|What are Handmade Variations||Video Webinars and other Information on New Handmade Variations||Advantages of using the new Variations||Basic Step by Step Instructions on Creating a new Parent Listing Variation||New Creation of Parent listings and Variations||New Item Edit Screens||Variations are not available for this category error message||Variations - Important information to read|
|New Amazon Customizations for Handmade Items||New Bulk Upload of Customizations Step by Step Instructions (Now disabled by Amazon)||New Deleting of the entire Item Customizations for an item||Add a Comment / Question||Additional Articles to Read|
|New Bullet Point entry fields in the Product Description||New limitation of using HTML in the Product Descriptions||New White Background Requirement on First Image|
Handmade sellers listing in the handmade category have the customizations feature as shown in the example page with the windmill. This sample page also shows the new optional thumbnail photos associated with the customization options. The marketplace sellers have the ability of using variations and the handmade category did not. Now handmade sellers have been given the feature of using variations shown in the sample page with the red arch. The new variations does not replace the customizations, as it is just a new option. Variations are much more complex than customizations, so if you do not understand what variations are at the end of this section, that would be normal. I advice watching the three Amazon Webinar/Videos listed in the next section below for a more visual presentation.
It is advised when discussing Variations or Customizations such as on a forum, that you do not use the two terms Variations and Customizations as interchangeable since they are quite different.
Most handmade sellers are already familiar with item customizations as they have used them in the past. An item can have a base item configuration and then the customer can select, optionally or not, some item configuration choice to that base item. A seller can have a base or default item of a white hat and then offer the seller a customization option of changing to a yellow, red or blue hat. Customization options did not require seperate physical item listings.
Parent / Child Variation Relationship:
Variations (also known as parent-child relationships) are sets of individual physical product listings, each with a seperate SKU number, that are related to one another. The new feature variations that have been available to the Marketplace for years are now available for handmade sellers to use. A seller can use variations on a group of items that are related to each other such as in terms of size, color, scent, flavor, etc., and take advantage of having those items connected as variations.
Variations are really a Parent listing and multiple Child items under that parent. Note: I refer to in this article the term 'Parent listing' but the Parent is not really a physical item that the customer can buy, the Parent is really just a header or virtual item that has the separate physical Child items listed under.
If you already have separate SKU items that would work together such as four hat SKUs of different colors, then it is simple to create a Parent listing and then place those four existing items under one Parent listing. Once you place those four items under a Parent listing, the four items could be referred to as Child items. You have then set up a Variation of one Parent listing and four Child items.
Those Child items you place under the Parent listing can be both FBM and FBA items. As before, the FBA Child items can not have customization options, but the FBM Child items can optionally have customization options.
Many sellers are looking at the new edit menu option 'Variances' and thinking that this is the item customization options they have been working with for years. It is further confusing since this Variation menu edit option only opens up, without an error message, for new items never saved or for existing Parent listings. This Variation menu edit option will not open for an existing regular item which is most of what sellers currently have. For some reason, Amazon now makes us go to another menu option in the Manage Inventory screen to add or change an item's customization.
The sample screen page with the windmill is the way the customer sees the current customization options. Using customizations are nice since you can set up multiple options without the need to set up seperate item's with their own SKU numbers. This saves a lot of item maintenance by not having multiple item listings and also allow personalization options chosen by the customer to be entered. One issue is that this customization screen is not shown to the customer at first and the customer has to select the 'Customize Now' button first to see this customization page. With customization options, you can not set your inventory levels.
The sample item page shown with the red arch displays one of my art pieces and in four different size option boxes to select from. Each size is a separate Child item SKU. You will also see a sample Variation edit/entry screen shown below filled in to create the Parent listing for the variation. The results of this Variation Parent listing is the item page (variation) showing the red arch that the customer sees with four size options. One advantage to using Variations is that all the item options are displayed on the first item display page and the customer does not have to select any additional 'Customize Now' button. This makes your item listing one step closer to an order. One issue is that you have to have seperate item SKUs for each child item, so your maintenance is higher if you change your listing often. With each variation (Child item) having their own SKU number, you can set your seperate inventory levels not available with customizations.
