eCommerce Category Trees - Planning Increases Sales

E-commerce Categories are the sections of your website that are broken down into related topics that you can place relevant products into. Think back to the times that you have shopped online and it becomes immediately apparent how important they were to your overall experience, but are you aware of just how important it is and their potential to increase eCommerce sales? What categories will be presented on the home page? How many will there be? How many sub-categories will this one have? What about that one? It can be a long and arduous process to get your categories set up exactly how they need to be, but once you realize what an effective category tree can do for your online sales, you will definitely want to take the time to do it. Categories help customers by narrowing down the amount of products or items they have to choose between. A rule in retail has always been to give the customer 2 or 3 choices, because if you give them 50 choices they will rarely be able to make a decision. This is where deep categories in eCommerce websites can drastically increase eCommerce sales, they effectively act as the “salesman” for your website; guiding visitors through the site until they’re where they want to be.

eCommerce Categories - Consider Carefully

E-Commerce Categories also effectively act as the organizational system for your website. They turn your website into a neatly arranged filing cabinet in which each of your site pages is a document inside of it. Whereas if you had no categories, it would be kind of like giving your site visitor a huge messy pile of documents with no rhyme or reason to how they are arranged. Nobody wants to deal with that, which is exactly why effective categories have the power to keep people on your site instead of looking elsewhere. Having properly organized categories even makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site pages and index them!

3 Tips for Making Your Category Trees Awesome

  1. Use the right amount of sub-categories. The widely accepted standard is that 1 top level category, and 2 levels of related categories beneath that is the optimal set up for a category path. An example of this would be: Balloons>Latex Balloons>Red Balloons. While this is considered the best option, it is definitely not set in stone. The real goal is to make sure your bottom level category has an acceptable amount of items in it. For example if going 3 levels deep will leave you with thousands of product in one category, it will be much more beneficial to you to create more categories to break those items up a little bit.

  2. Don’t reinvent the wheel. People who shop online have become familiar with the words and phrases used in the categorization of certain types of products. While setting yourself apart from the competition through creativity can lead to great success in eCommerce, your categories are not the place to get cute. All you will accomplish by doing this is severely confusing your potential customers (which is not ideal, to put it lightly), because they are accustomed to seeing it done a certain way everywhere else. Check out places like Amazon, eBay, or Google Shopping Categories when it comes time to decide what to call each of your categories.

  3. Don’t be afraid to put products in more than one category tree. Depending on what industry you’re involved in, it can be very common to come across the problem of not knowing which category tree to place a particular product in. It happens quite often to clothing eCommerce retailers; for example a long sleeve shirt could logically be placed in “shirts,” “screen printed shirts,” or a category like “winter wear.” You don’t have to choose whichever one you think works the best; put it in all of them! Not only does this give the visitor more ways to get to the product they’re looking for, but it also ensures that you’re covering all your bases. You can’t assume all your visitors will think the same way as you, so placing products in multiple categories helps your website cater to everyone. It’s important to remember that while Web Shop Manager (WSM) does allow you to do this with ease, not all eCommerce platforms support it. If your company has a high chance of requiring this kind of set up, make sure you choose wisely!

The way you set up the categories and trees on your eCommerce website is extremely important for a variety of reasons. Not only does it help search engine spiders comb through the layout of your site and get it indexed properly, it is also one of the main factors in the kind of experience visitors will have on it! These two reasons alone should be more than enough to inspire you to review your categories and ensure that they are set up as efficiently and intuitively as possible. While there is much more that you can do to improve e-commerce categories, follow the above 3 tips and you will be well on your way to “WOWing” customers with awesome categories!

By: Dana Nevins

BEDSLIDE - Client Testimonial

"The best thing out of everything was that our sales went up. The new site had a better design, the checkout process was better, and ultimately achieved all of our goals. That site has been up for a year and a half and we’re very happy with it, it’s still awesome." - Jake Plappert