This is the first entry in what will be a series of posts detailing Broadleaf’s new advanced product types. Here we’ll discuss each product type, when you might want to use them, and define important concepts. In future posts, we’ll dive deeper into each type individually and walk through how you can create each within the Broadleaf admin console.


Let’s start by outlining the various types and give a brief overview.


Standard Products

A standard product represents a simple sellable good that doesn't require the customer to select options or variations. A good example of this would be a basketball. It has a unique SKU, and customers don’t usually need to customize a basketball to make a purchase.


Variant-based Products

Variant-based products are different from standard ones in that they represent a good that is defined by a set of options. The valid combination of these options defines the different product variations available to the customer. Each of these variations maps to a unique SKU that is tracked in inventory and can be priced separately.


A common example of a variant-based product is a t-shirt. Shirts can come in various sizes (sm, md, lg) and colors (gray, white, black). Each combination of options would map to a variation—the product only serving as a grouping mechanism for them. This way, a single product detail page can be presented to a customer where they drill down to a specific variation by selecting the different option values.


Within Broadleaf you have the ability to price these kinds of products at the individual variation level or at the actual product level, allowing you to create compelling sales and promotions to fit your business needs.


Bundles

As a product merchandiser, you might choose to group a set of items at a slightly lower price to drive additional sales. A bundle product is composed of items that could be sold individually but are grouped and sold as a single unit. Pricing is defined for the overall bundle and the prices of the individual items are ignored. Similarly, discounts can only target the entire bundle, and discounts targeting individual bundle items are also ignored. When the system determines availability for a bundle, we check each included item to make sure it is available and the entire bundle can be fulfilled.


Selector Products

Selector products simplify a specific use-case we’ve seen from different clients and prospective clients where a customer is given a choice between several product offers. For example, imagine that you have several different product bundles that you want the customer to be able to choose between. Each bundle could be related but offering a slightly different combination of products. The customer can choose one of these bundles to purchase, with the selector product itself providing general details about the information common to each bundle.


This type of product does not have inventory or a price of its own, but instead allows several products to be displayed and made purchasable on a single landing page. Thus, it is purely a wrapper for related products.


Merchandising Products

A merchandising product is ideal when you want to create a configurable bundle of various items. For example, you could create a bundle that allows the customer to choose between 3 and 10 items for $5 each. Or you could create a “Buy a shirt from category X and jeans from category Y” type bundle. These are similar to bundle products with one key difference: You cannot define a top-level price for a merchandising product.


All products that you include in your merchandising product contribute their pricing to the overall price of the product. And, because merchandising products are basically just container products, they don’t specify their own SKU and don’t have any inventory information.


TL;DR

That was a lot of words! Here’s a quick summary of what was discussed above.


Standard Product:

  • A simple sellable good that doesn’t need customization to be purchased
  • Has a single unique SKU
  • Ex: Basketball

Variant-Based Product:

  • Defines a set of variations based on customer-configurable options
  • Has SKU per variation that have their own availability and inventory
  • Ex: T-shirt

Bundle Product:

  • A group of products sold together for a single price
  • Pricing and discounting is controlled at the bundle level with a pricing key
  • Availability and inventory is determined by the included items availability and inventory
  • Ex: Buy an outfit with a specific shirt and specific jeans for $50

Selector Product:

  • A wrapper product to present a choice of items to the customer
  • Not purchasable itself
  • Ex: Choose from several product bundles

Merchandising Product:

  • Useful for creating a dynamic bundle
  • Pricing flows up from the child items
  • Availability and inventory is determined by the included items availability and inventory
  • Ex: Build a complex configurable product like a computer

Where to go from here

This was just a brief overview of the different product types available in Broadleaf. Each type has its own nuances and caveats that we’ll dig deeper into throughout the remainder of this series. Along the way, we’ll discuss related concepts including how you can configure add-ons, the different ways to handle pricing, managing promotions, and more.


Ready to read part 2? Learn about creating a standard product here.