When one of your Child items gets selected to be viewed by a customer, on that same item detail page the customer will also be able to see a brief listing of the other Child items to select from. This is in some ways similar to how handmade customization options are in which you can choose from multiple item types from the one item page. When a variation item page is set up, the customer can choose other Child items right from the main item page. With customizations, the customer must first press the 'Customize Now' button, which is an extra step, to see the other purchase options.
If you have one handmade item as described above with a customization of three additional colored hats, that one item itself cannot be a variation. You need at least two Child items to have a Parent listing / Child items variation relationship. That being said, when you set up a new Parent listing using the variations screen page, you need to enter at least two existing SKU numbers. If the seller chooses to create another new item specifically for a yellow hat and add new items for a red and blue hat, then in the end you have four separate hat items with one being a white hat (without any customizations) and a yellow, red and blue hats.
The seller can now easily create a Parent listing and then add to that Parent listing four SKUs relating to the different hat-colored items.
So basically with Handmade customizations, you can give the seller different choices of an item under one item SKU listing. With variations, each Child item must be its own individual item SKU. It is up to the seller to determine which items they have and how they might work together to form Parent/Child relationships to take advantage of some of the offerings of using variations. I have listed later in the article, some advantages of using variations but the main one is that all the Child items share the combination of all the Child items Rating, Stars and Reviews under that same Parent listing. The customer will see the accumulation of all the ratings on each Child item displayed to them. Also, since each Child item has its own SKU, you can keep track of the item inventory for each item. This was not possible for customization options.
What items will work together as a Parent-Child Variation:
Not all items need to be converted into a Variation with a Parent listing and Child item relationship. The seller can pick which item may work out better together under a variation. You can use the four general guidelines listed just below. If you already have multiple SKUs of the same item and only the size or color or scent is different, you may be better off placing those separate SKU's under one Parent listing variance.
Some handmade items may be better off just leaving them as one item with multiple customizations. Other handmade items that have multiple customization options may be better splitting up into multiple separate items with a different SKU for each customization option. It is an individual choice.
This is what Amazon says about if your items will work together as a Parent-Child Variation:
- The products are fundamentally the same.
- The products vary only in a few very specific ways.
- Buyers expect to find these products together on a single product page.
- Products could share a single title.
If the products need to have different information within the main title is better not to add them as Variations, however, if you will like to add them, you are welcome to do so. Keep in mind that ratings, stars, and reviews will be shared among the other listings within your Variation.
Below is additional information from Amazon about what products work together for variations. It is up to the seller to determine if their products will work together. Amazon has the ability to adjust your listings or inform the seller to adjust the listings if they feel the items do not work together as a variation.
Here is an additional Amazon page with additional information on Variations: (Click link here to see Amazon document).
Here is another additional Amazon page with additional information on Variations: (Click link here to see Amazon document).
Error message "Variations are not available for this category:
If you get the error message "Variations are not available for this category", that just means that you are trying to view the variation edit page after bringing up to edit an existing non-Parent listing record. It has nothing to do with any category. You can only access the variations edit page when creating new items or editing an existing Parent listing. This variations edit page is only used for Parent listings. More on this error message later in the article.
Do not expect to fully understand variations from reading just one source. Listed below some videos on variations in which I highly recommend that you watch the first three. This will give you a better understanding of the rest of the article.
This article covers both the new variations and also the new edit screen changes as well as many of the new changes to how customizations work.
1. The item edit screen has been changed to look more like the item edit screen used by other categories in the Marketplace. The familiar item edit selection shown on this gravestone is gone.
2. The item customization screen has changed. The customization screen is separate from the main item edit screen. You can still add, edit and delete individual item customizations using the updated edit drop-down menu (Shown in Exhibit A).
3. The Manage Inventory edit drop-down menu is different with a few new selections listed.
4. The most dramatic change is the ability to have item Variations. This has been available before, but not for handmade items.
