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Product Variant Management for Scaling Fashion Brands

At a Glance:

What are Product Variants

Why Product Variants Are Useful to a DTC Fashion Brand

How Product Variants Help Brands Scale


What are Product Variants

When you shop online, you may notice that the same product is available in various sizes, colors, materials and price points. These purchasing options are called product variants. Product variants allow businesses to determine how many variations of an individual product are available. For example, if a product such as a shirt is available in five different sizes and four different colors, then there are a total of 20 variations of the same product. These 20 products have their own inventory and sales records which are managed using product variants. These variants also allow a brand to sell similar products throughout the year by simply changing the colors or fabrics to be more appropriate for the season they are sold in.

Product Variants are also used to manage inventory and set availability. This is especially important for Digitally Native brands selling online as they must enter in their inventory for each product variant in order to sell the stock they have. Once a variant sells out, the brand can choose to replenish that variant to begin selling it again.

Product Variants also play an important role in retail as different product variations may be better suited for different retail channels and retail locations. For example, a heavy knit sweater will sell better during the winters in Maine vs Florida. Having product variants established early will allow brands to allocate their products more efficiently and accurately.

Product Variants also create a way to improve the customer experience, by making it easier for customers to search for and compare products that vary slightly from one another. Not only do Product Variants improve the customer experience, if done correctly, they can increase sales, as well. Product variations help items get greater visibility and allow customers to quickly find what they are looking for.


Why Product Variants Are Useful to a DTC Fashion Brand

Product Variants are not only important for allocation purposes but also provide useful information for other cross-functional teams such as Marketing, Merchandising, Logistics, and more. These teams need to track information such as launch dates, costs, order quantity, approval statuses, codes and more. The more accessible this data is, the easier and more efficient teams can work together. Each of these teams is vital in making sure the right product is ready in the market, at the right time.

One way to effectively manage Product Variant data is with a fashion PLM such as Backbone. Backbone manages Product Variant level data at the color variant level to allow teams to access the information they need to get their job done.

Backbone easily displays color variant level data within the Item Views and Product Summaries. Teams can manage their own set of custom fields as well that will dynamically update in real-time across the interconnected set of libraries. This support gives scaling brands an edge over their competitors as they are able to streamline their work, reduce duplicative data entry, and avoid costly errors that come from trying to manage this work in siloed spreadsheets. This variant data within a PLM like Backbone is also easily exported out to other systems that rely on this data such as ERP software, eCommerce stores, wholesale & marketing software and more.

How Product Variants Help Brands Scale

Product Variants are ultimately what a brand has to offer or sell. When this data is mismanaged from the start it can be hard for brands to scale and grow. Not only will it make it difficult to keep up the right product offerings in an eCommerce setting it will create holes in cross-functional collaboration.

Teams rely on this information to get their jobs done and when they can’t access this data it slows everyone down. In order to scale, brands typically start to increase their product offerings which include their product variants. If this process is not zipped up from the start, brands typically struggle to release new products. 

As the need for omnichannel distribution increases to reach new growth levels, brands must be ready to fulfill inventory needs in many capacities from eCommerce to wholesale. Brands will ultimately reach a tipping point where they must start to open up new channels to sell their products into. Once these channels are decided on, product variants are allocated for each of the different channels. A brand that has been managing this data efficiently from the start will fare better than the rest. 

In conclusion, managing Product Variants within Backbone is a great way to future-proof your brand to be prepared for major growth. This organization not only benefits internal teams but your customers as well as they search for products both online and in retail locations.

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