Products and items

Two types of catalog entries, products and items, classify merchandise in the WebSphere Commerce database.

An item is a tangible unit of merchandise that has a specific name, part number, and price. For example, a 15 inch hammer with a wooden handle (part number 15) is an item.

A product, however, is a group of items that exhibit the same attributes. For example, a hammer is a product, while the 15 inch hammer with a wooden handle is an item. The attributes of this product are "handle type" and "size," which are defined by the corresponding attribute values, wooden and 15 inch. Items related to a particular product exhibit the same set of attributes and are distinguished by their attribute values. Although items do not need to be related to any product, and can exist independently in the catalog, each item should be associated to one product to maintain a consistent view when using the Product Management tools in the WebSphere Commerce Accelerator.

To distinguish products and items, keep in mind that a product cannot be purchased, while an item can potentially be purchased. The association between the Product object and Item object is modeled in the CATENTREL table.

Notes for WebSphere Commerce Accelerator users:

  • Items and SKUs are considered synonymous, and for simplicity, the orderable item is called a SKU.
  • A parent product is not required for each item. However, this is necessary in order to use the Product Management tools. Also, pricing and discounts will not be able to default to the parent product level, meaning that all items must have their own prices and discounts, if applicable.