Creating product listings are usually pretty straight-forward. One product, one listing. But what happens when you have items that are all related but only vary by attributes such as color or size? If you create a separate listing for each of these product variations, it becomes difficult for a person to shop all of your product options as they would have to click through multiple listings to see all of the options available.

That’s where setting up variations comes into play. This allows a shopper to browse all products related to each other under one listing. For example, they can view the different colors that a skirt comes in from a single listing instead of having to click out and go to a different listing to see another color. It improves the user experience.

Amazon provides some basic definitions that all sellers looking to set up variations should be familiar with:

  • Parent Product: The product displayed in the search results. The parent product is a non-buyable product used to relate child products.  The Amazon catalog uses the parent product to establish relationships between the child products. For example, if 2 shirts have the same parent then they are related and are considered child products
  • Child Products: The products that are related to each parent product. The child product is an instance of the parent product. You can have many child products that are all related to one parent product. Each child varies in some way, for example, by size or by color
  • Variation theme: The relationship between the parent and the child. The variation theme defines how related products differ from each other. For example, in the Clothing, Accessories & Luggage category, child products can differ from each other by size or color.

Let’s break it down a step further with an example.

Say you are selling a winter coat that comes in black, brown, white or navy. It also comes in size small, medium, large and extra large. The parent product would be a non-purchasable SKU and is used to relate all color and size variations. For this example, we will give the parent a SKU of WC104. Each variation of the parent product would have their own SKU. The medium black coat may have a SKU of WC104MBLK, while the small white coat may have a SKU of WC104WT. Even though each of the child SKUs will vary, all of the SKUs will still have the same parent SKU of WC104.

Click here to learn how to set up variations.

Not all categories support variations. For those that do, you need to check on Amazon for a list of supported variation themes by downloading the appropriate inventory file template and referencing the Valid Values tab.

The Clothing & Accessories category, for example, supports variation themes of size, color or size-color. If your product varies by something else like pattern or material and does not vary by color or size, you should not set it up as a variation.

If you are still having trouble determining if your product is a variation, check out Amazon’s help article regarding variations.

To give you an idea of what a listing with variations looks like, we’ve added some screenshots from Amazon. 


As you can see, this jacket varies by both size and color.


The ring varies by gem type and ring size.

Final Thoughts

If you’re selling a product that fits Amazon’s idea of a variation, it’s worth it to take the time to set up the listing using parent-child relationships. It will help create a more user-friendly experience as well as allow shoppers to easily browse between your different product options.

If you are having trouble setting up variations for Amazon, talk to one of our feed experts here at GoDataFeed to assist with the process.

Meet the Author

Nicole Santoro is an ecommerce specialist who works with hundreds of Amazon sellers and Google merchants across various industries to optimize and update their product listings and data feed campaigns. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, soaking up the rays in sunny South Florida and reading thrillers while curled up with her dog, Hamlet.