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How Custom Options Differ from Configurable Product Options

Use custom options if:

  • You have a small catalog and are looking for a quick way to create customizable products.
  • You don’t need to manage inventory.
  • You have a small catalog and want an easy way to offer product variations.
  • The options are applied after the product is ordered, such as custom embroidery on a tee shirt.

Use a configurable product options if:

  • You manage a large catalog of products with many variations.
  • You want to manage inventory separately for each variation.
  • You want each variation to have its own product page.


Case 1: Embroidered Items

Elm Sportswear sells athletic clothing to individuals and sports teams. One of the most popular items John sells is hooded sweatshirts with the name and jersey number of embroidered on the back.

Because it’s impossible to predict what his next customer’s name will be, the embroideries are completed after the order is placed. He will certainly want to manage his hooded sweatshirt inventory, but beyond that he just needs a way to offer the fields to input their customizations.

In this case, John would be better offer creating a simple product with custom options that includes a text field for the customer to input their name.

Advanced: What if John sells hooded sweatshirts in four colors and wants to manage their inventories separately? In this case, he could create a configurable product with custom options for the embroidered name input. Then he could proceed with creating simple products for each color variation in order to manage their inventories separately.

Case 2: Inventory Management

Super Tee Store sells novelty t-shirts with different designs and prints. Super Tee Store sells over one hundred different t-shirts in various colors and sizes.

James runs the business by himself and needs an efficient inventory management system that relieves him of a lot of guesswork and manual inventory tracking. Every t-shirt design he offers comes in small, medium, large, and extra large, and is available in four colors.

In this case, James should use configurable products to manage his t-shirts. He would be able to consolidate each t-shirt design into one product in the catalog, while still retaining the ability to manage the inventory of each color and size combination. What’s more, customers would be able to find products faster, as there wouldn’t be a small, medium, large, and extra large version of the product listed in his catalog.

See also:

Creating Custom Options

Exporting Custom Options