The average user stays on a site page for 10 to 20 seconds. This is pretty dismal news for our shop – how much can a customer possibly read in that time? How can we make sure we attract their attention to ensure that they exceed 10-20 seconds on our pages?
Keeping customers on-site and browsing your catalog is crucial for any eCommerce business, and to improve conversions we must ensure that customers remain on-site long enough to find what they’re looking to purchase. In order to remove any barriers to finding the right product, we can be intelligent in the way we structure shop pages and the browsing experience.
One feature of your eCommerce plugin that has the biggest impact on browsing is the ability to sort products and product searches. This allows customers to quickly view what they’re most interested in seeing. However, while providing sorting tools to customers is a great idea, we should also consider how default sorting displays products to maximize the effect of our catalog pages.
Let’s back up for one second. Why should you care about sorting your products for customers or what your default sorting looks like? What effect does it really have? Why doesn’t the standard “alphabetical” or “best seller” sorting cut it?
According to KISSmetrics, sorting and filtering capabilities make a huge impact on usability and conversions on search and shop pages. Sorting is especially important for search results, as customers want to see products that will be most relevant, but also be able to sort these products in a way of their choosing.
As for shop and catalog pages, sorting is hugely important to ensure that customers find what they want quickly and easily. According to UX Movement’s studies, users don’t typically browse all shop products or pages to find what they need:
…typically users wouldn’t look further than the second or third page. This means if you have a lot of products, you need a way to either bring the products they are looking for to the top or help them filter out the ones they aren’t interested in.
That’s why sorting is important – it gives your customers the ability to quickly see what they’re interested in seeing and bring those products to the top.
However, while giving customers the option to view best sellers and other types of sorting is a powerful option, many eCommerce plugins simply waste the default sorting options. Typically, products are sorted alphabetically, or in a customized sorting order that a store administrator can set. For example, the default WooCommerce product sorting can only be alphabetical or in an order that must be set entirely by the shop admin.
While custom sorting is probably the best way to go, as your store can display popular or highly-rated products first, WooCommerce custom product sorting is tedious and annoying. When your store has hundreds of products to offer, you need to ensure that users can quickly find what they’re looking for with a minimum of effort. However, you also have to be able to manage this as a store owner, and sorting hundreds of products isn’t a great use of your time.
That’s where today’s plugin review comes into play. One of the really useful store management tools we’ve found to automatically sort WooCommerce products is the WooCommerce Infinite Products Sorting plugin ($21).
The WooCommerce Infinite Product Sorting (WIPS) plugin gives store owners maximum control over how products are sorted by default in shop, category, and search pages, and takes control of the default sorting option. Rather than either wasting default sorting on alphabetical order or taking huge blocks of time to create a customized sorting order, you can use WIPS to automatically create a default product sorting order that works for you.
WIPS allows you to set scores for which product attributes are most or least important when creating a sorting order. With an easy interface, you can slide these settings to the desired ranking for several attributes, including product ranking, price, product rating, and more:
Not only does this save you time when you have hundreds of products to sort, but it also allows you to rank sorting criteria based on importance rather than being limited to either / or situations. Want to make best sellers important? You could do that with a default WooCommerce option. However, if you want to make best sellers and featured products important, then WIPS allows you to weight these attributes more highly than other product attributes.
WIPS will also use its sorting ranking engine for product search results – when a customer searches for a key phrase, products with that key phrase will will be ranked based on the rating criteria you’ve set. This ensures that customers are finding the products you want them to find. Note that this will only be used for product searches (i.e., using the WooCommerce search widget), and will leave your general site searches alone in order to get out of the way of other plugins (such as Relevanssi for search).
In short, you won’t be limited to one default sorting order that doesn’t go to work for your store. Instead, you can rate what’s important to your store, then WIPS uses it’s ranking system to generate an optimal sorting order for you.
There are no settings to worry about when you install WooCommerce Infinite Product Sorting – simply activate the plugin and you’re ready to start ranking your sort order under WooCommerce > Infinite Product Sorting. WIPS provides 9 product attributes for you to rank in terms of importance for your default product sorting.
- Number of sales
- Availability (number in stock)
- Date published (make old or new products more important)
- Featured status
- Product Rating
- Number of reviews
- On sale status
- Menu order (set under Product Data > Advanced)
You simply slide the bar towards whichever attributes are most important to you on a scale from 0% to 100%. If you would like an attribute’s ranking to remain neutral, simply leave the slider in the middle at 0%. This will influence how products are “graded” for sorting and how they’re displayed in the default product sort.
