Set Up Multi-Image Association for Matrix Item Options

New releases often attract attention to big and exciting features. However, you'll know that the entirety of Elbrus isn't just pickup in store; that Vinson had more to it than just store locator.

Thus, I want to use this opportunity to bring to your attention a neat little feature that I had forgotten about until we were asked a question about it: multi-option imagery.

When it comes to matrix items, you can configure your products with a wide variety of options. For fashion retailers, this means including options for size and color. Other retailers can go even further, including three, four or more options.

An unspoken rule, from my point of view, is that you should include options that the product truly needs: while you can certainly find extra options to add to the matrix, you're adding complexity multiplicatively. In other words, a non-matrix item has only 1 option; one option increases that by, say, five options (1x5=5); two options increases that again (eg 1x5x5=25) — you see where this is going.

While I'll leave that up to you and your organiztion to figure out, there was an interesting development in Elbrus that you may not have noticed. Previously, image association with matrix item options was bound to just one dimension in the matrix; for quite a lot of retailers this meant color. However, with Elbrus you can now add as many associations as you like. Let's look at this.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I'm going to be adding a new option for a range of hats my web store sells. They already have size and color options, but these new hats also have a range of slogans that we want customers to be able to choose from. Therefore, I'm going to use the field/word 'slogan' a lot: change it to suit your site's requirements.

Create a Custom Item Field

There are two crucial parts to adding a new item option: something you attach to the product, and something you attach to the transaction. The former is a defining characteristic of the item, and the latter represents a choice the customer has made. Adding only an item field and then wondering why it's not a selectable option on the product detail page is a common error, and is one we include in our Site Builder FAQ under "Why is a matrix item not appearing in my web store?".

Go to Customization > Lists, Records & Fields > Item Fields > New. Set it up as follows:

  • Label: Slogan
  • ID: _slogan
  • Matrix Option: (checked)
  • Type: Multiple Select
  • List/Record: (add new)
    • Name: Slogans
    • ID: _slogans
    • Matrix Option List: (checked)
    • Values: Great; Amazing
  • Applies To: Inventory Item
  • Applies To: Select Individual Items

After checking Select Individual Items you must then select some items to apply it to. I strongly suggest that you do not apply this to all items as it will require you to set a value for this on all your items, even if they don't have one.

All other fields can be left as default.

Create a Custom Transaction Item Option

This is the part that allows the shopper to select additional options when they add to cart.

Go to Customization > Lists, Records & Fields > Transaction Item Options > New. Set it up as follows:

  • Label: Slogan
  • ID: _slogan
  • Type: Multiple Select
  • List/Record: Slogans
  • Applies To: Purchase; Sale; Opportunity; Web Store; Transfer Order; Apply to Kit/Assembly Components
  • Applies To > Items: (select the items you want)
  • Sourcing & Filtering:
    • Source List: Item
    • Source From: Slogan

Note what I said above about specifying particular items to apply this to, rather than selecting all items.

All other options can be left as default.

Set Up a Inventory Item

Now we have our new fields, we need to add them to at least one product. As these are matrix item options, they are not added like other custom fields; instead, we effectively create new items using them. To keep things simple, in my site, I'm going to be modifying an existing matrix parent item and add new options to them.

Go to a product you want to modify, edit it, and then go to the Accounting tab, and then the Matrix Items section.

The first thing you need to do is add the new option to the Matrix Item Name Template. What this value should be depends on how your site is configured; the default is the item ID followed by the item options, with each one contained in curly braces, separated by hyphens. Thus, for my site, I'm going to update it to:

{itemid}-{custitem31}-{custitem30}-{custitem_slogan}

Next to this will be all the item options that can be added to the product. If this product already has matrix items as children, some options will already be pre-selected and the items will be listed below.

Using CTRL+click, select the option values you want to create child items for; as we've only added two options, I'd add them both. When you've done that, click the Add Items button — click through the screens to add the new products. When that's done, we can move on.

Add/Update Product Imagery

The product is set up. If you want, you could go over to it and take a look at it. Swapping the new option around shouldn't affect what image is shown. Thus, we need to update the imagery.

If you're using an existing product then you'll have imagery associated with it already; this needs to be dealt with. What I mean is that it's currently set up using the old naming convention. For example, here are the file names of the existing images of the product I'm using

  • OL4979.media.black.01.jpg
  • OL4979.media.beige.01.jpg

This matches the naming convention I have set up for my site.

I now need to supply new images following this convention. Thus, they are now going to be:

  • OL4979.media.black.amazing.01.jpg
  • OL4979.media.black.great.01.jpg
  • OL4979.media.beige.amazing.01.jpg
  • OL4979.media.beige.great.01.jpg

When you have those images, you'll need to upload them to the file cabinet in the folder where you store your images (eg Web Site Hosting Files > Live Hosting Files > Images) and then deal with the old ones (either making them inactive or just delete them).

Update the Configuration Record

There's some configuration changes we need to make: one to make it work and the others to improve user experience.

Go to Setup > SuiteCommerce Advanced > Configuration.

Associate the Images

The final piece is to make the frontend part of the application aware of the fact there are new multi-image options.

Go to Shopping Catalog > Multi-Image Option. In the list, add the name of the custom transaction item option we set up (in my case, it's custcol_slogan).

Make the URL Component Friendly

While we're editing the config record, we should also add a friendly URL parameter name for the option. Adding one would change, for example, it from &custcol_slogan=amazing to &slogan=amazing.

To do this, go to Shopping Catalog > Item Options and add a line into the Item options and custom transaction column fields table. As it's a simple item option, you only need to add the ID and the name you want to use as a synonym.

Make the Facet Friendly

As you've added an item option, this will be added to the search results pages as something that customers can use to filter results by. By default, it will use the ID of the custom item field, which we want to change.

In Shopping Catalog > Facets add a new line to the Facets table. Like the URL component entry, you just need to add data for a basic entry. The ID is the one for the custom item field (eg custitem_slogan) and the rest is kinda up to you. For reference, you can copy the entry for size, if you have one.

Save the record.

If you hard refresh the PDP for the item, you should see the new options available and they swap the images when you click them.

And that's it! You now multiple images set up to handle multiple options.

Final Thoughts

I don't have much to add, only to say that it's important that you think about how you want to use this functionality and its implications. And 'by this functionality' I mean, in fact, item options. Remember what I said earlier about how quickly the multiplication of options can get out of control.

With that said, if your products are only available with so many confiurable options and this makes sense then do it.

I was asked if there is a maximum number of item options and the answer is: technically no but the more you add the more you degrade performance as additional item information and imagery needs to be loaded. Furthermore, you start to degrade user experience by increasing the number of clicks required before the user can proceed to checkout.

It is also worth pointing out that whenver you create new item options, you should be careful about non-alphanumeric characters. It is possible that you may end up using characters that appear in the URLs (eg ampersands) or in name delimiters (eg periods) and so you should avoid these.

What are your experiences with the multi-image option functionality? Do you have any questions?