In eCommerce, you will see that the majority of products don’t come in a single choice, but many different variantions, such as color, size, length, version… WooCommerce allows you to create variable products for this reason.

Among all types of WooCommerce products, variable products are most complicated to set up, for the fact that attributes, terms and specific images must be applied individually to each variation.

In this article, let’s learn the detailed setup of a variable product in 6 steps.

Step 1: Go to Products >> Add Products >> Choose Variable product in the Product data.

Step 2: Input information in Inventory tab:


Since variable products have variations, it is important to have a way to identify and manage the product as a single unit.

  • SKU: this stands for Stock-keeping Unit, a unique code for the product.
  • Manage stock: enable this option if you want to set up stock at the product level. You can manage stock at variation level (let’s look at this option later)
  • Allow backorders: when your product is out of stock, you may want to allow customers to order in the front-end, but they will have to wait for the order delivery when product is back in stock. This option is called backorders. In WooCommerce, you have 3 options to manage backorders: do not allow, allow but notify customers, allow (customers are not notified and thus don’t know that they are making backorders).
  • Sold individually: if this option is checked, only 1 unit of the product can be purchased in a single order. Note that you cannot set this at variation level.

Step 3: Add attributes:

Attributes define variations in variable products. Though you can add attributes within the product sheet when creating variable products, it is recommended that you set up pre-set values in Attributes tab so you can save a lot of time on adding new attributes everytime you create a new variable product.

Go to Products >> Attributes: this where you set up attributes that apply to your variable products. In this example, Color and Size are set up as below:

create attributes

Click Configure terms in each attribute to add attribute terms:

create attribute terms

Once set here, these assigned values will appear for the attribute everytime it is added to a variable product.

Now, back to our variable product.

Step 4: Set attribute terms to product:

In the product sheet, go to Attributes to set up attributes that define the product variations.

add attributes to product


You can either add pre-set attributes or create custom attributes for this product only. For pre-set attributes, select all variables or remove any of them that do not apply to the product.

Make sure that you check Visible on the product page and Used for variation options so customers can choose variables on the storefront.

Step 5: Manage variations:

Each combination of attributes determines a unique variation of the product. To manage the pricing, specs details, image of each variation, go to Variations tab in the product sheet:

manage variations

  • Default Form Values: You may want to set up a default variation when customers visit the product page. If your leave these blank, no values will be pre-selected and customers must choose options to add the product to cart.
  • Create variations from all attributes: This action will create all possible variations from the attributes you assign to the product. Of course you can manually create variations if you want.
  • Set up each variation:
    • Add image to each variation
    • SKU can be assigned to each variation. It is recommended that SKUs assigned to variations are related to the SKU assigned to the primary product for managerial purpose.
    • Set stock quantity to the variation
    • Set regular and sale prices to the variation
    • Add measurement details to the variation

Step 6: Complete other settings:

Setting up Linked products, Shipping and Advanced options are similar to other types of products in WooCommerce.

View this article to learn more about how to set up Upsells, Cross-sells and Related Products in WooCommerce. You will also find tips & tools to maximize average order value by optimising upsells & cross-sells, and personalized product recommendations.

This is how variable product displays on the storefront:

how WooCommerce variable product shows

Image, pricing, and product details will change according to the chosen variable. Customers must choose a variation before adding to cart.

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