Increase Your E-commerce Site Performance through Better Product Categorization

Guidelines & Tips Website Development Estimated Reading Time 7 mins
Updated December 13, 2023Published November 14, 2018
Author: Visibee

Product categorization may be one of the most important, as well as the most difficult to set up on an eCommerce site for the comparison-shopping engines. Most eCommerce site owners know that the better the product categorization, the more potential customers will visit, stay longer on the site and browse for more products that will bring traffic, which will increase revenue in a big way.

E-commerce sites require a special amount of detail and an exceptional user-friendly experience for site visitors in order to be successful. This is especially true if your site offers a high volume of products, and/or one selling items in a massively different amount of areas.

Nowadays, customers have a little patience when it comes to shopping online, if customers are unable to locate quickly the products they are looking for on your eCommerce site because of miscategorizations, then they will be frustrated and would not visit it again for their next purchase.

1. Avoid Over-Categorization

Too many categories or worded categories can be confusing and frustrating for online customers and could discourage them from buying from your site. Not everything needs to be a category of its own. Remember filters exist.

Categories vs. Filters

Categories constitute the hierarchy of the site that serve as the main differentiators of products. Think of this like sections on your website.  A user can only select one product category at a time. For example, if you sell women’s clothing online. Your categories might be as follows:

  • Tops & Blouses
  • Sweaters
  • Pants
  • Dresses
  • Jackets
  • Accessories

Filters, on the other hand, allow you to narrow down a large set of list of displayed products within a category based on certain attributes such as price, color, size, material, style and sometimes brand. Filters reduce the number of results, narrowing by selected attributes. Users can select several filters and combine them to view more of the products they’re looking for.

Let’s say in your women’s clothing e-commerce store you sell several tops. Filters under the broader category of Tops & Blouses can be:

  • Button-ups
  • Graphic tees
  • Tank tops

Over-categorization is frequently the main reason for site abandonment because site’s category hierarchy has taken product types and attributes that should have been combinable filters and mistakenly implemented them as categories instead. So, site users either overlook the entire site selection of a broader product type or cannot combine the product types to match their purchasing preferences.  

2. Make Parent Categories Selectable & Link Them To A Page

The key objective when categorizing your products is how quickly and easily customers can find the products they want. It’s important to determine your categories based on your target audience.

A research conducted at Baymard Institute was an 8 month usability research study on product findability focusing on navigation and especially when using category pages. The study found users didn’t want to narrow themselves to a product page at this point in the research process and instead wanted an overview page of the subcategories to choose from.

In product categorization approach always follow the broad-to-specific pattern, so the main categories are going to be the product themselves and the sub categories are going to be the different sizes for example. Subcategories should be used only when there are 30 or more products in a certain category. There is no point in using a subcategory for sweaters if there are only 5 altogether.

Remember to use logical categories that will make the shopping experience fast and effortless. Avoid the very technical terms that only a small group will understand. Instead, choose product categories that can be understood by the majority of your potential customers. 

3. Consider Having A “What’s New” or “Best Sellers” Category Or Filter

If your eCommerce site has a decent number of return visitors and customers then adding a “What’s New” or “New Arrivals” category would definitely be a right step to engage them with your e-commerce website.

Best Sellers is equally effective as it encourages new customers to make their first purchase based on your popular products.

You must add these categories or filters to simply let your customers see that what’s new items in the store since they visited last time. You can also have some filters on the category to sort the products as per the preferences.

4. Optimize Your Product Filters

By categorizing your products, you give your customers a clear alley they can walk down when searching for something specific rather than scrolling through pages with no end.

When you have many products on your e-commerce site, it can be quite overwhelming and time consuming to go through for your shoppers if they are not categorized and filtered accordingly. So be time-efficient and remember and give them a helping hand in their shopping experience.

Providing effective filters that are specific to your audience or product type can help customers to easily find exactly what they’re looking for which can play a major part in helping users find (and ultimately buy) the product(s) they're looking for. It’s impossible to guess exactly what your customers will be looking for so it’s a good idea to give them as many options as possible to help them narrow down their search.

Create specific filters for the most popular categories. Don't just rely on simple filters like color or size. Think of what people really want to differentiate between the various items. The more are the filters, the narrower becomes the range of choice and the customer reaches to what he/she wants.

If you look at the Amazon’s site, it has dozens of categories and each category has the filters according to the category types. For example, the women’s clothing section will have filters for the brand, size, shipping type, color, rating, price and so on.

If a customer doesn’t get the product options they were hoping for then they’ll want to quickly modify their product search through the filter. Therefore, it’s important to allow your shoppers to quickly add or remove filters with one click.

5.  Use Large, High Quality And Contextually Relevant Imagery

Humans are visual by nature.  However, when shopping online, visitors can’t touch or feel your products like in the real retail stores. Therefore, it is important to provide them with high-quality images that can be zoomed in to view particular parts and full details of the product, and the imagery should be contextually relevant. Providing an image of a product can provide more relevant information about the product’s quality than paragraphs of text.

Finally, the images you use across your e-commerce site radiate your brand’s identity.  So, the images you use should be consistent in their lighting, backgrounds and post production.

Bottom line:

Remember, product categorization is extremely important because it does not only bring more customers to your site, but it is an important step in providing each customer with a valuable shopping experience. So find the proper categorization for your product and start selling efficiently on your e-commerce website.


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