What is a faceted search in eCommerce?

April 12, 2023


Imagine if a shopper is looking for a pair of running shoes in an online store and finds more than 4000 pairs of shoes to choose from. Do you think he/she will possibly have enough time to browse the entire collection at your online store? Providing facets or filters is one of the ways to narrow down what exactly one is looking for. A basic and efficient way to help customers find what they want is by using faceted search. If customers are not offered precise search filter options to refine their search, they are more likely to leave the website without exploring options.

In this article, we unlock the potential of facets in eCommerce, their importance, and best practices to use as a competitive advantage.

What is a faceted search?

Faceted search (also known as faceted navigation or faceted filtering) is a method to refine search results based on specific attributes or facets such as product categories, brands, prices, sizes, colors, and more. It is easier for users to quickly and effectively find what they’re seeking by providing facets.

For instance, consider the same example as above, a user searching for a pair of shoes at an online shoe store. The user can start with a general search term, such as “running shoes,” and then use the facets to narrow down the search results. The user can choose to filter by brand, size, color, and price range, among other options, to find the perfect pair of shoes that meets his/ her specifications. This helps users match their preferences, leading to a better shopping experience and a higher probability of engagement. Faceted search allows users to efficiently explore and discover products in a user-friendly and logical manner, making it an inevitable feature for eCommerce stores.

Importance of facets in eCommerce

Facets are vital in the context of search functionality on an eCommerce site. Shoppers get an organized way to explore products saving them time and effort in the journey of discovering their specific requirements. Let’s take a closer look to see how facets are a significant component of the eCommerce sector’s customer journey.

Enhanced user experience

If a person can easily find the intended product without much effort he/she will be delighted and satisfied, and faceted search empowers shoppers to do so. Site search solutions enriched with faceted search and other features like auto-suggestions, spell-checking, and synonyms can greatly enhance the customer experience at any eCommerce store. Latest studies found  69% of consumers go straight to the search bar when they visit an online retailer. 80% admit leaving because the on-site search experience didn’t meet their expectations leading to 30% of visitors being dissatisfied due to a lack of  appropriate filters to narrow down on results. Therefore it is vital for an online business to have a robust site search solution loaded with facets and additional features that  allow users to actively engage on the website, refine their search results, and discover relevant products, leading to increased user engagement and longer session durations.

Quicker product discovery

One of the key benefits of using facets is quicker product discovery. Facets help customers quickly discover their desired product based on specific attributes, such as size, color, price range, etc. This can save customers time and effort in browsing through irrelevant products, resulting in faster product discovery and a more efficient shopping experience. For example, if a user is unaware of a brand but visually knows the product and is descriptive about it, a faceted search would be the first preference by which a list of closely relevant products on the website can be arrived upon.

Competitive advantage

eCommerce websites that offer robust and user-friendly facet-based navigation can gain a competitive advantage by providing a superior browsing experience to their customers. With intuitive faceted search options, eCommerce stores can provide a user experience that gives them an edge over competitors. Well-designed facets can differentiate an e-commerce website from competitors, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Best practices while implementing faceted search

To create an effective faceted search and navigation experience, it’s important to consider some of the factors that can provide a better shopping experience.

Enable multiple selections

The option for multiple selections, at the same time, allows for refining their search further. This provides flexibility and convenience to users, enabling them to narrow down their search based on multiple criteria.

Include ‘must-have’ basic filters

Here, the term must-have basic filters refer to some of the most important filters that are widely available at eCommerce stores. This includes filters by price, product type, color, user ratings, size, and brand. According to Baymard research, these are some of the basic filter types used across eCommerce sites in their study. Incorporating basic filters or facets in e-commerce websites is crucial for a seamless shopping experience.

Avoid excessive and irrelevant facets

When there are too many filters or facets, it can lead to confusion and a cluttered interface, making it difficult for users to find what they are looking for. It may also result in empty or irrelevant facets that do not yield any results, causing dissatisfied users and also throwing out a perception of a limited collection of products by respective brands.

Add product-specific facets

Adding product-specific filters to the eCommerce site can significantly enhance the user experience and streamline the product discovery process. Product-specific filters are tailored to the unique attributes or characteristics of the products being sold, allowing users to refine their search based on these specific attributes.

For instance, if there is an online clothing store, product-specific filters could include options such as size, colour, material, style, and more. Product-specific filters can enhance the usability, relevancy, and effectiveness of the search process, which supports improved customer satisfaction and a higher conversion rate.

Include thematic facets

Thematic facets in e-commerce refer to filters that are based on a particular theme or context, rather than specific product attributes. These facets are designed to provide users with a more unique and engaging browsing experience by offering them the option to explore products based on themes, trends, or categories that align with their interests or preferences. For instance, in a fashion e-commerce website, thematic facets could include options such as “Trending Now,” “New Arrivals,” “Wear to Work”, “Dress for Occasion”, “Seasonal Collections,” or “Sustainable Fashion.” These are usually adaptive interests than what they could be looking for in terms of their interest.

Optimizing the order of facets

Analyzing user behavior and arranging the order of facets is crucial while providing search solutions. For example, a user visiting an online clothing store ideally would have facets in order of category(e.g: men, women, accessories, etc.), price, size, brand, color, clothing type (Tops, Bottoms, Dresses, Outerwear, etc.), occasion (party, sports, casual, etc.), fit (slim, regular, relaxed, etc.), material (cotton, polyester, rayon), neckline (V-neck, round-neck), sleeve length (short, long, sleeveless), and pattern (floral, striped, solid). The key is to carefully consider the most commonly used filters and arrange them in a logical and intuitive order that enhances the user experience and makes it easy for users to refine their search results.

Wrapping up

Facets play a crucial role in enhancing the user experience and driving competitive advantage in e-commerce. They enable users to easily narrow down their search results based on their preferences, allowing for an efficient shopping experience. Properly implemented facets can help users quickly find the products they are looking for, improve the relevancy of search results, and reduce bounce rates. By following best practices such as avoiding excess use of filters, adding product-specific filters, using thematic facets, arranging facets in a logical order, and providing options for multi-select and clear selection, e-commerce websites can greatly benefit from the power of facets in improving search functionality, customer satisfaction, and overall conversion rates. At Tagalys, we understand the significance of facets/filters and help online retailers to serve their customers better and achieve business goals. If you want to know more about our features and solutions, get in touch with us now.


1.Does faceted search help in improving conversion rates?

Certainly yes! Using faceted search shoppers find products they intend to buy much faster, increasing the likelihood of making the purchase. Even a hesitant shopper may convert as a result of its effective decision-making process.

2.How important is naming the filters?

Using terms and words that visitors understand is crucial as its important for them to narrow down the search with the words they are most familiar with. Naming filters in a unique way to stand out does not help instead it can be puzzling.

3.What are some common mistakes to avoid when using facets in e-commerce?

Poor facet labeling, overloaded facets, ignoring mobile optimization, avoiding no-result pages, and irrelevant facets are some of the common mistakes that can be avoided using facets in eCommerce.

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