Product Options

So you've created a product – let's say a t-shirt – that comes in 10 colors and 6 sizes. That makes 60 variations of that one t-shirt. You could spend a lot of time creating 60 different products, or you could use Product Options to make life much easier.

A product option encompasses any attribute that a product can have. For example:

  • A t-shirt that comes in various colors and sizes
  • An espresso machine that normally comes in a matte black finish but that is available in brushed steel for $50 more
  • Spice containers that are sold in packs of 12, 60, or 100
  • A bracelet that can be custom-engraved for $10 more
  • A camera that can also come with extra lenses

For products with many options, Volusion has a powerful Inventory Control feature that creates child products from options, which can be managed from the "parent" product page. For more information, see How to Use the Inventory Control Grid.

Contents

Getting Started

Go to Inventory > Options in the Admin Area.

There are two ways to filter the view on the Product Options page:

  • By Options (default view)
  • By Option Categories

Option Categories

Before you create specific product options, you should have option categories to apply them to. For example, if you want to apply different color options to a product, the option category would be "Color" and the individual options would be the colors themselves ("red", "blue", "green").

To begin creating or editing product option categories:

  1. On the Product Options page, from the Filter menu, select Option Categories.
  2. Click Add.
  3. In the Option Category Description field, enter the title for the category as you want it to appear on the product page (for example, "Color", "Size", "Extras", etc.).
  4. In the Display Order field, enter a number to designate the position of this option category in relation to other option categories. For example, if a product has options from more than one option category applied to it, enter "1" to ensure that this option category appears first; enter "9999" to ensure that it appears last.
  5. Select a Display Type based on your needs. See below for a description of each display type.
  6. Click Save.

The complete list of option category fields is described below:

Group Heading

This is used to group option categories together. Enter the same value for any option categories you want to group together on your storefront. These option categories will display under the heading you enter in this field. For example, if you have separate "Height" and "Width" option categories, you could enter "Dimensions" in this field for both categories.

You should also use the same or a similar Display Order value for option categories you want to group together. For example, if you have a third option category with a Display Order value between the two you want to group, they will not be grouped together and the group heading will instead appear twice.

Note that Group Headings will not display on the storefront when your option categories use the Plain Text display type. The group heading will, however, show on the mobile version of your site.

Option Category Description

The name of the option category as it will be shown on the product page (for example: Shoe Size, Accessories, or Choose a Color).

About Option Category

Optional descriptive text to help customers understand the purpose of each option category. Any text you enter in this field displays in a dialog box on the product page. Customers can view this information by clicking the "help" icon next to the option category.

Display Order

Used to set the order that option categories are displayed on the product page if there are multiple option categories. The lower the number, the higher on the page it displays. If the same value is set for one or more option categories, they will be displayed alphabetically.

Display Type

Use this menu to choose how to display the list of options for this option category (described in the following table).

Required

Enable if an option must be selected for a customer to be able to purchase a product. For example, if you have created a t-shirt in blue or red, the customer is required to choose either blue or red.

Hide Category Description

Enabling this will hide any text entered in the Option Category Description field from customers, making it an admin-only field.

Include in Search Refinement

Enable to include this category as a search refinement option. This allows shoppers to filter their search results by specific options. For example, if you have a "Color" option category and enable this feature, your search and category results will now have a "By Color" list. Customers can choose from the "By Color" filter list to only view category/search results available in Blue, Green, Red, etc. (assuming you've created these colors as options, and have products with these options applied).

Use as Google Size

Lets you use the options in this category as the Google Size attributes for child products. This is only used if you generate a Google feed.

Use as Google Color

Enables you to use the options in this category as the Google Color attributes for child products. This is only used if you generate feed.

Use as Google Material

Enables you to use the options in this category as the Google Material attributes for child products. This is only used if you generate a Google feed.

Use as Google Pattern

Allows you to use the options in this category as the Google Pattern attributes for child products. This is only used if you generate a Google feed.

For more on these four fields and the Google Feed, see How to Set Up Volusion's Google Merchant Center Integration and How to Update Your Product Attributes for Google Merchant Center.

Option Category Display Types

As mentioned above, there are several ways to display option categories:

Dropdown

The default display type. The options in this category are displayed as a drop-down menu.

Checkbox

This display type should only be used if there is a single option (for example, a yes/no or opt-in question). A warning message will be displayed on the product page if you try to assign more than one option belonging to a category with Checkbox as its display type.

Radio

This display type shows a list of options, each prefixed with a radio button. Only one radio button can be active at a time.

Textbox

If your product requires that the customer supply custom text - an inscription for a bracelet, for example, or a slogan for a t-shirt, you can use this to provide a text box for this.

