Skip to main content

Items vs. Variations

Items are made up of lots of information, e.g. categories, prices, manufacturers, descriptive texts and images. To help you manage items, this data is divided into three levels:

  • System settings

  • Items

  • Variations

You can think of system settings as information that applies to multiple items. For example, multiple items are sorted into the same category or manufactured by the same company. System settings are saved in plentymarkets one time and then applied to all of the corresponding items and variations.

You can think of items as data containers. They always include one or more variations, i.e. one or more saleable versions of a product. For example, if you sell a t-shirt in small, medium and large, then all of these sizes together form the item. Each individual size is a variation of the item.

In summary, the item structure is composed of three data levels:

Table 1. The plentymarkets item structure
Level Explanation

System settings

Settings that are linked to multiple items or variations


Data containers used for managing variations


Saleable versions of a product

1. System settings

System settings can be thought of as preparatory settings. First they’re configured in the Setup menu and then they’re linked to items or variations.

For example, before you can sort an item into a specific category, the category first needs to exist in plentymarkets. And before you can select an item’s manufacturer, the manufacturer data needs to exist in plentymarkets.

Some of the most important system settings are:

  • Categories, which group your products.

  • Attributes, which simultaneously characterise your products and build variations.

  • Characteristics and properties, which characterise your products without building variations.

  • Sales prices, which define the conditions under which a variation is sold at a specific price.

  • Shipping profiles, which define your shipping services and shipping costs.

  • Manufacturers, which list the names, contact information, IDs and commissions saved for your manufacturers.

  • Units, which define the content of your variations.

2. Items and variations

2.1. What are items made of?

An item is a complete data record that always includes one more more variations. An item is composed of general data that applies to all of the item variations (item data) as well as data that is managed separately for each variation (variation data).

In the item data record, you’ll find the item data displayed in the upper row of tabs and variation data displayed in the lower row of tabs.

upper lower tabs

The difference between item data and variation data can be summarised as follows:

Table 2. Item data and variation data
Type of data Examples of data on this level

Item data
(upper row of tabs)

  • Global settings (condition, manufacturer, age rating, etc.)

  • Texts

  • Characteristics

  • Cross-selling settings

Variation data
(lower row of tabs)

  • Categories

  • Properties

  • Suppliers

  • Stock

  • Images

  • Availabilities

2.2. How are variations created?

You can either form variations by creating different combinations of unit and quantity or by using attributes.

Table 3. Creating variations
Method Explanation

Combination of unit/content

Variations differ from each other in terms of quantity and unit, e.g.:

  • Soap: 100ml, 250ml, 500ml

Combination of attribute values

Variations differ from each other in terms of their attribute values, e.g.:

  • Throw pillow: Colour (red, black, grey) = 1 attribute

  • T-shirt: Colour (green, blue), size (S, M, L, XL) = 2 attributes

  • Shoes: Colour (black, brown), size (5, 6, 7), width (narrow, normal) = 3 attributes

2.3. Can I create items without any variations?

Some items don’t come in different colours or sizes, i.e. they don’t have multiple variations. But an item on its own is not a saleable product. In other words, every item needs to have at least one variation. In plentymarkets, it’s not technically possible to create an item without any variations.

2.4. What’s a main variation?

An item’s first variation is called its main variation. If an item has multiple variations, then the main variation can either be a saleable product or it can be a virtual data record. A virtual main variation is used to manage the other variations of the item with inheritance.

If you’re not happy with the current main variation, you can turn a different variation into the main variation. The current main variation will become a normal sub-variation. Sub-variations have the following button:

main variation

Turning another variation into the main variation:

  1. Go to Item » Edit item.

  2. Search for and open the item.

  3. Click on the Variations tab.

  4. Open the variation you want to turn into the new main variation.

  5. Click on Make main variation () in the lower row of symbols.

  6. Confirm your decision.
    → The variation will become the new main variation.

Inheritance when the main variation is switched

The inheritable values of the new main variation are compared to the values of the other variations of the item. When you switch the main variation, all values are saved and the following inheritance logic is applied:

  • Inheritance is automatically activated for values that are identical to the values of the new main variation.

  • Values that are not identical to those of the new main variation are saved with the variation, i.e. inheritance is not activated.

Open the variations and deactivate inheritance if this behaviour does not meet your needs.

To top