Section by Section: 9 tips for using the multi tag filter sidebar Shopify theme section
by Michael P. Hill
For stores with large inventories, filtering at the collection level can be a great way to help shoppers focus on products that meet their specific needs or criteria and the new multi tag filter sidebar in the Turbo Shopify theme takes a huge step forward in adding more advanced filtering to your store.
In many cases, this eliminates the need for advanced apps that add this functionality.
What is it?
The new multi tag sidebar feature uses Shopify sections. This allows you to add up to five “groups” of tags that, when users click one, the collection page updates to only show products that meet those criteria.
Once the tag is selected, the rest of the tags become hidden and a small “×” appears next to filtered tag so that, when clicked, shoppers can “remove” the filter.
What’s it good for?
Multi tag filters are a great way to let users filter by a variety of criteria, but some of the most common are:
At this time, you can have up to five tag filter groups in your collection page sidebar. This limit will be more than sufficient for more stores and is also meant to help prevent the sidebar from becoming prohibitively long.
The sidebar will only show tags that are associated with products in the collection being viewed. If a tag doesn’t exist in at least one of the products in the collection, it won’t show. This is to prevent irrelevant tags from displaying for a collection.
At this time, it’s not possible to apply more than one filter within the same group. This means a user can’t, for example, filter both green and blue under colors, but they can filter by a single color and a size at the same time.
By default, all collections have to have the same multi tag filter sidebars.
How do I set this up?
Complete instructions for adding a multi tag filter to your collection pages are found here.
How can I use this feature best?
Although we know many store owners are excited about this oft-requested feature, there are some important factors to take into consideration.
Consider which tags are most likely to be useful for your customers and the products your store sells. For example, clothing stores will find color and size to be good picks, while stores selling gift items might find price ranges to be more relevant.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to include every tag and that listing a large number of tags can create an unwieldy list length. Because of this, you may want to consider only listing your most popular colors or color families.
Likewise, since customers may have slightly different ideas of what names apply to some colors, if you use names such as “rose” and “cabernet” you may want to considering tagging these items “red” as well, and only display the red tag and color swatch in your sidebar.
Even though you can feature up to five filter groups in your sidebar, keep in mind that the more you add, the longer your sidebar will be — and it could end up being longer than your product grid. One way to resolve this is to increase the number of products shown per page and/or decrease the number of products shown per row. Both of these tricks will make your collection pages longer.
Keep in mind that listing too many groups or tags that are too narrowly focused can also result in users seeing only a single item. In some cases, this may be a great way to point shoppers in the right direction, but it’s still worth considering that some shoppers may find it offputting to see only one or two products when using filters.
Since different collections may have different products and, by extension, some may have a large number of tags while others may have less, keep this in mind when creating your sidebar and how it looks like next to your product grid.
Also consider how many other sections are in your sidebar and how these affect the height of the sidebar. Try to put the most important content first if you have a lot in your sidebar, as shoppers may not scroll all the way down to see everything.
A good way to reduce clutter is to activate the “toggle” feature that lets the complete tag list be hidden by default so users can open them only when needed.
Finally, it’s worth noting that not all stores can benefit from using this feature. In some cases, especially stores with smaller inventories, adding filtering may seem like a “cool” feature to have, but in reality a simple menu or even no sidebar might work just fine.
Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn. While comments and feedback are always appreciated, Michael regrets that, due to the volume of inquires received, personal responses are not possible. For specific assistance or support with Out of the Sandbox themes, visit the help center.