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4 Steps to Organising Your Product Categories

4 Steps to Organising Your Product Categories

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When it comes to buying and selling online, perception does matter. 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 the products in your online B2B store from left to right, buyers will think you offer a greater variety than if you arranged them from top to bottom.

It’s no wonder then that the way you build and display your online B2B store is key to your eCommerce success. Indeed, a well-thought out, clear category structure will cause less friction for your online B2B buyers, leading to higher conversion rates and, eventually, increased sales. And for this reason, having that solid category structure in place before adding any products to your eCommerce platform is a process not to be taken lightly by any wholesaler. 

Whether you’re new or old to the B2B eCommerce universe, here’s what you need to know about keeping your product categories organised.

Step 1:  List all products currently available

You can’t fill the shelves of your online B2B store in an effective way unless you have a solid grasp of your products. What do we mean by that? We mean that in order to arrange your entire store offering into categories, you first need to know what products your wholesale business offers — and yes, we mean every single one of them.

One way to get organised is to create a “product inventory” in an excel file. There’s no need to make this file extensive; you just 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, but his famous winning tactics can also be applied elsewhere. Once you’ve finished creating your product catalog, go back to the file. Yes, it’s time to start creating categories. To do so, you need to put your inquiring mind to the test:  Can you 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 products into clear and concise categories.

For example, you can divide your product categories based on product function (e.g. tableware or decoration items), or you can divide them based on basic attributes, such as colour. Here are a few ideas to get your organisational juices flowing:

  • Function (e.g. cleaning supplies, decoration supplies)
  • Packaging (e.g. bulk, single items)
  • 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
  • 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 then promote on your storefront’s home page or in your marketing and sales-driven communications with your clients.

Step 3:  Create further division

Now that you’ve organised your products into categories, you may feel that some of your products share more specific attributes 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 initially create your product categories based on bean variety (e.g. Arabica, Robusta, etc.), and then add other subcategories, such as organic or fair trade.

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

Step 4:  Revisit and reorganise

In the digital world, nothing is written in stone, so why should your product categories be permanent? As you add new products or variations to your online B2B store, or when some product categories start turning into your best sellers, it’s always smart to revisit and adapt your original product catalog. It’s important to ensure your product categories consistently follow new trends or customer buying patterns. This will ensure your B2B eCommerce store always remains organised, timely and relevant, while keeping your future sales potential high and intact.

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