Product records track unique products within your store. These differ from Variants, which track the unique variations of a product. For instance, a product that’s a T-shirt would have variants denoting its different colors and sizes. Together, Products and Variants describe what is for sale.

Note that as of version 4.6, certain product fields are translatable (read more about this in Internationalization).

Products have the following attributes:

nameShort name for the productYes
descriptionThe most elegant, poetic turn of phrase for describing your product’s benefits and featuresYes
slugSEO slug based on the product name that is placed into the URL for the product. We use a library called friendly_id to generate themYes
statusThe status of the product. Can be draft, active, archived. Defaults to draft.No
available_onThe first date the product becomes available for sale online in your shopNo
discontinue_onDate when the product will become unavailable for sale online in your shopNo
deleted_atThe date the product is marked as deleted. We don’t remove products entirely, only soft deleting them using a library calledNo
meta_titleOptional title used for search engines instead of nameYes
meta_descriptionA description targeted at search engines for search engine optimization (SEO)Yes
meta_keywordsSeveral words and short phrases separated by commas, also targeted at search enginesYes

To understand how variants come to be, you must first understand option types and option values.

Option Types and Option Values

Option types denote the different options for a variant.

A typical option type would be a size, with that option type’s values being something such as Small, Medium and Large.

Another typical option type could be a color, such as Red, Green, or Blue.

A product can be assigned many option types, but must be assigned at least one if you wish to create variants for that product

The name and presentation fields for option types are translatable as of version 4.6.


Variant records track the individual variants of a Product. Variants are of two types: master variants and normal variants.

Variant records can track some individual properties regarding a variant, such as height, width, depth, and cost price. These properties are unique to each variant, and so are different from Product Properties, which apply to all variants of that product.

AttributeDescriptionExample Value
skuUnique identifier for each variant123TSHRT-M-G
barcodeBarcode code
barcodeA unique code that represents a variant, often used for scanning purposes.123456789
weightThe weight of the variant2
heightThe height of the variant150
widthThe width of the variant150
depthThe depth of the variant100
is_masterIndicates if the variant is a master variantfalse
track_inventoryIndicates if the inventory is tracked for this varianttrue
cost_priceThe cost price of the variant5.00
cost_currencyThe currency of the cost priceUSD
discontinue_onDate when the variant will become unavailable for sale2023-12-31 18:00

Master Variants

Every single product has a master variant, which tracks basic information such as a count on hand, a price and a .

Whenever a product is created, a master variant for that product will be created too.

Logic behind is implemented in the after_initialize callback of the Spree::Product model in a ensure_master method.

Master variants are automatically created along with a product and exist for the sole purpose of having a consistent API when associating variants and line items. If there were no master variant, then line items would need to track a polymorphic association which would either be a product or a variant.

Regular Variants

Variants which are not the master variant are unique based on a option type and option value combinations.

For instance, you may be selling a product which is a Baseball Jersey, which comes in the sizes “Small”, “Medium” and “Large”, as well as in the colors of “Red”, “Green”. For this combination of sizes and colors, you would be able to create 9 unique variants:


Default Variant

This all can sound complex and confusing, so we’ll simplify things for you.

To get the default Variant for a product, you can call:


How this works?

  • If a product has multiple Variants it will return the first non-master Variant based on their sort position set in the Admin Panel or Platform API.
  • If there are no non-master Variants it will return the Master Variant

So you can easily rely on this method to get the default Variant for a product.


Images can be associated to the Product (via master variant) or to the individual Variants.

Product images can be fetched via:


To get all images for product and all it’s variants, call variant_images on the product:


To fetch individual variant images, call images on the variant:


Image order is determined by the position attribute, which is an integer. By default, images are ordered from left to right.

Under the hood we use Rails Active Storage to handle image storage and manipulation.

More information about images can be found in the Images Customization section.

