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Magento Simple Products vs Configurable Products

Vinh Jacker | 06-03-2024

Magento Simple Products vs Configurable Products

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You might wonder why it’s important to understand the difference between Magento 2 simple and configurable products.

To answer this question in the easiest way, simple products are items with a single SKU and configurable products are items with variations and each variation has a unique SKU.

Most online stores sell products with various options rather than just simple, single-option items. For online businesses, offering customizable options is essential.

Unlike in physical stores, online customers can easily switch between different stores and compare product quality, options, and prices. This is a common behavior in modern shopping.

If your store doesn’t provide the best quality and satisfaction, customers will leave.

However, many shop owners (perhaps including you) still confuse Magento 2 simple products with custom options and Magento configurable products.

We’ve summarized all the key information in this article to help you understand and use these Magento 2 features effectively. We’ve made it clear and concise for your benefit, and we hope you find it helpful.

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What are Simple Products & Configurable Products?

Simple Products with Custom Options

Simple products with custom options

Simple Products with Custom Options are physical items with a single SKU that can include customization choices, often referred to as composite products. These options allow variations to be sold under one SKU.

For instance, if you sell t-shirts, you might offer embroidery as an additional customization option. However, customers don’t have to choose the embroidery to make a purchase; they can just buy the basic t-shirt without any additions.

Simple products can be sold alone or as part of a grouped, bundled, or configurable product. Each simple product has its own unique URL, SKU, and inventory.

Configurable Products

Configurable products

Configurable Products with Associated Simple Items in Magento are single products that offer various options. Each option is treated as an individual product with its own unique SKU. Unlike Simple products, Configurable products in Magento 2 require customers to select one or more options before making a purchase.

Configurable products (the parent products) are essentially bundles of simple products (the child products) displayed on one page. These child items can also be sold separately. For example, electronics stores often offer products with different storage capacities and colors.

For instance, if you sell smartphones with three storage options and three color choices, you create all possible combinations of storage and color and link them to the configurable product.

This results in specific Magento product variations like:


When setting up a configurable product, you can manage these associations in the Associated Products tab in your Magento store.

In short, configurable products function like simple products with a drop-down list of options for each variation, where each variation is an individual simple product with its own unique SKU.

Differences Between Custom Options and Configurable Products

1. Inventory Management

Configurable products let you manage the stock of each variant separately. Each variant has its own SKU and is treated as an individual product. This means that when a variant is purchased, its stock decreases, and it becomes unavailable once sold out. You can also set limits on how many of each variant a customer can buy.

On the other hand, custom options don’t track inventory. Although you can assign SKUs to custom option variants, these are just extensions of the main product’s SKU. Essentially, custom options don’t manage stock levels.

2. Ability to Sell Each Child Product Separately

Configurable products let you sell each variant on its own. For example, customers can choose and pay for a specific variant like “T-shirt Blue-M.”

With Magento custom product options for a simple product, customers can’t choose individual variants without buying the base product. The price includes both the base product’s cost and the additional cost of the selected option.

3. Price Rules

Discounts applied to a configurable product are distributed across all its variants.

Custom options for a simple product are not treated as individual products. When you apply discounts using Catalog Price Rules, these discounts only affect the base product price, leaving the prices of custom options unchanged.

4. SEO Orientation

Magento 2 configurable products display all variants as separate simple products on the same page. You can set the ‘Visibility field’ so that these simple products have unique URLs and meta descriptions, making them discoverable on search engines through relevant keywords.

SEO orientation

In contrast, custom options within simple products do not have individual URLs and can only be accessed from the base product page.

5. Accessibility

Variations of a configurable product are recognized as individual products with their own placements on the website. They are displayed in layered navigation and category pages, making it possible for customers to filter and search for them.

On the other hand, custom options within simple products lack this feature. These options can only be accessed through the main product’s page.

Differences Summary

Difference Configurable product with associated products Custom options for simple products
Inventory management Allows separate management of inventory for each variant, treating them as individual simple products. It’s not possible to manage the inventory of custom option variants.
Ability to sell each variant separately Allows the sale of each variant separately Does not allow the sale of individual variants; customers must purchase the base product.
Price rules Each variant has its own price Base price of simple product + Additional cost of custom options
SEO orientation Supports SEO optimization by generating unique URLs and meta descriptions for every variant. Doesn’t support SEO optimization since custom options lack individual URLs.
Ease of use Involves additional complexity and detailed data entry during the creation of a Configurable product. It is simple to create such products.
Level of control Provides flexibility and control over all variations, including pricing, SKU, and more. Does not offer control over variations when dealing with multiple custom options, such as color and size.

When to Use Simple Products vs Configurable Products for Your Magento E-commerce?

Configurable Products

Configurable products in Magento are ideal when you aim to offer customers a broad array of options and customization. They’re particularly beneficial for products with multiple attributes like size, color, or material.

For example, if you’re selling clothing items such as t-shirts in various sizes and colors, configurable products allow customers to choose their preferred combination right on the product page. Additionally, configurable products enhance inventory management by monitoring stock levels for each variation separately, helping to prevent overselling or inventory shortages.

Simple Products

Simple products in Magento ecommerce are perfect for selling individual physical items that don’t need customization or different versions. They’re easy to set up and handle, making them great for businesses with a limited product range. They make inventory management simpler since there’s only one SKU to track. They’re ideal for merchants who want to sell specific products without providing many choices or variations.


1. Can I group products with different variations under a single SKU?

Magento’s configurable products feature allows you to create various product variations, each with its SKU. This functionality lets you group products with different options, such as size or color, under one product page, simplifying the purchasing process for customers.

2. How can I create downloadable products as a merchant?

Merchants can easily create downloadable or virtual products in Magento. By utilizing the platform’s functionalities, you can set up online services or digital products, like ebooks or software, for purchase and download by customers.

3. Are customizations available for online services or downloadable products?

With Magento’s customizable products feature, merchants can offer various options and configurations for online services or downloadable items. Customers can select different configurations through drop-down menus or other selection methods.

4. Is there a limit to the number of variants I can create in a configurable product?

No, there’s no preset limit on the number of variants you can create within a configurable product in Magento. This flexibility allows merchants to offer unlimited variations in their online store, catering to diverse customer preferences.

5. How does Magento handle inventory for different variants in a configurable product?

When a customer selects and purchases a variant, the system automatically manages the inventory for that specific variant. This ensures that the available stock for each variant is accurately reflected online, preventing overselling or shortages.


Distinguishing between Magento Simple products and Configurable products is crucial for tailoring product offerings efficiently. Simple products offer customization options within a single SKU, whereas configurable products provide variations with unique SKUs.

Choosing the appropriate method for your business depends on your target market. Magento 2 simple products with custom options are perfect when you aim to offer customization services to customers. For example, selling a T-shirt where customers can print any text on it.

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    With over a decade of experience crafting innovative tech solutions for ecommerce businesses built on Magento, Jacker is the mastermind behind our secure and well-functioned extensions. With his expertise in building user-friendly interfaces and robust back-end systems, Mageplaza was able to deliver exceptional Magento solutions and services for over 122K+ customers around the world.

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