Store Owner’s Guide – Basic Concepts

Installation ↑ Back to top

  1. Download the .zip file from your WooCommerce account.
  2. Go to WordPress Admin > Plugins > Add New.
  3. Click Upload Plugin at the top.
  4. Choose File and select the .zip file you downloaded in Step 1.
  5. Click Install Now and Activate the extension.

Getting Started ↑ Back to top

Every Composite product consists of multiple building blocks called Components. For instance, a complete skateboard is using:

  • a deck (the actual board of the kit),
  • a set of wheels,
  • a set of trucks for mounting the wheels on the deck,
  • a set of wheel bearings,
  • some mounting hardware and
  • optionally, some grip tape.

Each Component includes an assortment of different Component Options to choose from. Component Options are added to Components by choosing product categories, or searching for specific products.

Composite vs Variable Products

If you are familiar with Variable products, it might be easier to understand how Composite products are structured with an analogy: The properties of a Composite product are defined by Components just like Attributes define the properties of a Variable one. Instead of attribute values, Components have Component Options, which are groupings of existing products.

Before you create a new Composite product, some basic preparation is usually required: Once you have decided upon a final list of Components, ensure that all products you need to use as Component Options exist. In our skateboard example, these would be all the individually stock-managed decks, trucks, wheels, bearings and hardware kits that will appear as skateboard options. You can freely add/remove Component Options later, but you will need to have at least a few products ready to start with.

When you are ready, follow these steps to create a new Composite product:

  1. Go to Products > Add New.
  2. Select the Composite Product type in the Product Data panel.
  3. Go to the Components tab.
  4. Click Add Component to add as many Components as needed.
  5. Assign a Name and Component Options to each Component — these fields are mandatory. To add Component Options, you can either choose the Select products option and then search for and add products one-by-one, or you can choose the Select categories option and then select at least one product category.
  6. Publish to save.
Only simple products, variable products and product bundles can be used as Component Options.
Support for variable products is provided with some limitations. For details, check out the Frequenty Asked Questions.

Component settings are organized in two sections: Basic Settings and Advanced Settings. Their configuration is documented in Component Settings.

Custom Skateboard Builder composite.
Dependent Component Options

The Composite type allows you to make specific product/variation selections conditionally available based on compatibility limitations that may exist between products/variations in different Components. For details, refer to Store Owner’s Guide – Beyond Basics.

Composite Products vs Product Bundles

A Component containing a single, mandatory Component Option is called static. Composite Products that consist of static Components have many similarities with Product Bundles. However, there are some key differences between the two extensions:

  • Composite products lack the advanced inventory management and reporting functionalities provided by Product Bundles. For example, with Product Bundles it is possible to quickly find out which bundles contain products that do not have sufficient stock.
  • Product Bundles have a many-to-many database structure that makes it possible to run complex queries that involve bundled products – for instance, you can retrieve all bundles that a product belongs to. This is not possible with Composite Products.
  • Some advanced features of Product Bundles such as the ability to exclude specific bundled product variations, override bundled product titles/descriptions, and control the visibility of bundled products in different templates are much harder to achieve with Composite Products, or may require writing custom code.
  • The way Composite products look and behave in various WooCommerce templates is better suited for kitting applications, and not for static bundling. For instance, a Composite cannot be added to the cart from the shop catalog without viewing the product details page, even when all Components are static and there’s nothing to configure.

To better understand the difference between these two extensions, compare the Complete Skateboard Bundle against the Build-Your-Own Skateboard Composite, and study the documentation of both extensions in detail.

Pricing ↑ Back to top

The Composite type can be used in a wide range of bundling/kitting applications with diverse pricing requirements, as it allows you to define a static composite price and/or add the individual prices of specific Components to a base composite price.

Composite Products in the Cart/Orders

In the cart, a Composite product consists of:

  1. A parent line item named after the Composite itself.
  2. Some child line items — one for each Component.

Child cart items are grouped by their parent, and child quantities are kept in sync with the quantity of the parent. This approach makes it possible to define a static base price for an entire Composite product, and/or to preserve the prices of individual Components when needed.

Static Pricing ↑ Back to top

To assign a static price to a Composite product:

  1. Go to Products > All Products and select the Composite product you wish to edit.
  2. Select the General tab in the left menu.
  3. Enter a Regular Price and, if needed, a Sale Price. Note that if you only use these fields to define the price of a composite, its contents/configuration have no effect on its price. Despite its limitations, this simple pricing configuration is sufficient in some cases.
  4. Update.

