Creating And Managing Collections

A collection is simply a group of products. It is used to present your products in a group in your store. So for example, if you sell accessories for iPads and iPhones, you might have the collections "iPad Covers" and "iPhones Cases". You can set the number of products to be shown on one web page in your theme settings. Beyond that number, the collection will be shown over a number of pages.

For a very small store, you might just have one collection - the collection that features all of your products. But even with a small number of products, you will probably want to present them in a few collections. As soon as your store starts to have a reasonable number of products, you will want to have a number of collections. For bigger stores, managing and keeping up to date collections becomes a regular part of work done on the store.

The "Catalog" page on the imposters store is the collection of all products - always available at collections/all or in the case of imposters at //

In some cases, you may prefer to refer to collections as categories on your storefront. Your store's clients may understand the word better. But in your admin, groups of products will always be called collections.

The two different types of collections

Let's go and take a look at collections in your admin. Click on Collections in the navigation panel. There's not much happening here yet. You'll notice a single collection, called "rontpage". This is the collection used for displaying products on your store's frontpage (or homepage). Under the page title "Collections", there's a facility to filter and search for collections, which will become useful when you have more collections. At the top right of the page, you'll see the Add collection button.

You may remember from the first chapter, there are two different types of collections: one where you select manually which products are included and another where the products are included automatically based on conditions you set (all sneakers that are Vans, or all coffee makers that cost less than $100 for example).

Adding A New Collection

Click on the Add collection button and let's see how we create the two different types of collections. Before we choose which products will be included in this collection, we need to fill in some details for the collection:

  • Collection name: What do you want to call the collection? The name will be displayed prominently on the collection's page on the storefront. It must be immediately understandable to your store's visitors.
  • Description: If you choose to, you can also include a description for your collection. Not all themes will display this however so do a test to see if your theme does before investing time to write descriptions.
  • Featured image: You can also upload an image to represent the collection. To do so, click the Choose image button on the left-hand side and choose an image from your computer. This is a relatively new feature and not many themes are making use of it yet. All themes will be required to make use of it in the future however.

Looking further down the page, let's briefly skip the choice of how you would like to select the products in the collection. You'll notice a section marked SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Ideally every product and collection in your store should have a hand-crafted page title, description and handle. Done correctly this will make it more likely that the right people will find them in the search engines. To read more about search engine optimization, I recommend reading the "Beginners Guide to SEO" which you will find here.

For a collection with manually selected products

Let's see what's involved in a collection where the products are manually selected. Fill in some details for your collection. You'll notice that the "Select products" is already set to Manually select products. So clicking the Save button will make this a collection with manually selected products.

Adding and removing products from the collection

The page will refresh and on the left-hand side, in the collection details section, you will see a link to view the collection in your store, and under that the featured image will appear if you chose one.

Below that, the product section will now have changed. Clicking on the button Add products will reveal a dropdown menu where you can select which products you want to add to the collection. When you select a product, it will appear on the right-hand side, in the list of products included in the collection. If you have lots of products in your store, you may need to use the search to find specific products. The search box is at the top of the dropdown menu.

If a product is already included in the collection, clicking on it in the dropdown will remove it from the collection. Alternatively, to the far right of each product listed in the collection, you'll notice a small x button. Clicking this will remove the product.

Choosing the order in which products are displayed

You will notice there is now a dropdown menu "Sort this collection". Clicking on this will reveal the options for how the products in the collection are to be ordered. You can list them alphabetically; by what sells the most; based on the date you created the product; by price; or if you prefer you can sort them manually yourself.

Reordering products in the list

No matter which sort order you choose, you can move individual products to wherever you want them in the order. Just click and hold down the mouse on the dotted rectangle to the left of the product image. You can then drag the product, moving it to where you want it in the list and then drop it by letting go of the mouse button.

Viewing the collection in your store

To see the collection on your storefront, simply click the View it in your store link in the collection details section. It's a good idea to confirm that everything appears as it should. For example, for a collection with a lot of products, are the products being displayed in the order you want them? Does the order look right, on the storefront?

Controlling the visibility of the collection

At the bottom of the page, there is a dropdown to control the visibility of the collection. By default when you create a new collection it will be visible. If you don't want it visible on your storefront yet, you can change the visibility to hidden.

