As I was working on my Adventures In Skiing Print On Demand shop, I started out using a hierarchical category system such as Men’s clothing -> Men’s shirts -> Men’s T-Shirts. Using the standard way that WooCommerce works, this means that as a customer, you had to drill down for up to 4 levels just to get to the product you wanted. As a customer, that clearly wasn’t the best solution.

Years ago I wrote the book, “Amazon’s Dirty Little Secrets,” and recommended that as a small business you try to mimic what was working for the most successful ecommerce company out there. So, how can you get customers to the products in your store quicker without the hassle of having to drill down through everything? What Amazon does is use a sidebar with a product filter. You can select based on various criteria including Prime shipping, reviews, brands, and of course sub-categories. I needed to figure out a way to do this for my store. And, as it turns out, this is a good thing to do for any ecommerce store.

I looked at a number of WooCommerce Product Filter plugins and after experimenting with several, landed on “WooCommerce Product Filter by WooBeWoo.” You can see this in action on my Adventures In Skiing site.

This plugin allows you to create multiple filters, such as for different categories, and then insert them onto a product page using a shortcode. So, for example, if you create a filter for a t-shirt category, you may want to include colors and sizes as criteria, but these options may not make sense for a category of housewares. Here’s how I did it.

After installing the WooCommerce Product Filter Plugin, I needed to create some filters, one for each page that I was going to use a filter on. You can see these in the image below.

When setting up / editing these filters, you can add in various criteria and expand them to fit your needs. a preview is shown on the right.

Expanding the product Categories filter shows all the options available. What I did in this case was to include the “men’s clothing” and all child categories.

It would be nice to use checkboxes instead of radio buttons so that someone could select multiple categories like they do on Amazon, but since I don’t have that many products, I figured the user could just select the parent category instead of upgrading to the pro version.

Now when I configured the Colors filter, I decided to not have this initially expanded on the customer side in order to make this look a little cleaner.  The same applies to Sizes. You can select only a few items to show (like maybe 4 or 5 colors) but I preferred to allow the customer to expand the list and see everything.

Now, I needed to add these filters to a page. In this example, you can see the layout of the page for Men’s clothing, with a column on the left where I inserted the appropriate shortcode for this filter, and the main area where I inserted a shop module and configured it to show all of the men’s clothing categories.

Here is what the result looks like to the customer.

While I did this for my Print On Demand website, this type of organization might make sense for any number of ecommerce websites. See if it makes sense for yours.

Next week we’ll get back to the basics of setting up your own POD website by talking about creating designs for your products.