TL;dr

Many merchants believe Shopify's collections to be restrictive, but actually the flat hierarchy of collections is incredibly flexible and liberating.

Show me the takeaways

If you’re coming to Shopify from a different ecommerce platform you might find Shopify collections a bit strange at first. When I first started working with Shopify I thought that the single-level “flat architecture” of the collections was a limitation.

After a little while my thinking changed and I began to see that the Shopify collections system was an enormous strength.

What you need to know

With Shopify you can have as many collections as you like and every product can belong to multiple collections.

In a traditional hiearchical collection struction you might have a parent collection like Clothing and child collections such as T-shirts, Jeans and Trousers. With Shopify you’d have a Clothing collection and a T-Shirt collection and your product can belong to both, but the T-Shirt collection does not belong to the Clothing collection.

But why is that good for me?

When your product can belong to multiple collections then you can build them the way your customers want to shop.

You can start to chop and slice your products catalogue in a hundred different ways without needing to re-organise your entire structure. Simply add your product to the collections that it belongs in.

You can make a collection for all products that are sized medium or colour black or for a particular season.

Where this becomes even more powerful is Smart Collections, that use rules to add products to collections or via apps that use the API to add products to categories depending on certain attributes.

You can create a Smart Collection that includes all products with a product type of T-Shirt and a tag of “Childrens”. Then you’ve got a smart collection you can call Children’s T-shirts. Another smart collection might contain all products with a tag of “Childrens” and a tag of “Male”. Now you’ve got a smart collection for all Boys clothes.

So can I create sub-collections on Shopify?

The short answer is no. The long-answer is “it depends what you mean by sub-collections”.

When most merchants say sub-collections what they mean is a collection nested underneath another collection in the menu. This can be done with ease. In Shopify your menus can be organised however you want.

For instance, the menu can display a dropdown named Clothing (that links to a clothing collection) and can have sub-items like T-Shirts, Jeans, Shirts etc. that all link to those more-specific collections.

Takeaways

  1. You don’t have to think about collections as a fixed hierarchy any more, it’s actually limiting your ability to give the customer what they want
  2. Collections are just groups of similar products, organised by whatever attributes you think your customers will want to shop by; size, colour, product-type, brand etc.
  3. The flat hierarchy makes collections flexible and powerful, with a little bit of code, almost anything is achievable
About the Author

Craig Cooper

Craig Cooper is the founder and managing director of Pilgrim Marketing. He helps Shopify store owners to improve their marketing funnels and website conversion so they can take their store to the next level.

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