Decision fatigue is an all-too-real concern for online shoppers. Fortunately, category filters can help shoppers narrow down their options and find what they’re looking for – even if they don’t know exactly what they want yet.
We’re giving you the scoop on what category filters are, why they’re important for your ecommerce business, and how to leverage them to boost sales.
What are category filters?
Category filters, also known as facets and product filters, are an ecommerce navigation tool that enable shoppers to narrow down the products they see on category pages based on specific criteria. These filters usually include attributes like size, color, and brand, but can also be customized for the types of products you sell.
Why are category filters important?
Category filters are the unsung heroes of the merchandiser’s playbook because they help customers find what they want, faster. By equipping shoppers to narrow down their options by criteria like size, color, and brand, filters eliminate the need to scroll through dozens of irrelevant products and reduce distractions on the path to purchase.
Filters also help reduce decision fatigue, thereby boosting sales. A study by Columbia University found that when customers experience decision fatigue, they buy less. Researchers set up two displays of jams at a grocery store: one that showed 24 jars of jam, and another that exhibited only six. While more people stopped to look at the larger display, it only led to a 3% purchase conversion rate, while the smaller display led to a 30% conversion rate.
Best practices for ecommerce product filters
Here’s how to take advantage of filters to help shoppers find what they want faster, and encourage them to complete the checkout process.
1. Use the Goldilocks principle when setting up filter options
Just like presenting too many products can overwhelm customers, excessive category filter options can also slow shoppers down. Take inspiration from children’s story heroine Goldilocks and A/B test category filter options until you find a sweet spot – not too many and not too few.
See how fashion brand Show Me Your Mumu strategically chose to not include every color possible under their “color” filter, but features the most popular shades and lets customers expand their options.
2. Make your product filter options intuitive
There are many ways to present category filter options to your customers: as checkboxes, through a range selector, as dropdowns, as images, and more. Do your customers a favor and make the shopping experience as intuitive as possible by using ecommerce filter navigation options that are most suitable for the attributes in question. For example, use checkboxes for sizes and brands, a range selector for prices, and swatches for colors.
Borsheims makes faceted filtering intuitive in their ring builder by including images in the category filter options to help shoppers distinguish between different ring settings.
3. Hide irrelevant filters
Irrelevant filters distract shoppers from what they really want, or add confusion to their search. Configure your category filters to hide options that don’t have anything to do with the products on the page.
For example, let’s say you run a fashion store that sells both clothing and shoes. The sizing filters that appear on your shoe category should be very different from the sizes that apply to pants, for example. Suggesting that shoppers select their waist measurement when shopping for sneakers is not going to inspire confidence in your website or brand.