The purpose of this article is to distinguish the fundamental differences between a ‘Product’ and an ‘Item’ in Connect, when you should classify something as one or the other, and some examples of potential products and items.
Let’s first start explaining how Connect defines what a Product is and what an Item is:
Product – A virtual or physical substance that is defined for sale by the Vendor. Typically, only includes variations of Items that are related at the business-level.
Item – Individual atomic line items of the Order (or the Invoice)
Given these definitions, let’s take a look at the diagram of a Product (Shirt) and the individual Items (Sizes).
In this scenario, if a Vendor sells shirts, the ‘Shirt’ is the product. When we define additional specific attributes of the shirt – such as size, color, materials, etc. – these become items of that product. As you can see in the example above, the Shirt (with no defined size or color) is at the top of the hierarchy. Each specific attribute of the shirt, such as size and color, gets configured as an item.
Here is how the above product would look like, if it was configured in Connect:
Here is the Product Profile. If we map it to our hierarchy diagram, this would map to the Product-level of the aspect.
Now we can get to defining the individual types of shirts (that fall under the same characteristics of the top level shirt). As you can see in the hierarchy, the top level shirt breaks down into different colors, then segments even further into sizes. Once it is at the bottom of the hierarchy, we can define these as items.
Here are how the items would look like, if it were configured in Connect:
Again, here is the mapping of the Item-level configuration, from the diagram to Connect
This is how Connect products and items fundamentally work in relation to each other.
Let’s look at some common software products and how they would nest.
Office 365 (for home)
Note: Office 365 (for business) would NOT be nested under Office 365 (for home). Because of the different nature of delivery and fulfillment (e.g. Office 365 for business allows for custom email domains, inclusion of different/additional services such as Teams and SharePoint), Office 365 (for business) would be its own product within Connect.
Let’s see how Office 365 (for business) would look:
Office 365 (for business)
As you can see, Office 365 (for business) is at the top of the product hierarchy. Each item configured is a variation of Office 365 (for business) and can get upgrade or downgrade between each other.
Add-ons are additional pieces of product or software that can be purchased along side the main product. However, for some product configurations, the add-ons can also be purchased as a standalone product. Take for example, Windows 10. Windows 10 can be purchased as an add-on to Office 365 while also being purchased as a standalone, without the need for Office 365. Let’s see how that would be configured in Connect.
Here you can see the addition of Windows 10. The items defined here (Windows 10 Home Add-On and Windows 10 Pro Add-On) must be purchased alongside one of the Office 365 (for home) subscriptions. However, Windows 10 can also be purchased as a standalone software. To accomplish this, Windows 10 should also be created as a separate product (in addition to being an item under the Office 365 (for home) product. Please see the following diagram.
This version of Windows configured in Connect is no longer nested under the top level Office 365 (for home) product tree, but rather a Windows 10 top level. This is the ideal and best practice way of configuring add-ons in Connect.