Organizing Products in Spree Commerce: Part Two

Isaac Freeman
Sep 25, 2014

Spree Commerce extends the idea of a “product” with a set of abstract concepts. In Part One we reviewed how Spree deals with products, variants and taxons. Now we'll show you how options and prototypes help you build a store that’s easy to use, manage, and maintain.


Organize Variants with Options

Most of the time when a product has variants, they aren’t an arbitrary list. There are characteristics that define what kinds of variants you expect to have. In our t-shirt example, these characteristics were size, colour and fit (men’s or women’s). If you’re selling cupcakes your variants might be defined by flavors and quantities (single cupcake, box of twelve, party pack).

In Spree jargon, each of these characteristics is an option (or option type) and the different possibilities for variants are option values.

Spree Product-Variant

Why add this extra level of complexity? First, options can be reused. Once you’ve told Spree that t-shirts come in sizes and the available sizes are S, M, L , and XL, you can apply the size option to every new t-shirt. You don't have to re-enter the size values.

Second, options help customers navigate large sets of variants. A shoe store, for example, might provide drop-down selectors so customers can select their shoe size and the color they want from the available options, and be shown the variant that matches their selection. A store selling nuts and bolts might use options to build a table of variants where customers can look up the item that matches their requirements.

You don’t have to use the same options for all products. Different products can have different options, depending on what characteristics are relevant for organizing each product’s variants.

Speed up your workflow with Prototypes

Prototypes are groups of options that go together. T-shirts always have size, color and fit options. Rather than type these in for each new t-shirt, we can set up a prototype that already has these options configured. When we create a new t-shirt, we tell Spree we want the “t-shirt” prototype and the new product starts with size, color and fit options.

Spree Prototype

Prototypes can also retain properties, and you can set up as many of them as you like for different kinds of products.

Prototypes are particularly useful if you have a lot of data entry and multiple staff doing it. Setting up prototypes for common kinds of products speeds up work and reduces the opportunities to make a mistake.

Learn more

Spree’s built-in components provide a comprehensive set of tools for describing a wide variety of product types. By understanding variants, taxons, properties, options and prototypes, you can manage complex product catalogues with standard, out-of-the-box Spree.

Rather than duplicating with custom programming what Spree already provides, you can allocate your development budget to new features that improve the customer experience. If you’d like help with your project please get in touch.

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