Over the last couple of years I’ve worked on lots of requirements gathering projects and discoveries with retailers moving to Shopify Plus and layered navigation / filtering is an area that always comes up in discussion. Shopify Plus has very basic filtering functionality natively, based solely on tag values, which only support flat, single-select application.

This is a real weakness of Shopify Plus against their competitors (particularly Magento – with third party modules – and Salesforce Commerce Cloud) – but you can get around this via some of the apps available.

The functional requirements that are generally required for a solution are generally:

  • Multi-faceted filtering (ability to use a combination of filtering options and refine down to only items that meet ALL of the criterria) – this isn’t available natively via Shopify
  • Multi-select filtering (multiple values on a single filtering option) – this isn’t available natively via Shopify
  • Ability to use filtering alongside the native Shopify product grid (still being served via liquid, not JavaScript)
  • Ability to re-organise filtering options
  • Retain order / merchandising of original collection page with remaining products (pre-filter)
  • Ability to assign single select and multi select filtering against filters – this isn’t available natively via Shopify
  • Usage of rich features, such as price slider, value search, colour swatches, product count against features, review filtering etc – this isn’t available natively via Shopify
  • Ability to retain custom badging and overlays

There are then more desirable, non-essential features, which are:

  • Integrated visual merchandising capabilities (with the ability to assign rules and weightings)
  • Ability to control filtering parameters and define how Google and other search engines crawl and index filtering pages
  • Ability to inject custom content and meta data against specific filter pages
  • Integrated quick view / quick buy functionality
  • Ability to handle similar values as single or multiple filter options (e.g. colours)

If you think I’ve missed any requirements here, please feel free to suggest them in the comments below.

What is multi-select filtering?

Multi-select filtering is essentially the ability to select two options (within a single filtering group) to filter a product set to match both of the two values. An example could be to show “red” and “blue” jumpers.

Reliance on JavaScript

I’ve looked at lots of diferent solutions for filtering in Shopify Plus and the majority of good ones load both the filtering and the product grid via JavaScript, which isn’t something that most retailers want to rely on from an organic search / SEO perspective. Although Google has undoubtably got better at crawling JavaScript, other search engines aren’t as good and it’s not a good thing to rely on generally, in my view. I’ve also seen retailers see a drop when moving from an in-line product grid to a JavaScript-based approach.

For example, Klevu is one of the stronest options on the market (allowing for better visual merchandising, machine learning etc), but they pull in the grid via JavaScript straight away. If you’re happy with this, search-led solutions like Klevu represent a really good option.

If you are not happy with a JavaScript-based approach, BoostCommerce is the best option I’m aware of that can tick the other requirements other.

Using BoostCommerce for filtering

BoostCommerce’s solution is our primary recommendation as it meets the majority of the requirements above and also offers quite a lot of customisation. The integration is very simple and they’re working on building additional functionality around merchandising as well.

The app is also very cost-effective. A lot of big retailers use BoostCommerce as well, including GAP, Jockey, MAVI and various others. We also have a few clients using it and it’s always been good for them.

Alternative options for filtering in Shopify Plus

Although we tend to recommend using BoostCommerce in isolation for filtering (alongside a separate search solution for example), other solutions include:

  • Klevu – Search solution with a category merchandising add-on. Product grid is embedded JavaScript.
  • Algolia – Search solution that offers the ability to embed a product grid with filtering. Again, achieved via JavaScript.
  • SearchSpring – good solution for visual merchandising but likely to take slightly longer to integrate. One of the better merchandising solutions but still served via JavaScript.
  • PowerTools – Shopify app that provides enhanced filtering (as well as other features) but it doesn’t allow for the standard grid to be served initially.

These are just a few alternative options that also cover off other areas if needed. If you have any questions around any of these areas, please feel free to add them in the comments.