Category pages substantially organize products in ways that make it easy for shoppers to discover what they are looking for. They offer a broad selection of products, enabling shoppers who are unsure of what they want, to start with a big picture and drill down their search. Category pages have two critical functionalities. 1. Organise products in ways that make it easy for an online shopper to browse intuitively 2. Improve discoverability on Search engines.
When you walk into a supermarket you have isles of related products placed together. This makes it easy for shoppers to navigate the store and find what they are looking for. This product segmentation and clustering is what a Category page does online.
Category pages are at a higher point in the sales funnel and are more generic. This is what makes them so powerful for SEO and discoverability on search engines. Typical searches are a lot more generic like “Workwear” no one is going to search for “White top with frills and full sleeves, to wear to work". Category pages offer a broad selection of products, enabling shoppers who are unsure of what they want, to start with a big picture and drill down their search.
Challenges faced in creating/maintaining category pages
There is no one size fits all. eCommerce managers have to constantly create and maintain category pages, almost on a daily basis.
The look and feel of category pages are second in importance only to the home page. If these pages are not aesthetically designed you will have a lot of churns, right here.
Since these pages are typically assortments of related products, we need to ensure that new collections are created regularly to offer fresh and exciting content to both, new and returning visitors.
Another critical factor is the sorting of collections within the page. Most shoppers do not go beyond 3-5 swipes. So, Category mangers have to make this all-important decision on what to show on top.
It is a complex and intense task to manage category pages, but if we get just the basics right and rely on the right technology, the impact on the bottom line is huge.
Guide to increasing the effectiveness of category pages
1. Well-Structured Layout
Over 88% of online buyers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. Taking this into consideration, it is vital to map out information in a well-structured format.
Make sure the layout of the website is easy to navigate. It has to be intuitive and product discovery should be effortless.
Creating Collections is one way of ensuring this. Construct little shops within a shop. Doing this manually can be a challenge, but there are Fashion AI engines that can automate this curation and create theme-based collections in seconds.
2. Consistency of Images
It’s important to have consistent branding throughout your site, including the imagery used. Varying styles will lead to an unconscious bias by shoppers.
Inconsistent images make your products seem crowdsourced and not of the quality you would like to communicate. You can use background removal and replacement tools to have consistent backgrounds, techniques like enlarge on hover etc. to show a better picture of an image. There should be consistency in all images unless of course you want to highlight a particular one for a strategic reason.
For instance, this image by Zara displays required angles and an augmented version of the print as well. The images are self-explanatory.
Along with Good quality of images make sure that your catalog has Image Alt tags so that your products are easily discoverable by search engines.
This image on the other hand is void of such details and might confuse the shoppers.
3. Optimize Filters
With an endless stream of products for people to scroll through, filtering is crucial to product discovery.
Filters have often been limited to physical attributes such as pattern and sleeve length, but progressively, include newer attributes like sustainability and occasion.
In-essence, shoppers should be able to narrow down on the products they are interested in with relevant filters.
Filters should be customized for each category to ensure relevance. Monitoring and personalizing filters based on how shoppers are reacting to them would be best.
To have this kind of control you must have a well-structured Taxonomy with deep and rich product attribution for the online catalog. Adding meta tags earlier was a manual and tedious process.
4. Consumer Segmentation and Personalization
Personalization is critical to retaining and building a loyal customer base for your eCommerce website.
Personalizing to a segment of one, while attainable needs investment in technologies that track customer profiles, predict what they are most likely to buy, and re-arrange the catalog assortments and ‘recommended’ specifically for them.
A starter approach to personalise is to segment your customers into cohesive groups based on their buying behaviour or what part of the journey they are at.
Expose first-time customers to products that convert best on the website. This can be done by using features such as “hero products” that can help boost the website’s bestsellers. Display offers, re-rank based on trending products, seasonality etc.
On the other hand, your returning customers are more likely to be interested in what's new in stock, Trending products, Similar Products to what was abandoned in the cart, Products that others in that segment have bought, etc.
There are a lot of segmentation and personalization strategies that can be implemented and it would be wise to consider them on a case-by-case basis. This prevents excess “clutter”. It is certainly worth AB testing your hypothesis to see how your shoppers react and adopting what works best for your website.
5. Display Reviews
Cramming the website with promotional texts is inadvisable. Instead, leverage customer reviews, ratings, experiences with the products, etc. Social proof adds credibility and nudges the shopper to buy. 92% of prospective shoppers are more likely to purchase items with more reviews as it indicates post-purchase satisfaction. On the category page, this can be as simple as product rating out of 5 stars shown below the price.
The number of reviews a product has is also an important metric to keep track of. Retailers should make it easy for shoppers to review the products and should display how many people have reviewed them.
6. SEO optimisation
Category pages are mostly visual with minimum text. But this text can be powerful for SEO optimisation if crafted well. Just ensure that you don’t overdo/keyword stuffing.
Explore solutions like Catalogix, an AI-powered, end-to-end managed service for product cataloging and marketplace listing.