4 steps to organizing your product categories

Jane Mc Arthur
November 15, 2017
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Whether you are new or old to the B2B ecommerce universe, here’s all you need to know to keep your product categories organized. See our guide.

When it comes to selling and buying, perception matters. Here’s an example: in a 2014 study by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that viewing an assortment of products horizontally leads to more perceived variety than when viewing a selection vertically. In other words, if you arrange your products from left to right, then buyers will think that your online store offers a greater variety of products than if you arrange them top to bottom. 

It is no wonder then that the way you arrange and build your B2B online store is key to your success. And what’s the building block of organization? 

Well-thought out and organized product categories. Indeed, clear category structure causes less friction to your online B2B buyers leading to a higher conversion rate and, eventually, increased sales.And for this reason, having a solid category structure before adding any products to your ecommerce platform is a process not to be taken lightly by any wholesaler. Read on to get your head around nailing category structure.

Step 1: List all products currently available

First things first: you can’t fill the shelves of your online B2B store in a successful way without having a solid grasp of your products. What do we mean by that? Simply that  in order to arrange your entire store offering into categories, you need first to know what products your wholesale business offers -  and yes, we mean every single one of them. 

One way to get organized is to create a product “inventory” in an excel file. There’s no need to make this file extensive, yet you need to make sure that you include each product’s code and name.

Step 2: Divide and rule (out)

Caesar may have been a great strategist in war, yet his most famous winning tactics can be applied elsewhere too. Once you’re done with creating your product catalog, go back to the file. Yes, it’s time to start creating categories. To do so, it’s time to put your inquiring mind to the test: Can group certain products together based on a set of specific attributes? What common qualities do your products have? There are many ways in which you can divide your offering into concise and clear categories. 

For example, you can divide your product categories based on their function (e.g. tableware or decoration items) or you even based on basic attributes, such as their color.

Here are a few ideas to get your organizing juices flowing:

- Color

- Function (e.g. cleaning supplies, decoration supplies)

- Seasonal (e.g. spring, autumn)• Festive (e.g. Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, etc.)

- Occasion (e.g. day, night, etc.)

- Brand

- Model

- Power (e.g. electrical, solar, wind)• Gender/Sex

- Type (e.g. savory, sweet, etc.)• Age (e.g. kids, teen, adult, etc.)

Finally, do keep in mind that you can also put special offers or promotions in a specific category or subcategory, which you can promote on your storefront’s home page or in your marketing and sales-driven communications with your clients.

Step 3: Creating further divisions

So you’ve organized your products into categories, yet you may feel that some of your products share more specific attributes or affinities than others. A great way to keep your categories tidy, clear, and solid is to further divide them into subcategories. 

For example, imagine you are a coffee supplier, you can originally create categories based the bean varieties (Arabica, Robusta, etc.) and then you can add other subcategories, such as organic or fair trade. 

This practice will not only make your product catalog more clear and concise – it will also increase sales. In fact, according to a recent Columbia study, when you offer more products for sale, more people will visit your store, but fewer people will make a purchase. And this merely means that dividing your products into categories and subcategories may provide you with the key to success.

Step 4: Revisit and re-organize

It in the realm of digital, nothing is written and set on stone - so why should your product categories be ever so permanent? So as you keep offering more products and variations or -even- as some categories start turning into your best selling ones, it’s always smart to revisit and adapt your original catalog. It is important for your categories to follow new trends or buying patterns - this way you will ensure that your store remains always organized, while your sales potential forecast stays high and intact.

Ready to start organizing your product catalog?

Click here to sign up for a free trial account on B2B Wave to easily create categories and subcategories and assign privacy to products and so as to make them visible only to your VIP customers!

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