1: This first screen shows the Managed Inventory screen. If you have a new Variation Parent listing, you will see it with its related Child-level items shown directly under the Parent listing. The Parent listing has its own ASIN number but it is not a selling item itself. I think about the Parent listing as more of a header record for the related Child ASIN items. Each Child-level item has its own ASIN number and is an actual item that shows to the customer. Since each Child item has its own ASIN, you can keep separate inventory quantities for each item even if it is another size or color showing on the item selling page with other similar items. This does not happen if the Child item has customizations in which may have different quantities in stock for different colors or sizes as part of a customization option.
Each Child-level item can optionally have customizations set up for it. In my example shown here, I have a Parent listing with four Child items. Two of the Child items have no customizations (Matted prints) and two of the Child items do have customizations for different sizes (canvas prints) and (Individual photographs).
You can have Variations which are a Parent and one or more Child items with no customizations. You can also have Variations which is a Parent and one or more Child items with some Child items having a customization option.
On the screen, on the left side, you will see a down-facing arrow next to the word Variations and the displayed Child items just below. The Manage Inventory screen may display a right-facing arrow '>' and the seller can select this arrow to visually display the Child item listings below the Parent listings.
If one of the Child items is out of stock, that item may show to the customer, but the customer will not be able to purchase that Child item that is out of stock. The other Child items on the page with stock available will still be available for the customer to purchase.
You can also see on the Manage Inventory screen the updated edit drop-down menu. The edit selection option will take you to a new edit item area. Also new on this drop-down menu is a method to add or change existing item customizations.
When first starting with Variations, you may want to use some of your less important items before doing anything with your best-selling items.
On the Manage Inventory screen next to the 'Status' is a radio button you can fill out to display the 'Incomplete' listings. When you select this, the page only lists out the Variation Parent listings. I have no idea why this is but I do not feel that this means that the Variation listings or the Child items are not correct or incomplete.
2: You can see how this chart below relates to the way the Parent/Child items are grouped in the Manage Inventory screen above.
3: You only need to fill out the Variations screen for the Parent listing and leave this section blank for all the Child items relating to this Parent listing. Later on in the article, I cover some of the other menu options Vital Info, Images, and More Details. While our previous edit screen allowed us to enter customization information at the time of the other item information, customization information is entered in a separate area now.
You can also see how to fill out the edit screen fields creating a Variant listing in my step-by-step instructions earlier in the article.
If you are creating a new Parent listing, besides the Variations edit screen, you will also need to fill out the other five edit screens Vital Info, Offer, Images, Keywords and More Details with at least the minimum required field values. I have been creating a new Parent listing by selecting a regular item that I would be using as one of this Parents Child items. I then copy that regular item and when I bring up the edit screen, many of my fields are already filled in for my Parent listing. I generally fill in the Variant edit screen and add one photo to the Images edit page. I may also adjust the title or product description if needed before saving and creating the Parent listing. After the Parent listing is created, I go into all the Child items under that Parent listing and see what Child item fields need to be adjusted since some of them have the Child item fields overwritten by the information from the Parent listing. I specifically check the Child item's title, product description, and keyword fields and modify as needed.
If you are in the new edit screen just adding or editing an existing item, you can skip this Variations menu option. You only need to fill this out if you are specifically setting up a new Parent listing or editing an existing Parent listing.
In this example, from the Variation theme drop-down menu, I chose the theme 'SizeName'. There are many choices of Variation themes and this will determine what your items require. If you have a Parent listing that has different Child items with different colors, your Variation theme may be 'ColorName'. Where it says (B) Size, I entered four sizes, one for each of my Child items. This places the four lines below, one name for each size/name shown as (C) (F) (D) and (E) under the Size column header (Q).
At this time, I filled in the four seller's SKUs for each Child item under the Seller's SKU column. The SKUs will already be available from the Manage Inventory screen under the Child item line. I copy the SKUs from the Manage Inventory screen and paste them into the Variation screen. You do not want to get the SKU numbers mixed up. When you enter SKUs in the Variation screen, they must already exist as items. Do not enter an SKU number that does not exist yet and plan on creating a future item with that SKU entered.
Next, the Condition column is filled out. In my case all my items are New. Next, you fill out the Standard Price column (L). This can be taken from the item regular price. If that item has customizations, the item's regular price will be the base price. Next, you will fill out the Quantity column (M). This would be zero if the item is FBA. If merchant fulfilled, this would be the inventory listed on your manage inventory item line.
