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Online Store Filters: Mistakes and Best Practices

Online merchants who don’t follow the latest eCommerce conversion stats may be surprised to learn that less than 3% of online store visits result in a purchase. This is to say that the majority of visitors never spend a dime on a particular eCommerce upon the visit. This can happen for a number of reasons, and the lack of product filters is certainly one of them.

If you’ve been struggling with lower conversion rates or want to offer your customers a better shopping experience, stay tuned. In this article, we share the biggest product filter mistakes online merchants make as well as how to fix them.

Online Store Filter Mistakes

There are plenty of ways you can boost the product filtering system on your website. We hope that reading some of the most common mistakes eCommerce website owners make may help you understand what you’re doing wrong.

1. Not Including Category-Specific Filters

Many eCommerce sellers don’t include category-specific filters on their websites. For example, if a store sells computers and dryer machines, they should include separate categories and additional filters like processor type for computers or capacity for dryers.

Best Practice

The best practice for this mistake is to check the specifications already displayed on the category page for a product when choosing the features to show. This can include product size, type, price, color, etc. This is a great way to remind the consumers that these parameters are worth their attention, but you’ll also create a more convenient product filtering system in your store.

2. Not Highlighting Important Filters

Top navigation menus are usually perceived as more important by visitors compared to sidebars. Baymard has run a study comparing different approaches for placing filters on eCommerce websites and found that top menu horizontal bars appear more important and outperform the left-hand side solutions.

The side menu options may appear unnecessary or optional to users. For this reason, it’s important to highlight the most important product filters at the very top of your website or product list.

However, more than 80% of stores use a sidebar to present filters, as they’re still necessary for a smooth shopping experience. Also, most users are used to them. In fact, it’s safe to say that the sidebar is equally as important as the horizontal menu long as it’s used properly.

Best Practice

The best practice here is to take your most important and common filters and put them on top. Just be careful – you should only place the filters where they really belong. You can also feature those same filters in the sidebar to gain more on their visibility. Also, people often tend to adjust the parameters once they do the initial filtering. The sidebar is a perfect place to do that.

3. Creating Unclear Filters

Much like product name and description, filters need to be written in the same language as that of your customers and their values. Many marketers make the mistake of mislabeling the filters or using advanced denominations the shoppers don’t understand.

Online Store Filters Mistakes and Best Practice

Best Practice

When it comes to naming filters, it’s best to analyze online search trends for your e-store or specific branch and use the same terms to name them accordingly.

Also, if you wish to run a promotion with products that have specific parameters, you can set up a custom page where you’ll feature those products and use some pre-defined navigation filters for added clarity.

4. Making the Filter List Too Long

Many e-commerce businesses stuff their websites with dozens of category lists of filters. This can be super overwhelming for the customer who wants to find what they need in seconds.

Best Practice

Aim for one to ten product filter values and remove other options by adding a “Show more” button. You can include the number of available products under one value in brackets. For example:

  • Men (104)
    • Shirts (43)
  • Women (110)
    • Shirts (50)

5. Not Allowing Visitors to Use the Back Button

Most users perceive filter applications as a new page loading. The AJAX technology lets eCommerce owners set up filters for product lists without having to reload the whole page, but most users still think they will be returned to the previous filter state by clicking on the back button. The thing is that most online stores don’t save their filter changes as a separate event in the browsing history.

Best Practice

Make sure to set up AJAX navigation for faster and smoother product loading on your website.

6. Using Batch Filtering

There are two types of filtering when it comes to how the results are applied on the website: batch filtering, where the page refreshes when the user makes a selection and hits “Apply,” and interactive filtering, where the system automatically reacts to the selection and refreshes the page by itself. Although this is a matter of choice and personal preference, the interactive filtering represents one less click action for the user, which can be of huge importance during the product filtering experience.

Best Practice

Incorporate interactive product filtering into your eCommerce for a faster and smoother user experience. However, it’s important to do this part right. If you have issues with loading speeds on your site, it may take a while before the system makes the changes. This can then cause frustration to the consumer. Make sure to test out the interactive function speed times before making it public.

Many large eCommerce businesses use the interactive filter, including Amazon and 6pm. But this doesn’t mean you should incorporate this practice at all costs. The choice between batch or interactive filtering depends on your site speed and the user's intentions before anything else. Interactive filters work better for customers who aren’t sure about what they want. Batch filtering, on the other hand, will work better for sites with speed issues because it will save time between requests.

7. Not Allowing Multiple Selections

eCommerce owners who don’t allow multiple product filtering selections often cause misunderstandings and errors to users. When you only allow one filter option, it can negatively impact your customer satisfaction and the usability of the store.

Making several selections is important because it reminds users of all available features and lowers the risk of misunderstandings. This may sound like a no-brainer to some, but more than a third of online stores doesn’t follow this principle.

Best Practice

Be sure to provide at least two to three filtering options for your products. Again, to do this part right, look at the product description of your products to find suitable filters like color, size, shape, style, etc.

Online Store Filter Mistakes and Best Practices

8. Keeping the “Nothing Found” Result

Hardly anything is more annoying for an online shopper than filling out selection criteria for filters and ending up with a “nothing found” return value. For example, a user may combine filters for size and color, and if there was no match, they’d be left with a blank page or an unpleasant message.

Best Practice

If a filtering criterion shows a “0” value, you should exclude it from the product characteristics lists or visualize it as inactive according to the product design. If you were to look for such examples over at Nike, you’d see how the nonexistent results simply get filtered away while making the selection.

9. Not Constantly Improving User Experience

The filtering system is often disregarded on behalf of eCommerce owners as something that’s not an issue for the users. However, a robust filtering system not only lets the visitors find products they need easier but also shows the store owners know their products inside out.

Best Practice

Think of product filters as a viable option for boosting the user experience on your website. Always look for better ways to present your offer and improve your filter design. Instead of thinking of them as passive website elements, consider product filters as an active part that should align with global trends and your target audience’s language.

If you’re dealing with filter names that the average user is unlikely to know, like diamond or necklace type, you can illustrate that with pictures instead of words. Major eCommerce stores like AliExpress follow this principle to make the filtering experience easier for all users.

The important part is to stay creative and make your filters easily accessible and understandable by your target audience. The last thing you need is repelling an interested buyer only because they had a hard time filtering a product.

Online Store Filters Mistake and Best Practices

Take Product Filtering to Your Advantage

Filters are an extremely important piece of the shopping experience regardless of the product or service type you offer. They are a must-have standard that lets the shoppers exclude items they don’t need from an extensive search result. If you don’t set up your product filters right, it can confuse or frustrate the consumer, resulting in them abandoning the purchase.

We gathered the most common mistakes when it comes to this important website section to help you realize whether you were making them on your site. If it turns out that you do, it’s never too late to reorganize your product filters and follow the best practice examples we provided in this article.

Remember that every detail that makes your website better in terms of user experience is an excellent investment for your business that will lead to a sales increase. So be ahead of the competition and make sure you have the best product filtering system out there.

By interactivated • on August 15, 2022

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