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Set Up My Category Filters

If you have purchased Shift4Shop's Category Filters add-on, the following article will show you how to set it up.

Enabling Category Filters

Sometime after purchasing the add-on, you will receive a confirmation message letting you know that the function has been added to your store. After you get this message, you can then follow these steps to begin setting everything up:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager.

  2. Using the left navigation menu, go to Modules.

  3. Using the search bar at the top, search for "Category Filters" to view the module.

  4. Place a mark in the Enable Category Filters checkbox.

  5. Click Save at the top right to commit your changes.

The feature is now ready for you to create your filters and populate your products to filter properly. In the next section, we will detail how to create your filters and populate items as needed.

Creating Your Filters

In this section, we'll go over the steps involved in creating your filters. First, we'll give a brief overview followed by a more complete, step-by-step outline that you can follow.

Brief Overview

The category filters themselves will essentially be made up of hidden categories that will act as the filters. These hidden Filter Categories will then contain their own sub-categories, which will act as the actual filtration sub-sets (facets). For example, let's say your store sells clothing items and you'd like to have filters for individual articles of clothing (Shirts, Pants, etc.) and materials of the fabric (Cotton, Polyester, Nylon, etc.).

To do this, you would create two hidden categories in your store:

  • Type

  • Materials

These categories will be marked as your store's filters by going into the category (in the online store manager), expanding the "Filter Category" section, and marking the "Enable" checkbox. (Remember to Save!)

Then, within these two hidden categories, you would create sub-categories for each possible filter. The subcategories do not need to be hidden and they should not be enabled as a Filter Category (only their parent categories need this). After creating your sub-categories, the category structure will look something like this:

  • Type

    • Shirts

    • Pants

    • Hats

    • Blouses

    • Accessories

  • Materials

    • Leather

    • Cotton

    • Polyester

    • Polyester/Cotton Blend

    • Nylon

    • Silk

Next, you will create a parent category that will contain the Filters for the shoppers' use. This will be a main category that - when visited - will present your visitor with the filters they can use to drill down their selections. In our case, we'll create a category called:

  • Browse Our Items

Then, to designate the category's filters, you'll go into the Main category (in the online store manager) and click on the "Filter Category" section, where you will see a series of drop-down menus. Use these drop-downs to set the filters this main category will use.

Finally, you will populate the created sub-categories with their applicable products so that they show up when a shopper uses the filter. In other words, a silk blouse product will belong in both the Type/Blouses and Materials/Silk categories. When a shopper Goes to "Browse Our Items" on the store, they will be presented with the Type and Materials filters.

  • If the visitor filters for blouses, the Silk Blouse item will appear along with all other Items in the blouse sub-category.

  • If they filter the view for silk, the item will still appear and non-silk items will be filtered out.

Be sure to place the items into the sub-categories you created and not the Filter Categories. Remember that it's the sub-categories that will act as the filtration sets.

This way, you can pre-determine how many hidden categories you will need to create and how many sub-categories each filter will have.

In our next section, we'll go over the process in a more complete, step-by-step fashion.

Complete Overview

For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll be creating Category Filters for a store that sells a variety of flat screen TVs. Our merchant in this case has 30 different flatscreen models in a variety of screen sizes and variations. For his shoppers, he'd like to offer filtering based on the following:

  • Technology
    The type of display technology on the product

  • Screen Size
    Sizes ranging from 20" screens to larger 90" screens

  • Resolution
    The available resolutions available in each model

  • Features
    Additional Features available in some models

Using our visual model (*See "Tip" in the above section) the merchant created the following map he'll need to follow for his categories.

Based on this mapping, the merchant will create four new categories that will act as the filtering options. These categories will then have a series of sub-categories within each that will act as the filtration options.

Filter Category

Let's create the first category that will act as a filter:

  1. Go to Products > Categories.

  2. Click on +Add New at the top right of the page.

  3. Enter the name of the category and set the "Where to place it" drop-down to "New."

In our case we'll name the category "Technology" but you will name it whatever you want the filter's label to be.

4. Click Save to create the category.

Now we will make this category hidden. This is entirely optional, but we recommend the filter categories be hidden so that they do not appear on the storefront, as it may look confusing to your shoppers when displayed out of context.

To hide the category, navigate to Products > Categories again, and use the Action Wheel (at the far right of the category) to select the "Hide" option. Be sure to save after!

Next, we will designate the category we just created as a filter category.

5. Click on the Category's name to open it.

6. Now click on the Filter Categories section to expand that area of the category.

7. Mark the Enable checkbox.

8. Finally, click Save.

Repeat these steps for the rest of your filter categories. In our case, we'll be creating the remaining filters for Screen Size, Resolution and Features. You will create whatever your filters need to be.


Now, let's create our first sub-category that will act as a subset of one of our Filter categories.

  1. Go to Products > Categories.

  2. Click on +Add New at the top right of the page.

  3. Enter the name of the category.

In this case, we'll be creating the "LCD Display" sub-category but you will name it whatever you need the filtration sub-set to be.

