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Configure Variation Groups and Slicing

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the difference between variation display via variation groups and slicing.
  • Describe how variation groups work with base and variation products.
  • Explain how variation groups work with categories.
  • Explain how Salesforce B2C Commerce handles attribute property inheritance for variation groups.
  • Explain how search results appear when slicing is enabled.

Display Together or Separate?

Brandon learned in the previous unit that he can create a base product with multiple variations. So what happens when a shopper searches for a product, say, a sweatshirt? What do they see? Well that depends on how Brandon configures variation groups and slicing. 

Shoppers can see a single item with an image that represents all the variations, or they can see each variation, each with its own image. The image that displays with a product as a result of a search or category navigation is called a swatch. A swatch is typically a small image of a color or a texture from which shoppers can select.
red, green, and blue squares

For example, a sweatshirt comes in red, green, and blue. If the default is red, then the shopper sees a red sweatshirt with red, green and blue swatches that allow them to select a different color sweatshirt. If the merchant sliced the product, shoppers will see images of the red sweatshirt, the blue sweatshirt, and the green sweatshirt instead of the swatches.

Variation Groups or Slicing?

You can configure variations via variation groups or slicing. Variation groups help you control search results more accurately. You can define multiple groups within a base product, each group representing a specific color/size/width combination. With slicing, you can only slice by one variation (color, size, or width).

B2C Commerce disables slicing (defined for variation attributes or overridden in category assignments) when variation groups exist for a base product, but only for that product. You can still use slicing for all other products.

Configure Variation Groups

A variation group is a subset of variations that are part of a base product. Variation groups have attributes such as color, size, width, or length. You can’t use attributes such as sale or new because they don’t provide selections. (New versus old is not helpful!) 

Here are some facts about variation groups.

  • Each variant in a variation group must be an orderable product.
  • While you can assign a variation group to only one base product, you can assign multiple variation groups to that base product; each variation group will have a single product image, but with as many swatches as accurately represent the products in the group.
  • They derive their inventory from the collection of SKUs associated with the group, yet can have their own SKU.
  • They are mutually exclusive from other product types (product set, bundle, base product, standard product) and can be a set or bundled product.
  • You can assign them to any category, just like other product types.
  • You can assign promotions to them; they can have price adjustments through promotions.
  • You cannot assign prices to variation groups in Business Manager. In this way, they are like product sets.

A variation group can include only one value of a variation attribute. For example, it can include color: green or color: red, but not both. It can include multiple variation attributes and their values, such as color: green and size: small.

After Brandon adds the size attribute, here are his sweatshirt variations.

Product ID






























Brandon wants to add these variation groups to his base product.

  • Green healthfit sweatshirts of any size (color: green)
  • Small healthfit sweatshirts of any color (size: small)

He can also add multiple variation groups to a product set and have a single image for the product set that represents both groups.

If the base product ceases to be a base product or is deleted from the system, B2C Commerce deletes related variation groups. Deleting or unassigning a variation group doesn’t affect the base product that it's assigned to or the variation products assigned to it.

Create a Variation Group

You can import variation groups or create them. Here’s how Brandon creates a variation group.

  1. Open Business Manager.
  2. Select site > Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs > Products.
  3. Search for the base product that you want to create a variation group for: healthfit-sweatshirt
  4. Click Lock.
  5. Create variations.
    • Click the Variations tab.
    • Add variation products and configure values for all variation attributes. Select color and size.
      Create variation products in Business Manager.
    • In the Variation Groups section, enter a unique ID for your variation group: healthfit-green and heathfit-small, and click Add.
    • Take note of any warnings that appear before clicking OK to continue.
      Note: You can also click Clone to clone an existing variation group. A clone is a copy.
    • Select a value for at least one variation attribute: green and small.
    • Click Apply.
    • Position the variation group order using the sorting buttons.
      Sort variation groups in Business Manager.
  6. Open each variation group.
    • Click Lock.
    • Click the Categories tab.
    • Click Edit Categories and assign the variation group to the categories in which you want it to appear.
    • Click Apply.
  7. Rebuild the product index.

Variation Groups and Categories

A variation group can be assigned to any category, just like other products.

  • A variation group can be assigned to a category by import.
  • A variation group can be assigned to and from a category in the Business Manager bulk editor or product editor.
  • A variation group can be sorted or use a category position within a category.
  • Multiple variation groups of the same base product (colors: red and green) can be assigned to the same category.
  • A base product and some or all its variation groups can be assigned to the same category.

Variation Groups and Property Inheritance

B2C Commerce uses attribute value fallback to include variation groups in search results processing. B2C Commerce first checks that an attribute value is set for the variation product, then the variation group product, and finally the base product.

B2C Commerce uses the sort order of variation groups on the Business Manager Variations tab for attribute inheritance lookup. If a variation product (in a group) doesn't have a value for an attribute, Business Manager retrieves the value from other variation groups of the same base product (sorted by position). If, for example, a variation product doesn’t have a color value set, B2C Commerce checks the other variation groups first and then the base product.

Configure Slicing

Slicing lets you define how variation products display in search results or on category pages: as separate products, each with its own swatch, or as one product with swatches for each of the variations. You can slice on any variation attribute, but you can only slice by one variation attribute at a time.

To show results for every color of HealthFit sweatshirts, for example, set the color attribute to sliced. Otherwise, one item appears in the search results. The shopper can see the other colors by hovering.

Brandon wants to try out a few scenarios: individual items for each variation and a mixed scenario. Here’s how he configures them.

Individual Item for Each Variation (Slicing)

  1. Select Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs > Variation Attributes.
  2. Select the catalog: cloud-kicks-usa
  3. Open the color attribute: color / color
  4. Select Slicing Attribute.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Rebuild the product index.

When a shopper searches for “healthfit sweatshirt” or navigates via an assigned category, they see all the variations as slices, each with its own swatch.

Single Item for Search and One Category, Sliced Variations for Another Category

  1. Select Merchant Tools > Products and Catalogs > Products.
  2. Find and open the base product: healthfit-sweatshirt
  3. Click the Categories tab.
    • Click Edit Categories.
    • Select the Sales category.
    • Click Previous.
    • For the Sportswear/Kids category, click Details.
  4. Click the Variation Values tab.
    • For the color variation attribute, deselect Use Default.
    • For the Slicing Attribute list, select Yes.
      Configure slicing in Business Manager.
    • Click Apply.
  5. Rebuild the product index.

When the shopper searches for “healthfit sweatshirt” or navigates to the Sales category, they see one result, with the base product’s swatch. When they navigate to the Sportswear/Kids category, they see all the variations as slices, each with its own swatch.

Next Steps

In this unit, you learned about products and attributes. Next, learn how to configure product sets, bundles, and options.



Where possible, we changed noninclusive terms to align with our company value of Equality. We maintained certain terms to avoid any effect on customer implementations.

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