Setting up your products requires a lot of thought because not only do the products themselves need to look good, they also have to be set up in a logical hierarchy to allow your customers to intuitively find what they are looking for.

An appropriate product structure for products will be different for each business. The type and variety of products that you have for sale will greatly influence the best way to arrange them. Here are the simple steps you need to follow to work out how to arrange your product categories and filters create the best sales opportunities.


What do you sell? Create a list of all your available products and group them with similar products. Mind mapping can be a valuable tool to use, as can placing each product on a post-it to allow you to easily move them from place to place while you run through ideas.


Ask for a second opinion, or a third. Use a few different products as samples and ask customers, friends or family where they would try to look for them on your site.


Your categories form the basic structure for your product organisation. The main category that a product belongs to is called the parent category. Products can be grouped into closer association by using child categories, sometimes referred to as sub-categories. This is where people often get carried away. In an effort to make an individual product easier to find by navigating through category menus, they often forget that it actually makes it harder for customers to find other products along the way. Equally, customers who are browsing for ideas rather than searching for a specific product may never see what you have on offer if all your products are segregated from view from each other. Grouping into broad categories and then allowing for product filters creates a user-friendly sales approach, generating search results refined to exactly what your customer is looking for.


Product filters act largely as a good salesperson would. While some shoppers are happy to browse, many rely on the sales assistant’s product knowledge and go straight to them for help. Let’s use an example of someone looking for a new red t-shirt for their child’s school sports day.


In a shop, it’s a no-brainer. A customer would walk in, and if they don’t immediately see what they are looking for, they will ask. The sales assistant would likely be able to walk them to where they need to look, the customer may notice a couple of additional purchases they want to make on the way, the sales assistant might ask the size and find it for them, and would likely suggest that they have a pair of pants which have been popularly matched with this shirt. We’re sure we’re not the only people who have left a store with more than we intended to purchase based on products that the sales person has recommended.

When shopping online, it’s unlikely that the red sports shirt the customer is looking for would be directly on the first page. It is logical that they might go to the menu bar and select “Children’s Clothing” and then “Tops” from the dropdown to start their search. While this is clearly what they need, in offering “Tops” as a secondary category, you have already reduced your chances of an add-on sale as the customer hasn’t been exposed to the range of pants that you also have for sale.


In the Children’s tops section of your site, they are faced with the next conundrum. If you have your t-shirt varieties listed as a single product with options, the colours it is available in may not be pictured. Your customer now has to go into the product page of every single t-shirt to have a look at what colours it is available in. You just lost a sale.


If you set them up properly, filters know your product inside out and will be able to direct your customer to exactly what they are looking for, while offering similar products for consideration. The same shopping scenario with a different product set up will provide a much different shopping experience. Imagine now that your children’s t-shirts are set up solely in the category of Children’s Clothing but utilise filters to allow your customer to select the size, colour, fabric and price range of the product they are looking for. The customer now navigates to one page of product results and can see as they make selections to refine the search terms, a high value return of suitable products.


There is enormous value in allowing your custo