4. Below the "New Category Name" field, select the Parent Category from the "Where to place it" drop-down menu.

In our case, this new LCD Display category will be a subset of "Technology" so we'd select that one.

5. Click Save to create the new sub-category.

Repeat these steps for the rest of your sub-categories. Use your map and remember to place the sub-categories in their appropriate filter categories. In our case we will be creating the sub-categories for Display types like LCD, LED, etc in the "Technology" filter, the sub-categories for screen sizes in the "Screen Size" filter category, and so on.

Main Navigation Category

Our next step in the process involves creating a main navigation category. This will be a category that can be viewed on the storefront and - when navigated to - will give shoppers the filters you've created to help them drill down their selection.

  1. Go to Products > Categories.

  2. Click on +Add New at the top right of the page.

  3. Enter the name of the category.

In our case we will call this category "Flat Screens," but you can call it anything you wish. Ensure this new category is created with "New" in the "Where to place it" selector.

4. Click Save to create the category.

Now, we'll set the filters that this Main Navigation Category will use.

5. Click on the Category's name to open up its configuration screen.

6. Now click on the Filter Category section.

In that section, you will see a series of drop-down selections for each filter you've created thus far.

7. Select the Filters that this category will use. The order in which they're selected will dictate how they appear on the storefront.

8. Lastly, click Save.

Your filters are now set. Your next step will be to assign products to their individual filter sub-categories.

Adding Products to Filter Sub-Categories

We're up to the final step in the process which can also be the most extensive and time-consuming; but the end result will be well worth the task. The final step is to add products to your filters so that they appear for your shoppers when the filters are used.

The process of adding products to the sub-categories is the same as it has always been.

What makes this process more difficult for Category Filters however, is the fact that the products may often belong in multiple sub-categories at once for filtering.

For example, some of the Flat Screen TVs used in this tutorial are available with technology that allows them to display 1080i as well as 720p and other resolutions. Therefore, the merchant in this case will have to make sure that those TVs belong in each of those resolution sub-categories. This way, if someone filters for one resolution over the other, the applicable TV sets are still shown.

For this reason, we also recommend mapping out your products visually using a graph similar to the following. Again, excel or any spreadsheet program would be great for this.

This way, you can easily tell which items need to be housed in more than one sub-category for the filtering to work as well as possible.

The Final Result

After setting up his products and filters, our example merchant's visitors can now:

  1. Browse to the store's Flat Screens category, where they'll see the available filters.

  2. Once there, they can use these filters to narrow down their selection. For example, specific screen sizes.

  3. And they can continue selecting filters as needed to further narrow the selections.

  4. and so on!

If you're interested in purchasing the Category Filter Add-On, please contact your Sales representative or click here for ordering details.

Click here to view a demo of the Category Filters!

Category Filter Facets

The Category Filter Facets portion of the module will take the store's existing Category Filters and dynamically create SEO friendly links to each respective filter. This can greatly improve your store's overall SEO by allowing you to have direct URLs (as well as let you control meta tagging and SEO specifics) for each applied category filter on the store.

To use the Category Filter Facets module:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager.

  2. Using the left navigation menu, go to Modules.

  3. Once the Modules page loads, use the search bar at the top to search for and locate "Category Filters."

  4. When the module appears, click on its Settings button.

In the settings popup, you will see two links: One is labeled "Manage Category Facets" and the other is labeled "Index Category Facets."

Indexing the Category Filter Facets

Before you can view or manage the facets, they need to be dynamically generated by the store first. So before you click on the Manage link:

5. Click on the Index Category Facets link.

This will run a script that will look through your category filters and start generating the faceted links for you. The process may take some time as the store proceeds to dynamically map and generate individual URLs for all of your Category Filters. Depending on the size of the store's category filtering data, the process can take up to 30 minutes (usually less).

Once the process is complete, please go back to the module to see if the script has finished its run. Once it's complete, you may click on the Manage Category Facets link to review and edit the facets.

Managing Category Facets

When you click on the "Manage Category Facets" link, the store will display for you all of your store's filter facets. The grid will list the parent category using the filters, the facet that the URL was created for, and a unique URL for the facets (for SEO purposes). An action wheel at the far right of each facet will let you continue to an edit screen for the facets, which will allow you to edit the following SEO related parameters:

  • Page Title
    This lets you edit the title for the Individual Facet page

  • URL
    This will show you the individual facet page's URL (No edit. Only view)

  • Meta Tags
    Here you can edit/create the meta tags for the individual facet page
    (Also contains the Tag Wizard for ease)

  • Canonical URL
    This lets you add a canonical URL for the facet pages (if needed)

  • Header and Footer
    These areas allow you to add html/text to the top and bottom portions of the facet pages.

Once you have made your desired changes, click Save at the top right of the page to set them. Repeat for all other facets you need.

Additional Information

As described, the store automatically will generate URLs for all possible combinations of applied category filters. Even if the combination does not have any products, the URL is created. However, if a particular facet does not have products to show, they will not be accessible on the store front nor will they be followed by spiders. This is just something to be aware of since you may not need to perform manual SEO changes to every single generated URL.