Horrible or Awesome #8 – Product Descriptions

Completely leave out product descriptions

All your customers need is a blurry, browser resized, stretched picture of your product. They don’t need to know its features, limitations, or comparisons to other products. Hey, if they knew all that they would probably go buy the other guys widget right?

Don’t describe your product at all. Be sure to use your own arbitrary part number scheme too, so customers can’t search by the manufacturer’s part number to find the products they already know they want to buy.

Oh, and use some random other picture for your product with a note at the bottom that says ‘Picture is a demo, actual product may vary’ so the customer never really knows what they are going to get.

Sound familiar?  The amount of shops that have little to no product information is staggering – one my own clients just will not listen to my advice about giving customers as much information as possible.  He prefers the page to look “uncluttered”…d’oh.

Get descriptive with your products

Tell all about your products. Tell what they are made of, how they fit (Loose? Tight?), what colors they come in, who is their intended user group, what they do, how they do it, why the customer wants to buy it.

In a brick-and-mortar store, customers can read the box. They can pick up the item and hold it in their hands, check out all the angles, and try it on. On your website, they can’t. This is why a comprehensive product description is a must.

Not only is a customer going to base their purchasing decision off your description (or lack thereof), search engines are going to index your site and position your listings based on the quality of your content. Now which site do you think is going to get the better listing for a given product- The one that says ‘Boot’ or the one that has two paragraphs about an awesome mid-thigh leather boot with rhinestones, fit and quality of the materials, and care instructions?

If you run any type of website that sells anything, you need to give the potential buyer enough information to get out his credit card.  If you don’t give the info, then you are a fool.  Note that I am not asking you to write “War and Peace” – just give enough info to make the buyer happy!

Most of this post is courtesy of my good friend Jason over at JC Commerce.

New look for osC Books – check it out!

After 4 years, I decided that osC Books was a very stale design – so this morning, I rebranded it!  Have a look at www.oscbooks.com and let me know what you think.

I’ve tried to give it a more “modern” look and feel – as well as make it easier to navigate – I’ve also given most of the books a nice “Cover Shot” as well, as the old cliche is somewhat true – one picture IS worth 1000 words.

The whole site is now much more accessible than previously – always a good thing!

In addition, I’ve recently hanged over to a new system for delivering the eBooks which is working out very well.  They are now on an instant download via my good friends at Digital Product Delivery.

Why this post?

I want to point you guys at the site, as the osC Books will give you a really good head start on the subjects they cover.  All the eBooks are very competitively priced – and for a while I still have the BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) offer running whereby you get a 2nd eBook to the same value as your purchased eBook for free.


Just a few products? Dump the categories…

Years back I had a client who had only a few products in his store. Rather than use the category infoBox I rewrote it to simply give a direct link to each product.

It’s funny that I was looking at that store the other day (it’s on the Hot 100 list), and today someone in the osCommerce Forum asked for exactly the same thing.

Rather than try to find the file I used on that old site, I just rewrote the script. 2 minutes later, and here we are;



new infoBoxHeading($info_box_contents, false, false);

$products_list = ‘


$info_box_contents = array();
$info_box_contents[] = array(‘text’ => $products_list);

new infoBox($info_box_contents);


What this script will do is simply list all your products in a long list, instead of the category box. Easy as 123, eh?

Obviously if you use this script, you will need to set a style on the <ul and maybe the <li – depends upon what you want the list to look like 😉

oscmax zencart creloaded – bewildered!

Henry asks;

I am about to set up an OSC site but which one to use Oscmax, CREloaded, Zencart

CRE seem to have the best support but I like the Xshop software that goes with OSCmax.

None of the above! Why not go with a standard install of osCommerce and then add the functionality you need – rather than start off with something that’s a bit bloated and possibly contains stuff you will never need…

I am a wholesaler so need different pricing for different types of customers.

I use a contribution called “Customer Groups” on one of my osCommerce sites. Here’s a screenshot;


This gives me the ability to assign a permanent discout rate to a group of customers! The contribution is right here (it’s not one of my contributions)…I have added some extra coding to give me a list of all the customers in the group though – only to make it slightly easier for me to use.

