Understanding Attributes, Additions, Options and Variants

17 CommentsWednesday, 10 December 2014  |  Cate

One question we get asked a lot is what is the difference between Attributes, Additions, Options and Variants and how are they supposed to be used? These features are very helpful when creating your products and can give added definition that can be both beneficial to you and your customers. However, they can be quite confusing when you first start, and can often be called different things by other ecommerce software providers, so we've put together a guide to explain just how each one is supposed to be used on your Bluepark online shop.


Attributes are pieces of information that are useful for the customer to know so they can decide whether or not it is the right item for them. These are particularly useful for industries such as printer supplies, electricals and motoring accessories because they can be used to display information such as energy rating, dimensions and voltage as well as particular features a customer may be looking for.

Attributes can be displayed on the product page either within a product tab or along with other information such as price, availability and product code.

Product attributes

They can also be used as choices within the refine block so customers can filter to the products they want to view, as well as appearing in the advanced search page.

Product attributes in refine block

Each product can have multiple attributes assigned to it and each attribute can have a number of values associated with it. For instance, if a product has a black and red pattern on it you may want to assign the attribute of colour twice, one with the attribute of black and the other with red. Please note, that attributes with multiple values will not appear on the product detail page.


Additions are items or services that are add-ons to a main product. This could be anything from an optional mug box for mugs, engraving on jewellery and an uploaded photo for a personalized canvas print. An addition shouldn’t ever be something that you may plan to sell online as its own product.

Additions are displayed on the product page near to the price and add to basket button so the customer can choose to include this addition when they add the product to their basket.

Product additions

When an addition is created the values will always remain the same on each product it is assigned to.  For instance, if you created an addition called Finish and it had the values of Primed and Painted with the Painted option adding £30 onto the product price, every time you added this to a number of products these values would remain the same on each product.

Additions cannot have stock levels assigned to them, so if you need the stock level to be managed for each value then you will need to use Options.


Options are the different choices of a particular product such as colour and size of a t-shirt. These can be used alongside Additions to create a much more complex product to give the customer flexibility of choice.

Product options

When an option is created the values can be unique for every product the option is assigned to. For instance, if you created an option of Size, you could then assign this to one product with the values of small, medium and large, then assign the same option of Size to another product and have the values of 10, 12, 14 and 16.

Options are recommended if you wish to control stock of the different values.


Variants are created by the combinations of the different option values. Where you may have an option of colour, you may then have values of red, green and blue. If you then add another option of size, these may have the values of small, medium and large. The many variants of these are then created, which would be:

  • Red – Small
  • Red – Medium
  • Red – Large
  • Green – Small
  • Green – Medium
  • Green – Large
  • Blue – Small
  • Blue – Medium
  • Blue – Large

Product variants

Each one of these variants can then have its own SKU, barcode, part number, selling, list and cost prices, weight, stock quantity, low stock value and can be set whether it is active, discontinued, has VAT included or is intangible, where it can then have its own file assigned to it. Each variant can also have its own unique image, in addition to the parent image and five alternative images.

Each product can have up to 500 variants assigned to it, which may sound a lot, but when you start to work out how many combinations just a small number of options will create it actually isn't that many. For instance, if you had a product that offered 3 different sizes, 12 different flavours and 14 different colours, this would create 504 variants, which would be too many.

In this case you may want to keep the sizes and colours as options but set the flavours as additions. It will display exactly the same on the product page and it will allow the price, weight and etc to change according to which size and colour is chosen. However, the flavour choice wouldn't affect things like the SKU or stock level.

If you have any questions about attributes, additions, options and variants please leave a comment below.

Philip Emery
Tuesday, 24 February 2015  |  13:22

When I Export using CSV what would happen, if I gave a variant, a product title? and imported it back. The reason I ask is that I hope to develop hard copy shop price list and would be easier to identify the variant if it had a title

Tuesday, 24 February 2015  |  13:27

Hi Philip,

Product titles cannot be added to variants, a unique SKU must be added to the variant instead. This should help you identify your variants in the future.

John Mounks
Tuesday, 22 September 2015  |  15:53

I have created my furniture colour options in the 'Options' category. These colours have now changed and require updating. Can i change the name in the main 'Options' manager so all products concerned change automatically or do i have to go through each product and delete the old colour and add the new colour. This would take a long time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015  |  17:06

Hi John,

You can change the Option name in the Option Manager but this would be changing the word 'Colour' to something else. If you want to change the name of the variants, i.e. blue, red, green, you will need to do this individually per product within the Options tab. You don't need to delete the variant if it is just the name that is changing, you just need to edit the text.

Monday, 28 September 2015  |  14:00

I am trying to implement Attributes to my products and was wondering how I might use it to filter out specific characters that are in various sets.


Set 1 has 3 characters in it - John, Steve, Paul
Set 2 has 2 characters - Paul, Mark
Set 3 has 3 characters - John, Mark, Fred

I want to be able to filter by character, so if I filtered "John", the products shown would be Sets 1 & 3.
It seems if I make a "Characters" attribute, I can only assign it once to a product when I really want to assign it as many times as there are characters in the set.

Is there any way around this, or am I doing it all incorrectly.

Many thanks.

Monday, 28 September 2015  |  14:55

Hi Mike,
If you go to Site > Configuration > Ecommerce Options and scroll right down to the bottom there is an option called 'One value per attribute'. If you untick this and save it will allow you to add the same attribute to a product multiple times.

Monday, 28 September 2015  |  16:19

Works Perfect, Thank you!

Thursday, 7 July 2016  |  17:15

Is it possible to change the order of attributes from either alphabetical or numerical to a custom order? For example, if I am adding attributes for size and the product is available in sizes Small, Medium and Large, the default is alphabetical whereas it would be preferable to have them in order of size, especially for use in the refine block.

Monday, 25 July 2016  |  11:29

Unfortunately not currently. However, it has been mentioned before so it's something we may look at in the future.

Graham Homewood
Monday, 17 October 2016  |  20:10

For products with size and colour options (clothing for example) is there any way to set these up so that when the refine block is used to search by either colour or size, the results will only show variants which have stock ?

Tuesday, 18 October 2016  |  10:15

Unfortunately not. We would recommend, though, that you have the 'Notify me when back in stock' option active on products, so if people do click through to find that particular variant they can request this from you.

Lisa Machin
Friday, 5 January 2018  |  11:13

I have a product that is avaialble in black and in white, and in different sizes. I've set up the variant table as usual. But the black option is only manufactured in the smaller sizes. How do I stop the larger sizes showing when the customer selects black in the drop down menu?

Lisa Machin
Friday, 5 January 2018  |  11:19

I just found how to do it, I selected "in sequence' in the site configuration> product tab

Friday, 5 January 2018  |  11:32

Well done, yes, that indeed allows you to do this.

John Campbell
Monday, 2 July 2018  |  11:54

How to auto assign sku to products

Tim Wildenberg
Thursday, 15 April 2021  |  21:38

Can I upload products using a csv file and have it have variants and options or do I have to manually create the products in the web GUI?

Friday, 16 April 2021  |  9:28

Yes, of course. We would recommend having a read of our article
How to import and export products using a CSV here - About half way down you will see button to view the Import Product Data Formats Guide, which shows you the format each column needs to be in, including Options and Variants.

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