Product Properties

Product properties track individual attributes for a product that don’t apply to all products. These are typically additional information about the item. For instance, a T-Shirt may have properties representing information about the kind of material used, as well as the type of fit the shirt is.

A Property should not be confused with an OptionType, which is used when defining Variants for a product.

You can retrieve the value for a property on a Product object by calling the property method on it and passing through that property’s name:

=> "100% Cotton"

You can set a property on a product by calling the set_property method:

product.set_property("material", "100% cotton")

If this property doesn’t already exist, a new Property instance with this name will be created on the fly.

As of version 4.6, product property value fields are translatable.


Price objects track a price for a particular currency and variant combination. For instance, a Variant may be available for $15 (15 USD) and €7 (7 Euro).

Price object contains 3 important attributes:

AttributeDescriptionExample Value
amountThe current selling price of the variant in the specified currency.99.90
compare_at_amountThe recommended retail price of the variant in the specified currency. This can be used to display crossed out prices in the storefront.129.90
currencyThe ISO code for the currency in which the amount and compare_at_amount are denominated.USD

If a product doesn’t have a price in the selected currency it won’t show up in the Storefront and Storefront API by default.

To fetch a list of currencies that given product is available in, call prices to get a list of related Price objects:

=> [#<Spree::Price id: 2 ...]

To find a list of currencies that Variant is available in, call prices to get a list of related Price objects:

=> [#<Spree::Price id: 2 ...]

To find Product price in a selected currency via ISO symbol:

=> #<Spree::Price id: 232, variant_id: 232, amount: 0.8499e2, currency: "EUR", deleted_at: nil, created_at: "2021-08-16 19:41:55.888522000 +0000", updated_at: "2021-08-16 19:41:55.888522000 +0000", compare_at_amount: nil, preferences: nil>

If there’s no price set for requested currency this will return a new Price object with the currency set to the requested currency. It will not be a persisted object.

To find Variant’s price in a selected currency:

=> #<Spree::Price id: 232, variant_id: 232, amount: 0.8499e2, currency: "EUR", deleted_at: nil, created_at: "2021-08-16 19:41:55.888522000 +0000", updated_at: "2021-08-16 19:41:55.888522000 +0000", compare_at_amount: nil, preferences: nil>

There are also other helpful methods available such as:

Spree behind the scenes uses Ruby Money gem with some additional tweaks.


A prototype is a useful way to share common OptionType and Property combinations amongst many different products. They work as a product template to speed up the creation of new products.

For instance, if you’re creating a lot of clothing products, you may wish to maintain the “Size” and “Color” option types, as well as a “Fitting Type” property.

Taxons and Taxonomies

Taxonomies provide a simple, yet robust way of categorizing products by enabling store administrators to define as many separate structures as needed.

When working with Taxonomies there are two key terms to understand:

  • Taxonomy – a hierarchical list which is made up of individual Taxons. Each taxonomy relates to one Taxon, which is its root node.
  • Taxon – a single child node which exists at a given point within a Taxonomy. Each Taxon can contain many (or no) sub / child taxons. Store administrators can define as many Taxonomies as required, and link a product to multiple Taxons from each Taxonomy.

By default, both Taxons and Taxonomies are ordered by their position attribute.

Taxons use the Nested set model for their hierarchy. The lft and rgt columns in the spree_taxons table represent the locations within the hierarchy of the item. This logic is handled by the awesome nested set gem.

Taxons link to products through an intermediary model called Classification. This model exists so that when a product is deleted, all of the links from that product to its taxons are deleted automatically. A similar action takes place when a taxon is deleted; all of the links to products are deleted automatically.

Storefront uses spree.nested_taxons_path helper method to generate full taxon URLs, which will use the taxon’s permalink, eg.

taxon = Spree::Taxon.find_by(permalink: 'clothes/dresses')

which will output /t/categories/clothes/dresses.

As of version 4.6, the taxon name and description fields are translatable.

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