Shopify collection filters with metafields and without an extra app?

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We all know how difficult it is to find the right product from the infinitely long categories of an e-shop with bigger product collections. At the same time, with a convenient collection filtering solution, you can quickly reach the right product out of several thousand products.

Previously, adding filters to product collections to the site created on the Shopify platform was relatively time-consuming and limited. The e-store manager had to choose either a theme that supported product tag filtering or add additional functionality to their Shopify store by installing an extra app.

New Shopity built-in collection filter functionality

With the latest update, the creation and management of collection filters have been added to the Shopify’s base functionality and is available in all Shopify plans. The lates metafield management update, that we wrote about in our previous posts, set a good base for the new collection filtering functionality.

You can still see active collection filters in Online Store → Navigation → Collection and search filters in the Shopify admin panel but to actually manage filters you would need to install Shopify’s own app “Shopify Search & Discovery”. 

“Search & Discovery app” was added automatically to your store if you already used filter functionality. Otherwise, you can easily add it from Navigation like on the next image.

how to add Shopify Search & Discovery app

Please check first your theme version and whether it supports the new collection filter functionality. If you’re not sure if your theme supports it then ask your theme developer support and you’re sure to get an answer. 

“The current theme doesn’t support filters.” notification means that you either need to update your theme or select a new theme for your store.

What type of filters can you add?

All filters depend on the information which you have added to your products. By default, all Shopify stores have an option to add a filter by stock, price, product type, product tag and brand (vendor). But only if you have added information to the product type and brand (Vendor) fields of course.

Shopfy collection fitler

Variation product option as a filter

If your store has products with variations then you can also set them as filters. Shopify also allows you to add  multible variation options as filters, such as product color and size for example.

product option as a filter

If your e-shop does not have products with variations, you will not see this setting option in the administration view.

Custom collection filters based on metafields

Shopify now also allows you to create filters for any collection with metafields. If you have not used any metafields before then you can easily create them by yourself. (watch video)

Play Video about Shopify collection filter by metafield

Creating a new metafield is easy by itself, but adding information to each product is already a lot more work. You must open each product in the Shopify admin and add exact values to it. It is definitely worth remembering that words with uppercase and lowercase letters are considered as different values. For example, if when you add values to material filed then dont add “Birch” to one product and “birch” to another product or you have two different filter options in your store collection filter. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to add values to metafileds with Shopify built in export / import functionality and you have to do all the product data enrichment in the Shopify admin panel.

We created two example filters in our test store product material and room to where the product would be suitable for.

Custom metafield filter with multible options

If you want to be able to select several options for one product to the same filter then you need to select Text → Single line text → check box in the “Accept list of values” box when creating the metafield. This way, you can choose a product that is suitable for both the kitchen and the living room. See our example in the following video.

Shopify merchants and developers have been waiting for a long time for this kind of a functionality to add a multi-value filter.

Product tag based collection filter

Shopify recently added also product tags based filter option to the “Search & Discovery app”. It’s a good and long waited for improvement but there is BUT. 

Product tags crate as collection filter that looks like a “tag cloud”. In short, if you have many different tags on products and you use larger collections then the list of tags in a filter will get very large quite quickly.

At the same time adding tags to products is a lot easier to manage than making product metafields to each filtering option. I would say that if your store has around 100 or fewer products then creating filters based on product tags would be a good enough and easy solution for you.

What Shopify filtering solution is still missing?

  • Limited ammount of filters. You can select up to 5 default filters and up to 20 custom filters for your store.
  • Collections that contain over 5000 products don’t display filters. A search that produces more than 1000 results doesn’t display filters either.
  • Product tags are always combined into one filter in the store collection and search view.
  • There is no option to set different filters based on collection or to search.
  • You can’t change the order of the filters based on the collection or change the order only for the search view.
  • No swatch image functionality for custom filters. Usually used to visualize filters with small icons, patterns, or colors. 
  • No functionality to merge filter values into one option. Needed for stores with large collections.
  • You are not able to transform metafield values by separating data based on commas, points or etc. Make sure you don’t write multiple values to one metafield (if it’s not a list value) or use previously created metafield with for example comma separated data. 

Great apps that cover Shopify's own solution shortcomings

We have built several Shopify stores for our clients by using one of the following two apps just because Shopify’s own filtering solution did not offer enough features. Few examples of the stores Discgolf.eu, Seisuk.fi, Preemiumkellad.ee.

I hope you found this article helpful and that it makes your Shopify business work smoother. If yes, then you can by buying me a coffee in exchange 🙂

Feel free to let us know if you have trouble creating filters or if you have any futher questions regarding filtering or about Shopify in general.

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