When done filling in the Variations information, you can press the 'Save and Finish' button. There is also a button called 'Apply Changes' which may be to only save what you have entered in at that time. You can change all six edit screens as needed and then press the 'Save and Finish' once when you are done with all your edits. You do not have to save for each page change.
While this Variations menu option for the Parent listing is new, it gets easier to understand once you use it a few times. If you do not see all six menu options, make sure that the 'Advanced View' toggle switch is on.
While I refer to a Parent as an item, in this article, such as 'Parent listing', the Parent is not a physical item that a customer can order. I think of the Parent as more of a header title that all the Child items fall under. The Parent listing does show up in the Manage Inventory screen as a line, but since it is not a physical item, no customer will see it.
After you create the Parent listing, you will notice that the titles on all the related Child items will be the title as stated on the Parent listing with the addition of the Variation theme wording such as what is listed under Size (Q shown above), ColorName or whatever Variations theme column name you have for this Parent listing. In this example, the title on the Parent listing is "11 x 14 Inch Mat Photograph". The Child item title would end up being "11 x 14 Inch Mat Photograph (11 x 14 Matted Print)" in which "(11 x 14 Matted Print)" (C shown above) is added to the end of the Child items titles. You can change the title on the Child items afterward to what you want.
Depending on what items a seller sells and the options available to the customers that are offered, the seller must select the best Variation theme for the Parent listing. Some themes are more simple such as if your items only have a size difference, you may choose to use the Variation theme 'SizeName'. If only an item color difference you may choose to use the Variation theme 'ColorName'. On more complex customer choices, the Variation theme may contain two choices such as both size and color in which the Variation theme 'Size & Color' is used.
If you sold hats and you had three sizes (small, medium and large) and those hats came in four colors you may use the Variation theme 'Size & Color'. When using Variations, each hat and size combination needs to have it's own item SKU, so you end up with twelve different Child items each with their own SKU number under the one Parent listing.
If you are not sure which Variation theme may be best for your handmade items, you can look in the Amazon marketplace categories outside of handmade for simular items to yours. Then see which Variation types show up and what Variation theme those other sellers are using. You should be able to visually see what will work best for the items you sell in the handmade category.
As you can see, when you have a Variation theme that list two options, you add to the complexity and additional Child item SKUs are required. In this sample, 12 lines would need to be filled out under this Variation listing.
If you receive the message while editing your existing item "Variations are not available for this category" in the Variations edit screen as shown in the image below, the error message is misleading. It should probably say something like, 'Variations can only be accessed by the Parent listing, you are editing a regular product item' (Non-Parent). Basically, the Variations menu option in item edit will only open up on existing Parent listings or new items that have not been saved yet.
The 'Variations' edit screen can only be filled out for Parent listings. When you take an existing item and edit it and then go to the edit Variations screen, it will not let you enter this screen option. The Variations are not to be filled out for regular product items, only Parent listings.
Because of the recent changes to the Handmade customizations, some sellers may see the edit Variations menu option and think this is related to customizations. While the new Variations and the existing customizations have some similarities, they are separate features. Going into the Variations edit screen will not bring up your item customizations.
You can still edit this existing item, whether they are regular items or Child items with any of the other edit screen pages, just not the Variations edit screen. You create a Parent listing from the Add a product menu option first and then fill out the Variation edit screen. This will add your chosen existing items as Child items to your Parent listing.
You can also create a Parent listing by copying one of the existing regular items and that should also allow you to access the Variation screen. When you copy an existing regular item, you will have to adjust all the fields as needed since many of them will be filled out from the copy.
It is required to have your Child items created before you add their SKUs to the Parent listing.
If you plan to make numerous changes to your items due to converting many items to use Variations (Parent/Child), it may be a good idea to request from Amazon the ability to run the Catalog Listings Report. This report will give you a backup of all your item fields, except the customization fields and the production time field, that you can save to your local hard drive. You can read how to request this report here Request Catalog Listing Report.For advanced users, you can create Variations using Inventory File Templates and bulk upload the spreadsheet file to Amazon. For me, I will use the Variations edit menu screen and create my Parent records one at a time manually. See the video on this (Click here for more information).
