How not to get lost in Magento product types

Friends or foes? Various Magento product types allow you to display items in different ways according to their specifics and your business needs. Still, their misuse can cost product managers lots of wasted efforts.

A clear understanding of product options and their relevant use cases is a key to leveraging a possibility to diversify product display offered by the platform.

In this overview, we will cover the platform’s out-of-the-box feature package for creating and managing different Magento product types.  

What is a Magento complex product?

A simple product is an integral component of each Magento product type that we will cover in this article. Having learned to configure and manage the fundamentals, you are empowered to dive deeper and harness the power of other product types.

Once you need to offer several SKUs on the same product detailed page, you come across more complex products:

  • Configurable product
  • Grouped product
  • Bundle product

These Magento product types differ in use cases, but they have some similarity in configuration. Let’s go into details to save you and your customers from confusion.

Magento product types

1. Configurable product

Comparing to a simple one, a Magento configurable product always has a minimum of one attribute. Generally speaking, any product can be configurable if it comes with options.

In the front end, it looks like a single entity with a drop-down list of options. For example, a product detailed page features a dress that comes in several colors or a table available in different shapes. Each attribute value can represent several SKUs. Thus, a dress of each color comes in several sizes as well.

Offering several SKUs under one cover of a configurable product defines the whole specifics of this Magento product type.

Creation

The process of setting up a configurable product includes three basic steps: adding necessary attributes, uniting them in attribute sets and creating a configurable product with associated items. Product managers need to analyze product assortment and identify their attributes to optimize the configuration and further management of configurable products.

Price

Magento offers two pricing options for configurable products – a fixed price for all the associated items and price variation between attributes. If you choose to vary prices, be aware that a configurable product itself will feature the lowest price in the front end. Only when a visitor selects an option, its actual price appears.

Product availability

A configurable product is a virtual entity representing a set of related configurations, so inventory is managed separately for associated (simple) products.

Promotions

The common practice of setting catalog price rules applies to configurable products. You can launch promotions for separate associated products (by SKUs) or for attributes (color, size, etc.).

Pitfall: Magento cannot process large numbers of associated products efficiently. There is no specified limit but Magento developers share the experience that the platform is unable to cope with records exceeding 2,500 per a configurable product.

What is usually sold as configurable products: almost everything that has options like apparel, footwear, furniture, sports equipment, cars, convenience goods and electronic devices.

Examples:

  • Footwear – sneakers in different sizes;
  • Furniture – mirrors with different frames;
  • Sports equipment – a bicycle in different colors;
  • Electronic devices - a memory card with different capacity;
  • Cosmetics – a soap with different fragrances.

While the nature of a Magento configurable product is quite clear, it can be difficult to distinguish between grouped and bundle products.

2. Grouped product

This Magento product type represents a set of items sold as a group on one product detailed page. Product managers choose to offer several simple products together for customer convenience and profit still allowing customers to decide on the set.

Creation

You create simple products and then group them. You can choose to display items only as a group or as separate simple products as well.

Price

A grouped product doesn’t have a common price and tax-related attributes. The total price of the order is comprised of the amount of products in the group a customer chooses to purchase.

Product availability

Inventory is managed for each simple product. This means that you can’t state how many grouped products you have in stock.

Promotions

Grouped products are excellent for promotions. It is a possibility to offer a discount for a set of items to encourage customers for a larger purchase and boost sales.

Pitfall: By default, Magento does not support configurable products inside a grouped one. You can only group simple products. 

What is usually sold as grouped products: furniture, apparel sets, tableware, care products.

Example: sports suit consisting of top, leggings and trainers.

3. Bundle product

This term refers to a virtual group of items that are logical to sell together because they form a standalone customizable product. At first sight, it might be difficult to distinguish them from grouped ones. The difference is that bundle products feature one main product with its accessories, while grouped products are separate simple products fully functional without each other.

This Magento product type is remarkable for its two-level grouping:

  1. The first level is represented by options. These are simple products forming a bundle one. For example, bundle product Personal computer comes with a hard drive and a screen among other components.
  2. The second level is represented by attributes of each option. Hard drives are available with different storage capacity and screens differ in sizes.

Creation

You start with creating simple products that you will add as options to the bundle one.

Price

The price for bundle products can be either dynamic or fixed. The dynamic option implies that the order price is comprised from the prices of selected items set on the simple-product level while the fixed one allows bundles to have a base price and surcharges for bundle options.

Product availability

Just as with grouped and configurable products, inventory is managed separately for each simple product.

Promotions

The most popular promotional strategy for bundle products is offering a discount for the bundle while allowing customers to purchase separate items at full price. When creating a bundle product, you can choose ‘Advanced pricing’ and set a discount that comes into action only if items are purchased together.

It is also possible to launch promotions for bundle products via catalog price rules.

Delivery

There are two options available for bundle products. You can choose either to ship them together or to split order items in separate shipments.

What is usually sold as bundle products: hardware.

Example: a smartphone + memory card for 8 GB, 16 GB or 32 GB + earphones.

Let’s sum it up

A rare business can flourish selling only simple products. Uniting products in groups and bundles as well as offering product options is a must for most businesses. Here are key aspects to pay attention to while creating and managing different Magento product types.

A Magento configurable product:

  • Comes with a minimum of one attribute.
  • Each attribute value can represent several SKUs.
  • Pricing and inventory are managed on a simple-product level.
  • Magento can’t process large numbers of associated products (don’t exceed 2,500 items per a configurable product).

A Magento grouped product:

  • Represents several simple products on one product detailed page.
  • Pricing and inventory are managed on a simple-product level.
  • A configurable product can’t be a part of a grouped one.
  • Excellent for promotions.

A Magento bundle product:

  • Forms a standalone customizable product.
  • Has two-level grouping – option and their attributes.
  • Offers two pricing options – dynamic and fixed.
  • Inventory is managed on a simple-product level.
  • Items within a bundle product can be shipped either together or separately.

Relevant use cases and proper setting of Magento configurable, grouped and bundle products allow for more efficient assortment display in accordance with the available product options. With custom Magento development, you can go beyond the limits of out-off-the-box feature package to meet your specific needs.

Besides, Magento 2 has considerably improved admin interface with product creation in particular, empowering non-technical users to take on more daily tasks with no need for developers’ assistance. It stands to reason to give online store owners and product managers more power as it is not developers who run the actual business on Magento.

Wondering how to harness the power of Magento? Our domain expertise and keen interest in non-trivial projects are at your disposal.

About the Author: Igor Goltsov

Igor Goltsov is a certified Magento developer. With 8+ years in Magento development and 13+ years in PHP development, Igor now applies his deep insights in ecommerce and expert skills at ScienceSoft. As a senior Magento developer, he contributes to complex projects involving implementation of non-trivial platform’s features.