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eCommerce Taxonomy 101: Categorizing Your Products

tackling taxonomies

Internally, your organization may have a good system for categorizing the products you sell. But while the product groupings and names may make sense to your employees, they may not be logical to your customers. For this reason, distributors must employ a specific product categorization system for their online buyers using the best practices of eCommerce taxonomy.

The goal of eCommerce taxonomy is to categorize products in a way that makes sense to buyers, and leads them to the products they want in as few clicks as possible. Think about it: a customer doesn’t want to walk through aisle after aisle in a store to find a box of nails or a spool of cable; similarly, an online shopper doesn’t want to scroll down or click through multiple pages before locating the product he or she wants.

The funnel approach to taxonomy

The best approach is to categorize your products using a funnel strategy where you start from the top down, developing high-level categories first, then breaking those categories down into more specific categories.

  • Parent categories: Parent categories are the high-level categories that appear at the top of the taxonomy funnel. A parent category like Fasteners is an important part of the taxonomy because it lets buyers know they are likely to find nails, screws, adhesive tapes and other fastening products within it.
  • Sub-categories: Once you’ve assigned a parent category for a product, you need to create a sub-category or, in some cases, sub-categories that consist of a general name of a product or a name that implies what the product is used for. If the product is a box of carpentry nails, it would first fall under the parent category of Fasteners, then would be labeled under a sub-category of Nails and then, finally, Carpentry Nails.

As you build your product catalog taxonomy, be sure to link related items and accessories to correlating categories to help the buyer. eCommerce platforms like Unilog’s CIMM2 software give businesses the ability to display recommended products and related items based on buyer searches, which provides value-added solutions for them and incremental sales for you.

Use analytics to understand buyer search

Before you start building out your product hierarchy, it’s crucial to understand what and how your buyers search on your site. Your online storefront collects all the activity of your buyers, so review the search logs to determine the most popular terms your site visitors are using so you can incorporate them into your taxonomy. If the logs show people are searching for terms that aren’t found on your website, you can incorporate those terms as synonyms to your categories or fill gaps in your product offerings. Search logs can provide great insight into product names that may be under-utilized in your taxonomy.

Another way to help shape your taxonomy is to look at industry research to make sure your category names are aligned with the marketplace. Use sites like Google Trends to compare potential category names to determine the most popular search terms, or to see regional preferences for terms.

Developing the right eCommerce taxonomy for your product catalog requires time and research, and must be reviewed on a regular basis in order to maintain its relevance and effectiveness. It’s also important to have a dedicated team in place that knows what the best approach is to segmenting your products. If you’re overwhelmed with the task, Unilog’s taxonomy experts can help your organization refine the framework of your existing taxonomies, as well as build entirely new taxonomies, in order to make your product catalogs the most logical and useful for buyers.

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