Import configurable products

Last update: 2023-07-13
  • Created for:
  • Beginner

The best way to understand how configurable product data is structured, is to export a configurable product and its variations, and examine the data in a spreadsheet.

In the following example, you add a set of product variations for a new size in each color. First, you export the configurable product, and examine the data structure. Then, you update the data and import it back into the catalog. If you do not want to go through the exercise of exporting the data, you can download the CSV file that is used in the example.

Example storefront - size and color attributes

Step 1: Verify attribute settings and values

  1. Before you begin, make sure that the attributes that are used for product variations have the required property settings.

    • Scope - Global

    • Catalog Input Type for Store Owner - The input type of any attribute that is used for a product variation must be one of the following:

      • Dropdown
      • Visual Swatch
      • Text Swatch
      • Multi-Select
    • Values Required - Yes

  2. If you are adding a size or color, or making any other change to an existing attribute, make sure to update the attribute with the new value.

  3. On the Admin sidebar, go to Stores > Attributes > Product.

  4. Find the attribute in the list and open in edit mode.

  5. Add the new value to the attribute.

    In the following example, a new size is added to a Text Swatch.

    Product attribute - add new value
  6. When complete, click Save Attribute.

  7. If you are adding an attribute, follow the instructions to create the attribute before you begin.

Step 2: Export the configurable product

  1. On the Admin sidebar, go to Catalog > Products.

  2. Find the configurable product to export:

    • Click Filters.
    • Set Type to Configurable Product and click Apply Filters.
    • Choose the configurable product that you want to use for your test export and take note of the SKU.
  3. On the Admin sidebar, go to System > Data Transfer > Export.

    Data export settings
  4. Under Export Settings, do the following:

    • Set Entity Type to Products.

    • Set Export File Format to CSV.

  5. Under Entity Attributes, scroll down or use the attribute label filter to locate the SKU attrubute and do the following:

    • Enter the SKU of the configurable product that you have chosen to export and click Continue.

      Data export SKU
    • Look for the file in the download location for your web browser and open it as a spreadsheet.

      The CSV file has a separate row for each simple product variation, and one row for the configurable product. The product_type column shows multiple simple product variations that are associated with one configurable product.

      Example data - configurable product with variations
    • Scroll to the far right of the worksheet to find the following columns.

      • configurable_variations - Defines the one-to-many relationship between the configurable product record and each variation.
      • configurable_variation_labels - Defines the label that identifies each variation.

      In this example, the data can be found in columns CG and CH. Depending on the number of variations, the string of data in the configurable_variations column can be long. The data is used as an index to the associated product variations, and has the following structure:

      sku={{SKU_VALUE}},attribute1={{VALUE}},attribute2={{VALUE}}| sku={{SKU_VALUE}},attribute1={{VALUE}},attribute2={{VALUE}}

      Each SKU is separated by a pipe symbol (|), and attributes are separated by a comma. The value of each attribute is represented by the attribute code, rather than the attribute label. This is how the actual data appears:

  6. When you understand the structure of configurable product data, you can edit the data or add new variations directly to the CSV file.

    To learn more, see Complex Data.

Step 3: Edit the data

In the following example, the set of XL sizes is copied and pasted into the worksheet to create a set of product variations for a new size in each color.

  1. Copy the set of product variations that you want to use as a template for the new products.

    Exported data - copy product variations
  2. Insert the copied rows records into the worksheet.

    You now have two identical sets of the simple product variations.

    CSV data - add product variations
  3. Update the data in the following columns of the new variations, as needed.

    • sku
    • name
    • url_key
    • additional_attributes

    For this example, all the XL references are changed to XXL.

  4. Update the information in the product_variations column of the configurable product record, so that the new variations are included as part of the configurable product.

    On the row with the configurable product record, click the cell that contains the product_variations data. Then in the formula bar, copy the last set of parameters, beginning with the pipe symbol.

    product_variations data
  5. Paste the parameters to the end of the data and edit as needed for the new variations.

    In this example, the sku and size parameters are updated for the new XXL size.

  6. Before the data is imported back into the catalog, delete any rows that have not changed.

    In this example, only the three new variations for the new size and the row with the updated configurable product are imported back into the catalog. The other rows can be deleted from the CSV file. However, make sure not to delete the header row with column labels.

    CSV data to import
  7. Save the CSV file.

    The data is ready to import into the catalog.


    The size of an import file cannot be larger than 2 MB.

Step 4: Import the updated data

  1. On the Admin sidebar, go to System > Data Transfer > Import.

  2. Under Import Settings, set Entity Type to Products.

  3. Under Import Behavior, set Import Behavior to Add/Update.

    Data import behavior
  4. Under File to Import, click Choose File and navigate to the CSV file that you prepared for import and choose the file.

    Data import file
  5. In the upper-right corner, click Check Data.

  6. If the file is valid, click Import.

    Otherwise, correct any problems found in the data and try again.

    System message - file is valid
  7. When the import is complete, click Cache Management in the message at the top of the page and refresh all invalid caches.

    The new product variations are now available in the catalog from the Admin and in the storefront. In this example, the hoodie is now available in size XXL for all colors.

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