A collection is where you bring together all similar products and present them together so that your customers can easily browse and find exactly the right products for them to buy.
If you want to group together a number of products and to have complete control over which products are included, then a Standard collection is probably what you are looking for. You can pick any number of products to be included in the collection when you create it, and any time you need to make a change you just need to come back to the Collections tab and add or remove whichever products you want.
There is one standard collection called Home Page which is included automatically when you create your store. Most themes, as you may have guessed, include this collection on the Home page of your store. It's easy to include products in the Home Page collection because there is a checkbox shown for exactly that purpose when you are editing your product in the side-bar under the Collections heading.
Here are some other ideas for standard collections that you could put together:
For further details, see Standard Collections
These are collections which are filled with products based on simple rules that you define, but the best part about them is that you never need to worry about updating them with new products: unless you want to change the collection's rules, you can just "set it and forget it".
Super collections can be extremely useful in a variety of different situations. Here are just a few:
For further details, see Super Collections
Automatic collections are created by the Spiffy Store Software for every product type and product vendor that you define. You don't need to do anything extra to create these collections: The store software does it for you. With most "store themes", customers will be able to view these collections by following the type and vendor links shown on the product pages.
Your customers need a way of seeing your collections. The easiest way to showcase a collection is to make a link to it in the "Store menus" section of your store's Toolbox. If you ever decide to delete your collection, any links created in this way will automatically be removed as well.
If you have lots of collections, you may run into a problem if you link to all of them from your main menu - your store's interface could easily get very cluttered, especially if your "theme" is not specifically built with this in mind.
One option is to move most collection links into "pages" which themselves are linked from the main menu. See the "Blogs and Pages help" for more information on including links in this way.
As you start adding products to your store, you might wonder about when you should use a tag to describe something and when you should rely on a collection instead. There are no hard and fast rules about this, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.
For any collection which you've made accessible through your store's interface, your customers will be able to see a list of tags they can select in order to filter that list. If all of your shirts are in the shirts collection and you've given them all a "shirt" tag, it could be a bit redundant. Your customers will find the option to limit their view of your shirts by only looking at the ones that are, in fact… shirts.
Just put yourself in the customer's shoes and think about what kinds of tags would be most helpful in narrowing your search when you arrive at a collection. Your choice of tags will guide your choice of visible collections, and vice versa.
There are several options for the display order of products in your store. By default, products are displayed in the collection in the order that they are added to a collection. This can be changed by following the instructions below:
The descriptions above are fairly self-explanatory. When you have selected an option, you can also then opt to change this order by using the built-in drag and drop to re-order your products.
In December 2013, we introduced collection images, where you can upload an image for your collection. This functionality is theme dependent, and themes show your collection images in different ways. Some use the collection images as a slideshow, and others only use them when displaying a list of your collections.
Collection images are currently supported by the Minimal and Vintage themes only. Other themes are currently being updated to use collection images. The Dream theme will be updated in early April with support for collection images, and other themes will be re-released with this feature on an ongoing basis until all are updated.