Individual Component Pricing ↑ Back to top

In most cases, static Composite pricing is impractical: Many kitting applications require the Composite price to change depending on the chosen Component Options and quantities. To do this, Composite Products lets you preserve the individual price of any Component by checking the Priced Individually option, which is located under the Basic Settings tab of all Components.

When Priced Individually is enabled, it is possible to define a Component % Discount. Discounts provide an incentive for purchasing items in bulk and/or purchasing optional “add-ons”, such as accessories.

The Priced Individually option.

The example that follows demostrates how to create a configurable Composite product by grouping some T-Shirts and Hoodies in 2 Components. Both Components are priced individually and have a 20% Discount to help boost kit sales. Note that the Regular Price and Sale Price fields of the Composite product have been left empty.

The Build Your Ninja Outfit composite.
The Build Your Ninja Outfit composite in the cart.
Configuring the Build Your Ninja Outfit composite.
A look at the General tab.

In cases similar to the Build Your Ninja Outfit composite, where at least one Component is priced individually, the Regular Price and Sale Price fields of the Composite product can be left empty. However, sometimes it might be desirable to define a static composite price and at the same time enable the Priced Individually option of one or more Components. In this case, the defined composite price should be thought of as a base price, since it is always contributing a fixed amount to the total of the composite, regardless of its configuration.

Negative Component Prices

The prices of all products contained in individually-priced Components must be positive.

Individual Pricing and Cart/Order Totals

By default, the cart/order item subtotal of a composite parent item is calculated as the sum of: i) the base/static composite price subtotal and ii) the subtotals of all individually-priced Components. At the same time, the subtotals of individually-priced Components are displayed with an Option subtotal: prefix. To prevent this, download and activate this plugin.

As you will soon find out, the extension provides many options for customizing the behavior and appearance of your Composite products. In this example, the Ninja Outfit uses the Stacked layout, while Component Options are displayed using the Thumbnails style.

Shipping ↑ Back to top

Introduction ↑ Back to top

From a shipping perspective, WooCommerce products are classified as:

  • Virtual — services or digital items that do not require shipping.
  • Physical (non-virtual) — products with a weight and dimensions that need to be shipped or picked up.

Composite products typically consist of multiple virtual and/or physical products. However, the physical properties (weight & dimensions) of a Composite that’s packed and ready to be shipped are not always identical to the physical properties of its components. This is very common in bundling/kitting applications that involve a physical assembly or packaging process. Consider this example:

Woo Tech is a company that sells computer equipment with WooCommerce. The pro-grade desktop PC of Woo Tech, Woo Pro, is customized online and assembled as ordered. All parts are inventory-managed. Some of them are listed in the Woo Tech catalog, and some are unlisted OEM parts. Once a Woo Pro PC has been assembled, the original packaging of all assembled parts is discarded and the PC is packaged and shipped in one box along with all product manuals and accompanying material.

From a shipping perspective, physical bundles/kits can be classified as assembled and unassembled:

  • Assembled kits consist of multiple physical products that are assembled in a common container.
  • Unassembled kits group together some products that do not require assembly.

The extension supports both types. It even allows you to create partially assembled Composite products by individually selecting Components that require assembly, and having the rest shipped individually.

Assembled vs Unassembled kits
Assembled vs Unassembled kits.

Configuration ↑ Back to top

To configure a Composite product for shipping, follow these steps:

  1. Determine if the Composite you are creating is an assembled, partially assembled, or unssembled one:
    • Assembled Composites, such as the build-to-order Woo Pro PC we saw earlier, are shipped in a single box.
    • Partially assembled Composites have a common physical container that includes at least one assembled Component. However, some Components are shipped in their original boxes. For example, a PC always consists of some assembled parts, but it may also come with optional extras that are shipped individually, such as an external monitor.
    • Unassembled Composites are collections of products that do not require assembly. All Components are shipped individually, in their own boxes.

    Composite products that consist of Virtual products fall into the Unassembled category.
  2. Navigate to the Shipping tab in the left menu, and choose a Composite Type. There are two options to choose from: Assembled or Unassembled. If your Composite is a partially assembled one, choose the Assembled option.
    Choosing a Composite Type: Assembled or Unassembled.
  3. If you selected the Assembled option in the previous step, go on and configure the Weight, Dimensions and Shipping Class of the common container.
     