Here is a small section of the Catalog Listing Report spreadsheet showing the new Variations fields and the 'Color' field. Note that the color field is different than the color map column field. When the item is not part of a varation, then these four variations fields would be blank. You can see the variation relationship type, the variation theme in which in this case is ColorName, the parent SKU name and the Parent/ Child field showing if the item line is a parent or child item. In this situation, due to fact that the variations theme is ColorName, the Color column come into play and is shown in this example. If the variation theme was SizeName, then the column Size would come into play. Depending on what the variation theme is will determine what other field or fields are used in conjunction with these varients. Not shown in this example, but if the variation theme was 'Size & Color', you would need both the Size and Color column fields filled in for all the child items.
When you first create your Parent listing and enter a product title, the Parent listing title entered overlays your titles in all the Child items under this Variation. At the end of each Child item title will be extra wording such as (size title) or (color title). Basically, what was entered into the first Variable column for each Child item. The seller can later change the Child item title as they wish.
I noticed that when you initially create a new Parent-Child relationship, the system updates pretty quickly. My experience is that if you update after (or update multiple times) that for these Parent-Child items it can take a very long time to update. I had to wait until the next day to see the results that showed up for the customer. If you feel that the system is not updating your new information, you may have to wait up to 24 hours to see your results. Your update time may vary.
I have also noticed that your changes do not update all at once. Your Variation Child items showing to the customer may have various areas, such as wording to images, change all at different times throughout the day and into the next day. This makes it difficult to verify your changes and you may just have to wait until the next morning to check your Variation Child item listings to see if they are as expected.
My understanding is each Child item Variation has its individual keywords for Amazon to use in search. While the search terms may be very similar between the Children under the same Parent, each Child should have some unique search terms, specifically ones that indicate size, color, or whatever distinguishes this Child from the other Child Variation.
My understanding is that the Parent listing is not indexed and therefore is not searchable. You can enter search term keywords to the Parent listing and if you do those keywords will be transfered to all the Child items. You may need to go into the keywords for the Child items and add any specific keywords that directly relates to the Child item such as color or size as needed. From what I read rankings are tied to each individual Child Variation and the rankings of multiple Child items do not accumulate in the Parent listing.
The order in which you enter your Child items in the Variation edit page is not necessarily the same order the items display together on the item page the customer sees. From what I have read, the seller cannot set the Child items to show up to the customer in any specific order.
I have read that a single Parent listing can have both FBA Child items and FBM Child items on it.
Since a Parent listing can have both FBA and FBM items, if the customer did not select show me only Prime items, the item displayed may show other variations in which some are Prime items and others are merchant fulfilled items. The customer may not realize that the merchant fulfilled choices may not arrive at Prime item speed even if the item listing page shown to the customer should state the estimated delivery times for each variation separately.
There is a Variation Wizard, but I heard that it is not advised to use it for items in the Handmade category.
Child items under variations can still have their own individual production time (number of creation days) value for fulfilled by merchant items.
If you want to delete one of the Child items under a Variation, you just go to the Parent listing line under Manage Inventory and do an item edit on the Parent Listing. Once in edit mode, you can go to the Variations edit screen and check off the box to the left of the Child item SKU number you want to remove from this Parent listing. Then press the 'Delete selected' button on the screen and then save the changes with the Save and finish button. This should just remove the SKU number from the Parent and not delete the SKU number item. You are only deleting the Parent/Child relationship for this one item and not the actual item itself.
4: This is the regular item selling page that the customer sees. In this display below, you can see the four Child items. They show up as four selectable text boxes C, D, E, and F.
This page displays a lot of letters. These letters point to the new edit screens, displayed above and below, showing where your entries go to show up for the customer. In most cases, the new edit screen fields are the same but just in a little different format. The fields that are related to the new Parent/Child Variation fields may have more of an interest hereof where you enter the data and where it shows up for the customer. Fields B, C, D, E, F, and Q, on the display below, relate to the Parent / Child Variations.
