Product variations create a streamlined buying process for customers. This boosts visibility, conversion, and customer service for your Amazon brand.
In this article, we’ll go through the specifics of product variations and how you can optimize on the variation feature.
What is a variation?
Variations are a set of products that are related to one another. These products are essentially the same unit but with slight distinctions.
There are three main types of product variation relationships: color, size, and flavor. You might sell a dog leash in red, orange, and pink; this would be a color variation relationship. You sell a computer case in 13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch; this would be a size variation. You sell a granola bar that comes in honey flavor or sweet and salty flavor; this would be a flavor variation relationship.
In some cases, a product can have multiple variations. For example, you might offer a t-shirt in multiple sizes and colors. Or you offer granola bars in two flavors that come in 6-packs or 12-packs.
Variations differ from product bundles. Variations are essentially the same item but in different sizes, colors, or flavors. Bundles contain complementary products that can be used together but are not essentially the same.
For example, a variation would be an iPhone 6 case that is offered in red, blue, and green. These variations are all sold separately. A bundle would be a red iPhone 6 cover sold with a matching red charger cable. These are sold together in the same kit.
There are five main questions you can ask to determine if the products you’re listing are variations or separate products:
- Are the products essentially the same?
- Are there are only one or two variations to the main product?
- Would customers expect to find these products listed together?
- Can the products share the same header, description, and parent product?
- Can you list this product as a variation on Amazon?
If you can answer “yes” to these five questions, you want a variation page. However, keep in mind that even if you answer “yes” to almost all of them, a variation may still not be possible. For example, you sell essential oils that come in four scents. Although the products are essentially the same and customers might expect them on the same listing, “scents” are not an appropriate variation. You’ll need to list these different fragrances separately.
What is the purpose of a variation?
Variations allow customers to see the product’s buying options on a single page. This boosts customer service and conversion by streamlining the purchasing process. It also aggregates reviews and feedback on the same listing, which can help with optimization.
A customer wants to buy a T-shirt with a smiley face on it. You offer smiley face T-shirts in red, blue, yellow, and green.
The customer searches “smiley face T-shirt” in Amazon’s search bar. One of the first search results is your product (because you’ve properly optimized your product listing).
He clicks on the detail page and he only sees a red smiley face T-shirt. He likes it, but he’s not sure that’s the color he wants. So he goes back to the search results and clicks on another seller’s listings and purchases a green shirt from them.
This could occur if you list your different colored T-shirts on separate product listings and not in a parent-variation. Each product listing optimizes in a different way, which makes it challenging for customers to consistently and easily find all the variation products that you offer.
But if you offer variations on the same product listing, the customer searches for “smiley T-shirt,” clicks on your product listing, and sees four different potential shirts. He likes the green one, so he purchases it from you.
He may even decide to buy two different colors. He may have otherwise only purchased one shirt from you, but seeing different options encouraged him to buy another variation.
In this way, product variations help boost both conversion and units per receipt. Customers are more likely to purchase—and purchase multiple items—if all of their options are easily laid out in front of them.
Product variation listings also pull together reviews on the same listing. All of your sales and customer ratings are related back to the same product page. This can help boost your search engine optimization and ability to win the Buy Box.
For example, you offer 10 T-shirt color options. If these were separate product listings, you could have 10 reviews on each listing. If they were on the same listing, you would have 100 total ratings.
A larger number of positive reviews boosts algorithm optimization and customer conversion.
What categories allow product variations?
Not all Amazon categories allow you to create product variations.
For example, the Clothing category has product variations because you can sell the same clothing article in different sizes and colors.
Video Game Accessories does not have the option for product variations, though. This is likely because variations themselves are rare. Selling a Mario Brothers game for PlayStation is different than selling a Mario Brothers 2 game for PlayStation. They are not variations because they are different games. Variations have to be essentially the same.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing if your category doesn’t allow product variations. This simply means that you need to create multiple product listings. This can provide you more real estate on Amazon, which can provide more opportunities to optimize and gain visibility.
Nevertheless, if you have the option to include product variations, this is the best way to boost conversion and provide the most frictionless experience for your customer.
How do you create product variations?
You have a set of products that have a size, color, or flavor variation relationship.
How do you list them successfully on Amazon?
1. Choose a parent product.
The “parent” product is the most basic, common, or popular of the variations. The parent is the product displayed in search results, so it should be the most appealing image to customers. For example, the parent might be a black or white T-shirt while the other colors are variations of that basic tee.
The parent is not available for purchase. The parent listing is the glue of the family. However, you can create a variation that looks exactly like the parent so you can sell that color and style as well. The parent product and “child” variation will have different UPCs.
2. List the parent product.
In your Seller Central, go to “add product” and “new product listing.” Under “category,” you’ll add the product name for your parent product. Include the brand name and manufacturer if relevant. Don’t fill in the other boxes, because the parent isn’t for sale.
Do not include price, quantity, size, or color. Remember that the parent is not for sale.
3. Choose the variation.
Under the “variation tab,” choose the variation theme from the drop-down menu. You’ll usually pick between color, size, and flavors. This defines how your parent and children variations are related to one another. This is also called the “variation relationship.”
4. List the child variations.
“Child” variations are all of the products that are related to the parent by the variation theme.
After choosing the variation theme, fill in all of the information for each child variation. Note that each variation should have its own unique UPC/SKU because they are sold as separate units.
You’ll also want to include the parentage (whether the SKU you’re listing is the parent or child), the parent SKU (which links all children to the same parent), relationship type (the type of variation), and the color, size, and flavor (if appropriate).
Be sure to describe each child thoroughly. This is a great way to build optimization for your product listing. The more you explain about the product, the more likely customers will be able to find (and buy) your product.
Pro-Tip: Avoid using overly stylized color or flavor names. Be straightforward with your customers to reduce the risk of dissatisfaction, confusion, returns, or complaints. Call a blue shirt “blue,” not “ocean.”
Only use stylized names if they are directly related to your band in some way. For example, if you have a surf brand with ocean conservation efforts, you may want to name the tan shirt “sand” and the blue shirt “ocean.” Otherwise, keep it simple to avoid confusion.
Learn the specifics about creating variation listings here.
5. Use enhanced brand content.
This allows you to easily show the differences between the different offerings in your category. This can show differences in product variations as well as differences between other products that your brand sells on other listings. This is a strong opportunity for upselling and customer service by ensuring your customers purchase the right product for their needs.
Variations streamline the customer experience by offering a variety of choices on the same listing. This improves conversion rates, increases the number of units per transaction, and pools your reviews together on one listing.