Products: Choices - Variants


Variants are very similar to choices.  In fact, variants depend on choices.  However, there's one primary difference.  Variants can change very specific aspects of the product, including the SKU, price, inventory, and pictures.  This is a key to whether or not you want to use a variant.  If it's not a requirement to change those attributes, then simply use a choice.

Changing the SKU allows you to properly track your sales if you literally have different products as a result of the choice, such as with a t-shirt.  You might want to track how much more you're selling medium shirts, versus the large.  

When you change the price, this accounts for what might be a different base cost for the product.  For example, a XXXL shirt might cost you more to create, so you'll want to pass that cost to the customer.  

The inventory changing is loosely related to the SKU changing.  If you're tracking the product sales separately, chances are you need to also keep track of the inventory levels of each style of t-shirt.  This way, you can know when you need to get more of any specific size, and you'll always know how many you have on-hand.

Changing the image is more useful for some variants than others.  As an exampe, changing the size of a shirt won't make it look any different, but if you change a black shirt to orange, your customer might want to have an idea of what that looks like.


The following prerequisites will be necessary to accomplish the goals of this article:

  • Have access to your Hotcakes store administration
  • Have one or more product choices marked as a variant already

Getting Started

In order for you to create variants for your product, you first need to create at least one choice that's setup as a variant.  Please see the documentation on product choices before proceeding with this article.

Products: Choices - Variants

You'll find variants only after you choose to edit a product.  Once there, choose the "Choices - Variants" menu option in the left panel.

If you haven't yet created any choices, or if you don't have any choices saved as a variant, you'll see the message below.  Regardless, the first time you look at the variants editing view, won't yet see any buttons or choices.  Therefore, you can't yet create a variant.

Once you have some variant choices created, your view will look something like the image below.  You'll have your variant choices displayed with an "Add Variant" button.  You can select any combination of your choices to create a variant.  The new variant will end up listed in a grid below these options.  

If you want to create all of the possible variants all at the same time, the right side of this view allows you to do that.  In one click, your variants will be created and listed below the options.

Once you've created all of the possible variants, both variant buttons will be removed from the view, as shown below, in a grid format.

Column Description
[no name] This first column shows the image that will be displayed when the variant is selected by the customer.  In many cases, this image will be the same throughout the grid, and it will even likely match the main product.  However, this is up to you and your needs.
Variant This column will list the variant selection combination, separated by slashes.  Basically, using the example above, a customer will have chosen a variant of the purple t-shirt if they select the small size and the short length.
Price The price you see here is what the variant begins with, taken from the price you've already set for the product.  You may or may not end up wanting to change this price later.
SKU This SKU will default to the SKU of the main product itself.  However, you may change it as well.  There's no rules to this, except that all SKU's in the solution need to be unique.  In this case, you might want to change the various SKU's in the above example to SAMPLE003-01, SAMPLE003-02, and so on.
[no name] This column contains editing options, beginning with actually editing the individual variants.  If you choose to edit the variant, and editing view will open in a popup window (discussed below).  The second icon allows you to delete the specific variant at any time.

Editing Variants

In order to edit a variant, it must first have been generated, then you click on the edit icon.  Once you do, the popup below will appear.  You'll see the choice combination for variant displayed near the top, as a reminder of which variant you're editing.  Simply click "Save" when you're done to save your changes.

Setting Description
Picture If your variant will end up looking different than the base product, then it's a good idea to specify a more accurate image to represent the product to your customers.  The variant will have a much higher chance of selling.  The browse button works the same as any other standard file browse button.  You'll end up looking for the image on your local computer, using the built-in file browser.
SKU If you need to track this variant in any way, it's probably best that you enter a different SKU here.  Please be aware that there's no rules to SKU's, but they do need to be unique when compared to any other variant or product in the rest of your catalog.
Price The base price of your product will be here initially.  The price here works a bit differently than with choices.  Here, the price will replace the price of your product.  So in the example above, if your product begins at $34.95, it will be replaced with $39.95.  The currency value you enter here needs to match the currency settings for the store.

Too Many Variants

In some cases, you might have so many possible variants, that you end up seeing a new bit of text in the "Generate All Variants" area.  Note that it's letting you know that only 150 variants will be generated.  If you click the button now, the first 150 choice combinations will be generated as variants, and then it will stop generating any others.

This is for performance reasons.  Once a single product have more than 150 possible variant selections, all aspects of the performance of a specific variant begin to degrade.

If your store needs to support more than 150, you can still override this value in the Hotcakes configuration file.  Please DO NOT do this unless you absolutely have to and are willing to deal with the performance issues associated with it.  

WARNING:  This involves code (and direct access to your file system)...

Open the hotcakes.config file in the following path:


Once you open that file, simply change the default number of allowed variants to your preference.  

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