Product Variants - The Achilles Heel Of Cs-Cart

So, I've got a product database setup imported from another system. Each product variant has it's own SKU. So Size Small might be SKU1-SM and size Large might be SKU1-LG. They have different prices.

We don't like how it shows that catalog to shoppers so that all variants are shown on the category page. We just want a $0 parent product and then all the variants. We don't want the variants to show, but we want to track inventory of all them as they all have separate SKUs.

I know this has been discussed but in reading all past posts it seems no user, nor CS-Cart themselves has been able to articulate an efficient, clean solution to providing this very common product catalog functionality.

Hurdle #1 - The $0 parent item shows 'call us for price' in the catalog display. This is the easiest issue to solve via modification of relevant tpl(s).

Hurdle #2 - Associating all the variants with parent. This is a time consuming nightmare to do it manually as you need to:

(1) create production options with price modifier

(2) create product combinations that only include one option just so you can assign a product ID (SKU) to the option

I see that product options can be exported: Example field:

(Store) Size: R[Small///modifier=10.000///modifier_type=A,Medium///modifier=20.000///modifier_type=A]///inventory=N///missing_variants_handling=M///multiupload=N///required=Y///status=A

I see that product option combinations can be exported: Example:

Product ID	Combination code	Combination	Amount	Language
277	TEST-SM	Size: Small	0	en
277	TEST-M	Size: Medium	0	en

The work involved to try to populate csv files for import of these attributes is probably the same if not more time consuming than doing it through the admin interface.

I am completely perplexed that in the product import file, there isn't a field like a: PARENT_PRODUCT_ID

So when people are importing large catalogs with products that have variants with unique SKUs is everyone having to manually enter all the variants?