    If your assembly has a static weight, choose the Assembled Weight > Ignore option. If you prefer to calculate its weight dynamically, choose the Assembled Weight > Preserve option. When Preserve is selected, the Weight field is treated as a container weight, and the weight of the assembly is calculated by adding:

    • the specified container Weight; and
    • the weight of all assembled Components.
  4. If your Composite product is partially assembled, go to the Components tab and enable Shipped Individually for every Component that does not require assembly.
    The Shipped Individually option.

Note that the Shipped Individually option is configurable at Component level only. The extension is not able to handle cases that require some Component Options to be assembled in the Composite (if chosen), and some to be shipped individually.

Notes on External Order Fulfillment, Shipping and Inventory Management Services

The shipping configuration options of the Composite type allow shipping methods and other business logic that relies on the WooCommerce Shipping API to calculate shipping costs accurately.

External fulfillment, shipping and inventory management services do not use the WooCommerce Shipping API: They import WooCommerce product data directly from completed orders. If you rely on an external service, you might encounter issues with assembled Composites. For example, you may find that the physical properties of imported Composites are inaccurate, resulting in wrong shipping rate calculations — or that bundled product SKUs are not imported at all, resulting in inventory issues.

These systems typically rely on the stock keeping units (SKUs) included in WooCommerce orders. Some of these systems do not support fulfilment, shipping, or inventory management of bundles/kits at all. Those that do usually work by splitting up a static or dynamic bundle/kit SKU to a number of component SKUs. This means that, in most cases and depending on the features and requirements of the system you are using, some additional integration work might be needed.

Composite Products provides an API that allows you to restore the physical representation of your Composite products when reading order data, and possibly generate custom kit SKUs for composites that contain assembled items.

Note: We are unable to provide assistance with customizations/integrations under our Support Policy.

Component Settings ↑ Back to top

So far, you have learned how to:

  • Assign a title to a Component using the Name field.
  • Add product options to a Component using the Component Options field.
  • Preserve the price of individual Components by enabling the Priced Individually option.
  • Apply a discount on all Component Options using the Discount field.
  • Create Assembled and Unassembled Composite products.

In this section, you will learn how to configure the remaining Component settings, located under the Basic Settings and Advanced Settings tabs.

Basic Settings ↑ Back to top

Component Name

See Getting Started.

Component Description

Used to provide details about the Component or its configuration. HTML and shortcodes are supported and will be rendered in the front-end.

Component Image

Placeholder image displayed by default in configuration summary sections. When a Component Option is chosen, the placeholder image of the Component is replaced by the image of the chosen product or variation. Summary sections are displayed:

  • In the final Review step of the Stepped layout.
  • In the Configuration Summary of the Componentized layout.
  • In the Composite Products Configuration Summary widget.
In the Layout Options section, you will learn how all the different layout options work and when/how to use the Configuration Summary widget.


Component Options

See Getting Started.

Optional

Component selections are validated and a Composite product cannot be purchased unless all of its Components have a valid selection. Additionally, the Progressive and Stepped layouts – which implement a step-based UI – prevent users from proceeding to the next step unless a valid selection is made in the current one.

When a Component is saved as Optional, it can be skipped without choosing any option.

Default Option

Allows you to choose a product to use as the default, pre-selected Component Option.

Placeholder Options in Dropdowns

When using the Dropdown style without defining a Default Option, a Choose [Component Name]… placeholder option will appear at the top of the drop-down menu. This placeholder option is omitted when you define a Default Option.

When the Catalog Price > Use defaults option is active, a Default Option must be chosen in all non-optional Components.

Options Style

Can be used to change the presentation of the Component Options assigned to a Component:

Style Description
Thumbnails Component Options are displayed as product thumbnails, paginated and arranged in columns similar to the main shop loop.

Using the Thumbnails style with the Stepped layout.
Dropdown Component Options are listed in a drop-down menu. No pagination or lazy-loading functionality is supported. Suitable for displaying up to 10-15 Component Options.

Using the Dropdown style with the Stepped layout.
Radio Buttons Component Options are listed as radio buttons. No pagination or lazy-loading functionality is supported. Suitable for displaying up to 6-7 Component Options.

Using the Radio Buttons style with the Stepped layout.

Options Pagination

Changes the way Component Options are paginated:

Classic — Component Options are arranged in numbered pages, similar to the main shop loop.
Load more — Additional Component Options can be appended by clicking a Load more button.

Displayed when Options Style > Thumbnails is chosen and the Stepped or Componentized layout is active.

Min/Max Quantity

Can be used to define an allowed quantity range for the selected product.

Exception: When choosing a product that is Sold Individually, the Min/Max Quantity field values are ignored if higher than 1.

