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What is ecommerce faceted search?

Jessica Farelly
By Jessica Farrelly

Think of the last time you went looking for a specific product at a brick-and-mortar store. If you didn’t know where to find it, you probably asked an employee to point you in the right direction. Online, your site navigation serves the same purpose, and ecommerce faceted search plays a critical role in that navigation experience. This article will give you the full scoop on faceted search, and how to use it on your website to effortlessly guide customers to products they’ll want to add to their carts.

What is ecommerce faceted search?

Ecommerce facets are a navigation feature that help customers filter through products on search results, categories, and landing pages to find the items they want to buy. Facets consist of product attributes, like price, size, and color. And facet options are the choices customers have among those attributes. You might find small, medium, and large as options within the “Size” facet, for example. Faceted search helps merchants deliver the most relevant products to their customers, especially when a broad range of inventory is on offer.

What does it look like in action?

Metro Kitchen is one example of an online store with an extensive variety of products – in this case, cookware and kitchen appliances. When a shopper searches for frying pans on this website, they’re presented with 176 products. 

To find a frying pan that suits their needs, they can select options within the “Brand,” “Features,” and “Size” facets, to name a few. If the shopper refines their search by selecting “Le Creuset” as the brand, “Nonstick” as the feature, and “10 inches” as the size, they can narrow their options down to three products and get much closer to making a purchase

ecommerce faceted search

Best practices for ecommerce faceted search

Implementing these ecommerce faceted search best practices will help streamline the path to purchase.

1. Be specific, but don’t overwhelm shoppers with options

It’s important to give shoppers enough facet options to lead them to relevant products. However, if customers encounter too many facet options, they may suffer from decision fatigue and abandon their search. Rather than presenting shoppers with every possible product attribute that might exist on the backend of your ecommerce website, consolidate and standardize them for faceted search. Remember, your search experience is only ever as good as your product data

Fashion designer Badgley Mischka’s ecommerce store sells many garments that come in different shades of blue. Instead of overwhelming customers by presenting them with options for every shade they carry, like “Navy,” “Cerulean,” and “Teal,” this luxury brand consolidated all shades into a single “Blue” facet option.

colors on ecommerce faceted search

Carefully consider how many facet options you present to customers to avoid overcomplicating the online shopping experience.

Bonus tip: Apparel retailers that carry clothing from multiple brands should standardize sizes so as to avoid confusing shoppers. Rather than listing manufacturer-provided sizes, like S, M, L, as well as 4, 6, 8, and 26”, 27”, 28,” choose a single sizing standard to apply to your facets — your customers will thank you!

The secret to high-converting product displays

ecommerce merchandising high converting product displays

2. Hide irrelevant facets

Why display shoe sizes when a shopper is browsing tops? Just like you shouldn’t overwhelm customers with too many facet options, you also shouldn’t present them with irrelevant choices. Reduce page clutter and help shoppers zero in on the right products by hiding irrelevant facets from search result, category, and landing pages. 

ecommerce faceted search

On their New Arrivals page, fashion boutique Pink Lily displays facets that pertain to various products, such as “Pants Size,” “Clothing Size,” and “Shoe Size.” However, their All Shoes category page shows shoppers the “Shoe Size” facet and hides the other two.

3. Use pinned and dynamic facets to your advantage

Use a combination of pinned and dynamic facets to support promotions while presenting customers with the most relevant products.

Smart facets let you order facets dynamically based on the context of the shopper’s page. Let’s say you sell electronics on your ecommerce website. If a customer comes to your category page for laptop sleeves, they should see facets like “Model” and “Size” listed above “Price” or “Color” if that’s how the majority of visitors filter down that particular search.  

By pinning facets, you can also select specific facets to appear first, and use them to draw attention to promotions on your website. For example, some retailers have been highlighting “Curbside Collection” or “In-Store Pickup” facets during the COVID-19 pandemic to help online shoppers zero in on products they can receive safely and quickly.

4. Give shoppers intuitive faceted search display options

Customize your ecommerce faceted search options by displaying them in ways that shoppers will find the most intuitive. Some facets are best displayed as checkboxes, some as grids, and others as scales.

ecommerce facets

Fashion brand Show Me Your Mumu guides shoppers through an intuitive ecommerce faceted search experience using a palette display option for colors, a list for prices, and a grid for sizes.

Choose your facet display style carefully to give customers a delightful online shopping experience that boosts conversions.

Ecommerce faceted search propels purchasing decisions

Online shoppers are faced with an overwhelming number of options, both in the number of retailers vying for their attention and the volume of products these merchants offer. By optimizing ecommerce faceted search on your website, you’ll make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, and help your store stand out from the competition.

Request a demo of Searchspring to see how ecommerce faceted search could work on your store.