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Think of attributes as any property of a product. Attributes describe the product. Things like the product title, price, images, manufacturer, etc. are attributes.
Say for example you are selling shoes. You’d want to define the price, title and description attributes at a minimum. Without it, customers won’t have that information.
You can create your own attributes depending on your needs. It’s all about providing relevant information to the customers so they have all the information they need to make a buying decision.
Here’s a helpful knowledge base article:
Magento comes with standard attributes configured, but adding new ones is simple: In the admin section go to Catalog > Attributes > Manage Attributes and click “Add New Attribute”.
Hope this helps.