There are 2 ways to create variations of products in Magento 2. If you want to offer your customers products with different variations (for example, different sizes, colours etc.) you may create products in the following ways:
1) create them as configurable products
(we have already covered this topic in our detailed guide)
2) create them as simple products with customisable options
On the product page of your store, both options will look almost the same. You will not be able to tell which is which without checking the admin backend or inspecting the code.
So for your customer, it doesn’t matter which way you choose to create variations of products in Magento 2. However, it does matter for you and your business because there is a huge difference in how the backend is setup.
There is one main advantage of simple products with customisable options. It is much easier to configure and manage these products.
All you need to do is to go to the product card, expand the section Customisable options and enter the necessary information. For each custom option you can create its own SKU name (optional) that will be attached to the SKU of the product. In addition, you can also add an extra associated cost to different variations of the same product. For example a larger version of a garden table may cost an additional £100 compared to the smaller version.
The custom option is ideal when the inventory needs are simple because the custom options are based on variations of one SKU. But it has a lot of limitations compared to configurable products. That is why simple products are rarely used. Usually when there are small amounts of products with few variants, for example if you sell products made to order and they don’t come with predefined parameters, or they are usually used for services or warranties.
Configurable products are more complex but they have much more advantages. First of all, they are more SEO-friendly, all your variations will be included in the search and filtering and they will be indexed by the search engines. Also you can easily manage and track your stocks, for example set different stock amounts for different variations and even set out of stock only some of them. Moreover, each variation will have its own SKU and can be sold separately. That is why this type of product gives more possibilities to the business and is used more widely.