While having Variations on our handmade item selling page may seem odd, customers have been using item selling pages with Variation Child items for a long time and are used to them. It may be true for many items that work well with Variations that the seller may have an increase in sales.
When the customer clicks on one of the four Child boxes C, D, E, or F, you will notice that the photos change and the item description changes. With two of my Child items that have customization options, those customization options only display to the customer when the customer physically clicks on one of the Child boxes that have customizations associated with them.
You can see this sample Amazon Variation item listing live (Click here to see listing) .
When you add existing similar item SKUs to a Parent listing that has a Variation theme associated with it, all your Child SKUs will be available to be seen by the customer under that Parent. When one of the Child items displays, such as a result of a customer search, the customer will see the detailed information, such as different titles or photos, of the current Child SKU related to the search. The customer will also see multiple boxes with each box a different item SKU. One for each Child under that Parent to be clicked on as shown in C, D, E, and F areas in the sample screen below.
If the customer clicks on one of the other Child SKU item boxes, then the title, description, photos, and other information will change and now the customer is seeing another Child item and its specific information. See the example of four items (C, D, E, and F) under one Parent listing.
If the customer just places the mouse of one of the Child item boxes, then only the item image will be changed but not show the item detail information.
Variations can be used when appropriate and are similar items. Sellers are still allowed to use customizations, so I feel you should only switch to Variations when it makes sense.
One of the advantages of using Variations over customizations is that the customer can see different choices for a similar item all on one item detail page without needing the extra step of having the customer go into the Customization page. If your items have numerous different customization options, then listing with customizations may be a better choice than converting to use Variations. If you had to take each customization choice and make it into a separate SKU, that may add a lot of extra SKUs which would be harder to maintenance.
If you combine existing similar item SKUs, that already exist separately, using a Parent listing with Variation Child items, you have the same advantages without needing to create separate new SKU items.
This detail page shows when the Box E (Multiple sized canvas prints) is selected. This is one of the other Child items under the same Parent listing. You will notice that the title, description, and photographs have changed for the customer since another Child item SKU is displaying. You can see that the customer has originally brought up one detail page which was originally the Box C Child item shown above and because Box E was selected by the customer, now the page displays the Box E Child item shown below. You will notice while the Box E item is showing, the customer still has easy access to the other three Child box SKUs on the same display page. This will probably look cooler if Amazon adds the ability to substitute the Child SKU text boxes to actual small photos.
You will also notice that Box E (Multiple sized canvas prints) is also showing customization options (See Customize Now button). This item offers multiple sizes. Even Child items can optionally have customizations.
5: This is the new 'Images" edit screen for entering item images. It looks different since the screen has images on top and below. The upper section shows the images currently on the item. The lower section is where you can add or adjust the images and then rearrange them in the order wanted.
This example screen shown is the image page for a Child item. The edit image page for the regular items or Child items looks the same. For the regular and Child item images, they would be entered as usual.
For the Parent page, it is required that you enter at least one photo. I could not see any need to enter more than one photo. This photo shows up when you are editing the Parent listing pages but I do not think this photo gets transferred to the Child items.
6: This Vital Info edit screen shows some letters (A, G, C, and K) next to the fields and where they show up on the item display screen shown above. These fields can be filled in as before on the old item edit screen.
On this Vital Info screen, you have the Size field (C). This relates to the wording that shows up to the customer in the Child item text box so it directly relates to items that have Variations or part of a Parent/Child relationship. This Size field (C) may be specific due to the sample Variation theme drop-down theme I chose for the Parent listing of 'SizeName'. I suspect that if I chose another Variation them such as 'ColorName', a color field will be filled out relating to the Child item text box.
When filling out this Vital Info edit screen on a Parent listing, your information may overlay the same fields on your Child items associated with this Parent listing. You may want to check to see if any information on your Child items has changed or overlayed and is not what is wanted in those fields.
7: This More Details edit screen shows some letters (I and H) next to the fields and where they show up on the item display screen, shown above. As with many of the new edit screens, the entry fields look the same. These fields can be filled in as before on the old item edit screen. I am not sure if all the previous field edits are the same. Some of the entry fields have been removed from this sample page for simplicity.
