It’s still a question that I get asked a lot around the workplace, and even though I’ve been using grouped and bundle products for a while, it can be difficult to explain the differences between them. It’s like explaining the difference in taste between an apple and a pear – you know there’s a difference but you won’t know about it until you try it.
A grouped product is essentially a selection of simple products displayed equally on the product page, each with quantity boxes so the user can decide how many of each they want before they add to cart.The products displayed are normally of a similar nature (e.g. a plate and a saucer)
- Tablewewar Set – Imagine a product called ‘tablewear set’, and you can decide how many plates, dishes, cups and saucers you want to buy as part of the set.
- Box of Pens – Similar to the tablewear set, another example of a grouped product may be for purchasing pens for a company. A grouped product is great for when you need to buy in bulk. The product may be Biro pens, and you can decide how many of your biro pens are red, blue, green and black.
- Set of Knives – This is an example used on Magento’s own website and nicely demonstrates a grouped product in all its glory. You can purchase a set of Chef’s knives and you can decide how many of each size you want in the set.
A bundle product should viewed as a product you get to customise to your requirements. You choose what goes with it and how high/low spec you want it to be. This gives customers the freedom to pretty much ‘build’ their ideal product. The products displayed are normally not very similar (e.g. a hard drive and a mouse mat).
- Tennis Racket – The name and make of the tennis racket is the bundle product, but you have to build your racket as a bundle. So you choose the grip size, followed by the strings you want. A nice custom option box could be thrown in to determine the tension of the strings. You can also throw in a racket bag and extra grips if you wish.
- Build your Computer – This is the most famous bundle product on Magento’s Demo Store. When you build your computer you can customise everything including what size processor you want, which monitor you want, the inclusion of extra graphics card etc, until you have
- Xbox Bundle – If you ever decide to buy a videogame console from a high street shop, you’ll be lucky if they allow you to escape with just the console itself. Normally some time of bundle offer is compulsory. This would lend itself very nicely to a Magento bundle product. First you choose which console you want (color / spec), you can then add things like extra controllers, Xbox Live Subscriptions, DVD remotes and even the option to attach a few games to the bundle. It’s a clever way of businesses increasing their markup on sales, because the consoles themselves don’t actually return much profit – it’s the bundle!
Unlike a grouped product, you don’t decide how many of each product you want, you’re adding things on to the main product you’re selling.
What do they have in common?
I’ve explained the differences between grouped and bundle products, but they both do have quite a lot in common too:
- You have to make the simple products first – Remember, you can’t have a bundle or grouped product without first having the simple products. Upload them all via Magento dataflow first to save you some time.
- No Inventory – the actual bundle and grouped products themselves have no inventory and are simply just set to in or out of stock. Therefore if you’re doing a bundle product for say an Xbox, a choice of console will have to actually be in there too. That way the actual console stock can decrease too.
- They can’t be created via spreadsheet – As I said before, create all the bundle and grouped items via the spreadsheet but you won’t be able to create the bundle or grouped product via the standard Magento spreadsheet. Unfortunately, they’re not exactly quick to make either.
Love them or hate them, bundle and grouped products are both superb uses of Magento’s functionality and they create products which simply wouldn’t be possible in other ecommerce platforms, so use them and understand them. They’re also fantastic marketing tools because you go from selling one product to selling loads of products in one go.
We hope this little guide has helped encourage developers to explore these types of products in more detail.