not want to display all sizes as individual products. We want to show our visitors one product and let them choose the right color and size.
1. Start by creating a new product. Add a long and short description, select the correct category or create one, and assign a couple of tags. Set a featured image that will appear in your product category page.
2. Next, in the Product Data area, select Variable product as the product type.
3. Note that some fields have disappeared; it’s no longer possible to add the product price here. The SKU field is still available, but normally you would leave it empty and set individual stock keeping unit (SKU)’s at a lower level. We’ll see that in a minute. In the Inventory tab, check the field Enable stock management at product level, but do not set the Stock Qty field. Skip the other tabs for now and head over to the Attributes tab.
4. Skip the other tabs for now and head over to the Attributes tab.
5. Next, check the fields Visible on the product page and Used for variations. This will ensure that our visitors are able to see this attribute and we’ll be able to create multiple instances (variations) of our product, using different colors. Note that if you would just select Visible on the product page, the attribute would become visible to the customer as a property of this item. But only as information; you would not be able to use that attribute while creating variations of your product.
6. On the right, click on the Value(s) field and select the colors you want to use for this product. To keep things a little bit simple for our example, we just select Black and Grey.
7. We repeat the same steps for our Shoe Size attribute, but now we click on the Select all button to immediately select all available shoe sizes. The final result will look as follows:
8. Now continue to the Variations tab. Note that WooCommerce gives a warning message about missing attributes. To solve this problem, just click on the Save Attributes button in the bottom left of the Attributes tab or alternatively, save the draft of your product in the top right corner of the product screen.
9. Return to the Variations tab and note that now some fields have become visible. Click on the Link all variations button to assign all possible combinations of colors and sizes at once.
10. WooCommerce will give you a warning message, because this may create a large number of combinations (two colors, having seven different sizes, makes a total of 14 variations). Click on Ok.
There’s a limit of 50 variations per run. Please note that you should not create too many variations. If you would have more than 100, chances are high that you’ll be creating a complex product for your customers. Besides that you may expect performance problems as well. For more complex products there are additional plugins available to support them. Refer to Chapter 8, More Possibilities Using Plugins, for more information.
11. A large area with all variations will now be displayed. Note that it’s now possible to set a number of fields for every variation individually. The price may differ, the available Stock Qty may differ, and you can set an individual SKU for every variation. It’s also possible to assign a different image per variation. Start filling your variations individually or use the handy Bulk edit function on top to change fields for all variations.
12. We normally work this way to set everything we need, but your situation may differ depending on your products of course:
1. Set the Regular Price field for all products at once by using the Bulk edit function
2. Click on the little image area to set a separate product image per variation
3. Set the SKU image, and Stock Qty fields individually for every variation, assuming that the stock quantities are not all the same
13. The following screenshot shows the Bulk edit option to change the attributes for all variations at once.
14. The result will look like the following screenshot:
15. The last step we have to take is to publish the product in the top right corner of the screen.
If you make a mistake creating your variations, you can individually delete them by using the Remove button, or by using the Bulk edit function again to delete them all at once. It isn’t possible to set the image for all variations at once, but be aware that in fact you only have to set this image for variations where the image differs from the one you set earlier as Featured Image on main product level! If you do not set an image for your variation, WooCommerce will simply show the featured image of the main product.
Now that we published our product, of course we want to see the end result in the frontend.
Note the image that is shown automatically updates if the visitor selects a different color. In this demo store using the default 2013 theme, the Add to cart button is a bit small and pushed down on the page. In Chapter 5, Working with WooCommerce Themes, we’ll learn how to adjust the look and feel of our store.
You probably noticed that the Add to cart button does not become available if no variation has been chosen yet. To overcome this problem you can set a default variation for your product in the backend, so that it will be displayed immediately.