My understanding is that the 'Privacy' listing of an item is no longer available.
When filling out this More Details edit screen on a Parent listing, your information may overlay the same fields on your Child items associated with this Parent listing.
8: This Amazon handmade Offer edit page shows a Parent listing with a blank SKU number. When you first create a Parent listing, this field is available for the seller to enter a Parent listing SKU. If you do not enter a Parent listing SKU, the system will automatically assign one. Once you save this Parent listing you will no longer see this SKU entry field but the Parent listing SKU name will display under the Parent listing number in the Manage Inventory screen.
The other fields on this Offer edit page are the same as before.
9: This Amazon handmade detail page shows a Parent / Child Variations item with the Variation theme ColorName. You can see that for this item, the different Child items show up as small photos or swatches. The small photos thumbnails are not displaying for most of the Variation themes for handmade items at this time. Perhaps in the future since I feel this is one of the best features of using Variations. Note: This is not a typical use of the Variation theme ColorName. It is mostly used for the same item that has multiple colors such as selling a hat that comes in yellow, blue, and green.
The "Copy listing" function, to create a new item from an old item, in the drop-down edit menu no longer copies over the customizations.
For some reason, the item quantity has to 1 or greater to add a new customization.
Sellers now have to add the customizations separately after the new item is created. The seller needs to wait until the new item has been updated on the Amazon system before entering customizations for the listing. This requires more time and is not as efficient as before.
Sellers now can save previously created customizations, so customizations can be loaded into existing items. This process is done using a more complicated bulk upload feature explained below, so many sellers will just enter customizations manually for new items.
My understanding is that you cannot enter customizations to a listing when the quantity is zero.
While it may make sense that you should be able to get to your existing listings customizations from the new edit screen, you can not. There is an edit menu option called 'Variations' that looks like that is where you will find your customizations, but they are not there. Variations, which are new, are much different from customizations. To edit existing items customizations or add new customizations, you need to go to the Manage Inventory page and go into the edit menu for the item of your choice and select 'Add/edit customization information'. You should then have the item's existing customization options display or you can add new ones.
Sellers can still add/edit personalization (customizations). Look for a separate menu option in the manage inventory page under the 'edit' drop-down menu for Add/edit customization information (Exhibit A). For new items created, my understanding is that you need to create the item first and save it. Then you can add any customizations. When using Variations, the Child items can also optionally have their own customizations.
This is the new (04/2021) drop-down menu in the edit menu (Exhibit A) on the Manage Inventory page.
You can also see a menu option called 'Merge duplicate product' which I do not remember seeing before.
You can click on the 'Add/edit customization information' edit menu button (Exhibit A) which will bring up the customization screen (Exhibit B) for that item. You can then edit or delete any existing customizations.
If you would like to add new customization, then select the 'Add customization' button (Exhibit B) and this will bring up (Exhibit C). Then select one of the three customer entry options which are 'Text', 'Option dropdown' and 'Number' (Exhibit C).
You now have the new customization fields to fill out. If you already have a customer customization option set up for an existing item, it just shows up for the seller to modify or delete shown on (Exhibit B).
New handmade customization screen: Hidden surprise
The seller now has the option of saving a template of an item's customization options. Once saved, you will be able to call up those same customizations to quickly fill up other items. You can save many different customization templates.
To save a customization template click on the up arrow next to the word Publish in the lower right corner (Exhibit B). Then click on the option to Generate Template (Shown in Exhibit B). You can now fill in the template name as shown on the box insert below called 'Generate a template'.
Customization type options (Exhibit C) including 'text' entry as shown in the first box below. You can also add customizations for 'Option dropdown' and 'Number'.
This Customization type options (Exhibit C) screen is brought up by selecting the 'Add Customization' button shown on Exhibit B above.
The screen page (Exhibit D) shown below shows my three saved customization templates. You can now press the download feed file button (small arrow) shown on this screen. This downloads a spreadsheet file to your local computer. You can see a sample downloaded spreadsheet file below (Exhibit E). This spreadsheet file can now be modified with SKU numbers and customization information to be later used to upload customization changes to your Amazon items.
