Product Hierarchy and its Importance in eCommerce
When you’re entering the eCommerce industry and creating your website, you will consider several aspects of setting up the website and marketing your business. You know that you need excellent web design to hook visitors and web copywriting to reel your customers in. You can consider article blog writing once you’ve set up shop to engage visitors on an ongoing basis.
However, have you thought about the product hierarchy of your eCommerce store?
A product hierarchy is a way to categorize your company’s products and services based on their essential components into a structure that makes sense. Also known as product taxonomy, this is a relatively less known part of the eCommerce industry that many newcomers are unaware of.
Product hierarchy is something you come across more often than you might think. It exists for the entire eCommerce industry. If you have a company wishing to sell products and services online, you need to give your products the correct names, and correctly classify them.
Failing to do this can make it challenging for existing and potential customers to navigate the eCommerce store and find them.
If you’re preparing yourself to dip your feet in the eCommerce industry or are already getting started, you should know about product hierarchy and how to use it. By the time you’re done reading this article, I’m confident you’ll have all the information you need to integrate it into your eCommerce store and learn much more.
What is eCommerce Product Hierarchy?
Product hierarchy is the structure you use to organize all available products so customers can browse and find what they want with as little effort as possible.
Typically, product hierarchy involves dividing all the products into distinguishable categories. eCommerce stores with a wide range of products or even similar types of products can use product hierarchy to make navigation easier for their customers.
Example of Product Hierarchy
I will give you a hypothetical example of eCommerce hierarchy to help you understand what I am talking about.
Suppose you own a company that sells Beds and related products. Here is one way you can expect to see the structure.
A customer visiting your eCommerce store looking to buy a King-sized bed frame will follow these steps:
Beds > Bed Frame > King-Sized
The end result is to allow your customers to move easily through the different levels to find what they are looking for.
You can even create multiple product hierarchies for different views of the same data. Suppose you have a music streaming platform. You can create product hierarchies based on genres, dates released, most-listened to tracks, or any other categories. It can allow visitors to view the products and navigate them in a way that makes the most sense.
The Importance of Product Hierarchy in eCommerce
Imagine you are at Walmart, and you’re there to get some bread, and you are searching in the Fresh Food aisle. However, the bread is actually in the Bakery Items aisle. If you are short on time and you don’t have a way to find the bread, you might get frustrated and leave empty-handed to another store that categorizes its products well.
In the real world, I know that the next thing you’ll probably do is look in the Bakery Items aisle. That is not necessarily the case with online shopping.
The average attention span of internet users keeps decreasing with passing time. People are short on attention span and patience while shopping online. The average attention span of internet users is 709 seconds.
If your eCommerce store forces your clients to make more effort than they expect, it’s likely they will just go to another store that’s easier to navigate. Over time, you can suffer from a loss in sales, and it will reflect poorly on your brand.
An argument you can make is that your customers can simply find the products they want through the search bar. The problem is that if your data is not organized, the search will not work either. Search functions also require proper classification to provide the right results.
There is no way you can avoid product hierarchy as a retailer. It is a foundation for your eCommerce store that can prevent users from leaving your website before they find what they are looking for.
Product Hierarchy Boosts Your Sales
Product hierarchy is also important because it can improve your eCommerce store’s sales. Websites that do not have a proper structure for product categories sell 50% less than sites with proper product hierarchy. Many users give up on websites if the first search result fails because they know there are many other options they can try.
It is obvious that if you don’t present information clearly and categorize it properly, visitors will not likely make an effort.
There are different kinds of visitors that come to eCommerce stores. People who are browsing need products to be in the right place. They may have an idea of what type of product they want but would like to explore similar options in the category before deciding on one.
People searching for specific products will expect to quickly navigate through the categories to find exactly what they are looking for.
A well-structured product hierarchy will let your website display the products in relevant categories, so it’s easier for all your visitors to find what they are looking for. It will also display relevant products related to what visitors might be searching for. If the product they want is not available, there is a chance they can settle for a relevant alternative.
Product hierarchy increases your chances of making a sale by offering something else instead of losing a sale altogether.
Product Hierarchy Boosts Your SEO
A well-structured product hierarchy can also help with your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A solid product hierarchy structure for your store gives you the opportunity to create keyword-rich content.
Users are more likely to search for generic categories with a strong intent when they want to buy something rather than a very specific product name and model.
For instance, I want to buy a new pair of black flip flops. I will go to Google and type in something along the lines of “rubber flip flops” or “black flip flops” instead of a very specific search. I will never type something like “Fiesco women rubber flip flop beach slippers” or anything like that if I have not made up my mind about a brand.
