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Almost all of us want our lives to be as simple as possible. In addition to the way we handle tasks at home and work, it applies to how we buy products and services. When it comes to fulfilling our wants, convenience becomes even more prized. We don't want to "work" at something in our free time. Shopping–and e-commerce, in particular– should be fast and easy.

Understanding the consumer mind is key to marketing. And even though there are many psychology-based methods for acquiring and retaining customers, few can compare to the power of convenience. In fact, the National Retail Federation found that 83% of shoppers say that convenience is a bigger priority now than it was five years ago, with online shoppers feeling even more strongly. Separate research found that 97% backed out of a purchase because of the inconvenience factor.

With the global eCommerce market steadily on the rise, convenience can be a powerful tool in any brand's toolkit and a major reason why brands like Amazon and Uber have been able to disrupt their industries. Consumers have slowly built expectations from the brands they interact with. One such expectation is to have the ability to easily navigate a product catalog. This is where having clear eCommerce categories and a solid site taxonomy proves important.

Fine-tuning these elements of your online storefront will help you create exceptional shopping experiences for your customers. When properly leveraged, it can help your own e-Commerce store establish itself as a leader in your field. Taking time to work on these aspects can also help you improve operational efficiency and boost your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) which ultimately leads to more site traffic and higher sales.

How to Create Effective eCommerce Categories

A user-friendly and easy-to-navigate eCommerce store starts with having good product categorization. However, there are many factors one must consider when going through this process.

Some steps you can take to determine the best way to organize your eCommerce products include:

1. Outline and Standardize Product Data

Before listing down potential product categories, conduct an extensive review of the products you are currently offering. List them down and collate all the product information in one database. Make sure each item is properly labeled and has a description and a list of specifications.

Set up naming conventions for product attributes. Consider using keywords that your customers will potentially use when searching for these and make sure that the labels you created are applied consistently in your database. This makes it easy to filter products later on.

2. Determine Product Relationships

Once you have compiled your product data, it’s time to look for patterns that can be used to group them.

Some product relationships to consider:

  • By Attribute: The products share certain qualities. These can be their color, size, price range, and the like.
  • By Need: The products address similar customer needs. For instance, if you cater to both individuals and businesses, you can pool together wholesale goods and have a separate category for retail items.
  • By Function: The products have similar uses and can sometimes be regarded as substitutes for each other. For example, a French press and a Moka pot are both used to make coffee.
  • By Type: The items belong to one broad product type. For example, television sets, air conditioners, and sound systems are all home appliances.
  • By Line: The products belong to a specific product line from your brand. For example, if you have a boutique, you can have a separate category for your Fall line and for your Winter collection.

The important thing here is to choose a categorization that makes sense for the products in your database. Having a logical product taxonomy will allow you to reinforce your site structure and, consequently, improve your site’s SEO. In turn, this makes your site more visible to consumers, increasing site traffic and sales.

3. Understand How Your Customers Will Browse Your Site

In addition to identifying the logical relationships between your products, you should also try to consider the specific needs of your customers. For instance, if you sell plants, the most obvious categories would be the classifications to which the plant belongs (e.g. shrubs, climbers, succulents). Additionally, your customers might also want to know which of the plants you sell are pet-friendly, drought-tolerant, or ideal for low-light.

The idea here is to have a strong grasp of what your customers will look for. You can start by reviewing some of the most common inquiries you receive or checking forums wherein your target consumers discuss their concerns about products similar to what you’re offering. This can clue you in on what other eCommerce categories will help enhance their browsing experience on your site.

eCommerce Categories UX

Use Smart Merchandiser for Efficient Product Categorization

At a time when working from home has blurred the line between personal and business life, organizing and managing an eCommerce store can take a toll on business owners. This is especially true when you are preparing your online storefront for the holidays. Fortunately, with software like Smart Merchandiser, you can free up valuable time and headspace for more attention-demanding aspects of your eCommerce business.

Smart Merchandiser empowers you to optimize product categorization by giving you the tools needed to streamline the process.

  • Consolidate monitoring, editing, inventory, and analytics in one powerful tool.
  • Visually manage catalogs with drag-and-drop product thumbnails into each category.
  • Cross-reference products and categories in order to have a clear assortment map.
  • View sales and inventory updates for each product in real-time.

Update eCommerce Categories Using a Data-Driven Approach

Smart Merchandiser’s smart Analytics Overlay feature subtly displays the data you need about a product over the image. It will display critical metrics like page views, conversion rates, and abandonment rates to determine what modifications you need to make to your catalog. This way, you eliminate the guesswork in keeping your online merchandising strategy up to date.

Sort and Sequence Products Automatically

This tool helps you achieve effective category management automation. All you will have to do is set up business rules and key performance indicators (KPIs) through which the platform can automate product sorting.

In addition, it can optimize eCommerce operations by keeping track of inventory levels, monitoring customer preferences based on browsing behavior, as well as implementing planned sales based on predetermined conditions in stock levels. This way, you can make sure that no sales opportunities fall through the cracks without having to spend all day staring at your site data.

Visualize Product Organization With Ease

Smart Merchandiser’s online visual management allows you to see the storefront the way your customers do with product thumbnails, and the ability to easily sequence, add, remove or copy items. While Smart Merchandiser’s strong suit lies in its eCommerce business automation, it also gives users the option to manually tweak how their eCommerce categories are formatted. Just drag and drop images of the products you want to move from your Master Catalog into a specific category. This is useful for instances wherein you want to promote particular items in your store.

Effective Category Management With Smart Merchandiser

eCommerce categories serve as the foundation of an online store’s product catalog and site navigation. As a result, how you map them out can make or break the customer experience. Smart Merchandiser’s array of automated options–including visual catalog and inventory management–can help to optimize your online storefront, while the robust Analytics Overlay feature instantly displays metrics about your products so you can continually improve your site’s UX.

While thorough planning is important, be mindful of overdoing it. After all, having too many categories can be overwhelming or even frustrating for online shoppers. So, in the design process, put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Understanding your target market’s shopping behaviors can go a long way in building a site taxonomy that attracts and engages.

Taking the time to go over the process outlined above will enable you to create an eCommerce category and overall product organization structure that works for you. Smart Merchandiser takes this to another level, literally, transforming this step into a giant stride. Monitoring inventory and analytics while still assessing purchase and spend, managing the real-time store insights on categories, and assessing customer insights, Smart Merchandiser shoulders the load, providing a one-stop, easy-to-use, and smart category management solution that will yield the desired results.

To learn more about Smart Merchandiser’s dynamic features and how it can boost your eCommerce operations, get in touch with the Zobrist team today.