The short description in Shopfront is ‘meta’ information that is not visible when the page is rendered but is used by search engines. If you use short descriptions, then these are what will appear in the search engine results page if it is relevant to the search. If they are not present, the search engines tend to use the first few lines of text from the page. Therefore, if your page lacks any content it gives the search engines very little to work with and crawl, thus affecting how you rank in the search engines for that page.
The advantage of short descriptions is that they can be tailored to give a strong call to action and for targeting specific keywords.
Shopfront provides the facility to create short descriptions for every department and product.