Dropdown Control

This option has been replaced by Dropdown_Smartmatch and should not be used; it is only included to accommodate merchants who have upgraded from older configurations, such as V3.

Dropdown Client

This options has been replaced by Dropdown_Smartmatch and should not be used; it is only included to accommodate merchants who have upgraded from older configurations, such as V3.

Dropdown Smartmatch

Similar to Dropdown, but this option should be used with inventory control to hide option combinations where the corresponding product is out of stock. Note that once you generate child products with Smartmatch options applied, you won't be able to change the Display Order values for any of those options.

Plain Text

This display type shows all product options within the category as a simple line of text. Since there is no customer input with this option, it should only be used for showing product options that are automatically included with the product being purchased. Additionally, note that Group Headings will not display on the storefront when your option categories use the Plain Text display type. The group heading will, however, show on the mobile version of your site.

Options

Now that you've created Option Categories, you can add Options:

  1. Go to Inventory > Options.
  2. From the Filter menu, select Options (this is the default selection when you first visit this page).
  3. Click Add to create a new option, or click on an existing option's ID number to edit it.
  4. If this option results in a price difference (for example, an extra-large t-shirt might be a dollar more expensive), locate the Price Diff field and enter the price difference value. If the price is the same, enter "0". If the option should make the product less expensive, enter a negative value.
  5. From the Option Category menu, select the option category to which this option belongs.
  6. Click Save.

You've now created a basic option. The following table shows all available Options fields and how they can be used.

ID

This is a system-assigned number that gets generated when you create an option.

Price Diff

This field can contain a price that the system will charge for this option, in addition to the regular product price. This can be negative if the option results in a lower price.

Option Category

Select the option category to which this product option belongs. A product option can only be assigned to one category.

Option Description

A description of the option. For example: "Blue", "Gold Trim", "XXXL", etc.

Apply To Product Codes

You can enter a list of product codes to which this option applies.

Note when you apply product options from the product page, this field automatically populates with any associated products. You can apply options to a product from the Basic Info section of the product's editing page.

Advanced Info

Display Order

To arrange options of the same option category in a certain order, enter a numeric value in this field. The lower the number, the higher the option will appear in the list of associated options. When multiple options have the same value, they will be arranged alphabetically.

If you're using Dropdown Smartmatch as your Option Category Display Type, be sure to set each option's Display Order before applying the options to products. Once you've generated child products using Smartmatch option, you won't be able to change their Display Order values.

Vendor Price Diff

If the vendor price for this option is different than the basic vendor price for the product you can enter the difference here.

Note that this will affect the calculation of the product's Cost of Goods Sold.

Additional Weight

If an option results in additional weight, it should be entered here so it will be added to a product when the option is chosen. This will then be used when calculating shipping charges.

Recurring Price Diff

This field is similar to the Price Diff field, but only applies to the recurring price of a product (if it has one).

Textbox Length

If an option belongs to an option category that uses the Textbox display type, this field lets you specify the length of the text box. Note that this does not affect the maximum or minimum number of characters a customer can enter (see below).

Textbox Character Limit

If an option belongs to an option category that uses the Textbox display type, this field lets you specify the maximum number of characters a customer can enter.

Setup Cost Diff

For products configured to have a setup cost, you can use this field to assign an additional setup cost.

Textbox Rows

Similar to the Textbox Length field, this field can be used to set the vertical height (number of rows) of a text box. The default value is 1.

Jump To Product Code

If this field contains a product code, that product will be substituted when this option is selected. The price charged will be that of the product code you enter here.

Is Product Price

This is a legacy setting and should not be used.

Is Product Code

Enter a product code into this field to assign a specific product to a product option. Unlike Jump To Product Code, this setting does not redirect customers to this product's page. Instead, the related product code will be added to the customer's cart along with the original product. For example, you could use this to create an "Add Batteries" option on electronic products.

If Enable Allow Free Accessory On IsProductCode Option is selected in Settings > Config Variables, this field can be used to add free accessories or promotional products to a customer's shopping cart automatically when specific product options are selected.

Additional Shipping Cost

If you want to apply a fixed shipping cost for the products to which this option applies, this field can contain an amount to be added to each shipping method listed in the shipping method drop-down menu on the shopping cart and checkout pages.

Is Product Code Qty

This field can contain a single product code that will set the product option's associated product's stock value to the same stock value for the product code entered here. This can be used to control the stock of two products at once. You may need to keep the stock of certain items in lock-step – particularly if you sell both items together. This option is often used in conjunction with the Is Product Code field.

Use as Product Quantity

This box lets you use the Option Description as the quantity of the product, rather than text. This only applies if your Option Description is a numerical value. For example, if you want to offer a product in various quantities, you can select this setting and enter a number for the Option Description. When a customer selects this option, the system will automatically add the product to the cart in the quantity entered as the Option Description.