Once you’ve set which factors are important (and how important) for your default sorting options, you can save this setting or preview the order in which your products will be displayed using this new sorting order. The quick preview is very handy for seeing which criteria favor which products in your store.
While you preview products sorting, you can also view the sorting score. WIPS has a built-in engine that figures out how to rank products easily – each product will be assigned an overall score based on its attributes and the weighting provided by your sorting settings. The best part about this is that it takes all attributes of a product into account when creating sorting, and doesn’t force you to choose only one thing that’s most important (i.e., featured or on-sale status).
The engine behind WIPS makes it easy to rate importance for your sorting order so you don’t have to do this by hand. Simply tell WIPS what’s important to you, and it figures out how to display products based on what you’ve indicated as important.
If you’re not sure where to start with your rankings, you can also check out the preset settings, which provide popular criteria and rankings for sorting. These options will automatically adjust sliders for you, so I’d recommend checking them out to see how rankings are adjusted.
If you’re displaying products anywhere else, you can also leverage the Infinite Product Sortings rankings via shortcode. For example, let’s say you’ve created a post or page that displays a “clothing” category of products. You’d probably using a shortcode like this to do so:
[product_category category="clothing" per_page="12" columns="4" orderby="date" order="desc"]
This will show the newest products in that category first, as we’re ordering by date (descending), meaning the newest date will come first. If you’d like to replace this ordering with your WIPS rankings instead, you can replace the
orderby parameter with
meta_key_mbc instead, and remove the
order parameter since it will no longer be needed.
[product_category category="clothing" per_page="12" columns="4" orderby="meta_key_mbc"]
This will show the same category, but leverage your WIPS ranking for sorting. You can use this for any product display shortcode that accepts the
There’s also a free add-on available for the plugin that adds a tenth ranking criterion: social share statistics. These statistics, which are powered by the sharedcount.com API, will allow you to rank products higher or lower in your sorting order depending on how many times the product has been shared via social media (e.g., on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or others).
This is a really cool feature that provides a different way of gauging product popularity – instead of simply using pageviews or sales to determine which products are most popular, you can rank products that people like to share with friends higher in your catalog, which can help drive traffic to your store as more people share them. This add-on will also create a “Most shared” sorting option in the sorting dropdown on catalog and shop pages.
When WIPS is in action, you’ll be able to see the difference immediately. In the first example below, my products are shown in a random order (I tried to sort them manually using the drag-and-drop product sorter, but got a bit tired of it 🙂 ). In the second example, I’m using the sorting rankings I established using WIPS to favor products that are featured, highly rated, or frequently sold:
The difference for me is immediate – my best products are automatically displayed first, and I’m not wasting my default order on an alphabetical sort. When customers now visit my shop or category pages, they’ll see the most important products first, and I’m not limited to showcasing only bestsellers or featured products.
WIPS will also make some minor adjustments to the sorting dropdown. Rather than displaying a “Default” sorting order, which tells customers absolutely nothing of importance, it replaces this with an “Our selection” option. This tells customers that the products shown first are ones recommended by you or ones perceived as “more important” than others.
If you’re using the free add-on, an option to sort products by which are most shared will also be added.
Plugin purchases include support and updates, and documentation is provided on the plugin site. However, I didn’t need to reference any of the documentation while using the plugin, since options were clear and tooltips made it easy to see if there was something missing in my store (for example, a tooltip notification told me that I didn’t have any featured products at first).
I did find out about using the WIPS ranking in shortcodes by referencing the plugin documentation, which was really cool to know. However, I’d guess that most users will be able to use the plugin easily without slogging through lots of documentation to get set up.
The ability to easily automatically set and change default sorting options will be a huge win for WooCommerce stores with hundreds of products. Even with about 50 products in my demo store, I found that using the custom drag-and-drop product sorting capabilities was very tedious, and wouldn’t be something I’d want to work with or change on a regular basis.
Instead of wasting my default sorting on an alphabetical sort or being forced to create optimal sorting manually, I was able to use WIPS to generate a sorting order ranked by the importance I place on several product attributes within a matter of minutes. This helps customers to quickly find what’s important in your store, and helps store admins to avoid the limits imposed by default WooCommerce ranking criteria.
I also really liked that I could easily update this sorting order with minimal effort on my part if I decided that I want to change what’s important to my customers. For example, I could favor on-sale items during clearance sales so that customers can quickly find bargains. The effort in doing so while using WIPS is far lower than using a manual custom sort alone, and would make me far more likely to update sorting order for my products as needed.
WooCommerce Infinite Product Sorting provides really great value for large stores at $21, as the ability to automatically sort WooCommerce products and to quickly change that sorting will make managing hundreds of products far easier.