What is a Shopify collection and how to setup one?

Tweet LinkedIn
???

If you come from another CMS like WordPress, Joomla and so on you are familiar with categories.

You group products in categories.

In Shopify instead you group products in collections. It’s just a fancy word for categories.

So to put it simple, until you get used to collections, think of them as categories.

You group your products into collections to make it easier for customers to find them.

Here are a few examples of collections that you might create if you have a clothing store: Men, Women, Children.

These three are the top level collections, but you can go deeper and create sub-collections like:

For “Men” you have “T-shirts”, “Pants”, “Jackets” and so on.

For “Women” you have “T-shirts”, “Jeans”, “Trousers” and so on.

Beside this you can create collections that can contain a single color and assign items that match that colors or a collection for items that are on sale where you assign items that are on sale or a collection for seasonal products and so on.

Without collections the store will be disorganized and hard to use.

Collections help you as a merchant to organize your products in detail and make the customer journey much easier on your store.

Collection types

Once you’ve setup a collection it can be displayed on your digital storefront as a web page featuring a gallery of items included in the collection.

Shoppers have the option to click on an item’s image within the collection page to access the detailed page for that particular product.

To facilitate easier access to these collections for your customers, consider incorporating links to these collections within a menu in your store’s navigation bar.

How your collection pages look and are laid out is determined by the theme you have chosen for your store.

You can setup 2 collection types in Shopify: manual and automated.

Every one of them is useful depending on your needs.

Choose the collection type carefully since after you create a collection you cannot change its type.

The only way to change the collection type is to delete it from the Shopify store and re-create it choosing the type that you want.

Manual collection

In a manual collection you need to select products by hand.

As a result, the composition of the collection remains unchanged until you deliberately add or subtract items.

I mean no code or app can modify the collection unless you do it manually.

While they require more effort to keep up to date, manual collections are suitable for smaller, niche collections that you wish to handpick yourself.

For instance, should you aim to conduct a limited-time flash sale with only a select number of items, you can establish a manual collection for these products and apply discounts exclusively to the items within this collection.

Sometimes a manual collection requires less time to manage if your products are just a few.

Automated collection

An automated collection leverages conditions to automatically gather products that meet those criteria.

You’re allowed to set as many as 60 criteria for selection.

Moreover, you can dictate whether products must satisfy all set criteria or just any one of them for inclusion in the collection.

If a newly introduced product fits the criteria of an existing collection then it gets automatically incorporated into that collection.

Automated collections are often favored because they streamline the addition of new products based on predefined conditions thus significantly saving time.

This is particularly beneficial for stores with extensive product ranges or those that frequently update their product lines to reflect seasonal changes or rotating inventories.

Consider an example where you manage a clothing store and label each item with a type, like “t-shirt” or “pants”.

All products tagged accordingly will be integrated into their collections that match that type.

However, a limitation of automated collections is the inability to exclude specific products without altering the collection’s criteria or adjusting the product’s details to ensure it does not meet the selection criteria.

Setup a manual collection

Create a manual collection

From your Shopify admin, go to “Products” (marked with 1 in the image below) and to “Collections” (marked with 2 in the image below).

Click “Create” collection (marked with 3 in the image below).

Shopify “Collections listing” page.
Shopify “Collections listing” page.

Enter a title (marked with 1 in the image below) and a description (marked with 2 in the image below) for the collection.

In the “Collection type” section, select “Manual” (marked with 3 in the image below).

You can edit the “Search engine listing” if you want by clicking the “Edit” link (marked with 4 in the image below).

You also have the possibility to choose on what “Sales channels” you want to publish the collection by clicking the “Manage” link (marked with 5 in the image below).

Do not forget to add an image if your template supports that. Most templates support the collection image.

To add the collection image click on the “Add image” (marked with 6 in the image below).

If the image is not listed on the storefront a good idea is to check your collection page inside the theme editor. It is possible that the image is disabled from the theme settings.

Many Shopify themes support alternative layouts for the “Collection page”. In the “Theme template” section all these templates are listed. To view them click on the drop-down in this section (marked with 7 in the image below).

