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Going through category pages of multiple e-commerce websites, it seems that there is no standard in the parameters chosen to sort the list of products.

Amazon gives the option to sort by relevance, most popular, price (low to high), price (high to low) and avg. customer review. Crate & Barrel adds the option to sort by A to Z. Drugstore.com adds parameters like New to store, Saving by % and Saving by $, and Sears adds most viewed to the list.

I wonder if anyone have some real-world experience or better yet, statistics, on the use of the different sorting options and the preferred default sorting option for category pages on a e-commerce websites.

The question is about sorting category pages in general but I'll appreciate answers that relates specifically to the beauty, personal care and health categories which is what I am dealing with right now.

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2 Answers

Since there are no standard or convention yet, this is tricky to answer correct. Still it's very important to get the sort by that your users value when shopping online. These differs between type of products you're selling as well as your target audience.

The good thing is that you already know what you're selling and probably to whom as well. This should give you leads to what is important. Apart from the regular sorting options you mention in your question, which are very valid, consider more specific sorting options for Beauty, Personal and Health care. I'd love to see sorting (or filter really) by not animal tested or Eco friendly which I would imagine is very interesting for your target audience.

If you want to have data, take the time and effort to test your idea before launce. Also continue to measure what sorting options are most popular.

More to read: Designing for Ecommerce: Finding the Product (Part 3)

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There is a difference between sorting and filtering. "Not Animal Tested" and "Eco Friendly" are attributes of a product and allow for them to be filtered, not sorted. Sorting would be something like: Price: High to Low, Alphabetical: Ascending to Descending. Where as filtering would be something like: Apparel > Mens > Shirts > Long Sleeve. A product, with an attribute of "eco friendly", lives in the category "Long sleeve" and can be sorted by "Price: high to low". –  dsawler Dec 28 '12 at 2:56
    
thanks @Benny Skogbers. the tricky part of your answer is the "your users value when shopping online". Of course testing would give me an answer but I was wondering if anyone ever tested it and can share his thoughts on the results. –  Yaniv Dec 28 '12 at 6:18
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It depends on the product you're selling and your users. A lot of users who visit sites like amazon usually knows what they want to buy and looks for product with the lowest price therefore that's a necessary filter. If it's a movie related site, and the customers are just looking for new movies to checkout, they most likely want to filter by most popular.

Initially, you probably want to make a few assumptions based on what you know about your site users. Then you want to test and see which filters are used the most often and which ones are not. From there you can adjust the UI to make the commonly used filters more accessible.

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