Best Practices for eCommerce Faceted Search with PIM to Elevate User Experience

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Every intuitive ecommerce website needs to pave the path for prospective customers. From laying out a clear navigation system to optimizing category pages, every decision about your store layout must ultimately guide customers to the checkout page. With that, the faceted search feature is such that ties up your site together neatly. Faceted search is another key component of a satisfying user experience, helping customers find the right product faster. But utilizing ecommerce faceted search can benefit from a tool like PIM to organize the backend product attributes organization.

In this general guide, we discuss faceted search, how it works, and why it’s so essential to an effective ecommerce site. Additionally, we’ll also go into detail about how PIM implementation can help you optimize your ecommerce faceted search to improve your shoppers’ browsing experience.

What is eCommerce Faceted Search?

Faceted search is a feature that is more common than not on online store sites. Driven by a backend organizational system, eCommerce faceted search guides shoppers to find the products they have in mind (or not) in less time than normal search features. Once a shopper enters their search query into the search box, the faceted search comes up with relevant product attributes or related terms to narrow down search options. Usually, faceted search features appear on the sidebar of search results, with checkboxes.

This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Faceted search sounds very much like filtering. What, then, is the difference between facets and filters? 

Filters also narrow down search results to show relevant products. However, the key difference is in the timing and the dynamism. Shoppers can only check filters before a search, which means they are general and appear the same for everyone. Meanwhile, facets appear in the context of the search query. They appear relative to the keyword, usually as product or category-specific features that shoppers can check off as they go along. Faceted search options provide a better experience by allowing users to refine their search dynamically.

Facets consist of product attributes (size, color, dimension), brand, manufacturer, price range, and in the case of complex products, down to the most detailed specification. This facet option enhances the user-friendly interface of the site.

Faceted Search vs. Faceted Navigation: What’s the Difference?

Short answer: They are one and the same. The terms faceted search and faceted navigation are used interchangeably. Regardless of whether customers begin by typing in a search query or clicking on the navigation menu, they will end up in the same place to view search results.

Either way, using facets on an ecommerce store helps the shopper searches for and navigates through the product selection of a store. Most people start by selecting a category from a menu of the store’s offerings. The category page will be at their beck and call, showcasing featured items and subcategories if any.

Some prefer each category page to appear as a landing page. It’s an optimized stop for visitors to receive an optimized overview of subject-related offerings. From it, they can narrow down results by choosing a subcategory and clicking straight on a featured product. Site navigation is thus enhanced by faceted search functionality.

On many sites, the category page may also be a search results page, with the sidebar full of product-specific facets from which to choose. So in the case of shoes, shoppers might tweak the results by color, size, show brand, shoe type, material, and other features that the store lays out. These are the facets, and with every selection of a facet, the search results page returns fewer products, creating a more precise selection of shoes that is closer to the shopper’s ideal product.

How does eCommerce faceted search work?

Nowadays, no eCommerce site can work effectively without a eCommerce faceted search. The tool is not only useful but required for sifting through a large selection of products. Some shoppers don’t know what they want yet, while others have a set of minimum requirements, usually the size and price range at the very least.

Faceted search depends on the business’s system of organizing products. The backend product taxonomy or hierarchy impacts how products are displayed. When a shopper either explores the site’s category pages or enters a search query, eCommerce faceted search or navigation features appear as a sidebar. This thematic filter helps refine their search effectively.

Facets related to the products are displayed according to the search results – only relevant attributes will be available for shoppers to select. From there, users can refine search results as they go along. Faceted search helps by allowing users to select multiple facets to narrow down their choices.

The beauty of eCommerce faceted search is in how dynamic and flexible it is. The way this comes about is through a behind-the-scenes search process based on product metadata. Rich product data results in a highly specific, multidimensional return of search products. For the shoppers, results come seemingly quickly, within milliseconds. But in the backend, the system is filtering through thousands of products matching up the product data with the shoppers’ selected facets.

