Product Taxonomy: 5 Best Practices for eCommerce

Product taxonomy is crucial for every eCommerce brand. The way your products are organized directly impacts user experience, customer satisfaction, and overall conversions. In this article, we’ll discuss what product taxonomy is, why it’s important, and 5 best practices.

What is product taxonomy in eCommerce?

Product taxonomy is the logical organization structure of products in a store. For eCommerce brands, this term refers to the organization of products in your digital store. Usually, product taxonomy includes product categories, subcategories, and attributes organized in a hierarchical structure.

Product taxonomy typically works from a top-down structure. The most important categories are usually shown first, and then the larger categories are broken down into branches of subcategories. These branches and subcategories are not cyclical and don’t link back to the top.

The goal of product taxonomy is to make it intuitive for your users to easily navigate your products and find what they’re looking for. Creating a product taxonomy strategy may sound straightforward, but doing it well requires a deep knowledge of your products and your customers.

Why is product taxonomy important?

Product taxonomy is important for many reasons. The way your products are organized creates a structure for customers to find what they’re looking for as easily as possible. If potential customers can’t find what they’re looking for, they are likely to get frustrated and may abandon your store altogether.

A strong product taxonomy strategy leads to many benefits for all eCommerce brands:

Improves the Product Discovery Process

Product discovery is the process of enabling your customers to find what they’re looking for while exposing them to other products that they may be interested in. A clear, organized taxonomy makes it easy for shoppers to browse through products and discover new items that they may decide to add to their cart.

Improves User Experience

User experience design is the process of designing a product or system in a way that provides a positive experience for its users from start to finish. With a strong product taxonomy strategy, your products will be organized in a way that makes sense to users. Users will have an easier time browsing products without confusion or frustration. A positive overall user experience helps to build trust and loyalty in your brand. For more information on UX Design, check out this blog on setting up a UX design process.

Improves SEO

When your products are organized and tagged strategically, those products have a better chance of being indexed by search engines. Once those products are indexed, search engines are more likely to display your products when shoppers search for keywords that match your offerings. The more your products show up in search results, the more traffic your site is going to get.

Provides Insights

Strong product taxonomy will provide valuable insights into your inventory and customer interests. Strategically testing and iterating on your product organization can show you which products are selling and which ones aren’t getting noticed. If you adjust the visibility of unnoticed products and they still aren’t selling, you may have a clear indication that those items can be discontinued. Conversely, you’ll also know which type of products your audience is most interested in.

Boosts Sales

Add together all of the benefits above, and you’re going to see an increase in sales and conversions. Improved SEO leads to more traffic to your website. Once on your site, clear product taxonomy leads to a positive overall user experience. With an improved product discovery process, users are strategically exposed to products they are likely to purchase. When customers can easily find what they’re looking for, they are more likely to make a purchase.

5 Best Practices for Product Taxonomy in eCommerce

1. Leverage customer behavior data to optimize your product taxonomy. Test and adapt with data

A successful product taxonomy strategy starts by understanding your users. You need to know who they are and what they are looking for in order to create a product structure that meets their needs. One of the best ways to determine how users are navigating your site is by testing on-site behavior. By using tools like heat maps, you can see how users are actually navigating your site in real-time. You can gain insights on conversion rates, time spent on each page, links clicked, and potential pain points at every step of the user journey. Product taxonomy needs to be regularly tested and reworked based on how users are interacting with it. Revisit and re-test your taxonomy strategy on a regular basis, whether you add new products or not, to ensure the taxonomy is helping and not hindering sales.

2. Create a clear product hierarchy

Product taxonomy needs clear product categories with intuitive subcategories and attributes. Start by determining large, general buckets for the different products that your brand offers. These overarching categories can be categories like “men”, “women”, “clothing” or “shoes”. It’s best practice to have as few product categories as possible without sacrificing organization. It’s also best practice to avoid an “other” category.

Once you’ve defined your overall product categories, create subcategories and attributes to help users find more specific products. Think about the exact search phrases and keywords that users will likely be searching for and how they would find those products within your taxonomy. Continue defining subcategories and attributes until all of your products are included within a top-down hierarchical organizational structure.

3. Optimize taxonomy to create a personalized shopping experience

eCommerce personalization is one of the most effective ways to give your users a positive shopping experience and keep them loyally coming back for years to come. Product taxonomy is a powerful way to create a personalized experience for your customers. Users in different cultures and locations will have different needs and will interact with your site differently. For example, users in colder climates may need cold weather gear while customers in warmer climates won’t. You can also utilize taxonomy to recommend and curate products specifically for each individual user. Through eCommerce personalization, your brand is likely to see improvements in brand engagement, customer loyalty, and sales conversions. You can find more information about eCommerce personalization in this article.

Avoid manually categorizing, duplication, and overlap

Product taxonomy involves a large volume of organizational tags and attributes. If you are trying to manually categorize every product in your store, you are likely to make errors. Plus, manually categorizing is time and labor-intensive. We recommend using some type of product management system. For example, Shopify offers a product taxonomy system that utilizes machine learning to organize large-scale products and organizational structures. Using a product taxonomy system will also help avoid duplication and overlap within categories and subcategories.

Optimize categories for SEO

Product taxonomy plays a big part in your site’s SEO. Product categories act as search retrieval mechanisms, but you must optimize your taxonomies or you could actually be harming your SEO. Optimize taxonomies to include content like images, meta titles, or meta descriptions that relate back to your target keyword. You can also optimize each individual product for its specific brand, make, and model, and then link each product back to its larger category. Search engines want to provide users with the information they are looking for. By using keyword research to figure out what your users are searching for, you can greatly improve your SEO through product taxonomy.

Conclusion

Product taxonomy impacts every part of the customer journey from SEO and product discovery to user experience and conversions. By implementing these strategies, your brand is likely to see an increase in customer satisfaction, sales, and conversions. Creating an effective product taxonomy strategy requires a deep knowledge of your products, extensive keyword research, and a thorough understanding of your customers. At Anatta, our certified NNG and Baymard designers can help your team create a strong product taxonomy that will ensure your customers can find and purchase exactly what they’re looking for. Contact Anatta to learn more.

About Anatta

Anatta is a premier eCommerce partner that provides turnkey digital product teams for iconic DTC brands including Rothy’s, Athletic Greens, Molekule, and Four Sigmatic. Anatta’s team of certified NNG and Baymard designers helps brands create engaging user experiences that attract customers and increase revenue.