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What Is Product Taxonomy?

A great product taxonomy improves your customer user experience and how they find the right product they need much easier and faster.

What Is Product Taxonomy?

Did you know that it takes around 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website? And if their first impression and experience are bad, 88% of consumers are less likely to return to your website. How your products are organized and how easy it is for your customers to find what they are looking for play a massive part in that first impression.

That’s where product taxonomy comes in. It can make or break the user experience and seriously impact your bottom line.

Let’s start from the beginning.

What Is Product Taxonomy?

In the simplest terms, product taxonomy refers to the organization of the products on your website. And a good product taxonomy means that your customers can intuitively find the products they need in just a few clicks.

Usually, product taxonomy will also have a particular hierarchy. You’ll have your basic categories, products that fall within each, tags to compartmentalize these products further, and, finally, attributes.

Technically, you can have as many subcategories as you want, but it is advisable to keep it simple and not overcomplicate things. Otherwise, you’re back to step one.

Why Is Product Taxonomy Important?

You’re in the supermarket. You have limited time, and you must get some veggies, eggs, milk, cookie dough, and a ketchup bottle. You head to the dairy aisle and get the eggs, but the milk is nowhere to be found.

After 15 minutes of looking around, it turns out the milk is right next to the snacks section. And you find the bottle of ketchup in the drinks section. Nothing makes sense, and you’re frustrated because you’ve been walking around for so long. Before you even start looking for the veggies, you just leave and take your business elsewhere.

And no wonder. It’s a horrible user experience. Similarly, users leave when they don’t find what they need on your website. This is where product taxonomy kicks in, i.e., helping them find what they need quickly and keeping them on your website.

It directly impacts your bottom line.

How Can Product Taxonomy Boost Sales?

This might blow your mind, but research shows that poorly organized retailing websites sell 50% less than their better-organized counterparts. That’s huge! 

But not only are your customers affected by poor product taxonomy, so are your employees who waste time searching for the data they need and then managing it.

In fact, employees spend 15-35% of their time searching for information, and 40% of them can’t find the information they need. And all that seriously adds up to your time/money unplanned expenses.

The longer it takes your customer to find the product they need, the lesser the chances of them purchasing from you, or even worse, ever again returning to your website due to poor user experience, which has become one of the most significant competitive advantages you can have.

A one-second delay in page loading time causes a 7% loss in conversions. Only. one second. 

Now, imagine what happens when your customers spend hours navigating through lists of products, unable to find what they need. Yikes… My guess is this percentage significantly increases.

If those losses weren’t convincing enough, you should count the ones coming from inside your company. Think of all the hours lost in searching for, adding, duplicating data, later removing duplicated product data, and providing customer support. Then add them up, and you’ll see a severe decrease in productivity with an increase in operational costs. Proper product taxonomy can positively affect this aspect of your business as well.

💡Product Taxonomy at Crystallize

At the core of Crystallize, we have a flexible engine to customize the structure of your products with our concept shapes and components. That’s the first step. The rest is explained below with an example.

Product Taxonomy Best Practices

Before we dig into what we do, what are the best practices when it comes to product taxonomy?

Analyze User Behavior. Test and Refine

AI, heat maps, and A/B testing can help collect valuable data about your user behavior.

After all, you’re first and foremost working on your product taxonomy to improve their shopping experience. And having data about the usual funnel, browsing patterns, time spent on certain pages, etc., will help you optimize your product taxonomy. 

Of course, this won’t just happen once. You should gather and analyze data and then refine your organization accordingly on a regular basis.

Know Your Product Offering

In addition to knowing your users, you should know your product offering and how it helps serve the users’ needs. This will help you create categories and subcategories that may not be the most logical on a general level but work really well for you.

For example, a skincare brand could always include a category based on the type of someone’s skin instead of only categorizing it according to product type. Similarly, if you visit the fashion giant Burberry, you’ll see the trench coat as its category. It’s undoubtedly their most famous product, and a huge chunk of users are coming to their website who want it. So, why not make it as easy as possible for them to find it?

Check-in with Your Competitors

It never hurts to check out what your competitors are up to.

Not only could this be a great source of inspiration, but you’ll be able to gain additional insight into what type of product taxonomy your target customers are used to.

Don’t Overcomplicate the Structure

Don’t make your product taxonomy too complex. Remember, it’s all about making the user experience simple.

As a good rule of thumb, no one and the same category or attribute should appear twice for one product. Start with the general and then delve into the specifics.

Suppose dairy is your category for one supermarket aisle, for example. In that case, milk is one of the subcategories. The attributes could be the fat percentage or milk source, but not dairy again.

Don’t Forget About SEO

A good product taxonomy will not only help the searchability on your website but also on Google.

Before setting the category names in stone, do your keyword research and make the most of your data, both from your customers and from Google. If a keyword has potential, it doesn’t mean that your customers will understand what you mean.

Finally, don’t forget to pay attention to images, URLs, meta titles, and descriptions.

Product Taxonomy Example

Learn by example. right? So, we’ve mentioned shapes and components as concepts in Crystallize. To start at the product level, you can have a product with any number of product variants. 

Attributes on product variants are used to give semantic meaning to a specific version of the product. This is typically used for filtering and navigation. In its simplest form, you can use attributes to make it clear that you are referring to the pink standard version of the stand mixer like in the example below.

Attributes on product variants Crystallize example.

Depending on the size of your product catalog, you can organize your products in multiple levels of categories. In our case, Crystallize categories would be the primary storage of your products. The category + product name would usually represent your canonical URL in a web context. This hierarchy of categories would typically also be used as primary navigation in your webshop.

For example,

  • Products (Category)
    • Kitchen Appliances (Category)
      • Stand Mixers (Category)
        • Robot Stand Mixer (Product)

The categories in Crystallize are defined by a folder shape which means that you can also have different types of categories to give even further descriptive meaning and information in your catalog. Each shape can have a custom set of components or fields, making the structure unique. 

Let’s say you are selling cars. Then you might have categories that have specific category shapes for each level. A model series shape (category) would have unique components for describing, for example, the interior options for that model. This information is additionally enriching the taxonomy and can be used for even better findability of your products. 

For example

  • Mercedes-Benz (Folder shape: Make)
    • A Class (Folder shape: Model Series)
      • 2022 (Folder shape: Model)
        • A 220 4MATIC Sedan (Product shape: Trim)

This is where it get’s interesting.

Topic Maps for Multi-Dimensional Taxonomies

While hierarchical categories are used for the main location of a product you often want to have more ways to describe the taxonomy of your products. In Crystallize, we have the concept of topic maps. This allows you to add any number of unique topic dimensions.

If you are selling coffee, you might want to describe your products in terms of the individual taste profile, type of bean, and the origin of the beans. These topic maps are hierarchical, and you can describe a taste profile like Flavour / Fruity / Citrus / Lemon.

Topic maps could be used to show similar products, search filtering, secondary navigation, or simply just labeling a product. The image below shows an example of a topic map for coffee flavors.

Product taxonomies topic maps.

The Wrap

Product taxonomy explains the hierarchy and relationship between the different products you offer. It helps your customers understand what you are offering and helps them find the solution to their problems more easily.

It is that nudge in the right direction they need to keep them on your website satisfied and/or make them return for more.

BOOK a personalized 1-on-1 demo today, and we’ll show you how easy it is to set up conversion-driven product taxonomy within Crystallize.

Or, why not SIGN UP for FREE and start building.