Three Ways to Solve The 100 Variant ‘Limit’ on Shopify Plus

A quick guide on how to solve the 100 Variant Limit on Shopify Plus.

One of the biggest misconceptions around Shopify Plus relates to variant limits on the ecommerce platform. Hit Google, and you’ll see a list of results discussing this “issue” at length.

Why “issue”? Because the 100 variant limit on Shopify Plus has truth to it, but also three common solutions merchants can implement to extend variant capabilities.

Why the 100 variant limit on Shopify Plus?

Let’s start with what a variant is: for each product, you can have variations – i.e., a certain style of shirt that comes in S, M, and L and in various color variations such as red, blue, and green, which comes to 9 variants. The Shopify Plus platform has been coded at a low code level to allow for 100 variations on a product; a decision that was made years ago with the initial coding of the Shopify platform.

To change this, Shopify would effectively have to completely change the architecture that the stores are built on. For this reason, the 100 variant limit will always exist on Shopify Plus. It’s just too central to the code in the core platform.

While 100 variants per product are more than enough for most merchants, there are more than a few brands out there that require exceeding this limit to offer advanced product options. This is where Shopify Plus’ unique Partner Community steps in with three solutions to the Shopify Plus 100 variant limit.

Solution 1: Use a Third-Party App

A great place to start when you’re looking for any solution with Shopify or Shopify Plus is the Shopify App Store or the Shopify Plus Partner community. These are partners that have been vetted by Shopify and who are experts in the platform in a variety of sectors and services.

As the 100 variant limit has been a part of the Shopify platform from the very start and will never be amended in the platform itself, of course, there are well-established solutions in the Shopify App store to help core and some Plus merchants. One such app is the one provided by Bold. These apps generally add variants to existing product data by editing the theme data.

But a word to the wise before you start installing apps willy-nilly (and not just variant extensibility apps, either): apps appeal to as many merchants’ needs as possible, and may not work exactly as you expect on your unique store. There are many well-documented cases of merchants sourcing an app that reads like exactly the solution they need, only to install it and have their other apps, solutions, and integrations collapse around them. When in doubt, consult with an expert (like VL OMNI; Tweet or Contact us any time with your questions).

Ultimately, it’s always important to consider the downsides of adding another layer of programming on top of core functionality, Shopify Plus or beyond.

Solution 2: Get Creative with Structuring Your Product Data

This solution is more complex and should involve the support and guidance of an experienced Shopify Plus Partner like eHouse Studio.

If you can restructure your product data

This is our recommended course of action: going to your source product data and modifying it to work better in the world of ecommerce. In VL OMNI’s experience, the merchants who are asking to exceed the 100 variant product limit are those who are looking to force bricks-and-mortar retail data into the new world of e-retail. With data like this, the issue is always going to be some sort of work-around to allow you to work with your data structure as-is.

It’s clear that e-retail isn’t going away any time soon, so instead of delaying the inevitable, we recommend leaning into the problem and cleaning and restructuring your data to fit the 100 variant limit of Shopify Plus. Because think about it: do you have a really great reason for needing more than 100 variants? If not, look at your product catalogue structuring. Can you rebuild the product set to break out those maxed-out product variants?

And if you absolutely can’t get away from exceeding the limit, keep reading…

If you can’t restructure your product data

Now, all of that said, there are merchants out there with very good cause for exceeding the 100 variant limit, and who just can’t get away from it – even with modifying or cleansing their product data. This could be an apparel company with 1000 custom product options as an example.

In this case, you most certainly need the expert help of a Plus Partner who specializes in modifying the Shopify Plus theme. In short and putting a very technically heavy-lifting process to very simple terms, this solution involves customizing your Shopify Plus store’s theme code to essentially tag products and their variants so that they appear to be a single product line to the end customer when they view it on the site. This way you’re absolutely unlimited to how many variants and products you can show in a collection-like manner.

A word of caution for this approach: editing the Shopify Plus theme code should be left to the experts, especially if you want a timely turnaround with minimized errors. There’s a very real risk of introducing errors into your theme code when modifying it. For more information on this approach, you can read a much more detailed article on solving the 100 variant limit on Shopify Plus from the theme side in this great article by our partners over at eHouse Studio.

Ultimately don’t lose sight of the core drive for colocating products and their variants on your Shopify Plus store: making products easy for your customers to find and buy! Whether you’re leveraging the theme to suit your needs better or you’re embarking on structuring your product data better for the future of commerce, keep in mind the purpose is to make your products easy to find and buy.

Solution 3: Extending variants with your data integration partner VL OMNI

Preface: Not every data integration platform will be able to do this. Do your due diligence when looking for partners and/or solutions in the data integration or iPaaS sector who claim to be able to extend the 100 variant limit on Shopify Plus.

For some high-volume merchants (1000+ orders a day) with a need for 100+ variant on their products, the only way they’re able to manage creating the front-end e-retail experience they want while delivering accurate product and variant data is through their data integration partner – specifically, through VL OMNI. As a top-tier data integration platform with the ability to apply business rules to the data as it’s moved and translated between applications, our platform has been built specifically to be able to handle unique scenarios like this. Consulting with brands on this type of solution, the VL OMNI Platform can treat product data as it moves into and out of the Shopify Plus platform to apply tags and other front-end fixes as reviewed in Solution 2 as a part of the integration (“Connector”).

This solution can clearly work especially well in tandem with agencies working on the front-end (i.e., Solution 2, above) as often these projects involve a larger scope than just product variant limits. VL OMNI works closely with eHouse Studio and others in the Plus Partner community to pool our expertise and resources to provide the best and most strategic approach to creating the best and most well-rounded ecommerce projects. By putting strategy first and consulting on a whole-system solution, VL OMNI and eHouse work closely together on providing solutions to a number of top Shopify Plus merchants.

Beyond the 100 variant limit on Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus is not a platform that exists in isolation. They actively partner with some of the best agencies, applications, and partners in the e-retail ecosystem, and they lean on and trust their partners to fill in gaps for our common merchants. So while the 100 variant limit will never be solved natively on the Shopify Plus ecommerce platform, merchants are more than well covered with Shopify’s incredible app and partner ecosystems.

Need further proof that this “limit” isn’t really one? Major brands like Kylie Cosmetics, MVMT, or Pink Boutique, each of which have unique product data needs above and beyond the average merchant, wouldn’t be on Shopify Plus if there weren’t real, solid solutions out there.

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