I was going to make this a reply, but the scale of the problem really seems to deserve it’s own post to drive a new discussion. As mentioned before, I went back to the drawing board to rework the product editing interface to more completely handle product options. Here’s an update with what I’ve come up with.
I’ve looked at a lot of different e-commerce implementations to see how this has been solved in the past. I can see why this is so difficult to solve. Either you’ve got a mostly workable solution, or total overkill for most e-commerce situations. The mostly workable solution probably leaves out anywhere from 10%-30% online store owners. There seem to be only a couple of e-commerce engines that offer the 100% solution, and most people complain that they are too cumbersome to use. Part of that, I think, is due to poor interface implementation, but a good amount of it is due to just how complex it has to be to solve the problems.
What I see happening in the marketplace, is that most store owners have simple needs (single products, maybe a couple of variation products). A smaller amount of store owners have complex product variations that they need to efficiently manage. A similar size of store owners to the previous group need bulk/tiered pricing. Finally, a really small segment of store owners need both.
In analyzing all of this, the approach I’ve chosen will pretty much fall into the “mostly workable solution” category. Unfortunately it will not be a 100% solution. It too will likely leave out about 5-10% of store owners with complex pricing situations. The main limitation will be no tiered pricing (quantity-based bulk discounts for example). Don’t fret too much, it is likely something that can be added in the future, it just won’t make it into 1.0. It’s just too complex to have tiered pricing along with the complexity of product variations. The approach I’ve chosen is really the same sort of solution most e-commerce software has adopted. So Shopp won’t excel here, but it also won’t be behind. This really comes down to a gamble that most store owners will need/want a really well implemented product management system for product variations more than they need/want tiered pricing.
Hopefully the implementation of how you setup (and manage) product variations will help it excel above most other solutions. I’ve literally just finished the implementation of the most complex aspect of managing pricing variations for Shopp. With that I can finally finish up the other areas so I can get Shopp into beta. I’ll try and get a roadmap to the beta posted once I’m able to reassess what’s left to get done.
If you have some time, let me know what you think. Is it better to focus on product variations or tiered pricing? Or spend the enormous amount of development time necessary to design a complete solution?