Shipped Individually

Covered in Shipping.

Priced Individually

Covered in Pricing.

Option Prices

Changes the way Component Option prices are displayed:

Absolute — Product prices are absolute, e.g. $100.
Relative — Product prices are calculated and displayed relative to the price of the Default Option, e.g. +$10 or -$20.
Hidden — Product prices are hidden.

Displayed when Priced Individually is enabled.

Advanced Settings ↑ Back to top

Option Select Action

Controls the behavior of the Composite product after a non-configurable Component Option is chosen in a Component. Available only with the Stepped and Componentized layouts.

View selection details — Display the chosen product details without moving to the next Component.
View next step — View the next Component.

Selection Details Visibility

By default, the product details that appear when choosing a Component Option include its product title, short description, price (when the Priced Individually option is enabled) and possibly additional configuration fields associated with the chosen product, such as variation attribute drop-downs and/or Product Add-Ons.

Title — Controls the visibility of the product title.
Description — Controls the visibility of the product short description.
Thumbnail — Controls the visibility of the product thumbnail.
Price — Controls the visibility of the product price.
Product Add-Ons – Use this option to disable all Product Add-Ons of the selected product. Applicable when the Product Add-Ons extension is installed.

Subtotal Visibility

Controls the visibility of Component Option subtotals in the single-product page, cart/checkout templates, and order-details/e-mail templates.

Visibility in Payment Gateway Transactions

Hiding component subtotals in the order/e-mail templates will not prevent payment gateways from listing them in their transaction details archives and customer notification e-mails.

Options Sorting

Toggles the display of a “Sort options by” dropdown, which can be used to sort Component Options by popularity, rating, newness or price.

Sorting Component Options.

Options Filtering

Toggles the display of layered attribute filters, which can be used to narrow down Component Options based on specific product attributes.

Using attribute filters to narrow down Component Options.

Layout Options ↑ Back to top

The extension covers a wide range of kitting applications that range from small, static bundles to complex product kit builders that may include thousands of Component Options.

Once the contents of a Composite product are defined, the next step is to adjust its layout. The layout of a Composite product can be adjusted by configuring the following options:

  • Layout, found at the top of the Components tab.
  • Form Location, found at the top of the Components tab.
  • Options Style, found under the Basic Settings tab of each Component.
  • The Composite Product Summary widget, which can be activated from the Appearance > Widgets menu.

Additionally, you can:

These options give you a lot of freedom to decide how the configuration process of a Composite product should look and work. However, in some cases you may not be able to obtain exactly the result you had in mind. If you are looking to change the way a particular element looks or works, the Snippets guide includes a collection of common tweaks. For advanced customization work, we highly recommend Codeable, or a Certified WooExpert.

Layout ↑ Back to top

The Layout field allows you to modify the way Components are laid out on the screen. Four layout options are provided:

  • Stacked
  • Progressive
  • Stepped
  • Componentized

The following table summarizes their differences in detail.

Layout Description
Stacked Components are vertically stacked. The add-to-cart button is placed at the bottom.

The Stacked layout is recommended if the Components of your product kit contain a few options, or if you want to keep the configuration process quick and simple.

The Stacked layout with the Dropdown style applied to all Components.
Progressive Similar to the Stacked layout, with 3 key differences:

  • Components must be configured in sequence.
  • Components are wrapped in toggle-boxes.
  • Only a single Component is visible at a time.
Using Toggle-boxes with the Stacked layout

Toggle-boxes can be enabled with the Stacked layout by using this snippet.

The Progressive layout with the Dropdown style applied to all Components.
Stepped Components are presented and configured individually and in sequence, in a step-by-step manner. The chosen options are summarized in a final Review step, at which point the Composite product can be added to the cart.

The Stepped layout is recommended for kitting applications that involve Components with long, complex contents.

The Stepped layout. The Deck Component is presented using the Thumbnails style.
Componentized Components are presented and configured individually, but not necessarily in sequence. A key element of the Componentized layout is the Summary section, which provides an overview of all Components and lists the chosen options. To configure a Component, the Summary section is temporarily hidden from view. The final configuration can be added to the cart by returning to the Summary.

The Componentized layout is also recommended for kitting applications that involve Components with long, complex contents.

By default, the Componentized layout does not require Components to be configured in sequence. This can be changed by activating this snippet.
The Componentized layout. Viewing the initial Summary screen.
The Componentized layout. Viewing the Deck Component.

