Shopify sub-collection creation guide

Shopify sub-collection creation guide
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Sub-collections in Shopify. When you’re a store with a large number of products, this kind of subdivision makes sense, and yet it’s not an out-of-the-box function in Shopify. 

If it’s something you want in your online store on Shopify, you’ll need to find a workaround to have a user-friendly Shopify sub-collection structure.

Why is sub-collection a good idea for a Shopify store?

Sub-collections are a good idea for a number of reasons, not in the least what we just mentioned in the intro about slicing up larger product groups. Not only is that likely beneficial to the business from a stock management perspective, but we also found that it’s beneficial to have a subset of collections (rather than one big collection) for products in Google Search.

We found in our research these super-specific collections did well in search results, even when they didn’t have detailed collection descriptions. To really get a leg up on other companies in your niche, you can take that a step further and both create and fully optimise your sub-collections by: 

  • Including a collection specific description, generally either at the top or the bottom of the page.
  • Create collection URLs that match the product relationship and hierarchy.
  • Create unique meta titles and descriptions

If your Shopify store is new, creating sub-collections for a specific product search could give and advantage and help you generate your first Shopify sales.

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How to create a sub-collection on Shopify?

Depending on how you want to do it, creating sub-collections in Shopify can be relatively straightforward by creating a visual sub-collection through the navigation, or more complicated by going in and editing the theme.liquid files for a few different possible configurations. 

If you’re putting in the time and effort to go the theme.liquid and code route, you probably want to make sure you’re clear on what all you’ll be building and that’s it’s right for the business.

So before working on the website, either in a staging site or on the live website, it may be a good idea to sit down and map out your product structure. Because you or your developer will be going into the liquid files, to a certain extent the sky's the limit. Be clear on: 

  • What all the categories and sub-categories will be
  • How deep do you want to go — do you need more than 1 sub-collection? 
  • About how many products will be in each on a regular basis
  • What the URL structure will look like (/collection/ will still need to be included, and you want the naming structure to still make sense to customers)

Once you’ve sat down and created all the Shopify collections and sub-collections you want to have on your website, it’s time to decide how to display them in your store. 

How to show sub-collections on Shopify

Like many things with websites and the Internet, when you ask how long something will take, the answer is “it depends.” It’s the same here with sub-collections and showing them on your Shopify storefront. There are a few different ways, some easier than others.

Add sub-collections to the navigation menu

Adding sub-collections to the navigation menu is one of the more manageable ways if you are less than familiar with theme.liquid files, HTML and how to edit the code of your website. 

As we mentioned above, this is all assuming you’ve already created all the collections you want to create, and have all the conditions, names, and all that already set the way you want it. 

1. Under Online Store, click Navigation.

selecting navigation menu under Online Store in Shopify dashboard

2. Choose your main menu, or if you haven’t created it yet, choose Add Menu.

shopify store menu settings

3. Add the sub-collection you want to nest within your navigation. Make sure you link the pre-created collection as well.

adding a new sub collection to the store menu

4. Hover your mouse over the left-hand dots, click and drag so the sub-collection becomes a subset of the menu item you want it nested under.

drag and drop sub collection under the main category

5. Once you do this once, you’ll be able to add more sub-collections directly to that collection by clicking “Add menu item to _____”.

6. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary.

7. Click “Save Menu”. 

This process will only change the visual hierarchy of the website, the flat collection URL (/collections/product-group) won’t automatically nest when you do this process. If you want that, you’ll need to go into the theme.liquid files.

Add sub-collection to the parent collection page

You can add sub-collections as a list to the parent collection page, too. To do this, you’re creating a new template type in your theme.liquid files from scratch, essentially, so it’s a good method if you’re comfortable (or work with someone who is comfortable) with HTML. Before you get started, then, it’s a good idea to create a backup copy of your store, so if anything goes wrong, you can roll back quickly to the most up-to-date version of your site. 

1. Once you’ve backed up your site and are ready to make changes, go to Online Store >Themes.

2. Choose your active theme, and Edit Code.

edit code menu in Shopify

3. Under “Templates” click Add a new template.

creating a new template

4. Choose the parameters: 

  • Select new template to create: collection
  • Liquid
  • Collection.sub-collections.liquid

choosing parameters for the new template

5. Click Done.

From here, you have a blank slate, and you’ll probably want to create a custom template to line up with your brand colours, the rest of the website design and other considerations. 

A place to start is the code: 

{{ collection.title }}
{% assign collection_handle = “collection-” | append: collection.handle %}
{% for link in linklists[collection_handle].links %}
{% assign sub_collection = link.object %}
<li><a href=”{{ link.url }}”>{{ link.title }}</a></li>
{% endfor %}


For some themes you may need to take the added step of creating a sub-collections.liquid section where you code the design. You’ll want to review your other templates and theme documentation to confirm.

Once you’ve created a sub-collection list template to your satisfaction, you’ll want to go in and replace the collection template with the subcollection template. This replacement, again, will depend on your theme setup. Regardless, it’ll likely include going into your collections in your Shopify admin and changing the default theme template:

changing the default collection template to a custom one

Adding Shopify sub collections the easier way

There are ways to make this process a bit easier or quicker if you’re willing to spend a bit of money. Stepping into the code of your website can be a scary and strange experience, particularly if you’re concerned about hitting the wrong button and your whole site going up in (metaphorical) flames. 

If you want to be on the safer side or are less than confident in your ability not to break your store, there are a lot of Shopify developers out there who would be able to help you with the project for a fee. 

If you’d rather not tie yourself to a developer because you’ll be adding a lot of sub-collections ongoing, or want to be able to manage it yourself long-term, consider looking into an app. A few themes also say they have sub collections set up, of course it’s worth doing your own research on how each theme builder defines that before purchasing one.

How to delete sub-collections in Shopify

Deleting sub-collections in Shopify is the same process as deleting collections. 

1. Before you delete the collection, make a note of the collection URL. 

2. Navigate to Products > Collections

3. Choose the collection you want to delete. 

4. At the bottom of the page, click Delete Collection

delete Shopify collection button

5. You’ll be prompted to confirm your choice.

confirm deleting a collection

6. Click Delete collection.

As you need to manually create a 301 redirect, go to Online Store > Navigation > View URL Redirects (in the upper right corner on desktop). 

Follow the process to create a 301 redirect.

Final suggestions

Creating sub-collections using Shopify is best done when you have the time and focus to sit down and really plan it out, thinking potentially even a few years ahead, in terms of where you’d like to see your business going. 

Give it the time and planning it deserves, and try to do this at least a few months before your busy seasons — for eCommerce sites, this may be a good project for April or May, ahead of a busy November or December. This way you’ll have the time to do the work, and to give Google and other search engines time to see your website.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, you can. Nested collections and sub-collections are used to mean the same thing in this article.

You can definitely show multiple collection pages on one page in Shopify, it will require changing the list view of the page, like we go through when we go through adding sub-collections to the parent collection page.

You can create up to 5,000 automated collections on Shopify, and there’s not a publicly shared limit on manual collections.

About the author
Nikoleta Kokleviciute
Nikoleta is a Marketing Manager at TinyIMG, an app for image and SEO optimization for Shopify merchants. Nikoleta loves diving deep into digital marketing, eCommerce, social media trends, and creating content that benefits its readers!