July 24, 2023

Product Filtering for BigCommerce: Examples of Faceted Search

Article at-a-glance:

- Find out how faceted search can drive e-commerce success by enhancing product filtering.

- Understand how thematic filters, intricate attributes, and broad categories can refine your product search.

- Explore user behavior and see how sorting algorithms and facets present the most relevant products.

- Understand how solutions like KatanaPIM and IceCat can transform your online store by optimizing product data management and user experience.

- Discover how faceted search technology can enhance your BigCommerce store's performance through advanced product filtering.

Ever wondered how Amazon manages to lead you to the perfect item amidst countless options? It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, but with laser precision.

That’s the magic of top-notch product filtering.

Imagine channeling that same power into your BigCommerce store, guiding your customers smoothly to their desired products.

Learn how to replicate Amazon’s product search genius for your own BigCommerce platform in this article. Discover how we can transform your customers’ shopping experience.

Benefits of Faceted Search for Ecommerce Stores

What is faceted search? Faceted search is a search mechanism that allows users to apply multiple filters to refine their search results. It is a standard feature on most e-commerce platforms. 

Faceted search is a system that provides users with various categories (facets) under which they can apply specific conditions (filters) to refine their search results.

Remember your last online shopping spree? You chose the type of product, the brand, the price range, and other specifications. This series of actions is what the tech world calls a Faceted Search. 

Faceted Search is a standard feature on most ecommerce websites and is widely recognized as a pillar of the user experience.

It’s the magnetic power behind every successful e-commerce platform. Any platform, whether BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, or any other, can benefit from faceted search.

In faceted search, users can refine product searches by combining thematic filters, granular attributes, and overarching categories.

The functionality allows users to drill down multiple attributes simultaneously, creating a highly personalized shopping experience. It helps them navigate your store’s product catalog with ease and enhances the chances of a sale. 

You can also gain valuable insights into user behavior, search patterns, and product preferences and use these insights to develop targeted marketing campaigns.

If you’re interested in learning more about different ecommerce platforms and how they optimize faceted search, you can check out this informative article comparing WooCommerce and BigCommerce.

Common Features of Faceted Search

 1. Thematic Filters

What are thematic filters? Thematic fiters are filters that allow customers to search for products based on overarching themes or concepts, e.g., 'summer wear,' 'winter collection,' or 'workout gear.'

Thematic filters are not merely nice-to-haves; they’re the heart of your search interface! These filters allow customers to search for products based on themes or concepts. 

For instance, if you’re selling clothing, you might have thematic filters like ‘summer wear,’ ‘winter collection,’ or ‘workout gear.’ 

Such intuitive classifications simplify the search process, engaging the customer and enhancing the shopping experience.

You can improve user engagement by adding thematic filters that match users’ mental models. 

The more filters that align with the user’s understanding and expectations, the better their overall experience on your website.

3. Categories: Seeing the Bigger Picture

What are overarching categories? Overarching categories are broad classifications or labels that organize products into large, meaningful groups.

Let’s shine a spotlight on overarching categories. 

Overarching categories are the foundation of faceted search and are responsible for organizing products into meaningful groups. They are the all-seeing eyes that perceive the broader landscape of your product range.

They operate at a macro-level, grouping related products under broader labels, such as:

  • Electronics
  • Home Decor
  • Books
  • Home Improvement

The categories provide an essential framework that helps your customers understand where to go and what to find.

Think of the categories as signposts on a busy highway. Similar to how road signs help drivers navigate through busy streets and intersections, these categories guide your customers through your vast product landscape. 

Picture a scenario where a customer is looking for a new laptop. They might not know the exact specifications they want. But by clicking on ‘Electronics’ and then ‘Laptops’, they can browse a wide range of options.

They’re not lost in the maze of diverse products you offer. Instead, they’re on a well-defined path, exploring the choices within their area of interest.

Moreover, these overarching categories make your site user-friendly. This is because they will cater to different types of customers.

A tech-savvy buyer who knows exactly what they’re looking for and a casual browser who’s window-shopping both find value in these categories. It’s like having a well-organized supermarket.

The idea is that every aisle is clearly labeled and customers can easily find what they’re looking for.

3. Granular Attributes: The Finer Details

What are granular attributes? Granular attributes Specific product features or details used for filtering and refining search results, like color, size, material, and brand.

In the world of e-commerce, think of granular attributes as silent ninjas. These are the specific product features, the minute details that make all the difference in the search for that perfect product. They include elements like:

  • Color
  • Size
  • Material
  • Brand

They essentially form the genetic code of your product range.

A granular attribute is a specific characteristic or property of a product that is used for filtering and refining search results – e.g pink, silk, size 6 from brand X.

Let’s picture this scenario. A customer is searching for a pink, silk, size 6 cloak from Brand X.