Best Practices for eCommerce Faceted Search to Improve User Experience

ecommerce faceted search how to use facets for product data in e-commerce

If you operate an online store, you might not have to think twice about how e-commerce faceted search can help you. Today, most eCommerce businesses find faceted search necessary, but only if they have a large product catalog. Businesses with a smaller assortment of products will find eCommerce faceted search futile. Unless you plan on adding a hundred more products or variants in the future, implementing faceted navigation may cost more than it returns. It may not make much of a difference in optimizing the search experience

When needed, faceted search offers many advantages that can give your business a competitive edge over others. After all, what stands out today is offering prospects the easiest pathway to finding your products. An online store site is not simply an interactive product catalog that leads directly to the checkout page. It’s an opportunity to take control of every aspect of the shopper’s journey. That’s what user experience is all about. 

User experience, in this case, refers to users on an eCommerce store website. Technically, they are shoppers. The goal is to convince them to eventually become buyers, and hopefully customers. While user experience is under the jurisdiction of UX/UI web design, because it is one of the many areas that a business must oversee to drive sales, it’s relevant when it comes to the backend management of business assets, like product information. Even if the eCommerce faceted search feature exists on a b2b eCommerce website, how a business organizes its products completely influences its usability.

One thing is for sure, to improve your shoppers’ user experience, eCommerce faceted search is the way to go. 

What are the benefits of faceted search in eCommerce?

While it’s clear that eCommerce faceted search can have a positive impact on sales, it’s good to know the specific advantages it offers to achieve that.

  1. Improve product findability
  2. Provide relevant search results
  3. Increase conversion rate
  4. User-driven engagement
  5. Extinguish “No Results” search pages 

Although not a comprehensive list, just these few basic benefits of eCommerce faceted search are influential. Most importantly, they apply to both shoppers and businesses. By putting shoppers in a better position to find what they want, the brand also fulfills its business needs.

“For you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.”

Bryan Eisenberg, Author and Expert in Marketing

1. Improve product findability of your online store

improve ecommerce with faceted search best practices for ecomerce facet searching

Product findability measures the appearance of a product in search results or listings. It’s also a major struggle to ensure all products in a catalog have an equal chance of being found by the right person. 

Sure, some products are more popular than others. But it’s the job of the business to help shoppers find the right product based on time, context, and search intent. In this case, it should follow that all products have a chance to meet the right customer where they are. Besides, for every minute longer that it takes for a shopper to find the desired product, the higher the risk of losing that conversion.

For the best user experience, a website must optimize for easy retrieval of information – including product information. Shoppers should be able to not only find what they are looking for but also discover products they never knew they needed. The faster they can do so, the better you’re able to secure more sales. To that end, faceted search makes this possible.

2. Provide relevant search results

Putting the search experience into the hands of the user, eCommerce dynamic facets allow shoppers to tweak the results for the most relevant content possible. 

Customers today have strong expectations for how an eCommerce store should work. Putting the search experience into the hands of the user, faceted search allows shoppers to tweak the results for the most relevant content possible. 

Allowing customers to avoid scrolling forever is a vital principle of quality user experience. The whole point of smart faceted navigation is condensing products from the catalog to a few, select items that are most relevant to the shopper’s needs. Search results should reflect a usable, intuitive search that feels natural.

3. Increase conversion rate

Faceted search is essential for users who know exactly what they want. For that reason, it is vital for B2B buyer who has a list of specifications to knock out. With a faceted navigation system, they can quickly see if their desired product is available or not. 

However, even for shoppers who are just browsing or have a vague idea of what they want, an eCommerce faceted search feature helps them hone in on that. In a way, it propels an efficient decision-making process that may lead to conversions, even for the most indecisive shopper.

Faceted search improves conversions by allowing users to find products faster, increasing the likelihood that they will buy them. Speed is key. It delivers a great product discovery experience. For those browsing, a faceted search may turn them into buyers. An optimal experience keeps customers coming back. 

When shoppers can easily find the products they are looking for, it leads to higher conversions and sales. The ability to refine search results dynamically helps improve the online shopping experience, making it more likely for users to complete a purchase.

4. User-driven engagement

The crux of user experience is in how interactive eCommerce faceted search is. Not only is it intuitive, easy to use, and gets shoppers closer to their goal, but it also engages them. The shoppers lead the search, tweaking facets to match their ideal vision for the product. This back-and-forth is a critical aspect of quality user experience. Faceted search offers a way of communicating that saves time. 

