Why Use Categories

Before we jump in and start setting up categories and subcategories, we want to tell you why they are important. Categories are a good way of structuring your products. Before you start entering products into your store, you need to know how you want your product catalogue organised. The way you set up your categories and subcategories affects the way potential buyers find your products. It affects the navigation and the search in your store. If you only learn one thing from this tutorial, it needs to be this:

How your catalogue is organised will have a dramatic impact on how well it converts visitors into paying customers.

By carefully researching and planning your category structure, you can really shape the experience your visitors have while visiting your store. So when you plan your categories, you need to do so with your ideal customers in mind. Categories are a great way to:

  • Offer a better, more expensive product (up selling)
  • Promote related products (cross selling)
  • Offer a cheaper or smaller alternative (down selling)

Products can usually be organised into groups of categories, such as Desktops, Laptops and Mobile Devices. In some cases, these top-level categories can be broken down into subcategories. Mobile Devices might have subcategories of Music Players and Phones. It may even be that you can break these subcategories down further. Phones might break down into IOS devices and Android devices for instance. 

We strongly suggest you limit yourself to 3 levels (parent > child > child), but you can create as many as you need. Please consider if it is possible to restructure categories to fit within 3 levels if you currently have a lot more levels than that. The reason we suggest limiting yourself to 3 levels is to:

  • Ensure ease of navigation for your customers
  • Improve the chance that all category and product pages will be indexed
  • Maximise your conversion rate

In most cases, the menu in your store will be dynamically generated from the categories and subcategories you have set up. Too many levels of menu navigation make it hard for potential buyers to navigate their way through your product offerings. From a potential buyer's point of view, it is really important that the top menu bar is simple and easy to use. You generally don't want multiple lines of menu items, that then push the important content (like your products!) outside the viewable screen. 

Don't make visitors scroll for your important content, like products. Remove obstacles, make it easy for them to get to your products. If you absolutely need a very large and complex menu, consider using a sidebar for navigation, rather than the top bar. That way there will be a lot less interruption or friction for your visitors.

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