In Magento there are several types of products and you will want to select the correct product type before setting up your catalog. A Magento configurable product is a product with multiple associated products, each with their own properties, which show up on the front-end of a Magento site as options a customer can select such as size and color.
The most significant benefit of using a Magento configurable product is it allows you to track inventory on each of it's separate associated products, for example, if you have a shirt in three sizes and three colors you can create a configurable product with six associated products, three for each size and three for each color. This type of setup allows you to set different stock quantities for each separate option so if I run out of small black shirts Magento will not display those options in the front-end until I update the quantity on those products and place them back in stock.
Creating Magento Configurable Products
- In your Magento admin under Catalog click Manage Products
- Click the Add Product button
- Select an Attribute Set and Configurable Product from the Product Type drop-down and click Continue
(Note: You must have at least one attribute with scope "Global", input type "Dropdown" and "Use to Create Configurable Product" set to "Yes")
- Select the attributes you want to use with your configurable product. You'll want to check at least one of these or it would defeat the purpose of creating a Configurable Product.
- The next screen should be familiar. It is the same screen used to create and edit Magento products. The only difference here is that in the left menu at the bottom you have an Associated Products link which you can use to associate your simple products when you create them next.
- To create our simple products we need to use the "Create Empty" button under "Create Simple Associated Product".
- This will popup a window allowing us to create a new simple product. This product will be one of the combinations on the configurable product (ie... Red-Large or White-Medium etc...). For this example since we are doing Color (Red, White and Blue) and Size (Small, Medium and Large) you would have 9 possible combinations.
- Adding these simple products to the configurable product this way will also populate your Super Product Attributes which you can also configure separate prices for. These prices are in addition to the configurable product base price so if the configurable product cost was $20 and a Large White product cost $25 then you would put $5 for the price difference.
And that will complete the setup of your configurable product. Now you can edit each simple product separately in the admin under Manage Products, again, the biggest bonus here being that you can track inventory separately for Large White products and Small Red ones.