Faceted search allows users to select multiple facets to narrow down their search results. This user-driven engagement enhances the customer experience by making the search process more interactive and tailored to individual preferences.

5. Extinguish null search results 

Ever search for a product and come up with a “No results found?” Certainly, an online store may simply not have the right product, or too many filters were chosen, leading to far-too-specific parameters. What you don’t want is a bad product organization system to interfere with your search’s product data retrieval. 

Faceted search ensures there are no dead-ends. Searches that lead to empty search results pages are a major challenge to a seamless buyer’s journey. It can frustrate users, leading to bounce-offs and a memorably bad experience – one that keeps shoppers away from your online store. 

An optimized eCommerce faceted search prevents null results by offering a comprehensive overview of product offerings. Showing potential product features gives shoppers an idea of what’s available. That way, if they search a query that is incompatible with a store’s terminology, the faceted search is intuitive enough to offer related search terms. 

These benefits drive a high-quality user experience. Faceted search allows shoppers to maneuver their way through an online store and diminishing any obstacles or inconveniences. 

The question now is, how can you make the most of your eCommerce faceted search? With the best PIM software, optimizing your navigation and search experience becomes a more manageable and straightforward task.

Most importantly, they apply to both shoppers and businesses. By putting online shoppers in a better position to find what they want, the brand also fulfills its business needs. For you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.

top ecommerce faceted search trends and how to optimize your brand to start using them correctly

How to optimize your faceted search with PIM?

“Remember, every mistake your customer makes, it’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because your website sucks.”

Peep Laja, CEO of Wynter and CXL

Wondering how exactly PIM tackles faceted search? While a product information management system isn’t directly involved in the set-up of faceted navigation for an online site, it certainly affects how it appears. 

For one, PIM is involved in the management of product attributes and other related objects, managing connections between categories and keywords. On the front-end, this makes eCommerce faceted search operate with more fluidity, especially for a merchant with a variety of products.

PIM poses an advantage for the internal processes regarding product organization, as well as the customer-facing content. One of the biggest obstacles to productivity is a disorganized product catalog. The time employees spend looking for product data puts a strain on business processes. When it comes to eCommerce faceted search, PIM itself uses the forces of faceted search so employees can search for products on a multidimensional level when working on projects. 

Without further ado, here are some of the specific ways that a PIM solution handles the complexity behind an intuitive eCommerce faceted search feature.

PIM prepares product data for intuitive eCommerce faceted search.

A faceted search feature doesn’t just come up with facets and maintain them automatically. It’s up to the business to first organize and manage their product data. Only then is it possible to view the big picture and talk about faceted search effectively.

Compiling and gathering product information into one place, the PIM is the first step to preparing for a faceted search. Seeing what attributes are common under each product category you have allows you to make the best decisions for your search facets and avoid returning empty or incorrect search results. PIM allows businesses to store each attribute in its own field for ultimate, detailed specificity. With eCommerce faceted search, the more specific, the better, especially for apparel retailers and merchants with a wide product list.

Display product-specific facets with PIM.

When you create your taxonomy structure on PIM, it powers the faceted navigation of your online store. Product taxonomy or hierarchy is the method of organization that a business uses. It relates each product to each, usually with parent-child relationships. On the eCommerce store site, the taxonomy appears as intuitive categories on the navigation menu, with logical subcategories. 

Product taxonomy is also the basis of faceted search. It makes it easier to display product or category-specific facets, which is the keystone of eCommerce faceted search. As a shopper clicks a category of products, only facets relevant to that type of product appear. So a facet for shoe size will only appear for shoes, while pants size will only appear for pants. 

It sounds self-explanatory, but for some more complicated products, like auto parts or industrial tools, attributes can get incredibly specific. Without a PIM, managing an eCommerce faceted search can be a tedious task, especially if your eCommerce store sells a large number of products.

A PIM system holds and automatically simplifies the process of organizing product taxonomy, ensuring that every product list is up-to-date and correctly categorized.

PIM governs data quality for eCommerce faceted search.