Also do you know of any contribution that would enable a customer to buy something online and key in a code to say that they were referred from a particular shop that I could then pay commission to that shop whether it be a % or a flat fee or a per item fee and can some products be switched on or off so they not be included in the commission.

You’d probably do better to look at getting this coded from scratch – as, off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything that’s a perfect fit.  I guess that to get a good coder onto making somehting that fits your requirement would be fairly expensive…

I like your featured contribution as well and hope to install it when I get going. Do you do installs for people.

Thanks 🙂 I do installs, the usual cost is about $25 usd or so, but it depends upon what needs to be installed as to the exact charge.

Thanks, Gary

Top 100 Script – not an update!

I’ve been getting a lot of emails about the script that I am using to power the “Hot 100” list. It’s basically a script which was coded for me, which I call “5 Starred“.


At the moment, it costs $20, but I have it on offer at 1 Month – present price is just $2.00, which increases by $1.00 each day.


So, if you like the look of the script, feel free to get on over to 1 Month and pick it up at the cheapest price possible.


Featured Products in osCommerce

One of the very finest things you can do to make your customers experience better is to point them at your special offers and featured products.

In standard osCommerce, the “New Products” box on the first page is pretty useless – it’s just a list of the latest 9 products added. My idea is to use that box to show “Featured Products” instead – so I set about finding a cleanly coded solution.

Guess what? I couldn’t find one.

Sure, there are a few “featured” contributions, but all of them are rather clunkily coded (including one I made many years ago)! So, I set about recoding a few files to make adding featured products really easy.

Have a look at the video below;

Basically, my idea is to have a “flag” to set the featured status or not (in eaxctly the same way that you use it to set the product in or out of stock). This makes it really easy to set a product featured.

My other thought was to use the existing “New Products” box ratyer than have to code a new one – so I did!

The result is a cleanly coded “Featured Products” contribution that sticks to osCommerce coding convention and is easy to install. Just a few drop-in files if you install a new store, and if you have an existing store, just a few lines of code to add to a few files;

  • /admin/categories.php
  • /admin/includes/languages/english/categories.php (and obviously german etc)
  • /admin/includes/functions/general.php
  • /includes/modules/new_products.php

And that is it! I will zip it up and add it to the contributions area later on.

Passing $cPath thru Advanced Search…

In the official osCommerce Forum, someone asked for the ability to pass the $cPath variable through the Advanced Search Result “link” for each product.

Basically, instead of a direct link to a product, eg: product_info.php?products_id=10, he wanted product_info.php?cPath=3_11&products_id=10

The example obviously assumes that Product 10, is inside Subcategory 11 which is inside Category 3. Got that 😀

The code changes are minimal. There’s only two files to change and it goes like this:

advanced_search_result (about line 207)

Find this:

$select_str = “select distinct ” . $select_column_list . ” m.manufacturers_id, p.products_id, pd.products_name, p.products_price, p.products_tax_class_id, IF(s.status, s.specials_new_products_price, NULL) as specials_new_products_price, IF(s.status, s.specials_new_products_price, p.products_price) as final_price “;

Change to:

$select_str = “select distinct ” . $select_column_list . ” m.manufacturers_id, p.products_id, p2c.categories_id, pd.products_name, p.products_price, p.products_tax_class_id, IF(s.status, s.specials_new_products_price, NULL) as specials_new_products_price, IF(s.status, s.specials_new_products_price, p.products_price) as final_price “;

/includes/modules/product_listing.php (about line 90)

Find this:

for ($col=0, $n=sizeof($column_list); $col<$n; $col++) {
$lc_align = ”;

Right below it, add:

if (tep_not_null($listing[‘categories_id’])) {
$cPath = tep_get_product_path($listing[‘categories_id’]);

Done!  Save the files, upload and test the product links.  Feel free to Paypal me a donation if you find it useful 😉