Other product types
If you recall the screenshots earlier in this chapter, you will notice that there are even more product types available in WooCommerce. Besides simple and variable products, we can create:
Grouped products: Think about a package, like for instance, a complete set consisting of a computer, monitor, and mouse
Virtual products: These are used for services, and so non-physical products
Downloadable products: These are e-books, photos, music, or video files
External/Affiliate products: This is a special kind of product that is actually sold on another website
To create a grouped product, just simply select that type at the top of the Product Data area.
Fields that are no longer necessary will be removed. Unfortunately it’s not possible to set a sales price for the group. In your product catalog, WooCommerce will display “From $xx”, where xx is the price of the individual item with the lowest sales price. The final price your customer pays will be calculated automatically, by adding the total sales prices of the individual products that your customer selects. In fact, the grouped item will display the individual items of the group together. Your customer is still in control of the items that will be placed in the basket. Finish your product and create individual (simple) products that will belong to this group.
While creating the individual products for your group, please note the following:
Do you want to sell this simple product individually as well or only as a part of the grouped product? Depending on your needs, set the appropriate value in the Catalog visibility field in the top right corner.
To link your individual product to the group, click on the Linked Products tab and select the correct grouped product. Note that if you have lots of grouped products, the dropdown will soon become cluttered and the functionality WooCommerce offers in this area might be too limited. There are additional plugins available to solve this limitation though.
This product type is used for non-physical products. Use it to sell services for instance. Virtual products will not be shipped and as soon as you mark a simple product as virtual, the Shipping tab will disappear from the Product Data area. Besides that, if a customer only buys one or multiple virtual products, the shipping address will be removed from the Checkout process.
The Virtual field can only be set for simple products.
If you have digital goods to offer to your customers, WooCommerce supports this by using the Downloadable product type. Often, you’ll also want to mark these items as Virtual, since you won’t physically ship anything. On the other hand, if your item is as well downloadable as shipped, you should not check the Virtual field. An example could be a book, that is physically shipped, but where the buyer also receives a downloadable copy.
Once the Downloadable field has been checked, new fields become available in the General tab. Click on Choose a file, to upload and attach a digital file to your product.
You may also set the Download limit, which determines how often a customer can come back to download the same item again.
Besides that, you can set the Download Expiry. Fill the number of days for which the download stays available for your customer after purchase. By default both fields are blank, which means that there are no restrictions and your customers can always come back to download the purchased items again.
When your customer purchases a downloadable file, a link to download the item will be sent to the customer. The link will also become available in the My Account section for that customer, depending on the settings you created for the downloadable files. Navigate to WooCommerce | Settings | General to check the settings for downloadable products.
Generally, the defaults are fine, but you might want to force your customers to create an account and login to be able to purchase the downloadable items.
This last product type WooCommerce offers is a special one. As you probably know affiliate marketers promote products of other websites. Using this product type, you can create products that are actually sold elsewhere. As a site owner you’ll often earn a percentage of the sale. This product type is popular among bloggers, since it gives them the possibility to monetize their blog without having to create a full featured online store and keep stock levels themselves.
While creating such a product, the Product URL is the most important field. It redirects the visitor to the store where the product is actually sold in, including a unique code. Using this code the seller will know that this buyer came from your website and you will receive your affiliate fee if that customer closes the sale.
If you use your products in this way, the buyer will no longer be able to add an item to the cart. They will simply be redirected to the original store.
If you want to use WooCommerce for affiliate marketing purposes there are lot of possibilities to integrate with large affiliate networks. Every country has its own affiliate partners available. Larger retailers have their own affiliate programs available, such as www.amazon.com for instance. Also, take a closer look at the possibilities to import products automatically into your WooCommerce store. The plugin WP All Import will, for example, deliver the possibility to import product data from XML and CSV sources found at http://wordpress.org/plugins/woocommerce-xml-csv-product-import/.
In this article we’ve learned to create more complex products in WooCommerce. We not only need this to be able to create products with colors and sizes, but also if we’re selling services or digital items.
Now that we’ve covered everything about using products, it’s time to take a closer look at shipping and payment methods in the next article.