Product Variations

Most products are available in a variation of sizes or colors. Salesforce B2C Commerce represents all variations as a single product, called a variation master.

Each variation master has variation attributes that determine how a product varies. For example, a shirt variation master can have size and color as variation attributes. A shoe variation master can have size, color, and width as variation attributes.



A variation master represents all possible variations, a variation group represents a subset of variations, and a variation product is a single product that can be sold.

A variation group represents a subset of values, such as all blue shirts in any size.

A variation product is a single product with specific values for all variation attributes. For example, a shirt that is blue and size 1. A variation product is a real product that has attributes in addition to the variation attributes, such as SKU, name, description, images, and price.

With variation products, you can:

Variation masters, variation groups, and variation products are all separate product types. However, variation groups and variation products must be associated with a master product. In most cases, you don't want to sell all possible variation products. You create variation products for each product that you want to sell and assign them to the variation master. For example, you might only want to sell size 2 and 3 in red and blue. You must create four variation products (red-2, red-3, blue-2, blue-3) and assign them to the variation master.

It isn't possible to purchase a master product, because it includes all possible variants. A variation group can be purchased as a product, but can function similarly to a product set, in which the products to purchase are the individual variation products in the group.

Variation Attribute Values

While all products might share an attribute, such as color, the actual values of the attribute might differ, depending on the product, because not all products are available in the same colors.

You define the variation products for a master by creating a variation attribute. A variation attribute uses an attribute definition, such as color, and a list of values for that attribute, such as red, blue, and green.

If you define a shared variation attribute, you can use the same values for any number of products. If you define a local variation attribute, the values are only available in the product in which they are defined.

Variation masters A and B use the Winter Colors shared variation attribute values. Variation master C has a local variation attribute with a different color set that can only be used with that product. Shared variation attributes are defined at the catalog level. Each product master can only have one set of values for each variation attribute. For example, one set of colors for the product. For this reason, you can only select one variation attribute (Winter Colors) based on a specific attribute definition (color) for a Variation Master.

To create two master products that share variation values and one with unique variation values:
  1. Select Administration > System Objects > Product, make sure there is a color attribute definition for the product system object and create it if necessary.
  2. Select site > Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs > Variation Attributes > catalog, create a variation attribute that uses the color attribute definition and at least one color value.
  3. Select site > Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs >Products, select a Variation Master. Click the Variations tab and click Lock.
  4. In the Variation Attributes section, click the ellipsis (...). Select the shared attribute you created and click Apply.
  5. Select site > Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs >Products, select a Variation Master. Click the Variations tab. The product must be a different variation product from the one you previously edited.
  6. In the Variation Attributes section, click the ellipsis (...). Select the shared attribute you created and click Apply.
  7. Select site > Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs >Products, select a Variation Master. Click the Variations tab and click Lock. The product must be a different variation product from the ones you previously edited.
  8. Click New.
  9. On the New Local Variation Attribute page, add a local variation attribute and click Apply.

At the end of this example, the first two master products you edited share the same color variations and the last master product has different color variations.

Assigning Variation Products to Variation Masters and Variation Groups

You can assign existing products to a variation master as variation products. If you unassign variation products from a master product, they become simple products in B2C Commerce. If you delete the master, the variation products become simple products again. You can also assign variation products to and from variation groups. The variation products must already be assigned to the product master that the variation group is associated with.

Visualizing Products with Images and Swatches

You can visualize products in several ways:
  • Variation master image and swatches - this represents all variations using a single image.
  • Variation group image without swatches - this represents a subset of variations using a single image, usually based on color. This is useful, because it lets you show the image for all products available in the group, rather than a single product variation, as is the case for slicing. In this case, you show one image for a black t-shirt in all sizes, rather than a black t-shirt in a particular size, as you would with slicing.
  • Variation group image with swatches - this represents a subset of variations using a single image, usually not based on color. For example, you might show a different image for a t-shirt based on a size range: children's, petite, missus, and plus size. In this case, you show one image for each size range of t-shirt in all sizes and represent additional colors as swatches.
  • Variation product image with slicing- separate product images for each variation product assigned to the category, whether it is the all the variations in the product master or the variations assigned to one or more variation groups.

Slicing versus variation Groups

Slicing and variation groups both let you control how products appear in your storefront.

Some differences between slicing and variation groups:
  • Slicing determines size as well as color, so if availability of the specific slice (color: black, size 10) was zero, the product becomes unavailable on the site, even if there were other sizes in that color available.
  • Colors not visible for category position for variation products used in slices. This makes it more complicated to adjust the category position of variations in your category landing pages.
  • You have to slice in each category, with variation groups you can put the group in each category.
Note: Slicing is most useful if you want to show images based on one variation attribute only (by color) and don't care about position of the variation product on the page. Also if you don't intend to use variation products in content slots or recommendations. You can use variation groups to specify a single variation product if you want to add that to content slots and recommendations, but it isn't usually as useful as specifying multiple sizes in the variation group.

Additional Information

See Search for information on variation products relative to search and navigation.

You can import variation product data using catalog.xsd.
Important: In the template logic you can use the attributes and access all product features for each variation. Typically, the variation model works best if products vary with the same attributes. For example, when shirts vary from one another in size and color.
Important: Variation master products can't be purchased. Only variation products can be purchased. However, the master product must be assigned to a category or the variation product can't be ordered, even if the variation product is assigned to categories and appears in the storefront. The master must have a category assignment because attributes are associated with the master, not on the variation.

Related Links

Product Types and Options

Variation Groups

Creating Product Variations

Variation Slicing by Category

Master and Variation Product Scenarios

Working with Image Variants