I recently had a customer who wanted two products to share the same inventory. They had a shirt that’s available for both men and women, but it’s the same shirt. Their goal was to have the shirt available in both the men’s and women’s categories with different images based on the category. Having product variations wouldn’t work here because the main product image is the only one that will display in the category archives.
It turns out that the Product Bundles extension has a way to keep inventory at the “bundle” level similar to how a variable product can be setup. In case you find yourself in need of a similar setup, this is how we went about it.
Step 1: Create the Individual Products
For this example we needed to create two similar products. You can use simple or variable products, but for this example, I just went with simple ones. The most important parts of this are setting the price, the featured image and the correct categories.
You’ll need to repeat this for each category where you want to have a unique image displayed.
Step Two: Create the Bundled Product
This is where the bulk of the setup takes place. We’ll walk through it step by step so we’re all on the same page.
Choose “Product Bundle” as the product type and leave the price empty.
Click on the “Bundled Products” tab to set the next set of options. There’s flexibility in how you set this up so feel free to use other options. I personally liked the “Standard” layout and setting the Item Grouping to “None.” In this case, I believe that makes more sense to the customer in the cart and at checkout.
Now you can select your products to include in the bundle. Again, there is flexibility in how this is setup. The screenshot shows how I set this up. I recommend making the bundled items optional with a minimum quantity of zero. That way the customer can select whichever one they want.
Lastly, we need to set up our inventory. Click on the “Inventory” tab and select the “Manage Stock” checkbox. That will open up a field where you can enter the stock level for this product. Now when someone orders the bundle, the stock level will be adjusted here.
Once we publish the product, we’ll see something like this on the front end of the site.
The customer can now see the overall product image as well as the thumbnail they saw on the archive. They can add it to the cart and purchase it.
Step Three: Redirects
The last part of our project is to set up redirects for the individual products. That way when someone clicks on them, they’re taken to the bundled product to purchase. That’s important since our inventory is tracked at the bundle level.
There are quite a few redirection plugins for WordPress you could use or you could set up a 301 redirect on your server. I ended up using the Simple 301 Redirects plugin for this.
Now when a customer visits the site, they’ll see the image we want them to see, but they’ll be taken to the bundle to actually make the purchase. We end up with unique images for the same product in different categories and also have centralized stock management of what is really a single product.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!