This article was written by Michelle Weger.
Can your customers easily find what they are looking for in your online shop?
Imagine you are shopping in person for an outfit for a work event.
You walk into a clothing store, ready to buy something.
Immediately, a store associate walks up to you.
“Hi there. Can I help you find anything today?”
You shake your head – you prefer to browse alone.
As you look around the store, you can clearly see that the work wear is on the left, and the jeans and casual wear is on the right. You veer left.
A section of purple items catches your eye. You notice a button-down shirt, and flick through the hangers – small, medium, ah – large! There it is. That will work perfectly with the dress pants hanging just beside it.
In less than a few minutes, you have found exactly what you are looking for.
Why was it so easy?
The store was laid out in a way that makes it immediately intuitive how to find something you’re looking for. And if you can’t? You already know there is someone willing and able to help you find it.
An ecommerce store should be just as intuitively laid out.
Obviously, your customers aren’t walking into a physical space. Instead, they are relying on product categories, and your menu layout, to find what they are looking for.
How to categorize your products
The way your products are categorized and tagged can make a huge difference in whether a potential customer makes a purchase. You don’t have a helpful sales associate to fall back on, so your customers need to be able to find everything quickly and without assistance.
How you categorize your products depends entirely on how your potential customers typically shop.
For example, if you own a pet retail store, your customers likely first shop by breed: dog, cat, small animal. Then they may narrow down their search by other characteristics like type (food, toys, accessories), or colour.
If you own a human clothing store, though, your customers likely first shop by clothing type: tops, bottoms. Then they may narrow down their search by size, and other characteristics like style.
When you think about your product categories, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
- Categories should be broad enough that they include many items.
- Use “child” or subcategories to break things down further. Add tags for the most highly specific items.
If your customer arrives on your pet retail website looking for a purple collar for their Great Dane – how quickly can they find it? They would likely go first to the Dog category, then to an accessories category, and then narrow it down first by size, then by colour.
Intuitive categorizing and tagging reduces frustration and overwhelm for your customers, which makes them far more likely to add to cart.
How to lay out your ecommerce menu
If you have gone to all that work categorizing and tagging all your products – make sure your menu is just as well organized!
- Add broad categories to your top menu
- Use dropdowns for specific sub-categories if necessary
- An overcrowded menu is not conducive to sales – keep it concise
If you’ve done your tagging correctly, you should be able to offer your customers the ability to filter based on specific characteristics once they get to a category.
For customers who know what they are looking for, this ensures they can find it quickly and without frustration.
For customers who are just browsing, they can scroll through broader categories to see more items.
Without fantastic product and menu organization, you risk missing out on sales.