To get a good reading on how to display your facets, your product data must first be high-quality. Only by centralizing and overseeing the quality of product data can you begin to define the facets you want to showcase to your shoppers. With PIM’s standardization of product information, it’s easier to ensure all product information is clean. PIM helps businesses meet personal and general standards for quality.

Excellent product data quality results in better-performing on-site search. Shoppers can skim through only the most accurate and comprehensive search results, aided by an efficient search algorithm.

Improve eCommerce faceted search with PIM optimization tools.

Faceted search isn’t known for its SEO benefits. In fact, its ability to create multiple search results pages of different combinations of products can harm SEO. Leading to page duplicity, search engine bots can get confused and even trapped trying to crawl hundreds of link variations. Unfortunately, this is unavoidable. However, with product information management software, it’s possible to offset the negative effect on SEO with asset optimization tools.

The same tools that improve Search Engine Optimization with PIM will also vastly improve the search experience. PIM is in the business of optimizing product attributes and keywords to boost organic traffic. While that means off-site search optimization, it certainly improves product rankings on-site as well. After all, eCommerce faceted search puts humans first, bots second. So even if you might lose some SEO traction from an abundance of copycat URLs from search results, an optimized faceted search makes up for it.

By creating a fluid, personalized experience and easy window-shopping, shoppers are less likely to leave the site out of frustration. In the eyes of search engine web crawlers, this is a good sign that your site is useful and usable. With multiple options available, shoppers can quickly find the best value among a variety of products, enhancing their overall experience.

PIM makes enriching product content easier.

In eCommerce, it’s best not to keep all your eggs in one basket. The same principle applies to product content. The richer your product data and content, the more potential prospects you are able to reach. After all, people may use different search terms with the same product in mind. Or some might not know exactly what product they want or need. 

Much like SEO considerations, it’s best to keep all potential circumstances in mind when evaluating how to tags products. For example, think about intent – things like product use and context can help shoppers find what they’re looking for via eCommerce faceted search. When your faceted search can support different types of search queries for a specific product or set of search results, you are two steps ahead of the game.

That’s why a PIM system helps businesses maintain content completeness. In other words, all necessary and optional content fields are authored, enriched, and as detailed as possible. Product titles, descriptions, metadata – everything that has the potential to drive traffic on-site is not overlooked. Handling it all from one interface makes it easier to embrace every opportunity.

increase customer findability with e-commerce faceted search with pim software

Maintain consistent product attribute conventions.

Because the PIM system centralizes product information in one place, it’s easier to oversee all product attributes. The same tags or attributes are used as products enter the database, with consistent phrasing, units, or terminology. 

Not only is this helpful for employees, preventing confusion over what search terms to use, but it also allows the eCommerce faceted search to locate products adequately. Consistent attributes values are key to upkeep product visibility so that no product is left out of the search results page. 

Refine product recommendations. 

With PIM’s system of tagging products with relevant, detailed keywords, there are stronger connections between relevant products. For faceted search, PIM helps return more comprehensive search results, improving recommended products.

On an online store, this can easily translate to a more automatic way of showing related products. Many store websites display related or recommended products alongside eCommerce faceted search results. The richer your product database, the better this feature performs. More opportunities to upsell and cross-sell products are possible. Overall, shoppers are able to do less work, while businesses can watch sales rise.

Enhance eCommerce Faceted Search with PIM

Faceted search is an essential aspect of an optimized online store experience. When 30% of shoppers take advantage of on-site search, businesses most hone in on user experience. Those who use the search feature, are twice as likely to become customers; twice as likely. Thus, no eCommerce website can afford to go without a faceted search, especially a retailer with several dozens of items.

That’s why taking control of product data is a critical step in the right direction. With a PIM and DAM system, this becomes not only possible, but easier than ever. With full display of all your product information, you can finetune not only your product and category pages, but also the search experience that turns shoppers into customers.

For more information on how to enhance your eCommerce faceted search with PIM software, schedule a live demo with Catsy or check out our website.


Product information management (PIM) is a catalog software tool built to speed products to market.

Digital asset management (DAM) is a software used to organize and enrich digital assets.