The Future is Filtered: Key Considerations for Your Product Catalog

One of the most common requests we get from clients post-launch is to better optimize their Product Listing Page (PLP) as they grow their offering and better understand their customers.

The PLP is made up of a few central components: a header, a grid of product cards and filters. In most cases, a better filtering system is one of the most impactful optimizations we can make.

Brands We Love: Everlane has pioneered a number of exceptional user experience paradigms. Their approach to filtering helps customers find what they need in an increasingly growing product catalog.

Below are a few considerations to explore when adding filters – with a few ideas about how to make it more useful, engaging and practical for your customers. Most of these suggestions are geared towards brands selling apparel, but you can likely glean a few insights no matter what your offering is.

Filter in Living Color

Filtering by color is a great way for customers to get a handle on your offering if they are looking for a specific event (a wedding or office party) or use case (pots and pans to match their kitchen decor, a cleanser to better remove makeup).

Including color variants in the product cards is a great way to showcase the robustness of your product’s colorways. If your offering is still growing, consider “double-exposing” products in different colors/patterns when a small size doesn’t provide adequate context.

We worked with the brand Young Nails to bring an immersive filtering system to life that showcases a spectrum of color rather than the traditional color chips. Given the type of product and color range offered, this made sense. Don't hesitate to bring a sense of liveliness and fun to your UX as long as it emphasizes your product offering.

If you’re allowing customers to filter by color, consider going the extra mile to ensure that in the filtered state, the default image shows that color. That will help signal to them that the color filter has been applied and will ease their browsing experience to help them find exactly what they’re looking for.

If color is a prime consideration for you, consider allowing customers to engage with color more actively. Introduce a dynamic, interactive color spectrum that customers can engage with.

Show Customers (Their) Size Matters

The ability to filter by size is a fairly common practice – but making the size filter more contextually relevant can be a game-changing strategy for your conversion.

When a customer inputs their size, consider updating products dynamically to include photography of products in that size.

Brands We Love: Madewell makes it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. Major bonus points for not siloing plus sizes into a separate category! Customers want to look in a single spot to find what they need, and it's shameful to relegate them to a separate category because of their size, especially when we wouldn't do so for other filtering conditionals (like color or price-point).

Customers who see their size reflected in product imagery at this stage can get a better idea of how products fit or their size relative to other items.

Furthermore, with “extended sizing” typically being categorized separately from a brand’s core offering, this becomes an excellent way to signal inclusivity to your customer base.

Explore Visual Categorization

Showing rather than telling is one of the most overlooked types of categorization that can easily help your customers find what they are looking for.

Madewell uses a visual categorization system to showcase different styles/fits of denim. Alternatively, our client Hill House Home showcases different events or opportunities to sport their dresses depending on the season, most popular products, and more.

Brands We Love: Madewell streamlines their denim category by showing customers the various styles they offer, allowing folks to find the particular jean they like and browse more qualitatively.

Consider if your product descriptions include anything that could be better served as a more visual, categorical filter within the navigation.

Be Transparent with Availability

If your company relies on a product drop strategy, or frequently sells out of a particular product regularly or you are facing supply chain issues, a filter input for availability items help customers see what’s ready to ship, rather than clicking on a product only to find it’s sold out.

Our client, Hill House Home, operates on a drop-strategy and is famous for selling out of their inventory within minutes. As a result, we introduced an Available Now filter on their PLPs.

On viral launch days, Hill House Home can sell out of their entire catalog within minutes. While we optimize for successful product launches, it’s also important to consider what happens post-launch to ensure the customer still has an exceptional experience.

Brands We Love: Moda Operandi also showcases filters for product availabilty.

We added the Available Now filter so that customers can clearly see what’s in stock vs. what’s sold out – especially if they are looking to make a quick purchase for an upcoming event (Memorial Day BBQ or Mother’s Day), as is often the case with their customer-base.

Highlight Your Best Sellers

One of the quickest wins you can make is to offer “Best Sellers” as a filter option. Most of the time, filters are readily “exposed” as part of the PLP, but the “Sort By” function is less frequently used. For some reason, Best Sellers is typically nested in this menu and can often be overlooked.

Highlighting your Best Sellers is an easy way for customers to get a lay of the land of your products and inspire their purchase decision. Whether you have thousands of SKUs or a limited assortment, a Best Sellers option can help eliminate decision fatigue for customers who may be coming based on word of mouth or a non-product specific ad. Put another way, showcasing all Best Sellers can help narrow the path for customers who aren’t sure what they are looking for.

Brands We Love: Net-a-Porter does an exceptional job merchandising New Arrivals and Best Sellers.

Showcase Fabric & Construction Details

Some customers might be looking for particulars – laying out linen, cotton, or wool may help your customers find exactly what they are looking for.

In the case of furnishings, it’s natural for purchasers to have a point of view of whether they want a leather sofa (they have children) or a linen sofa (they are furnishing their beach house).

Brands We Love: Interior Define's fabric and construction detail filters provide added context to the consumer at every touchpoint.

Help Customers Find their Fit

Though closely related, sizing refers to the garment’s particular size, whereas fit aims to define how a product fits. This is what I would call attribute sizing. If you take some time to figure out what the core attributes your customers like or typically search for, this can be a great way to figure out how to showcase some more unique and helpful filters.

Fits loose or baggy provide immediate clues as to the overall shape of a piece of clothing, whereas mid-rise and high-waisted both represent preferences rather than an individual’s size. Both are attributes of particular styles of clothes that provide some overview of what the brand sells, and allows customers to tailor that offering to their specific preferences.

If you’re not selling apparel, the concept of fit can easily be translated to other types of offerings, including:

  • Beauty (sheer vs. full-coverage)
  • Bras (demi-cup vs. full cup)
  • Fragrances (floral vs. spicy)
  • Coffee (by origin; Nicaragua vs. Kenya)
  • Medicinals (hair loss vs. acne)
  • Food (spicy vs. mild)

In the case of our client STUDS, filtering by piercing type is an attribute that’s perfect for their offering of earrings, and allows customers to view earrings by the particular piercing placement they have.

Our client, Studs, allows customers to filter by piercing type. It's notable that a piercing that may work for an earlobe may not work for your helix. Knowing your product offering and how it may be used is a critical way to think about filtering.

Filtering by attribute is rarely included as a consideration in early-stage websites for brands, but can be something quick and easy to implement that may pay dividends in the long run.

Lean Into Your Value Proposition

Brands today know they can’t win on product alone: it’s important for companies to demonstrate an environmental commitment, manufacture goods with a reduced footprint or with enough scale, and begin considering the viability of a secondary marketplace to resell their goods, à la Allbirds.

Showcasing particular products that are made consciously or with a lower carbon footprint is a great way to highlight a core brand attribute. What’s more, this kind of commitment can foster a sense of loyalty to your brand if it aligns with a person’s ethics.

Brands We Love: while we don't totally advocate H&M's responsibility in the consumption and mass production of fast-fashion, allowing customers to shop by ethos and value is an emerging trend we feel will soon be mainstream.

Certain brands also release limited edition products with proceeds going to different charitable endeavors. Helping customers find the products where their purchasing power can be felt is another great way for you to connect with your audience and help form a stronger bond for repeat purchases.

These are just a couple ways we have been addressing one of the most common post-launch requests from clients who are looking to act on their own increased customer understanding and awareness.

Tailored filtering and personalized search options are an incredible way to show your customers you see them and care about their preferences – and optimizing your PLP will facilitate smooth growth as you scale your offering.

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