When creating products, it is possible to assign “attributes” and “attribute terms” to the product. This can be done for both Simple as well as Variable products. A common attribute is Color, and the attribute terms are specific colors (eg. Blue, Green, etc.). If I sell a simple rosary, I can add the Color attribute and assign attribute terms (ie. various colors) for the beads in my rosary. This is beneficial for customers who might wish to filter their search to look for rosaries that have beads of a particular color.
In some cases, you might choose to use the Material attribute, in which case the terms would be specific materials, such as wood, brass, resin, or something else. And it might be that your product is made of only one material, but adding the attribute and term is still useful for customers filtering through results. Setting one or more attributes isn’t necessary, but is helpful for customers.
For Variable products, the attributes and terms are essential. Consider the case of selling a t-shirt. My shirt comes in two different cuts/styles: Men’s and Women’s. [ “Style” is the attribute, and “Men’s” and “Women’s” are terms. ] And it comes in a variety of Sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. Each combination of a Style + Size is it’s own variation. My customers need to pick which style they want and which size they want. So, when I add these attributes and terms during product creation in my dashboard, I’m going to check the checkbox labeled “Used for variations”.
Now that I have my attributes chosen, I can create my variations. In virtually all cases, how many variations I need is determined by two factors: 1) Do I need to track stock for each variation? 2) Do I need to price each and every variation differently? If the answer to either question is “Yes”, then you’ll create as many variations as there are attribute combinations. This is how:
If, however, I’ve answered both questions in the negative, then I can get away with just a few variations. Suppose I’m selling holy cards, and customers can pick from a list of saints that I already have designed. These cards are \$4. But customers may choose to have me create a new design, an option that would cost them \$25. Finally, I offer lamination for \$1 extra. These holy cards are all produced to order, so stock isn’t a concern. This means that I have atleast 4 distinct variations because I have 4 distinct prices: \$4, \$5, \$25, & \$26. Here’s the easiest way to create this Variable product with just 4 variations: