I've got about 12 hours in now and just left the first system after using the jump gate. It's still pretty much the same. It's not quite as bad as you think though b/c there are two separate factions (aside from the main ones) I've found. The Merchants Guild and the Mercenary Guild both have stations and they offer different stuff that you cannot get anywhere else. Some of it is locked behind a rep wall though as in you have to reach a certain level with them to purchase.
Also commodities will vary station to station. Ship equipment though (outside of the Merchant and Merc guilds) does seem to be the same pretty much anywhere with only small variations.
As for myself I'm actually fine with this. The game is much "easier" to get into then Elite or other space games. To me it just goes along the same vibe the rest of the game has. Yeah it may be more realistic but is it really fun spending hours flying around doing absolutely nothing looking for that one turret you want?
Overall I'm still digging the game and having a blast. One of my biggest complaints that I just discovered in the second system is the difficulty labels missions put up. For example the first main mission in the second sector said "Very Hard" and frankly I walked through it. I tried a side mission though that was only labeled "Hard" and w/i 10 seconds of warping in I was flat wasted.