Knowledgebase: Plugins
How do I Set Up My Category Filters?

If you have purchased 3dcart's Category Filters add-on, the following article will show you how to set it up.

Please Note
The following information is in regards to the regular Category Filter Add-On. If you are using Dynamic Category Filters, the process is a bit different due to the fact that the filters are created via scripting. Please check with your project manager for more information.


Enabling Category Filters
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Upon purchase of the Add-On, your project manager will contact you to give you information about the set up process and gather information about your needs with the add-on. At this time, the project manager will enable the plugin and set the template changes needed for the feature on your store (based on the information gathered during your call). However, you will still need to turn on the function in your store. To do this, please follow these steps:

  1. Log into your 3dcart Online Store Manager
  2. Using the left hand 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.

Important
Please be aware that the creation of the filters and populating of the items into the filters is not a service provided by 3dcart. The creation and populating of the filters themselves can be somewhat time consuming as it involves properly mapping out how you would like the filters to work. Please factor this into your planning if you are considering purchase of the add-on.


Creating Your Filters
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In this next 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
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The category filters themselves will essentially be made up of hidden categories which 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. 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), clicking on "+Filter Categories" and marking the "Filter Category" 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 marked as "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 which 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 use the filters, we'll go into the Main category (in the online store manager) and click on the "+Filters" link 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 which will act as the filtration sets.

Tip
When creating your filter categories and their sub-categories, it really helps to have a visual representation of how to plan your filters. We recommend using a spreadsheet program to create a visual reference like the following:

For example, using our clothing scenario above, you'd create something like the following:

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
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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
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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
  3. Enter the name of the category.

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

  1. Click "Add" 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 store front as it may look confusing to your shoppers when displayed out of context.

To Hide the category, simply 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.

  1. Click on the Category's name to open it
  2. Now click on the "+Filter Categories" link on the right hand side
  3. Mark the "Filter Category" checkbox
  4. 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.


Sub-Categories
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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
  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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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
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Our next step in the process involves creating a main navigation category. This will be a category that can be viewed on the store front 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
  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. Make sure this new category is created with "New" in the "Sub-Category of" selector.

  1. Click "Save" to create the category

Note
This Category should NOT be hidden as you want people to actually navigate to it.

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

  1. Click on the Category's name to open up its configuration screen
  2. Now click on the "+Filters" button on the right hand side of the page.

In the "Filters" section you will see a series of drop down selections for each filter you've created thus far.

  1. Select the Filters that this category will use.
    The order in which they're selected will dictate how they appear on the store front.
  2. Lastly, click "Save"

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


Adding Products to Filter Sub-Categories
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We're up to the final step in the process in the process which is 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 more easily tell which items need to be housed in more than one sub-category for the filtering to work as well as possible.


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