Importing Item Variants

Variant is the general term for describing variations on a particular product. The most common variants in the real world are probably size and color. Handshake provides an extremely flexible system for describing multiple variants of multiple dimensions on any given product, but you'll need to understand a few things to get this part right.

Every row in the variants table has five fixed columns on the left. We'll use the Cupcake from the Demo company as an example here to help illustrate each point.

  • master sku is the SKU of the item we are defining a variant for. In the case of the cupcake variants, they all list FOOD.CC as the master sku.
  • (optional) variant sku is the SKU of this specific variant. If you don't actually have individual SKUs for all the possible variants of your products, you can leave this blank and Handshake will auto-generate them for you.
  • (optional) barcode is the UPC of this specific variant. If you don't need barcode scanning, have a "barcode" column with empty cells below. There is more info about importing barcodes over here.
  • (optional) name is how this variant will show up in the shopping cart on your iPhone. If you don't have specific names for each combination, you can leave this blank and Handshake will just use the dimensions as the name, e.g. (Sprinkles, Vanilla) or (Plain, Chocolate).
  • (optional) unitPrice allows you to override the unit price of the item for a specific variant if you wish. For example, larger sizes of a shirt might be more expensive than smaller ones. You can either put the actual price in here, or you can put an expression like "+2" or "-5" in and Handshake will adjust the variant price from the base price of the Item. Note that to type +2 in Excel you need the leading apostrophe (e.g '+2) in order to stop Excel stripping the plus symbol off. For example, the Chocolate cupcakes have a unitPrice of +0.50 because Chocolate icing costs 50c extra (but is obviously worth it!).

Setting up dimensions

After these columns, you define the actual dimensions of the variant. This is done by setting up columns with the name of the variant (e.g. Size, Color, or in the case of the cupcake, Sprinkles and Icing), and then putting the value for that variant on each row.

  • You can leave some (but not all) dimensions blank. If you have some products for which a particular dimension is irrelevant, just leave it blank. For example, if your products are mostly broken down by size & color, but some of your products are only broken down by size, then it's fine to leave the color cells blank for those variants.
  • The order of the dimension columns matters. It determines the order in which they will appear in the iPhone app. For example, if you have shirts with Size and Color variants, and buyers normally choose the Color first, then you want to make sure that the Color column is to the left of the Size column.
  • The order in which the different values for a dimension appear also matters. You will notice that in the Cupcake spreadsheet, Sprinkles appears before Plain, and that they appear in this order in the iPhone app. Similarly, Vanilla appears before Chocolate which appears before Lemon, and this order is preserved in the iPhone app too. This is really important to get right with things like sizes (e.g. XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL) to make sure that the options appear in the order you want.

Whoa, this looks time consuming

If you have a catalog that has a lot of variants in it, you're probably starting to worry about the number of rows you're going to have to generate for this troublesome variants spreadsheet. We don't blame you! For example, let's say your catalog has a Shirts category (inside another category called Apparel), and there are three main types. Each shirt comes in six sizes, and four colors. Right away, you're looking at 3 x 6 x 4 = 72 rows of variants you have to type … what a chore!

That's why we built some awesome shortcuts to speed things up for you ...

Variant spreadsheet shortcuts

  • Deal with multiple items at once: If all the products in a given category have the same variants, instead of having rows for every item, you can just do them all at once with the following syntax for the master sku column: /category_1/category_2/* .. for example, to do all the shirts in one go, you could put /Apparel/Shirts/* as the master sku. Remember to start with a slash (/) if you're doing this!

If you are using multiple manufacturers, then you must start with the manufacturer's name (not niceName), e.g.

  • Deal with multiple dimensions at once: Instead of specifying each dimension on its own row, you can list them in a single row like this: [XS,S,M,L,XL,XXL] or [BLUE,WHITE,GRAY,BLACK] (i.e. surrounded by square brackets, separated by commas, no spaces). Handshake will automatically figure out all the combinations for you. Note that if a particular combination is not available (e.g. let's say BLACK shirts are not available in XS) then this shortcut won't work for you, and you'll need to list out a separate row for the BLACK shirts to avoid accidentally including the invalid XS variant.

The screenshot below shows an example of declaring all the sizes and colors of three different shirts on just three rows, using the "multiple dimensions at once" shortcut above:

However, if these three shirts are all in the same category (/Apparel/Shirts), you can actually combine both of the above shortcuts, and by doing so can reduce the 72 rows you would otherwise have to type manually down to a single row. Phew!

Caveats to the shortcuts

  • When you use either of the above shortcuts, the importer will ignore whatever value you have in the variant sku column and will automatically number all your variants using the base item SKU with an increasing numeric suffix, e.g. SHIRT.POLO.001, SHIRT.POLO.002, SHIRT.POLO.003 etc. If you need control over the specific SKUs that are assigned your individual variants, you cannot use the shortcuts.
  • Unfortunately, the exporters are not smart enough right now to export your variants in the shortcut format, so even if you use the shortcuts when uploading, all the rows will export individually. So, in the above example, the exporters would export the 72 rows rather than the single row. For this reason, make sure you hang onto your original variant spreadsheets in case you need to make further changes and re-upload!
Next: Importing Barcodes

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