One of the largest changes to Ricochet since 3.0 launched was the implementation of product variants. Having the ability to rapidly inventory multiple products, all of the same types is an incredibly important function to so many stores.
When we originally designed this system, it was built in a way that a user could select any variant and attribute for a single product, causing confusion of whether we had created a variant system or an attributing system.
For example, let’s say your furniture store is inventorying a few consigned dining room tables. While, yes, they are all dining tables, these products are completely different and should have nothing to do with each other in Ricochet. Many users would create a single parent SKU, and then create variants of that table for things like seating size, wood type, and style. The problem is that they were using variants to describe a product, not create actual variants of the parent product.
Variants are unique cases where you inventory multiple versions of the same product in different variations, not descriptions.
Think things like jean size. Your store has purchased 40 pairs of Levis 514 men’s pants from a wholesaler, but the jeans are a variety of inseam and waist sizes. So you create a parent SKU for the Men’s Levis’ 514, and then create variants such as 30/30, 32/30, 34/32, etc. This is a great example of a proper variant use case.
Be wary of creating too many variant categories. If you were to create just a parent for Levi’s Jeans, and have variants for men’s/women’s, style, inseam size, waist size, and color, you could easily have hundreds of variants between those 5 categories. We recommend dividing your products up so you only have 1 or 2 variants per parent product. So in this case, create different products for men’s/women’s, style, and color, and just use sizing as the variant.
When describing the size of a product, such as a consigned wedding dress size 8, these are descriptions. So rather than a variant, you should create one product and list the size in the title or description.
This was confusing a lot of people, so we updated the variant system to suit.
With the new variant system, Ricochet will automatically populate all of the possible combinations of that given parent product.
Let’s go back to the jeans example again. This time, we create one SKU for the parent product.
Then we select the relevant attributes to this product. In this case, it’s inseam and waist size.
You’ll see that as we add the values we need, Ricochet automatically creates the possible SKUs for us, and if we don’t carry a particular style, we can deactivate it for now.
By using the “Copy to All Function” we can update every variant at once and just apply the quantity we are adding to our inventory.
You can now go back to the inventory screen and see that we created over 20 products in less than one minute. The different variants of the jeans have low stock thresholds, costs, quantities, and other components attached to them. This is the power of variants.
So what happens to all of your attributes?
Your product attributes are not going away. If you have products with 3, 4, 5, or 6 attributes and values to them, you’ll notice that the variant tree will be enormous!
The best way to resolve this is to assess if you are creating true variants of a product, or trying to describe an item. If you’re describing an item, the best practice is to put it in the title or description. These fields are fully searchable within Ricochet. So you’ll still be able to find an item quickly by searching key terms.
We will be adding an online tagging system in the future.
As we begin the development of an iOS and Android app this summer, we are exploring the possibility of digital tagging. This will give you the ability to add ‘tags’ to a product for key things such as style, room, season, etc. So if you have a customer who is shopping online and wants to see all of your swimwear, for example, they could click on that tag and filter their view to just those items.
Let us know if you are concerned or confused about this change.
We realize this may be a confusing change for some stores. We are here to help. The variant system is being updated to help all of our stores to be more effective and utilize powerful store capabilities to save time and effort. Having a good variant system is a big part of that for a lot of stores and this update should resolve that.