Rules of Thumb

Configuring a Composite product should be easy and painless – the entire process must keep customers involved and guide them quickly from start to finish. Here are a few rules of thumb for optimizing the customer’s experience:

  • Choose the Thumbnails style when you want to display images of the available Component Options, or when offering a large number of options. The Thumbnails style makes Component Options look similar to your WooCommerce shop archives and provides the ability to sort and filter products by attribute – useful for narrowing down results quickly.
  • When dealing with multiple Components that include rich content – such as long descriptions and product images – consider breaking up the configuration process in individual steps. Avoid choosing the Stacked layout and experiment with the Progressive, Stepped and Componentized layouts.

In contrast:

  • Thumbnail previews are not always necessary. Use the Dropdown or Radio Buttons style only when needed: drop-down menus are great space-savers, while radio buttons provide a better overview of the available options.
  • The Stacked layout is ideal if you want to make it easy and quick for customers to customize and purchase a Composite product. When using it, keep an eye on form length – endless pages are confusing and prone to abandonment.

Form Location ↑ Back to top

Most WooCommerce-compatible WordPress themes default to a two-column product page layout: The first column contains the main product image and gallery, while the second one is reserved for product details and options. This space-conserving approach works well for Simple and Variable products, which usually contain only a few form elements.

Composite products tend to have busier forms that require multiple steps/interactions to complete. Sometimes you may find that your theme’s two-column layout makes Composite products look space-constrained and hard to interact with. Some themes may allow you to modify the layout of individual product pages to display product details and options in a single column. For example, if you are using Storefront, the Storefront Powerpack plugin includes options for:

  • allocating more width to product form content, or
  • stacking product form content below the main product image and gallery.

If you are experiencing layout issues and your theme does not provide any per-product layout options:

  1. Navigate to Product Data > Components.
  2. Locate the Form Location option.
  3. Choose Before Tabs to stack form content before the product tabs.

In most cases, choosing Before Tabs will allocate the entire page width to the form contents of your Composite.

The Before Tabs option is not guaranteed to work reliably with all themes!
A similar result can be achieved with the free WooCommerce Stacked Product Layout plugin.

Configuration Summary Widget ↑ Back to top

The Composite Product Summary widget can be added to any widgetized area from the Appearance > Widgets menu and is only displayed when viewing single-product pages of the Composite type. It provides:

  • Dynamically updated configuration details for all Components, including subtotals.
  • Navigation functionality – click on a Component in the widget and you’ll be taken there.
  • Quick access to validation messages and the add-to-cart button.

The widget can be seen in all examples provided in the Layout Options section.

Catalog Price ↑ Back to top

The Catalog Price option changes the way Composite product prices are calculated and displayed in shop archives and single-product page summaries:

Use defaults — Displays the price of the default Composite product configuration. When Use defaults is selected, a Default Option must be set in all non-optional Components.

Calculate from/to — Builds a price string based on the configuration with the lowest price.

Hide — Hides the price.

When dealing with complex Composite products that contain many Component Options, finding the configuration with the lowest price can be a very resource-intensive process. In such cases, it is highly recommended to choose either the Use defaults or the Hide option.
The Catalog Price option.

Cart Editing ↑ Back to top

Configurable Composite products like this Custom Skateboard can be edited from the cart page by enabling the Edit in Cart option.

The Edit in Cart option.

When Edit in Cart is enabled for the Custom Skateboard Composite, an additional “Edit” link is appended to its title in the cart. Following this link allows you to reconfigure the Composite using its current configuration as a starting point. When finished, click Update Cart to replace the configuration in your cart with the new one.

Managing Inventory ↑ Back to top

The sale of a product in a Composite has the same effect on its stock as an individual sale. When configuring a Composite product, if the available stock quantity of a chosen product is below the minimum threshold required by the Component it belongs to, then the Composite appears with an Insufficient Stock status and cannot be purchased.

With Composite Products, it’s possible to define composite SKUs and manage inventory for composite SKUs. The ability to set stock quantities for composite SKUs allows you to place constraints on the bundling process itself, e.g. associated with time, manpower or another limited resource. Go to the Inventory settings tab of a Composite product to enable stock management and set stock quantities at composite level. Note that when stock management at Composite level is enabled, the inventory of products used as Component Options is not overridden or affected in any way.

Composite SKUs are static by default. If you plan to use the extension with an external order fulfillment, shipping or inventory management service and need a way to generate dynamic composite SKUs, please refer to the Shipping section for details.

Use Cases ↑ Back to top

The following use cases are useful for gaining a better understanding of what is possible with Composite Products:

Questions & Support ↑ Back to top

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