At WooCommerce, we have hundreds of plugins that site users use effectively every day. However, because no two sites are really the same, a lot of the plugins appear to overlap in use a little bit, resulting in the infamous, terrible question – “Which plugin is right for me?”
Today, let’s go over three similar WooCommerce Extensions, their uses, their differences, and most importantly which plugin best compliments your site.
Table of Contents
- WooCommerce Product Bundles
- WooCommerce Composite Products
- WooCommerce Mix ‘n Match Products*
- Closing Notes
To prove that they can be very similar, we’ll use the same example for each of the plugins. In our fictional scenario, you own your own winery and want to sell online – so far, so good, but you want users to purchase more in a single order to help avoid splitting up cases or destroying you on shipping. You’ve only been in business for a few years – you have three different specialty wines, one for each year available.
Now, let’s meet the plugins and get started on our BATTLE ROYALE!
WooCommerce Product Bundles is a very neat little plugin with a very straightforward result – it allows you to create pre-determined product bundles for your users.
With Product Bundles, your user doesn’t have the capability to change what’s in the bundle. Using our sample scenario above, we’ve got two main ways to use Bundles.
Forcing a Set Quantity (i.e. a whole case)
When you initially planned sales earlier in the year, you intended to sell strictly to distributors (before finding out you could sell to consumers). However, all of your accounting systems are built around the idea that one “unit” is a six bottle pack instead of a single bottle. You still want to track the individual bottles in your storehouse, but want users to purchase in groups of six.
Simply create a Bundled Product that includes six of the same vintage. You can even do a few neat little tricks here – maybe if a user buys a case, they get $10 off, a 5% discount on their order, or a new shipping tier. All of that is built in and ready to go – it’s that easy.
Encourage cross-selling with Sampler packs
Your 2014 vintage was a smash hit – practically flying out of the warehouse. However, you know that if your users liked the 2014 vintage, they’ll enjoy 2013’s version… but aside from making mini-sampler bottles, how can you convince them?
Easy – make a sampler pack. Determine how many of each type of item you want in the Bundle – maybe two bottles of 2014, two of 2013, and two of 2012. For incentive, you can again mark down prices a little steeper this time – a 15% discount is sure to bring the more adventurous customers out, and they may just adore 2013, resulting in extra sales to that product.
Update: July 29, 2015
The developer (see “Updates” below for a link to his Twitter) brought up a recent change in Bundles – Bundles are nowadays suitable for more than just static packages, since they support variable bundled-item quantities and the ability to mark specific items as “optional”.
I included Composite Products second because it’s good to understand the Bundle concept first – a Composite Product is a souped-up Product Bundle.
Build Your Bundle
Instead of forcing users to buy a case or sampler, you just want them to get six bottles – it doesn’t matter what kind, so long as it’s six to fit in one of the crates lying around.
Composite Products allows users to build their own bundle from products you determine – you can set a minimum on a specific item, or leave it totally free.
To expand the idea a little bit more, let’s say your store also sells wine accessories. A Composite Product could be used to make a starter kit:
- A user selects one corkscrew from the three you have available
- A user selects a bottle of wine out of your listings
- A user tops it off with an optional aerator, choosing which color and material from your catalog.
Outside of the Wine Example
Composite Products can be one of the most flexible and powerful plugins for a WooCommerce shop. Sell computer parts? Allow your user to build their very own computer. Want your user to build their own skateboard? Composite Products can handle it. Absolutely, 100% worth the money.
Update: July 29, 2015
One thing I forgot to mention that’s very important is that Composite Products 3.0 opened the door for a whole new suite of possibilities not even touched upon in this article – of course the bundles above, but also step-by-step, filterable results with pagination and flexibility you won’t believe. Since it’s a new release and a major overhaul, stay tuned to the Composite Product Documentation page as more features are explained.
WooCommerce Mix ‘n Match Products is the newcomer to the competition, but offers a whole new suite of abilities – it allows for a much slicker interface for picking out of a product lineup.
With Mix ‘n Match, we get similar abilities to Composite Products. You establish a fixed container of items (keeping with our examples, let’s say we want the container to hold six items) and then set to pull from a specific line of products or from your whole catalog – meaning you’ve created a scenario where the user can get any number of corkscrews, aerators, or bottles of wine… However they choose, so long as it’s the required amount of six.
The difference is that it isn’t quite as powerful as Composite Products, in a way (though not to say one is superior – simply different). A Composite Product allows you to create picks for each slot – using the computer example, a customer can only order one Motherboard, one Video Card, etc. This can be very time consuming to set up, which is the weak point for Composite Products and where Mix ‘n Match shines. In general it’s much less restrictive – as long as it’s within the order parameters, it’s possible.
Discounts work similarly to the other plugins, where you can either set a flat rate for your container (i.e. “six bottles for $100!”), or you can have the price be calculated per item.
Update: July 28, 2015
Thanks to some clarification from the developer via Twitter, the Mix ‘n Match section is much more accurate. Be sure to head to the bottom of the page and follow her on Twitter!
Hopefully this added some clarity for you – all of the products are very capable in their own right, but approach the solution to the issue very differently. Regardless of your choice, ALL of these plugins can be used to give discounts and create a better user experience (thus driving additional sales), and if you’re creative enough you an often get one to work similarly to the other. However, armed with the information above you at least have a better starting point, saving you time, money, and a boatload of frustration.
- July 28, 2015 – Thanks to the always-awesome developer of Mix ‘n Match for clarifying functionality on Twitter – definitely worth a follow @Kathy_Darling. 🙂
- July 29, 2015 – Our other awesome featured developer from SomewhereWarm added some awesome information on Product Bundles and Composite Products – expect to see more articles about those plugins coming down the road! Thanks again Manos, and everyone should give him a follow @franticpsyx.
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