An alternative to creating 5 million of variants?

4 0 2

We want to migrate 3 print-on-demand shops with a combined total of 12,000+ designs. Each design is available on 10 different product types (t-shirts, hoodies, etc) with 20 color options and 10 sizes. You can also choose the print location (front or back).

The problem is that due to the way shopify works, we would have to create 1 variant for each product options, so 12000*10*20*2 = 4800000
Obviously, managing 5 million of Shopify product variants is not an option. Rate-limit would be a problem with a maximum of 1000 variants per day ... so it would take 13 years to create 5M variants

There must be a better way. I know there are some apps to get more variants, but those apps don't support the API, so I can't programmatically create and manage the variants.

This problem has been giving me a headache for weeks. The only workaround we found is to create the product "on-the-fly" so the products would be created on Shopify only when a user adds it to the basket. We display the Shopify products only during checkout as we have our own storefront and our own basket (we use Shopify only as a payment gateway so it's basically headless ecommerce). The downside is that if more than 1000 products are added to the basket at any day, it would break the shop and users won't be able to check out due to exceeding rate-limit. Not worth the risk. Imagine someday a shirt goes viral and we get a few thousands of orders. Tons of users wouldn't be able to complete their orders at a very important time. This is literally an entrepreneur nightmare, you go viral but you can't process orders.

I know the limits are doubled with Shopify Plus, but it's still not enough. We don't need any of the other features of Shopify Plus so it's not worth paying $22k per year.

Is it possible to get an increased quota at least just during the migration, without having to pay thousands of dollars just to migrate our business to Shopify? Or is there another way to avoid creating 5m of variants?

Replies 6 (6)

Shopify Expert
2216 201 591

I have some ideas I think will help:

Each product would have 3 options: Size, Placement, Color.

Each would then have the variants, but assuming a lot of repeating options, you could do mass uploading via spreadsheet.

There's usually no management involved in variants - once you upload em they're there management-free unless you want to change something. If you decide to change something, you can do a mass replace in a spreadsheet and reupload.

What I would do for uploading large quantity products:

1) Organize the product import CSV and enter the data for 1 product.

2) Create an SOP and hire a person(s) for data entry into the spreadsheet. Maybe have 1 person do 1 product type, and hire 10 VA's.

3) Upload all the spreadsheets as they're complete.

Alternatively, you're onto something with creating products on the fly. You can do this with a custom app. If 1 shirt goes viral, it's all good because you've only created 1 product - you can build a check into your app where IF product exists, don't create it, just add to cart (with shopify ajax api).


• Creator of Order Automator (automate tagging, fulfillment, Amazon, notifications + more)
• Shopify developer for 10+ years, store owner for 7 years
• I also make guides like Shopify Automation Tips and How to Deal with Fraud / Chargebacks

Shopify Partner
284 42 89


So basically for 1 product, you will have 12000+ variants, I think this is overkill.

Another idea might be to separate the product options.

For example 12,000 design product, 10 products types(hoodies, shirts etc) with the color and sizes as options which means.(10*20*10)

When customer is on product page, he is presented with a custom product builder or bundle, he first select what design then what product type.

And these are added as 2 different products(like a bundle) to the cart.

Another idea would be use custom line properties for product design or color or size(note inventory tracking + pricing here).


Shopify Partner
892 23 172

When the user adds a variant to cart, use cart ajax to add the options as line item properties so you don't have to create it one by one.

With 5 million variants, you can't store it without Plus Plan. Only 50K variants are allowed under Plus...

BYOB - Build Your Own Bundles, SPO - SEO App to research keywords & edit social link preview
4 0 2
Are you sure about the 50K limit?
What I've read is that you can store more than 50K variants but after 50K
you will be limited to creating 1000 per day
Shopify Partner
892 23 172

Yes, you're right:

Stores with 50,000 or more variants are subject to a daily rate limit for uploading variants by using an app or CSV file import. You can add up to 1,000 new variants in a day before the limit is reached. If you exceed this limit, then you see an error and you need to wait 24 hours before you can add variants by using an app or CSV file import. Plus stores are exempt from this limit.



However, given that you've 5M variants. It's unrealistic to add variants day by day 

BYOB - Build Your Own Bundles, SPO - SEO App to research keywords & edit social link preview

6 1 2

How about separating the color and size into separate products and requiring the customer to add them as separate items to the shopping cart?

For example the customer buys "Shirt 123 with Front Print" and also "Product Red" and "Product Size M". This means customers need to add 3 items to their cart to succeed. The latter 2 items can be set as $0.01.