It helps to have a good working knowledge of spreadsheets to do this customization template upload.
You can have one saved customization bulk update template for each unique set of customization options. If you have a template that would fit or match 20 of your item SKUs customizations and you decided to adjust your customization options in some way such as change a price or add or delete a customization, you could create a new adjusted template with these changes. Then you use this template to create a new download spreadsheet feed file. You can update the customizations for all 20 SKUs at once by having 20 spreadsheet lines in the data upload feed file (Exhibit G). Each spreadsheet line would have a different SKU number in the first column.
You can also just update each SKU customizations manually one at a time as done previously and not use this new feature. For changes to a few SKU customizations, it is probably faster to do it manually one at a time.
I was able to do a bulk upload update with this customization template spreadsheet. The downloaded feed file sample template spreadsheet is shown below (Exhibit E). To do a bulk upload of your customization template spreadsheet, there is a place on the page (Exhibit D) that says "Upload Customizations" that you can click on. When you first try to do a bulk upload, you should do it with just one item SKUs customization until you have the procedure working. Once you have the procedure working, you can have multiple SKUs in the spreadsheet template file.
Doing this procedure does require some skills in spreadsheets and it helps if you have done previous updates to your Amazon items using spreadsheet uploads. As with anything new, you may not be able to do this on the first try. If you put some effort into this, you may find it beneficial in the end by making your workflow more efficient when changing customization for many items at a time. The method that Amazon came up with is a bad design and vastly over complicated. I tried to explain it as best as I could and it should get you started in learning this new skill.
Note: So after I wrote these step by step instructions 1-8 (part 1) just below and additionally (part 2) 1-10 slightly lower in the article, Amazon emailed me this link on their step by step instructions which you can view: (See Amazon's step by step instructions here on enabling bulk customizations).
The seller would add a new spreadsheet line for every SKU item you want to update or add with a customization. This example (Exhibit E) has only one SKU line entered but you may add many more SKU lines. You can upload this spreadsheet using the "Upload Customizations" link shown on the above screen. Yes, this is more complicated than it should be but I did not design it.
When you first download the feed file from a specific saved customization template, you will get the spreadsheet that may look similar to the one below which contains the one SKU number and the contents of all the customization information for that SKU saved in a spreadsheet line format.
You can see in this sample below the relationship between the customization spreadsheet template (Top part of Exhibit G) and an actual item customization edit screen (Bottom part of Exhibit G) that was used to create the first spreadsheet line (Row 4). My line drawings try to show where the customization information is being saved to certain areas of the customization spreadsheet.
I determined in this sample that I wanted to add or change the SKUs to five different SKUs and I copied the first line down and just changed the first column which is the SKU number. After this spreadsheet is uploaded, all five items of the SKUs listed will have the same customizations.
This could be handy if you have 50 items with the same customizations that need to have one of the customizations change its price. If you knew which SKU number items were affected, you could update them all at once. If you only had a few SKUs that needed to be changed, then doing it one at a time manually would be faster.
In this sample below, I uploaded a change to the customization of one SKU and did not receive any error messages. I recommend going into a small sample selection of the items you changed to check to verify that the customization changed as requested. If the upload results result in an error, you would need to determine what caused the error and correct it before trying the upload again.
In the sample screen shown above, you can see the results of another update. One shows the update in progress, one shows the updated completed with no errors and one shows an update that had errors and shows a download error report link.
There is a page called 'Manage Custom Product Listing' shown below. This page list your items with an edit drop-down button. One of the edit options is 'Remove customization information' also shown below.
To get to the 'Manage Custom Product Listing' page call up the Manage Inventory page and look for and select the menu option 'Custom Products' on top. This may be new with the recent update.
You will see in the 'Manage Custom Product Listing' screen shown below an edit drop-down menu. One of the options 'Remove customization information' in this menu is to delete all of an item's customizations from the item selected.
If you want to turn your Merchant fulfilled item to a FBA item, you will need to delete any customizations with that item first.
Copyright 2021 Bob Estrin
Articles for artist:1. Selling your art at an art show
Articles for artist selling online at Amazon:
Articles for photographers:1. Cleaning your digital sensor