Thematic filters and overarching categories would have led her to the realm of ‘Women’s Clothing’ or perhaps ‘Designer Dresses.’ But it’s the granular attributes that enable her to pinpoint the exact item she has in mind.

In essence, granular attributes transform a user’s search from a broad sweep to a laser-focused operation.

The customer doesn’t stumble upon what they were looking for. Instead, they are led there with precision.

4. Sorting Algorithms & the Role of Facets

What are sorting algorithms? Algorithms responsible for organizing and presenting search results in a logical and meaningful order.
What are facets? Facets are the options given to users to refine their search results.  Facets represent the various dimensions or perspectives under which products can be classified and organized in a faceted search system. Facets are broader than granular attributes. A single facet (like "color") can encompass multiple granular attributes (like "blue," "red," and "green").

Beneath the surface of streamlined product filtering lies the brilliance of sorting algorithms. These algorithms play a pivotal role in presenting search results in a coherent and meaningful order. 

They possess the power to organize products based on popularity, price, or customer ratings, ensuring that the most pertinent offerings effortlessly surface at the top of the list.

Facets serve as the backbone of this classification process. The facets are the options presented to users for refining their search results.

 A facets tab allows users to narrow down their search results to products that match their criteria.

 A facets tab allows users to narrow down their search results to products that match their criteria.

Each facet represents a distinct category under which products can be classified and organized. 

Consider, for example, the facets of clothing items, such as ‘color’ or ‘brand.’ 

For example, when shopping online for a dress, you might have several options for narrowing down your choices. These are the facets. 

Among these facets might be “color.” When you click on it, you’re shown various granular attributes such as “blue,” “red,” “green,” etc. 

Another facet might be “material,” and its granular attributes might include “cotton,” “silk,” and “polyester.”

When a  user applies these insightful filters, the product filtering feature fine-tunes the search results to align with the unique preferences and desires of the customer.

The Secret Ingredient: Refine Search Function

Refine Search Function: A tool in online stores that allows customers to apply multiple attributes (e.g., color, size, brand, price range) to their search query to pinpoint specific products.

Did you ever have a moment when you found that one needed item lost in the chaos of your storage room? 

The ‘Refine Search’ function in your online store serves the same purpose. It’s like that magic wand that cleans up the clutter, making the complex simple, and the hard-to-find instantly visible.

This function is essentially your store’s superpower.  Make sure your search solution has machine learning capabilities. It delivers personalized results based on product and attribute relationships, making your customers feel understood. You can also integrate with BigCommerce-partnered site search providers.

It’s the tool that allows your customers to apply multiple attributes – think color, size, brand, price range – to their search query. 

It’s not only about narrowing down; it’s about homing in on that perfect product that matches their preferences to a T.

Consider a customer looking for a blue, large, cotton t-shirt under $20. The ‘Refine Search’ function is what helps them enter these details and instantly see the products that match. 

The refine search function turns an overwhelming haystack of t-shirts into a small, manageable pile that’s been sorted and sieved to fit their specific needs.

BigCommerce-Specific Features

In comparison to its competitors, BigCommerce offers a robust set of features. In higher-tier plans, it supports faceted search natively.

Here are some specific BigCommerce characteristics related to faceted search:

Here is a table with more unique descriptions for each type of product filtering available on BigCommerce:

Types of Product Filtering on BigCommerce

Price RangeAllows customers to filter products based on a specific price range, making it easier to find products that fit their budget.
ColorAllows customers to filter products based on color, making it easier to find products that match their preferences or needs.
BrandAllows customers to filter products based on brand, making it easier to find products from a specific manufacturer or designer.
RatingAllows customers to filter products based on rating, making it easier to find products that have been highly rated by other customers.
SizeAllows customers to filter products based on size, making it easier to find products that fit their needs or preferences.
CategoryAllows customers to filter products based on category, making it easier to find products that fit a specific category or type.
MaterialAllows customers to filter products based on material, making it easier to find products made from a specific material or fabric.
AvailabilityAllows customers to filter products based on availability, making it easier to find products that are currently in stock.
StyleAllows customers to filter products based on style, making it easier to find products that fit a specific style or aesthetic.
CollectionAllows customers to filter products based on collection, making it easier to find products that belong to a specific collection or theme.
DiscountAllows customers to filter products based on discount, making it easier to find products that are currently on sale or have a discount applied.
BigCommerce Product filtering options.

Faceted search isn’t just a “nice-to-have” anymore, it’s a “must-have”. Note that

the faceted search feature is a reserved privilege for those on the BigCommerce Pro or Enterprise store tiers. So, if you’re serious about this, consider upgrading.


Unlike most platforms, BigCommerce simply delivers, without the gimmicks. So think, compare, and choose wisely.