No Value

Select No Value if you want this to be a "null" option that does not actually correspond to a product variant. For example, if you have a drop-down list of options and want to include an option for "None" or "No Extra Finish".

Option Side Note

If this option's option category uses the Checkbox display type, you can add extra text to appear after the check box. If you use this with a multiple-option category such as Dropdown, all these notes will be concatenated.

Legacy Volusion Settings (not fully supported / rarely used fields from older versions of the software)

Only Available With OptionID(s)

This is a legacy field and should not be used. Option IDs specified here will limit the product option to only be offered with the product option ID(s) entered here. This field only works with the option category Dropdown_Control and Dropdown_Client display types.

Not Available With OptionID(s)

This is a legacy field and should not be used. Option IDs specified here will prevent the product option from being offered with the product option ID(s) entered here. This field only works with the option category Dropdown_Control and Dropdown_Client display types.

Replaces Option ID

This field can be set to contain the ID of an option that will be substituted for the option chosen by the customer. This can be used if a set of options are applied to a large number of products but the merchant wants to create an exception for a specific product. This field essentially redirects a product option to another product option.

Default Selected

Enabling this field sets this product option as the default selection before the customer enters their choice. This field is not supported for option category types of TEXTBOX or PLAINTEXT.

Validate Reg Expression

This field allows advanced users to enter VBScript or ASP code for validation purposes. This is a legacy field and is no longer supported by Volusion.

Validate Option ID

This field is used in conjunction with the Validate_Reg_Expression field. This is a legacy field, and is no longer supported by Volusion.

Validate Error Message

This field is used in conjunction with the Validate_Reg_Expression field. This is a legacy field, and is no longer supported by Volusion.

Validate Option Cat ID

This field is used in conjunction with the Validate_Reg_Expression field. This is a legacy field, and is no longer supported by Volusion.

Notes

Volusion can support an unlimited number of product options and categories. A product option can only be assigned to one category at a time; however, option categories can have multiple product options assigned to them. There is no limit to the number of product options that can apply to an individual product.

There are also special settings for using products in conjunction with the Inventory Control Grid. Please see How to Use the Inventory Control Grid for further information.

Tips and Special Settings

Using the Search Refinement Function

Filter categories allow you to add drop-down menu options on your store’s search results, making it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for.

Product option categories can be modified to act as filter categories by enabling their category search refinement option as follows:

  1. At Settings > Config Variables, make sure the Enable Search Refinement check box is selected.
  2. Go to Inventory > Options.
  3. From the Filter menu, select Option Categories.
  4. Press Add.
  5. Fill out the fields as necessary.
  6. Select Include In Search Refinement check box.
  7. Save.
  8. Go to Settings > Maintenance.
  9. Click Rebuild Search Index.

The product option category will now appear as a filter category whenever a customer performs a search and its results include products associated with this option category.

Offering Multiple Checkbox Options

Option Categories that use the Checkbox display type are intended for offering a single option with a yes/no response. For example, a customer can select a check box to add a warranty (a "yes" response) or leave it unchecked if they don't want a warranty (a "no" response).

If you need to display multiple check box options for a single product, each option must be assigned to its own Option Category. For example, if you'd like to display check boxes for two optional accessories on a product, you can create the two "accessory" product options and assign them to two separate Option Categories that use the Checkbox display type.

Setting Up A Free Gifts Option

If you want to set up a "Buy One, Get One Free" or "Buy X, Get Y Free" offer to attract more sales or quickly move inventory:

  1. Create products as usual. Make sure you note which products will be offered for free.
  2. Go to Inventory > Options.
  3. From the Filter menu, select Option Categories.
  4. Click Add to create the option category.
  5. In the Option Category Description field, enter a description for the free product(s).
  6. Select the Is Required check box.
  7. From the Display Type menu, select Dropdown, Dropdown Smartmatch, or Radio.
  8. Click Save.
  9. Return to Inventory > Options.
  10. Click Add to set up a new product option.
  11. Set the Price Diff value to zero.
  12. From the Option Category menu, select the name of the option category you created above.
  13. In the Options Description field, enter the free item's name. You can give it a name like "Free earphones," or something more specific.
  14. In the Is Product Code field, enter the product Code for the free item.
  15. Click Save.

Repeat this process to set up additional free products.

Now when a customer orders the initial product, it will show a drop-down menu that lets them choose one of the free products. Once a free product is chosen, it will be added to the cart at no additional charge.

If you use this technique you may also want to configure an additional option to represent a "None" option for customers who don't want a free gift. To do so, simply create an additional product option as described above, enter "None" in the Option Description field, and select No Value in the Advanced Info section.

Watch the Product Options video series