What Are WooCommerce Product Types?

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You sell all kinds of products and services with WooCommerce. But when adding these to a site, they will be assigned specific product data.

So, as you are assigning these, don’t just think products. And although you will see that a lot of what I’m talking about is labeled product, all can be used for services as well.

Essentially your services are also a product.

Here are the four default types that come with WooCommerce:

The Product Types

When adding a product, you will choose among these options:

Simple Product – this is a single physical product that has no variations.

Simple Product Virtual – an example of this might be a service, such as hourly consulting.

Simple Product Downloadable – this is both virtual and downloadable, such as an ebook or a music file.

Grouped Product – a collection of products that are related but purchased separately. An example would be different models of the iMac from Apple.

External/Affiliate Product – a product you add to your store that takes buyers to another site to purchase it. Affiliates work well,  products you make a commission on.

Variable Product – some products will have different variations and multiple images. For example, a t-shirt that comes in different sizes and colors, with different prices.

woocommerce product types

Some extensions if installed will add more product date choices, such as subscriptions for example.

product types with extensions

When you create a product or service,  the page looks very similar to creating a post in WordPress. But this is what is called a custom post type, so it has additional options.

product page in Woocommerce

Product Descriptions

Each product or service you create will have two descriptions. Creating and formatting a description is no different than creating a post or page in WordPress and you use the same editor window.

Product Short Description

This description will typically show up next to the product image, price and add-to-cart. It’s just a teaser to lead them into the full description.


Product Description

This is where you place the product name and a longer description of the product. It will appear lower on the product page,  in some kind of tab format. In your dashboard, this might be a bit confusing as the longer description below is the first thing you will see when adding a new product and the short description above will be further down the page. But on the finished product page, short is at the top with the longer at the bottom.

product description

Product Image

The product image is added as a featured image.

product image

Product image on single product pages can be sized under WooCommerce > Product Images in the customizer.

image sizing in customizer

You can also create a product galley to show all the images that are attached to a specific product. The Featured Image will show as the primary image by default. This is a great feature if your products have some variations, such as different colors. Or if you simply want to give different angled shots to share a better representation of the product.

product gallery

You may also check your theme or page builder, as they may have their own settings for WooCommerce product image sizes. Also, there are plugins that will let you have more control over the galleries.

The challenge with some new WooCommerce users is that if they are selling services rather than products, an image doesn’t always demonstrate the service well, so you will need to get creative.

Tip: if at anytime you are having issues with image thumbnails with distortion or other problems, check out this post for a simple fix.

Controlling When the Product Shows

In your Publish options, you will find a setting called Catalog Visibility. Although this is pretty basic, you still have some options here for where to show and hide the product on the shop page and other archive pages.

Also, it lets you set the product as a featured product. You will find that many themes that are built for WooCommerce may have options on the homepage for the Featured Product. This is where you can control what it does and doesn’t show.

catalog visibility

Assigning Categories and Tags

With each product, you can assign categories and tags.

product categories and tags

A Closer Look at the Different Product Types

As you can see in these screenshots, the options for each product type are different.

Simple Product

Here you get all the basic settings, which include General, Inventory, Shipping, Linked Products, Attributes, Advanced, and Get more options. You will see the two fields for sales tax here if you have sales tax enabled in your WooCommerce settings.

simple product

Simple Product Virtual

Obviously, if you choose virtual for your Simple Product, you will no longer have the shipping option.

simple product virtual

Simple Product Downloadable

When you also choose Downloadable (and likely you will also choose Virtual), you get some new options in the General Setting tab and as with the virtual, shipping will be hidden.

Note that with both virtual and downloadable, when toggled on, this will affect all product types the same way and you will be given the same options.

simple product downloadable

Grouped Product

When creating your Grouped Product, you will see that the General tab no longer exists. That’s because you are creating a Grouped Product that will have several Simple Products added to it. So in reality, it’s not an actual single product to purchase.

grouped product

Now you will go down to Linked Products and add the products to this group using the Grouping field.

grouped product fields

To learn more about grouped products, see our post: How To Set Up Grouped Products in WooCommerce

External/Affiliate Product

When you create this product, you will be sending your customers to an external site to purchase it, so both Inventory and Shipping have been removed. Then, under your General tab, you will find settings for the URL or link to send customers to make the purchase.

external affiliate product

See more about this on our post Setting Up External Products and Affiliates in WooCommerce.

Variable Products

T-shirts are a good example of a variable product because you have different sizes and colors. All those variations need to be tied together. This is where you will be using Attributes and Variations.

For example, these t-shirts come in three colors and three sizes. We have created those attributes and assigned them here.

variable products attributes

If we go to variations and tell it to Create variations from all attributes, we can set up all the product data for each variation. As you can see from the drop-down menu, you have a lot of options.

variable product variation options

And of course, if the more attributes you have, the more variations. These are the ones created simply from three colors and sizes.

variations created

And we have settings for each variation. For example, this is the info you will need to add for each one.

settings for single variation

See our post: Setting Up Variable Products in WooCommerce

Selling Everything

This touches just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to WooCommerce. The beauty of WooCommerce is that it has some very powerful default settings that come with it.

But every online store has different needs and there are so many variables. Instead of bloating WooCommerce with dozens, if not hundreds, of features, the extensions and plugins out there give you alternative solutions for your specific needs.

Now that you understand the basics of product types with WooCommerce, you can see how flexible it is. eCommerce is not just about selling physical products, it’s about selling everything online.

Only the posts on the builder blog here may include affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission, at no cost to you.