If nothing is listed in the drop-down and the only template you see is the “Default collection” one then your template does not support any other alternative templates for the collection page.

You can build new ones with the theme editor or you can hire a developer to help you with that.

When all is completed click the “Save” button (marked with 8 in the image below) and your new collection will be saved to the Shopify database.

Shopify manual collection edit page.
Shopify manual collection edit page.

If the collection was created successfully you’ll see a success message (marked with 1 in the image below).

The new collection is published on the “Online store” sales channel.

You can see a little green dot in front of the channel (marked with 2 in the image below).

That means that the collection is active on that channel.

Your image needs an “Alt” text for search engines listing. To add it click on the “Edit” link (marked with 3 in the image below) and click on the “Edit alt text” in the drop-down menu (marked with 4 in the image below).

Add “ALT” text to the image on Shopify manual collection editing page.
Add “ALT” text to the image on Shopify manual collection editing page.

The “Edit alt text” pop-up will open. Add the text inside the “Alt text” input box (marked with 1 in the image below).

Once completed click on the “Save” button (marked with 2 in the image below).

Shopify manual collection image “ALT” text.
Shopify manual collection image “ALT” text.

Now you need to save again your collection in order for the “ALT” text to take effect:

Shopify manual collection image “ALT” text save.
Shopify manual collection image “ALT” text save.

Add products to a manual collection

In the “Products” section, search for products (marked with 1 in the image below) or click “Browse” (marked with 2 in the image below), and then add the products that you want to have in the collection.

Add products to the manual collection.
Add products to the manual collection.

Using “Browse” (marked with 2 in the image below) will open a “Add products” pop-up like in the image below.

Here you have listed all the products in the store (marked with 1 in the image below).

If the list is too long you have the option to type the product name in the search box (marked with 2 in the image below) to find it and after you can select it for collection inclusion.

Select how many products you want and when you are done click the “Add” button (marked with 3 in the image below).

Using “Browse” (marked with 2 in the image below) will open a “Add products” pop-up like in the image below.

Here you have listed all the products in the store (marked with 1 in the image below).

If the list is too long you have the option to type the product name in the search box (marked with 2 in the image below) to find it and after you can select it for collection inclusion.

Select how many products you want and when you are done click the “Add” button (marked with 3 in the image below).

Add products pop-up in Shopify collection.
Add products pop-up in Shopify collection.

After the products are added to the collection you will see all of them listed (marked with 1 in the image below) 

In a manual collection you can set the order of your products, meaning the way the products inside the collection will display in your storefront (marked with 2 in the image below).

Now you’ve finished setting up the collection.

To make sure everything is OK click the “View” button (marked with 3 in the image below) to view the collection in the storefront.

Add products pop-up in Shopify collection.
Add products pop-up in Shopify collection.

How the collections looks in the storefront:

Collection view on Shopify store front.
Collection view on Shopify store front.

Assign a product to a collection from the product details page

Go to the “Products” page by clicking the “Products” menu item (marked with 1 in the image below) and select a product that you want to assign a collection too (marked with 2 in the image below).

Select a product from the product listing page on Shopify.
Select a product from the product listing page on Shopify.

Go to the “Collections” section and click inside the input box (marked with 1 in the image below) and a drop-down list with all the collections on the store will display.

Select the newly created collection “My collection” and check the checkbox in front of it (marked with 2 in the image below).

Select a collection to assign to the product on Shopify.
Select a collection to assign to the product on Shopify.

Save your new changes.

After you save it, the new “My collection” collection is assigned to the product and that means that your product is now displayed in the storefront in that collection.

A product can be assigned to multiple collections as seen below. The product is assigned to 3 collections.

Manual collection assigned to a product on Shopify.
Manual collection assigned to a product on Shopify.

Remove products from a manual collection

From your “Shopify” admin, go to “Products” (marked with 1 in the image below) and after to “Collections” (marked with 2 in the image below).

Click the name of the collection that you want to update (marked with 3 in the image below).

Select a collection on the collections listing page on Shopify.
Select a collection on the collections listing page on Shopify.