  • Native Faceted Search: While Shopify’s reaching out for third-party apps to pull off faceted search, BigCommerce has it built-in. No fuss, no extras.
  • Customization: Would you like to filter by neon colors or sizes that fit like a dream? BigCommerce’s got you. Note that the custom filters are only going to work if you’re on the Enterprise store level.

    It’s easy-to-use, unlike Magento, which occasionally feels like you are decoding a puzzle. Magento users can customize code more deeply, giving them a little more flexibility.
  • SEO: BigCommerce’s URL structure for faceted search is clean and SEO-friendly. Don’t worry about duplicate content. While Magento offers similar SEO capabilities, some platforms struggle to achieve this, particularly without the right plugins or settings.
  • Performance: Faceted search can consume a lot of resources. But BigCommerce keeps things snappy. BigCommerce is obuild for fast lane. It ensures that the site remains fast even when customers filter and refine their searches.

    Some platforms do not provide the same level of performance, especially if they are not hosted or on shared hosting.
  • Custom Fields: Users can create custom fields in BigCommerce, which can then be integrated with faceted search. Highlight what’s unique about your store and stand out. You can do this too with WooCommerce, but you’ll need a few plugins.

    With Shopify’s third-party apps, you can refine your filtering options even further. Defining filter criteria is more granular, which can make a difference for very niche markets.
  • Mobile Optimization: With mobile shopping blowing up, BigCommerce makes sure your faceted search doesn’t feel overwhelming. Despite BigCommerce’s focus on mobile responsiveness, some users feel platforms like Shopify offer a smoother mobile faceted search experience.
  • Integrations: If you’re the kind who loves playing with third-party tools, BigCommerce’s API has your back. You won’t need a Ph.D. to work with BigCommerce compared to Magento’s integrations.

Here is a link to an article on BigCommerce’s website that provides information on how to use faceted search and filtering in a store:

How to do efficient product filtering on BigCommerce?

Would you like to enhance your BigCommerce store experience with efficient product filtering?

Here’s the breakdown:

1. Switch on Product Filtering: Navigate to Products > Product Filtering in your dashboard. You can use that channel selector to decide where these filters should shine.

2. Choose Your Filters: With filtering enabled, select the ones that resonate with your product range. The choice is yours – brand, color, size, rating, and much more. Find this magic at Products > Product Filtering > Filters. 

Your users might get confused if you have too many filters. It’s all about striking the right balance – enough to find, not too much to lose.

3. Customization: Once you’ve chosen filters, customize them to reflect your brand’s identity. You can adjust attributes, presentation, and sorting to fit your style. Get hands-on at Products > Product Filtering > Filters > Edit.

Maintain a uniform filter name across your website. There can be no confusion, only clear paths to the desired outcome.

4. Refine to Perfection: Added filters? Great. But, the beauty lies in refinement. Adding new filters, hiding them, renaming them, setting up color families, or even hiding them. 

Make sure your filters are neat and intuitive. A logical, smooth flow ensures a pleasant user experience.

Analyze the behaviors and refine based on real-time data. What is the aim? Providing a seamless user experience.

Elevating User Experience with PIM

Product Information Management (PIM) helps ecommerce stores manage and centralize their product information

With PIM platforms like KatanaPIM and IceCat, you can optimize faceted searches, prevent null results, and keep product data organized. A product information management tool can integrate with various e-commerce platforms to help centralize and manage product information.

Here are some ways such platforms can improve faceted search user experience:

  1. Better Product Data Management: PIM software makes it easier to manage product attributes and other objects, including categories and keywords. It makes eCommerce faceted search more fluid, so it’s better for users.
  2. Time-to-Market: PIM software centralizes product information, so teams can work faster to make sure information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. Getting products to customers faster improves the user experience for ecommerce stores.
  3. Editing in bulk: PIM software makes it easier to manage and update product information for different sales channels.
  4. Streamlined Product Information Management: Using PIM software simplifies managing and displaying product information, including comprehensive product descriptions. You can learn more about crafting compelling product descriptions for BigCommerce and optimizing your ecommerce store in our guide BigCommerce Product Descriptions: Examples & Best Practices
  5. Integration with Ecommerce Platforms: PIM solutions integrate with ecommerce platforms and CMS systems, letting you import, export, and modify product information.

Efficient Product Filtering: Your Pathway to Success

Efficient product filtering for BigCommerce or any e-commerce platform can be likened to a well-oiled machine. 

Each cog, from thematic filters and granular attributes to overarching categories, contributes to a fluid shopping experience.

Faceted search ensures your customers find the perfect product every time, thereby boosting your sales and driving your e-commerce success.

Efficient product filtering is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to achieving success in ecommerce. 

To learn how strategic content marketing can further enhance your online store’s performance and drive growth, explore the inspiring success stories on our customers’ success page.



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