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 of the ecommerce platform. Hit Google, and you’ll see a list of results discussing this “issue” at length. In this post, we’ll discuss how many variants Shopify has, how to use variants, and three common solutions to remove the Shopify variant limit.
Why “issue”? Brands that have more than 100 product variants need to exceed the variant limit to offer more product variations. While Merchants know how to add product variants in Shopify, there are three common solutions for Merchants to extend variant capabilities and provide additional functionality to their products.
Why the 100 variant limit on Shopify Plus?
Let’s start with how to use variants in Shopify: for each product, you have variations. For instance, a certain style of shirt can come in S, M, and L and in various color variations such as red, blue, and green, which comes to 9 variants.
So, how many variants can you have on Shopify Plus? The 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 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 brands out there that require exceeding this limit to offer advanced product options. This is where Shopify Plus’ unique Partner Community steps in.
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 partners have been vetted by Shopify and 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, there are well-established solutions in the Shopify App store to help core and some Plus merchants. For instance, the Bold app. 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 (and not just variant extensibility apps): apps appeal to as many merchants’ needs as possible. This means it may not work exactly as you expect on your unique store. There are many well-documented cases of brands sourcing an app that appears to be exactly like the solution they need. But it only takes to install it and have their other apps, solutions, and integrations collapse around them.
When in doubt, consult with an expert. Ultimately, it’s always important to consider the downsides of adding another layer of programming on top of core functionality.
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 workaround to allow you to work with your data structure as-is.
It’s clear that eCommerce 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, 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, you can read a much more detailed article on solving the Shopify 100 variant limit from the theme side 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. That is 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, keep in mind the main purpose.
Solution 3: Extend Variants With Your Data Integration Partner
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 Shopify Plus 100 variant limit. For some high-volume merchants (1000+ orders a day) with a need for 100+ product variants, the only way to create the front-end experience they want while delivering accurate product and variant data is through their 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 work especially well in tandem with agencies working on the front-end as often these projects involve a larger scope than just product variant limits. VL OMNI works closely with eHouse Studio and other Plus Partners to pool expertise and resources to provide the best and most strategic approach for eCommerce projects. By putting strategy first and consulting on a whole-system solution, VL OMNI, and eHouse provide solutions to a number of top Shopify Plus merchants.
Beyond the Shopify Plus 100 Variant Limit
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 can rely on the expertise of 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.