In the “Products” section, click the “X” beside every product that you want to remove from your collection:

Remove a product on the manual collection edit page on Shopify.
Remove a product on the manual collection edit page on Shopify.

Note that this doesn’t delete the product from Shopify, it only removes the product from the collection.

Publish a manual collection to a future date

You have the possibility to publish a collection to a later date which is useful when you want to run a future promotion at a certain date.

When you setup a future date and time the collection will be published by Shopify only at the selected date and time.

To setup a date and time click on the icon marked in the image below:

Select a date and time on the collection edit page on Shopify.
Select a date and time on the collection edit page on Shopify.

A pop-up will display.

In the pop-up select the date (marked with 1 in the image below) and the time (marked with 2 in the image below).

When you are done click on the button (marked with 3 in the image below). 

Select a date and time pop-up on Shopify.
Select a date and time pop-up on Shopify.

After you setup the time a message will display (marked with 1 in the image below) with the date and time when the collection will get published on the online store.

If you want to exit or remove the preset date and time click on one of the icons (marked with 2 in the image below).

To change your future publishing date or have changes to it click on the “Save” button (marked with 3 in the image below).

Date and time set on the collection edit page on Shopify.
Date and time set on the collection edit page on Shopify.

Delete a manual collection from the store

If you no longer need a collection and you think you’ll never use it again it’s a good idea to keep your store clean and remove the collection entirely from your Shopify store.

To delete a collection just click on the red button “Delete collection” like in the image below:

Delete a collection on Shopify.
Delete a collection on Shopify.

A confirmation pop-up will display, click on the “Delete collection” red button like in the image below:

Delete a collection on Shopify pop-up confirmation.
Delete a collection on Shopify pop-up confirmation.

Your collection is now completely removed from the store.

If you do not use a collection but you plan to use it later just unpublish the collection and it will stay on the store until you need to reuse it.

Deleted collections are permanently removed from your Shopify admin and they can’t be recovered.

Setup an automated collection

The entire thing around automated collections is based on conditions that you can set for the products to be assigned to the collection.

For example you have the collection “T-shirts” which instead of adding the products manually every time you add a new product to the store, you setup a condition on the collection to automatically assign all products that have the product tag: “t-shirt”.

So when you add a new t-shirt product and tag it with the tag “t-shirt”, when you save it Shopify will automatically add the product to all collections that have the condition set to the tag name: “t-shirt”.

Think of it like this, if you have 1000 collections that you’ll need to add the “t-shirt” product manually it will take huge amounts of time, but with automated collections you do it once on the product page when you assign the tag to the product and from there Shopify will assign the product automatically to all the collections that meet that condition.

Huge time saver!

On a Shopify store a maximum of 5,000 automated collections can be created.

A collection is limited to having 60 conditions.

If you have a collection already exceeding 60 conditions, it remains operational. You have the capability to modify or eliminate its current conditions, but adding new conditions is prohibited as long as the collection exceeds the condition limit.

Create an automated collection

From your Shopify admin, go to Products (marked with 1 in the image below) and to Collections (marked with 2 in the image below).

Click Create collection (marked with 3 in the image below).

Shopify “Collections listing” page.
Shopify “Collections listing” page.

Add the collection title (marked with 1 in the image below).

Add the collection description (marked with 2 in the image below).

In order to make the collection automated you need to select “Automated” (marked with 3 in the image below).

Now in order for the collection to assign products automatically to it you need to set up product conditions. 

In the “Conditions” section select if you want the collection to take into consideration “all conditions” or “any condition” (marked with 4 in the image below).

By default Shopify sets this setting to “all conditions”.

“All conditions” means that in order for the products to be assigned to the collection all conditions need to be met. 

“Any conditions” means that if at least one of the conditions is met the products will be assigned to the collection.

Now you have condition properties (marked with 5 in the image below), the condition operator (marked with 6 in the image below) and the values of the condition property (marked with 7 in the image below).

I’ll not give an example for each condition, but in my case a good example will be to put a condition on the product tag.

For example I want to add in this collection all the products that are tagged with the tag bracelet.

