Unleash the power of facets and attributes!

Imagine what if your customers were able to “build” their own Shirts on your store? Or if they could assemble their preferred glass style without having to browse your store?

That is possible with WebSphere Commerce,  using the power of attributes as facets to achieve things beyond the imagination.

Look at this example, where your customer can virtually “build” his own glass, just like a self service system.


So, how can we do that?

The first step is understanding the types, variations and applications of attributes we have on the platform.

1 – Types:

 Predefined AttributesAttributes with predefined values – These attributes are best applied for common types, with repetitive values, like Screen Size for example. The Business User can define a range of possible values for this attribute (45″, 32″) and also a default one.

Assigned AttributesAttributes with assigned values – These attributes are best applied for very dynamic and not “predictable” values, in this kind of attributes, the business user is  able to insert virtually any kind of value.


2 – Main parameters:


Displayable – This parameter defines if the attribute will be appearing in the product detailed description or not. With that, you can hide the attribute from a crawler or a user.
Comparable – This parameter defines if this attribute will be shown in the product comparison screen or not. A comparison screen rich in information helps the customer to make decisions.
Facetable –  This parameter dictates that the attribute values can be used as  “filters” in product lists, in order to improve shoppers’ experience. With facetables attributes, shoppers can filter multiples values of same attributes to check the products, almost building their own item. We can also use images to represent the attribute values in the left navigation bar, what allow us to create almost a “self service” system in the navigation of our store. This feature is really awesome!
Searchable – This parameter enables the attribute values or attribute name to be “found” using the store search functionality.

3 – Main Applications:

Descriptive attributes – These are attributes that are common for all product’s SKUs.      Perfect for facets and comparison.  Business Users have to define it just once, in the product level, and all SKUs inherit these values.
Example: All iPhone 5 have a 4 Inch screen size.

Descriptive attribute

Descriptive attribute

Defining attributes – These are attributes that change the products’ SKUs. They are also perfect for facets and comparison. Business users have to define it just once, on product level, and WCS automatically creates one SKU for each value of the attribute. Defining attributes can only be of the Predefined Values type. Assigned Values are not allowed.
Example. iPhone 5 can have Color Black&Slate or White&Silver
Also, capacity can be 16, 32 or 64 gb.

Defining attributes

Defining attributes

Now, that we know the types, parameters and applications of attributes, let’s see how to create a “self-service” system to choose a tablet, using facets and multiple choice attributes.

The first step is to identify the main attributes of our tablet products, and create the attributes, so let’s take as example: Size, Battery life and Storage.

To create a new attribute, we have to do the following, inside the catalog engine:

File -> New -> Attribute dictionary attribute with predefined values.


Then, we have to create our attribute, filling the name and general description, and we cannot forget to mark that this attribute will be Facetable, Comparable and Displayable.

*After save a attribute as Facetable, you can not undo this action without IT support.


Then, we have to define all the possible values for each attribute. Like this example.


If you want to associate images to represent values and provide the following effect, we have to associate an asset with each value. For that, right click the attribute value column title, configure columns, and mark image path.

*Remember that we always can change the order of values with the sequence field




After that, our attributes are created  with all values filled.

Now, we have to associate these attributes to products and the values to the SKUs.

So, in our product details page, inside CMC, let’s go to the defining attributes tab, type the attribute name on the text field, then hit “find and add”.


Now, our last step is to generate the SKUs for our tablet product. For that, right click the product on “active work” and choose generate SKUs.


And this is the result:


Then, after your Staging Propagation job, and re-index prop job, your product category should looks like that:


*Remember that you can always change the sequence facets are displayed with a right click on the product category, choosing “show  facets” an changing the sequence value.

I hope that you have liked this post, so if you need any help, have question, want to suggest something or a new topic for the next post, please, leave a comment 😉

11 thoughts on “Unleash the power of facets and attributes!

    • Hello Saritha, how are you?

      What FEP are you using?

      Since FEP 5, to enable Facebook integration in your starter store, you have to go to:

      1 – Management Center.
      2 – Click in “work on approved content”.
      3 – Choose Store Management Engine.
      4 – Choose your store.
      5 – Go to Customer Interactions tab.
      6 – Check Facebook Integration.

      enable facebook integration

      If you have any questions, please let me know.

  1. Hi Sergio, nice one!
    I have a question that you may be able to answer. If I wanted to have a list of attributes that are not mutually exclusive eg “Dietary info”; having the possible values, Sugar free, preservative free, fat free, high in fibre etc etc where clearly a single product/item could have multiple values from the list, what would be the best (any!) way to do this in Commerce? I’ve tried multi facets but whilst the filter interface is perfect you still only have the ability to assign one value from the list to each item.
    I’m finding it hard to believe there isn’t some way of doing it!

    PS (very!!) minor typo in your about me page – as an passionate should be as a passionate 🙂
    your english is great! much better than my brazilian… 🙂

    • Hello Dingo, thanks for your comment. I will figure out how to solve that and back to you tomorrow 😉

      Thanks for the typo!

    • Hello Walbury,

      Allow multiple facet value selection should do the trick!

      Create your attribute, text type, with all values.

      Select it as a Facetable:

      Check Allow multiple facet value selection in the facetable properties.

      And, in you product or item, define as many values as descriptive attributes as apply to the situation.

      It should work for your need. Let me know the results.

  2. Hey Sergio,

    First of all, thank you for this blog! It’s very clear and easy to understand!
    I have a queystion about Websphere commerce 7 fep 5 (aurora). It’s about the defining attributes in the Product-detail page.

    Let’s assume you have 1 product (ex. t-shirt), with (5sku’s), with 2 defining attributes (size, color).
    Those are the possible available combinations:
    Small – red, Small – blue, Medium – red, Medium – black, Large – blue

    The user will have 2 comboboxes in the product detail page, to select the size and the color.
    Now my question. How is it possible to filter the options left in the combobox depending on the first selected attribute?
    (example: the user selects size: Medium, I want that only the color red and black would be available.)

    I tried it, but this won’t filter the option left. I guess this is something who should work without coding? Are their some things to keep in mind while I want to achieve this?

    Hopefully you can help me with this issue!

    Kind regards,

    • Hello Guillaume, just a sanity check. All the SKUs from the other combinations are currently deleted right?

      Like Small + Black.

      I will make a test, but I do believe that OOTB the combo box only brings values that really have SKUs.

      I will contact you trough mail.
      Best regards,

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