My ecommerce site offers many versions of basically the same product with different engraved designs. Each design is a separate product with it's own page. It will be easy to include some unique content regarding the design for each product, but should I also make the basic product description unique as well? Will my ranking possibly be negatively affected by using the same basic product description (with unique design descriptions)?
Certainly unique product descriptions would be a plus, but if you keep them the same maybe you could lead with the design description. Overall, you want to have as little overlap (from a percentage of content) standpoint as possible. This isn't difficult for article sites, but for ecommerce sites with similar SKUs it can be a challenge.