Both of these work well, and so I wanted to take the next step and combine the two ideas together, so that a shopowner can;
1. Add specifications to products
2. Filter product listings by specifications
So, I set out to do that. In the following examples, assume that there are two Specifications per product; Spec 1 and Spec 2. A product could be both of these, none of these or one of these. There is no real limit to the number of specifications per product, other than usability for the shop owner and the potential buyer.
When a user is on a category listing and that listing has any products with specifications, this box shows;
This box only appears if any of the products in the category being viewed has at least 1 specification.
Next up was to build some SQL that gets the result of the filtering and outputs the filtered list;
With those two smallish changes in place, the system seems to work really well. This is a good way for the customer to be able to filter product listings to better get the product they are looking for.
Also, the codebase was written so that the usual osCommerce sorting mechanism still works (eg, sort by price, name and so on).
For the future
A way to filter based on multiple specifications; show me products within category X that have both Specification 1 and Specification 3, but not Specification 2.