What are Products, Options, and Choices?

  • Updated

Every day your brain takes in information about thousands of items around you. It processes the characteristics of each item and groups them in a logical manner. On a normal day, you don’t even think about all those characteristics, let alone how you’d sort them. 

This book is a PRODUCT. 

  • A PRODUCT is any item with a unique style name, style number or base price. 


Right now the PRODUCT is just a plain book, but since we’re in the promotional products industry you know there are plenty of ways you can customize it. Here’s what the catalog says you can do to the book:  

  1. Choose the cover color
  2. Have a metallic edging on the pages
  3. Imprint on the cover
  4. Choose the binding color
  5. Choose the paper weight for the pages
  6. Imprint on the binding
  7. Choose the cover material 

Available ways of customization are called OPTIONS. 

  • An OPTION is anything you can do to a product to customize it. (We’ll come back to these in a minute)

For right now, let’s straighten these options up by sorting them into OPTION CATEGORIES. NOTE: DistributorCentral has a pre-set list of OPTION CATEGORIES.

If we put the above options into OPTION CATEGORIES here’s what it would look like. The OPTION CATEGORIES are underlined. The OPTIONS are italicized. 

Product Color Information Product Components DECORATION INFORMATION
Choose the cover material Imprint on the cover Imprint color
Choose the weight for the pages Imprint on the binding Imprint Method

When you’re entering a product into the system, first determine which OPTION CATEGORIES you will use. 

  • In this case we know we can change the book’s color, decorate it, and change some of its components, so those are the OPTION CATEGORIES we selected. 

Under those general OPTION CATEGORIES we will get more specific by adding the OPTIONS

  • Remember an OPTION is anything you can do to a product to customize it. 

Let’s take the OPTION CATEGORY “Product Color Information” and look into it a little more. 

Choose the cover color
Choose the binding color 

Under Product Color Information we have listed that both the binding color and the cover color can be customized. 

  • Those two things are OPTIONS

Now look at this example: 

Choose the cover color: blue, green, gray, maroon, black, white
Choose the binding color : black, white, brown

The colors that you can change the cover to are called CHOICES.  In a way, a CHOICE is almost an answer to the question asked by an OPTION. 

  • A CHOICE is a specific selection that can be made from an OPTION.

Many people have difficulty remembering the differences between options and choices. After all, in our everyday language an option and a choice are about the same thing.

One of the most helpful things you can do is just let go of your old definitions of options and choices, and spend some time learning the new definitions:

  • An OPTION is any way you can customize a product. 
  • A CHOICE is a specific selection that can be made from an option

Products have options, options have choices

Click to view our PRODUCT MAP

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