When you have finished editing the collection, click the Save button on the right at the top or bottom of the page. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll notice a Delete this collection button should you no longer need this collection.

For a collection with automatically selected products

Next we'll take a look at how to create a collection where the products are included automatically based on conditions you set. For example, all products by Apple that are in stock, or all posters with the word "tree" in the product name. Collections of this type are very handy because you don't have to remember to add products manually to them. If a new product matches the conditions set for the collection, then it is automatically included in the collection.

Let's go back to the collections section by clicking on Collections in the navigation panel. Click on the button Add collection at the top right. The same as earlier, we now need to fill in some details for the collection. These are the same fields that we looked at earlier. This time however, we are going to select Automatically select products based on conditions in the "Select products" section. Doing so will reveal the controls for creating the conditions you want for this collection.

Creating the conditions for the collection

Earlier in this chapter I created a collection called "Trees" and I manually added the three poster prints of trees that I have. If I add another poster of a tree later, it will not be included in that collection. But if I create an automatic collection of tree posters then it will automatically include any new tree posters.

So let's look at how we create these conditions. By default there will be only one condition but you can add more conditions by clicking on the Add another condition link. Each condition consists of three elements: a field name, a relation and a value. Let's say we want to include only the products that are posters for example.

Field name: You can choose the field name from a dropdown and options include "Product title", "Product type", "Product vendor", etc. You can see the options in the screenshot below. For our example, we would choose "Product type".

Relation: The relation is used to define how the field name should be compared with the value. You can choose the likes of "is equal to", "starts with", "ends with" or "contains". If you are using a numerical field name, "Inventory stock" for example, then you will be able to also use "is greater than" or "is less than". For the example, we will use "is equal to".

Value: In the last element, you can freely type in either text or numbers, depending on what is required. So for our example, we will type "Posters". Because we have chosen "is equal to" for the relation, this needs to be exact, "Poster" will not work.

So we end up with "Product type" "is equal to" "Posters". Click on the Save button at the top right and the collection will be created. In the store I have set up, this produces a collection with nine posters. It doesn't give me a collection of tree posters. I will need to add a second condition to get that.

Working With More Than One Condition

These collections with automatically selected products become really powerful when you use more than one condition. Each individual condition is rather simple but a few combined can create very useful collections.

The most important thing to remember when you use more than one condition is that a product must meet all the conditions for that product to be included in the collection. So if you put in two conditions then only products that satisfy both those conditions will be included.

Let's set a second condition. Remember, I want to create an automatic collection of all the tree posters. The first condition that we have in place already gives us all the posters. Next we need to separate out those that are of trees. I know that all the tree posters on my store have "tree" in the product title. So I'm going to use that.

To add a new condition, click on the Add a condition button in the section with the conditions. That will add a second condition.

For my example, I will choose "Product title" in the first dropdown menu, "contains" in the second dropdown menu and type "tree" in the text box. Click Save to put in place the condition.

For my example, the collection now has three products included and they are all tree posters! Later on, if I add a new product with product type "Posters" and "tree" in the product title then it will automatically appear in this collection.

Editing collections with automatically selected products

We've already looked at how to edit collections with manually selected products. Apart from the conditions and the fact that you cannot add products manually, you can do most of the same things with a collection with automatically chosen products. You can reorder products using the "Sort this collection" dropdown menu. You can sort the products in the collection manually by dragging and dropping individual products like we saw earlier. You can control the visibility of the collection, etc.

Hiding out of stock products

As your store gets bigger, it can become a bit time consuming to manually hide products that have no stock. There is a handy way to avoid having such products showing up in collections with automatically selected products. Simply add a condition that "Inventory stock is greater than 0" (zero). Only products that have a stock quantity of one or more will be displayed in the collection.

It's not a complete solution though as the out of stock products can still show up in custom collections and search results. Another option is to use an app called Flusher from the App Store. This app will automatically delete products with zero stock from your store. This is practical if you have a store with a lot of one-off products each with only a small stock. But not so practical if you expect to have the product back in stock soon.

Managing Your Store's Collections

Click on Collections in the navigation panel to return to the collections section. This page gives you an overview of the collections already set up in your store. You can see each of the collections, how many products are in each and if any of them have conditions.

Clicking on a collection title will open the collection so you can edit it. Selecting particular collections using the checkboxes on the left will reveal a menu that allows you to quickly publish, hide or delete the selected collections.