Optimizing Online Category Placement
Success in ecommerce hinges on a brand’s ability to adapt. In an ever-changing and hypercompetitive digital sales climate, what worked yesterday is not guaranteed to work tomorrow in assuring optimal sales. When shoppers enter a brick-and-mortar store, list in hand, they don’t meander among random aisles, hoping to happen upon the products they came to purchase. These shoppers may not know exactly which shelf has the products they seek, but they do know to look in the drinks section for the bottled water and to scour the household cleaners aisle to find the window cleaner. The category placement of those products are key to their “findability” on the store shelf. Similarly, the ability to find products in a predictable place on the digital shelf helps existing shoppers repeat their purchases and helps convince and convert new shoppers.
Concerning the two primary methods by which shoppers locate online products—menus and search functions—streamlining for ease in usability is imperative. Statistics suggest that consumers who use search options are most ready to buy. In fact, buyers are 90 percent more likely to use an on-site search than those who are simply browsing the site (Wired). To capture these would-be customers, searches must return targeted results that are logically related to shoppers’ initial queries. It’s imperative that brand strategists understand and utilize the full scope of each retail site’s search capabilities with relation to categories and subcategories, multiple category assignments, keyword usage, and the like.
Roughly 70 percent of online buyers prefer searching for products. The remaining 30 percent prefer to use menus to find products. These shoppers rely on category menus and navigation tools, including global product categorization, subcategorization, and breadcrumbs. While it’s perhaps not as popular as searchability, menu ease and organization still accounts for more than a quarter of potential buyers. Menus determine both how easily shoppers can locate products and what customers see first.
Grouping products by type helps shoppers avoid frustration and gather goods more quickly. Cognizant of this, brick-and-mortar retailers and marketers have traditionally dedicated attention to the logical classification of products. For brands, this practice of categorization is a particularly important part of attracting customers. Not only does shelf placement in a physical store directly impact the likelihood of product purchase, but also proper category placement helps brands attract shoppers who have loose or nonexistent product affinity, capturing new customers organically.
But how do these principles play out in the online marketplace where there are no physical stores, aisles or end displays? Perhaps surprisingly, similar rules of categorization and proximity apply to the online channel. any shoppers utilize retailers’ category taxonomies to discover products.
Products that are placed towards the top of a category taxonomy have a greater chance of being seen (and therefore purchased) during a shopper’s browsing session. In addition, an increase in the number of locations that a product appears within retailers’ taxonomies can increase shopper consideration of those products.
While some shoppers may visit a website merely to peruse products without a clear goal or intent to purchase, many do have a particular product in mind when they arrive “on site.” If shoppers are not able to quickly and easily locate the products that fit their needs, their likelihood of making an on-site purchase diminishes. That is to say, the probability of potential customers checking out with your product in their digital shopping cart drops. After all, today’s digital shopper is well aware that a single click can transport them to a world of other options.
Click. Lost sale.
Click. Lost revenue.
Click. Lost customer.
Retailers face an immense number of competitors in the digital retailing world. RJ Metrics reports nearly 110,000 ecommerce sites doing a “meaningful amount” of business online. With this many players in the game, digital shoppers have seemingly endless alternatives—both regarding the sites they visit and the products they elect to purchase.
Due in large part to the abundance of options at their disposal, shoppers are unwilling to spend much time searching for any product, even preferred brands. The reality is that we now live in a day and age where, to a large degree, the likelihood of a customer buying your products depends on how quickly they happen upon them.
Brand leaders commonly ignore factors like the amount of time the average customer dedicates to finding a product, and nuanced elements of digital sales like product placement. Neglecting to pay attention these elements is a significant oversight with far-reaching effects. Just as the slot in which your product sits on a physical shelf will determine in large part how many shoppers leave the store with your products in their carts, the proper (or improper) categorization of your products within the digital sphere can significantly impact revenue.
Effective product categorization is an important component for success at online retailers. Our Category Placement reports helps you understand the overall location count and menu rank of your products, so that you can optimize your efforts to increase consideration through menu browsing. With our ecommerce intelligence, you can track the total number of times a product is placed within a retailer’s category taxonomy and the rank of that product within each category taxonomy. In addition, analyze your performance and set goals by retailer, category, and brand.
To learn more about our Category Placement insights and the rest of our ecommerce intelligence solutions, connect with us today.