I’ll select the condition property “Product tag” (marked with 5 in the image below) then the condition operator “is equal to” (marked with 6 in the image below) and the tag “bracelet” (marked with 7 in the image below).

With this example all the products that I’ll tag with the “bracelet” tag will be automatically assigned to this collection.

You also have the option to add multiple conditions (marked with 8 in the image below).

You need to select all the sales channels where you want the collection to be published by clicking “Manage” inside the “Publishing” section (marked with 9 in the image below).

Do not forget to add an image if your template supports that. Most templates support the collection image.

To add the collection image click on the “Add image” (marked with 10 in the image below).

If the image is not listed on the storefront a good idea is to check your collection page inside the theme editor. It is possible that the image is disabled from the theme settings.

Many Shopify themes support alternative layouts for the “Collection page”.

In the “Theme template” section all these templates are listed.

To view them click on the drop-down in this section (marked with 11 in the image below).

If nothing is listed in the drop-down and the only template you see is the “Default collection” one then your template does not support any other alternative templates for the collection page.

You can build new ones with the theme editor or you can hire a developer to help you with that.

You can edit the “Search engine listing” if you want by clicking the “Edit” link (marked with 12 in the image below).

When all is completed click the “Save” button (marked with 13 in the image below) and your new collection will be saved to the Shopify database.

Create an automated collection on the Shopify platform.
Create an automated collection on the Shopify platform.

If the collection was created successfully you’ll see a success message (marked with 1 in the image below).

The new collection is published on the “Online store” sales channel.

You can see a little green dot in front of the channel (marked with 2 in the image below).

That means that the collection is active on that channel.

You can see all the products assigned to this collection in the “Products” section (marked with 3 in the image below).

In an automated collection you also have sorting filters and you can set the order of your products, meaning the way the products inside the collection will display in your storefront (marked with 4 in the image below).

The “Manually” option will allow you to arrange the products however you want with drag and drop functionality.

Your image needs an “Alt” text for search engines listing. To add it click on the “Edit” link (marked with 5 in the image below) and click on the “Edit alt text” in the drop-down menu (marked with 6 in the image below).

Shopify automated collection created success message.
Shopify automated collection created success message.

The “Edit alt text” pop-up will open. Add the text inside the “Alt text” input box (marked with 1 in the image below).

Once completed click on the “Save” button (marked with 2 in the image below).

Shopify collection image “ALT” text.
Shopify collection image “ALT” text.

Now you need to save again your collection in order for the “ALT” text to take effect:

Shopify collection image “ALT” text save.
Shopify collection image “ALT” text save.

Change the contents of an automated collection

Products inside the automated collection can’t be removed like in the manual collection.

To change the products assigned to the automated collection you need to change the condition of the automated collection and save your new changes.

Once you do that all the products that had the old condition are replaced by the new ones.

Note that some products could remain.

That is because your new condition matches the old products that you want to remove.

To remove those products completely you need to either change the collection condition or go to the products and change the tag, product type, or whatever property is needed.

Convert a manual collection to an automated collection

There is no way to do that.

There is a workaround that can help you with that.

Add a tag to all of the products in your manual collection. Do not delete at this step the manual collection.

Create a new automated collection to replace the existing manual collection and add a condition with the tag equal to the name of your tag.

After you set up the automated collection and the products from the manual collection are assigned to it, you can delete the manual collection.

Publish an automated collection to a future date

The process is the same as for the manual collection.

Delete an automated collection

The process is the same as for the manual collection.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding and utilizing Shopify collections effectively can significantly enhance your store’s organization and customer navigation experience.

Whether you opt for manual collections, which offer greater control over each item included, or automated collections, which save time by dynamically gathering products based on certain criteria, both approaches have their unique advantages tailored to different merchant needs.

Remember, the choice between a manual and automated collection depends on your specific requirements and the nature of your inventory.

By grouping products into well-thought-out collections, you not only make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for but also create opportunities to showcase your items in a more organized and appealing manner.

As you become more familiar with Shopify collections, you’ll discover that they are much more than mere categories, they are powerful tools for streamlining your product management and enhancing the shopping experience on your digital storefront.