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Customer Paradigm

One
common theme I’ve heard from many of our Magento clients
is that they don’t always know all of the features their
eCommerce site has – out of the box.

Over
the next several weeks, I’ll start to explore key features
inside Magento – both Community and Enterprise – so
that you can better understand the platform.

This
week: The Six Different Types
of Magento Products (Built In)

1.
Simple Product

A
simple product in Magento is just that:
simple physical product that you ship. There
are no options like size or color that the
end user can pick during the order.

Let’s
say you’re selling a 50 mm camera lens.
That’s a simple product.

Each
simple product has a unique SKU (Stock Keeping
Unit); inventory is handled at the simple
product level.

2.
Configurable Product. (Complex Product)

A
t-shirt that comes in three colors (red,
white and blue) and three sizes (small,
medium, large) is a configurable product.

A
configurable product is made up of other
simple products:


Red t-shirt, small
– Red t-shirt, medium
– Red t-shirt, large
– White t-shirt, small
– White t-shirt, medium
– White t-shirt, large
– Blue t-shirt, small
– Blue t-shirt, medium
– Blue t-shirt, large

In
Magento, you would set up each of these
options, above, as a simple product. You
can set inventory levels for each simple
product, as well as different images.

Then,
you create a configurable product that ties
them all together, and gives the end user
the choice, usually from a drop-down menu:

Size:
(small, medium, large)
Color: (red, white, blue)

If
the inventory level of the small, blue t-shirt
is out of stock, then that option isn’t
available (depending on your settings).

Configurable
products allow you to also charge more for
specific options. Maybe you want to charge
more for the red t-shirt, as it uses extra-fancy
ink.

3.
Grouped Product. (Complex Product)

A
grouped product is just a "group"
of simple products. For example, let’s say
you want to sell the camera lens + a memory
card + a camera. Each of those items would
be simple products; you would group them
together as a "grouped" product
that you could offer on the site (perhaps
with a special price).

4.
Bundled Product.

A
grouped product doesn’t give the end user
any choice. Buy all three items together
for a special price. In the camera + memory
card and lens example above, these three
simple products are "grouped"
together.

A
bundled product allows you to build a product,
using choices.

For
example, a bundled product might give you
these options:

– Camera Body ($500)
– Camera Lens. Choose from: 1. No lens ($0),
a basic lens (+$200), or professional lens
(+$500)
– Memory Card. Choose from: 1. No memory
card ($0), an 8 GB card (+$20), a 16 GB
card (+$32), a 32 GB card (+$52) or a 64
GB card (+$120).

The
final price of the purchase will then depend
on what the end user selects as options.

Note
that to do a bundled product like this,
you’d have to add in these simple products
first:

– Camera Body – $500
– Basic Lens – $200
– Professional Lens – $500
– 8 GB card – $20
– 16 GB card – $32
– 32 GB card – $52

Here’s
another example of how a bundled product
works for one of our client’s, Newton Running:

You
would assign inventory to each of these
individual items. If you’d like, you can
also have them visible, so that someone
could purchase extra cards, too.

A
bundled or group product is very tricky
to build via a data import. Typically, you’d
want to bulk import the simple products,
and then build the bundled or group products
through the admin tool.

5.
Virtual Product. (A type of Simple Product)

A
virtual product isn’t something that you
download. It’s designed to be a service
that you offer.

A
virtual product is really a specialized
type of simple product.

For
example, someone could place an order for
our $99 Magento Code Audit. It’s a service
that we provide. They place an order, and
then we email or call them to complete the
sale, because it requires FTP access to
their site.

If
you offer a 1 hour house cleaning service,
that would also be a virtual product. A
1 year warranty on a physical product could
also be a virtual product.

6.
Downloadable Product. (Also a simple product)

A
downloadable product is like an eBook, a
music file, or a piece of software that
you sell.

For
a downloadable product, you upload one or
more files to the server (via the admin
or FTP), and then set the price and other
information. You can also host the files
on another web server as well.

Magento
then generates a secure, encrypted link
that is personalized to each person making
a purchase.

Note
that this doesn’t prevent me from saving
the PDF or mp3 file, and then emailing it
to a friend. That’s digital rights management,
which is a whole other issue, and not covered
by Magento.

What
Types of Products Aren’t Included in Magento
by Default?

Through
the six main product types, Magento can
handle most things eCommerce sites need.
But there are a few things Magento won’t
do by default:

1.
Recurring subscription – Not Included by
Default.

By
default, Magento treats each purchase as
a separate, unique transaction in time.
It doesn’t handle recurring subscriptions.

Let’s
say you want to sell a monthly subscription,
like a magazine. Or even Web hosting. Magento
out of the box doesn’t handle this. (Although,
Magento sort of does allow for this. But
the only way to do this natively in Magento
is to force the end user to pay via PayPal
Express Checkout.)

Instead,
if you want to this functionality, you’ll
need to purchase or build an extensions
that can make this work, but it does require
additional configuration.

2.
Rental Items – Not Included by Default.
Magento doesn’t handle rental items well,
where a piece of equipment would be rented
for a specific amount of time for a specific
price, and then returned into the system.
Magento doesn’t have a way to allocate individual
items, and show what inventory is available
for periods of time. Again, this would be
something you’d want to do with a custom
extension.

I
hope this helps; next week we’ll delve into how to set
pricing for products in Magento.

Thanks,

Jeff FinkelsteinFounder, Customer Paradigm
Jeff
Finkelstein
Founder, Customer Paradigm

303.473.4400

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Customer Paradigm
5353 Manhattan Circle, Suite 103
Boulder, Colorado 80303

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