Faceted navigation for e-commerce
November 19, 2010 8:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be helping a friend set up a small web store. I'm already pretty comfortable with Wordpress, somewhat comfortable with Drupal, so I'd prefer to use one of those plus a shopping-cart plugin. I've got some particular requirements.

Here's the tricky part: most e-commerce systems seem oriented around cataloguing a bunch of different products with a few variations. She essentially sells one product—handmade journals—with many variations, some of which affect the price—size, page count, paper type, binding color.

Ideally, I want to represent this faceted structure in the back end—from what I've seen, the various e-commerce plugins nudge me toward creating a tree structure to represent all the product variations.

Even if I do wind up using a tree structure to represent the products in the back end, I want to be able to present customers with a faceted navigation system—where you'd be able to pick all the various options independently without navigating through a tree.

I've looked through previous AskMe questions on Wordpress, Drupal, and e-commerce, which have been very educational, but haven't found quite the right thing yet. I'd prefer to use something that interacts with Wordpress (I've themed it before, and I'll need to develop a theme for this project), but I'm open to learning something new.

posted by adamrice to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by empath at 8:18 AM on November 19, 2010

Using Wordpress or the like, could you use tags or custom taxonomies to handle things?
posted by backwards guitar at 9:46 AM on November 19, 2010

Response by poster: I've wondered about using a custom taxonomy—that might be an avenue worth exploring. Dunno.
posted by adamrice at 9:58 AM on November 19, 2010

If you go the Drupal way, you'll want to go with Druapl 6 (7 is out in beta3 right now, but you don't do ecommerce with beta software). Drupal 6 works nciely with the Ubercart modules for ecommerce. Ubercart under D7/forking/etc is a story that I'm not going to explain here, but from what I've read, it looks like under D7 you'll want the commerce module since that's what everyone will be using. They're working on a migration path now, but you've got at least a month if not longer for D7 to come out.

Anyhow, with Ubercart, you want to enable the uc_attributes module, that will let you assign custom attributes to each product (or in this case, just your one) and do things like track inventory and sales and change prices based on these attributes. I'm sure if you Google you'll find tons of blog posts about people using it.

As for WordPress and other software, I'm sure other people who work with those platforms will chime in here soon with how to do the same stuff over in their world.
posted by Brian Puccio at 11:40 AM on November 19, 2010

Foxycart may be worth a look, too--they allow you to have pretty much unlimited product attributes that effect the price in very flexible and customizable ways. It isn't as simple as a plugin-based solution but you can do a lot without much coding.
posted by firefleet at 4:18 PM on November 19, 2010

Just as a tip - google for some Real estate themes tutorials - they tend to do the "check options you're searching for to get results". Should be able to convert to a product catalogue, I'd think. Foxycart, mentioned above, is a nice shopping cart plugin but won't help with the organizing thing.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:28 PM on November 19, 2010

No, no, no -- you want WordPress + the very awesome Shopp plugin. (It's way better than the more widely-known WP E-Commerce plugin, which is bloated and annoying IMHO.)

You can absolutely do variations on a product that have different prices. A clothing site I worked on features multiple shirt styles, each with its own product page, and each shirt then has dropdowns where you choose not only the size (S, M, L, XL) but the color too (blue, purple, etc.), and each individual variation can have their own SKU code for backend tracking and their own price and their own weight (if you do shipping by weight) and stuff like that. And each product page can have tags on them, to allow for faceted searching instead of tree searching. You can do categories too, if you want, but you're not stuck with single-use categories. I like the tags better myself.

(I won't link the site here because of MeFi's no-self-link-spam rules, but if you want to see what I'm talking about, MeMail me.)

Shopp has an easy-to-understand theming system too -- if you already know WP theming, this will be a cinch. And there are lots of optional add-ons that will do real-time FedEx or USPS shipping estimates, too. As for payment options, I've used PayPal Standard (where it sends you to a PayPal page for the final checkout, then back to the merchant site when you're done), PayPal Pro (where you enter all credit card stuff on the merchant site and it's seamless), and a major card processor's backend (also seamless) with various Shopp sites I've worked on, and they're all good.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:54 PM on November 19, 2010

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