Understanding Products

A product is an item offered for sale. It can be physical or digital. A product could be: 

  • A physical object like a digital camera
  • A subscription to anti-virus software
  • Access to an online forum or website

Products are organized by category within one or more catalogs created for a store. How a product appears in an online store depends on the type of template used and the settings configured in Global Commerce for a product.

There are two types of products:

  • Individual product (non-base products without variations)
  • Multiple product with variations (base products with variations)

Individual Product (Non-Base Products without Variations)

Non-base products do not have different versions or variations sold on a store. Non-base products are called "individual products" in Global Commerce. An example of a singular non-base product is a downloadable song from a recording artist. Non-base products can consist of more than one product sold as a single composite product, such as a boxed set of music or movies. Non-base products do not have variations. You can add non-base products to a cart.

Multiple Product with Variations (Base Products with Variations)

Base products are products that have variations of themselves. Base products are called "multiple products with variations" in Global Commerce. A base product with variations is a product that has one or more ways it can be varied and sold to shoppers on a store. Base products with variations are comprised of a base product and the variations of that base product. Think of the base product as the parent product, and the variations are the unique child products of that parent product. 

Base products are created first, and are the source of origin for all the variations in a multiple product. A variation is a unique child product of its parent base product. Each variation has one or more unique attributes that distinguish it from the base product. All of the variations of a base product inherit the common attributes of the base product. A SKU is an example of a unique attribute for a product. Each variation has its own unique product ID as well. Products can vary on more than one attribute, so a base product could have variations for both size and color.

An example of base products with variations includes computer games. Publishers commonly create base products with variations for popular operating systems. A computer game might have variations for MacOS, Windows XP, and Windows 7/8—each with a separate SKU. Products can also vary on fulfillment options: one variation for online download, and another for a physical CD.

A shopper cannot add base products to a cart; they can only add the variations of that product to a cart. In an online storefront, an interstitial page appears for variations so the shopper can choose a product variation. On a Digital River-Hosted store page, this behavior is automated and controlled by the store template.

Use the GET shoppers/me/products/{id}/variations method to get the variations of a product to add to a cart.

Custom Attributes

Custom attributes are customized product attributes set up by Digital River that are unique to an online store. Common attributes describe a product, such as size, color, platform, and so forth. Common attributes are available to all stores hosted by Digital River. By default, custom attributes are not included in the response in an API call to a resource (Categories, Products, Product Offers). Expanding the customAttributes as a query parameter returns all of the configured custom attributes.