Ecommerce Modeling Exercise - Product Variants

Feb 02 2018
TL;DR

Exploring and learning ways to model products and variants in an ecommerce application. Specifically, how to find the matching variant when a customer selects a set of options like "Small Red Cotton Shirt".

As part of building the next version of our ecommerce product, I’ve been going through some modeling exercises on how we want to model our products and related options/variants. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from SpreeCommerce, as it seems like a really well thought out approach in this particular area.

So the basic flow we’re looking to build at this point is, say a merchant wants to sell a t-shirt. They would maybe create a product named “Shirt” and then that product would have different types of options like Size, Color and Material. And maybe the specific values for those options would include something like Small, Red and Cotton, respectively.

Creating Product With Options

Here is how a product like that might be created in Ruby using this kind of modeling:

product = Product.create!(name: "Shirt")

product.option_types.create!(name: "Size").tap do |size|
  %W(Small Medium Large).each do |name|
    size.option_values.create!(name: name)
  end
end

product.option_types.create!(name: "Color").tap do |color|
  %W(Red Blue Orange).each do |name|
    color.option_values.create!(name: name)
  end
end

product.option_types.create!(name: "Material").tap do |material|
  %W(Cotton Poly).each do |name|
    material.option_values.create!(name: name)
  end
end

Creating Product Variant

An individual Variant would be a specific combination of the available option values with its own sku, price and even dimensions, weight, stock level, etc.

Here is how a Variant might get created for a “Small Red Cotton Shirt”:

# first, let's get some option values to use for our new variant
small =
  product.option_types
    .find_by(name: "Size").option_values
    .find_by(name: "Small")

red =
  product.option_types
    .find_by(name: "Color").option_values
    .find_by(name: "Red")

cotton =
  product.option_types
    .find_by(name: "Material").option_values
    .find_by(name: "Cotton")

# then we'll create the variant for these values
product.variants.create!(
  option_values: [small, red, cotton], price: 12.95)

Generating All Variants

Of course, this would get repeated for every possible combination, probably automatically as option types/values get added to a product. Here is one way to create variants for every possible combination:

class Product < ApplicationRecord
  # ...

  # yes, I'm sure this could still be optimized
  def generate_variants
    option_type_value_groupings = {}

    option_types.each do |option_type|
      option_type_value_groupings[option_type.id] =
        option_type.option_values.map(&:id)
    end

    all_value_ids = option_type_value_groupings.values
    all_value_ids =
      all_value_ids.inject(all_value_ids.shift) do |memo, value|
        memo.product(value).map(&:flatten)
    end

    all_value_ids.each do |value_ids|
      variants.create(option_value_ids: value_ids,
                      price: master.price)
    end
  end
end

Finding Variant From Selected Option Values

Now if we present the customer with a product order form with some drop-down lists for Size, Color and Material and they select Small, Red and Cotton, we need to know which specific Variant that relates to so that we can do things like get the actual price and maybe check stock levels for that particular variant, etc.

class ProductTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
  test "finding variant from selected option values" do
    # create product set up with various option types/values
    product = create_product

    # grab some option values to use
    small = find_option_value_by_name(...)
    red = find_option_value_by_name(...)
    cotton = find_option_value_by_name(...)

    # simulate customer picking small, red, cotton on a product form
    chosen_option_value_ids = [small.id, red.id, cotton.id]

    # find the variant that matches the selected option values
    variant = product.variants
      .joins(:option_values)
      .where(option_values: { id: chosen_option_value_ids })
      .group(:id)
      .having("count(variants.id) = ?", chosen_option_value_ids.count)
      .first

    assert variant.option_values.include? small
    assert variant.option_values.include? red
    assert variant.option_values.include? cotton
  end
end

The trick here is the use of group and having to narrow it down to just the Variant that contains all of the chosen option values. Otherwise, you end up with all of the variants that have any of the chosen option values.

Models

Here are the models used in this example:

class Product < ApplicationRecord
  has_many :option_types, dependent: :destroy

  has_one :master,
    -> { where is_master: true },
    class_name: "Variant",
    inverse_of: :product,
    dependent: :destroy

  has_many :variants,
    -> { where is_master: false },
    inverse_of: :product,
    dependent: :destroy

  # ...
end

class OptionType < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :product
  has_many :option_values, dependent: :destroy
end

class OptionValue < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :option_type
  has_many :option_value_variants, dependent: :destroy
  has_many :variants, through: :option_value_variants
end

class Variant < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :product
  has_many :option_value_variants, dependent: :destroy
  has_many :option_values, through: :option_value_variants
end

class OptionValueVariant < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :option_value
  belongs_to :variant
end

Schema

And here is the schema used behind the scenes:

ActiveRecord::Schema.define(version: 2018_02_02_154750) do
  # These are extensions that must be enabled in order to support this database
  enable_extension "plpgsql"

  create_table "option_types", force: :cascade do |t|
    t.bigint "product_id"
    t.string "name"
    t.datetime "created_at", null: false
    t.datetime "updated_at", null: false
    t.index ["product_id"], name: "index_option_types_on_product_id"
  end

  create_table "option_value_variants", force: :cascade do |t|
    t.bigint "option_value_id"
    t.bigint "variant_id"
    t.datetime "created_at", null: false
    t.datetime "updated_at", null: false
    t.index ["option_value_id"], name: "index_option_value_variants_on_option_value_id"
    t.index ["variant_id"], name: "index_option_value_variants_on_variant_id"
  end

  create_table "option_values", force: :cascade do |t|
    t.bigint "option_type_id"
    t.string "name"
    t.datetime "created_at", null: false
    t.datetime "updated_at", null: false
    t.index ["option_type_id"], name: "index_option_values_on_option_type_id"
  end

  create_table "products", force: :cascade do |t|
    t.string "name"
    t.datetime "created_at", null: false
    t.datetime "updated_at", null: false
  end

  create_table "variants", force: :cascade do |t|
    t.string "sku"
    t.integer "price_cents", default: 0, null: false
    t.string "price_currency", default: "USD", null: false
    t.boolean "is_master"
    t.bigint "product_id"
    t.datetime "created_at", null: false
    t.datetime "updated_at", null: false
    t.index ["product_id"], name: "index_variants_on_product_id"
  end

  add_foreign_key "option_types", "products"
  add_foreign_key "option_value_variants", "option_values"
  add_foreign_key "option_value_variants", "variants"
  add_foreign_key "option_values", "option_types"
  add_foreign_key "variants", "products"
end

Sample Code

https://github.com/joeybeninghove/product-variants-example

Thoughts?

This is mainly just me exploring and learning, so if you have any ideas or improvements to any of this, I’d love to hear them!

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