If your website has optimized category and subcategory pages, it’s more likely to match user search queries. It makes the user experience better because they can find their desired products easier, and the search engine ranks your website better because of the optimized content.
Best Practices to Develop a Product Hierarchy
Creating an ideal product hierarchy for your eCommerce store is much easier said than done. You can look at a wide range of examples of product hierarchy to see how others do it. You’ll find that every eCommerce store has a slightly different approach.
How you develop your website’s product hierarchy can differ based on the products and services you sell. I will tell you a few of the best practices you should consider when you are creating your product hierarchy. It is not a step-by-step formula, but the next best thing that can apply to any eCommerce store, regardless of industry, niche, or types of products.
Get your team on-board
Developing the product hierarchy requires everybody on the team to be on board with the program. Great user experience can create loyal customers who return for more.
Explain to your team why building or refining the product hierarchy will improve the customer experience and the business. Help your team understand the need to consider the customer’s perspective when browsing through your store.
Empathize with your users
The product hierarchy is mostly to improve the user experience. You need to understand the behavior of your customers, the language they use, and empathize with them to create a successful product hierarchy.
To understand the hierarchy that suits your customers, you need to study your customers. Look at how they navigate your website. Mine the data on your clients’ search behavior, so you can get an idea of how they think and how they could approach your website to find products that you sell.
Even if you don’t mine for data, you can simply talk to people. Ask them what they like, what they don’t like, and how they see the current setup. It would help if they can describe the ideal system they like seeing in stores like yours.
Understand your content
Having an in-depth understanding of the data you’re working with can help you make a better structure. Suppose that you don’t have enough content to support a specific category. You can integrate the category at a later stage when you have enough content for it.
A broader perspective with an in-depth understanding can make your efforts to organize data more effectively, including additional data that comes with expanding your store. You can understand the project’s size, the effort required, and how to prioritize the tasks while creating the product hierarchy.
Take a simple approach
Creating the product hierarchy can begin with something as basic as writing names on cards and rearranging them to make more sense.
Write the terms for categories and subcategories on cards and sort them out. Imagine how the product categories could look based on their qualities and lay it out. The goal is to make your product hierarchy easy to navigate. Keeping it as simple as possible should be a priority.
When it comes to options and the number of choices under them, it is better to stick with a broad but shallow approach instead of a narrow and deep approach. Minimize the main categories as much as possible and don’t create endless lists of categories for visitors to trawl through.
Monitor and adjust
When you build a product hierarchy, you need to examine how people interact with it. Be prepared to see people use the structure in ways you didn’t think of while creating it.
Keep reviewing how people navigate your website using the product hierarchy so you can adjust it to see what works better. Regular reviews and tweaks are an ongoing effort to keep improving the structure.
Product Hierarchy Example
Example 1: Bang & Olufsen
Bang & Olufsen provides an excellent example of a product hierarchy.
You go to the website and click on the menu option. It shows you different categories of products they sell.
If you click on any one of the broad categories, it will show you a product page containing all the different products in the category. Additionally, it shows you further subcategories you can choose from to narrow down your search.
Their product hierarchy is based on customer needs with more sub categories to go into specifics. It can guide customers to the products that they are looking for without making it difficult for them to browse through the eCommerce store.
Example 2: Walmart
Walmart is another excellent example for product hierarchy in eCommerce.
The massive retail store chain has successfully created an eCommerce platform that sells everything you can imagine. A business like this has a lot of categories for various items. However, Walmart has intelligently classified its products and listed them based on what people search for the most.
You click on any one of the categories, it will open up a product page with more categories that you can use to narrow down the products even further. I clicked on Electronics, and it led to the page above with more categories.
I clicked on laptops, and it opened up a page with further categories that I can browse on the eCommerce platform.
The product hierarchy on Walmart illustrates that it is possible to create a comprehensive hierarchy and dividing the subcategories into more categories to make navigation easier for the users.
You might not have such a broad range of products that you will need several subcategory pages. Still, I think Walmart is an excellent example to see how you could approach developing the product hierarchy as your eCommerce store becomes more prominent and successful.
Earn More Money with Your eCommerce Store
Product hierarchies are a useful way of classifying and categorizing your products and services for customers. A well-structured website can provide you greater chances of success and increase the chances of conversions. It can even support your SEO strategy by allowing you to use keyword-rich content.
If you want to maximize your lead generation, improve user experience, and generate more leads and conversions, you need to do more than develop an excellent product hierarchy.
Support your eCommerce store’s product hierarchy with well-written and compelling web content and blogs that can improve your website’s visibility, user experience and increase sales.
Let our team of experienced Web Copywriters provide you with content that boosts search results to drive your eCommerce store’s success.