How to Create Variations in Amazon Seller Central by Uploading an Inventory File

For those just starting in the world of Amazon selling the simplest way to add new product listings to Amazon is to simply use the “Add a product” button on the Manage Inventory page provided through Seller Central. However, as you progress in building your Amazon product empire you’ll realize the limitations with creating products via the web interface.

In this series we’ll be stepping you through how to use the Add Products via upload functionality in Amazon Seller Central. By using this feature you’ll be able to create and edit products faster and more precisely than you can than simply using the Add a product web feature

Last time we looked at how to create a new Amazon listing by uploading an inventory file through the “Add Products via Upload” section in Seller Central. Today we’re going to go a step further and show you how you can use the same inventory file template to create variations for existing listings or new listings.

Understanding Variations

For those not 100% sure what a variation on Amazon is, this is a quick overview (for a more in-depth explanation read Amazon’s Variation Relationship Overview):

  • A variation can be size, color, package quantity, etc…
  • A variation is defined by 1 parent listing and 1 or more variation listings
  • Each variation is its own unique product listing with it’s own unique product id (like UPC), sku, price, photos, etc…
  • A parent does not need it’s own unique product id (since customers cannot order a parent listing they have to choose a specific variation to purchase)
  • Depending on the the Amazon product category the types of variations you can create changes (for example Furniture and Decor has a “Scent” variation theme where as Outdoor Living does not have this as an option)
  • You edit a variation theme without having to create a brand new listing

Creating a Variation from Existing Listings

There are multiple ways you can create parent-child variations in Amazon. The first way we’ll step you through is creating variations from product listings that you already have created.

For this example let’s pretend you want to create a variation listing for 2 different colored garlic presses you have already listed on Amazon. One garlic press has a white handle one garlic press has a black color handle

Step 1: Figure Out What Variation Theme to Use

As mentioned before depending on the category you are listing your product in the type of variation themes available can vary. Since this is a garlic press we know that this is a kitchen product so we need to download the “Home” inventory file (refer to our post on how to create amazon listings using flat file to get a refresher on how to download the correct inventory file template). We also know that the thing that varies for our garlic press is the color.

Once you’ve downloaded the inventory file open it up and click on the “Valid Values” worksheet. On this worksheet you’ll be able to view all the valid values that can be used for inventory file template. There is a lot of information on this worksheet so don’t be overwhelmed. What you’re looking for is a section in that sheet called “Variation Theme” (you either can scroll over there or faster just to do a control-f, find and search for it). Once there look for your category of product. In our example’s case it is “Kitchen”. Below is what you should see.

variation theme excel screenshot

Looking at this screen you’ll see there are 3 options that have color as an option:

  • ColorName – child listings vary only by Color
  • ItemPackageQuantityColor – child listings vary by Package Quantity & Color
  • Sizename-Colorname – child listings vary by Size Name & Color

You’ll notice that some of the variation themes have 2 variation types (ItemPackageQuantityColor) and others just have one (ColorName). This just means you can define another product dimension to vary the products.

For our garlic press example we’ll choose ColorName.

Step 2: Fill Out the Inventory File Template

Now that we know for our garlic press that we want create a ColorName variation we can fill out the template worksheet on the Inventory File. Since we’re assuming that the white garlic press and black garlic press listings have been created the one thing we are missing is the parent listing.

In general what we will be doing is to create the parent listing and then define the parent’s children listings (the black and white colored garlic presses).

Creating a parent listing is very similar to create a regular listing. Below are the fields that you’ll need to have filled out:

  • Seller SKU (item_sku) – MYGARLIPRESSCPARENT
  • Product Name (item_name) – My Garlic Press Parent
  • Product Type (feed_product_type) – Kitchen
  • Item Type Keyword (item_type) – garlic-presses
  • Parentage (parent_child) – parent (this defines this listing as the parent)
  • Variation Theme (variation_theme) – ColorName (this defines the variation theme we want to use for the parent)

Once you have all that filled out you are now all set to put in the details for the child listings. Since the listings have already been created you don’t need to fill in all the fields on the inventory file. All you need to fill out are the fields that identify the variation and the details of the variation.

For the white Garlic Press below are the fields that need to be filled out:

  • Seller SKU (item_sku) – WHITEGARLICPRESS
  • Update Delete (update_delete) – partialupdate (this field let’s amazon know you wan to update your current listing with new info)
  • Parentage (parent_child) – child (let’s Amazon know this is the variation you want as the child)
  • Parent SKU (parent_sku) – MYGARLIPRESSCPARENT (let’s Amazon know which listing is the parent)
  • Relationship Type (relationship_type) – variation (let’s Amazon know this is a variation)
  • Variation Theme (variation_theme) – ColorName (let’s Amazon know what kind of variation to expect)
  • Color (color_name) – White (name of the variation we want to use and be displayed on Amazon)

For the black Garlic Press we fill out the same fields, but change the last field to to reflect the different color name:

  • Seller SKU (item_sku) – BLACKGARLICPRESS
  • Update Delete (update_delete) – partialupdate
  • Parentage (parent_child) – child
  • Parent SKU (parent_sku) – MYGARLIPRESSCPARENT
  • Relationship Type (relationship_type) – variation
  • Variation Theme (variation_theme) – ColorName
  • Color (color_name) – Black (name of the other color variation we want to use)

Step 3: Upload the Txt File

Once all that has been filled out, save this file (as an .xlsm file), and then save the file again as a tab delimited text file which you can upload on the Seller Central Add Products via Upload page.

Step 4: Verify Parent and Children Were Created

If everything went ok with the upload now when you go to the Manage Inventory page you should see the name of the new Parent and next to the name a little arrow with the word “Variations” next to it. By clicking the little arrow it will expand beneath and show the variations that you added to the parent.

Creating a Variation with New Listings

Above we showed the process for creating a parent-child variation when you already have existing listings. But then there might be a case where you want to create a brand new parent and brand new child listings. In this case it is similar to above, but the difference being that you will need to fill out all the required fields for your new children listings that we left out in our above example (you can see how to do this in our previous post). Filling out the parent listing is the same.

Other Important Points About Variations

  • Once a variation theme is declared in the template file you need to fill out the corresponding field for that variation (for example ColorName – Color or SizeNameColorName – Size & Color must be filled out)
  • Depending on the category of your variation the behavior of the listing can be different (for example in kitchen when clicking on different variations it uses Amazon displays the exact product title you used for that variation whereas in outdoor it only displays the name of the parent listing)
  • By deleting a parent you won’t delete the children, but it will get of the child parent relationship so all the children will become individual “regular” listings
  • If you ever get stuck or have questions contact Amazon Seller Support


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