Not every visitor landing on your site is doing so with the intent of purchase. Every visitor has their own unique buying journey.
The eCommerce conversion funnel for your visitors usually starts from the homepage or the category page.
Your category page is one of the most important pages on your site—it gets a lot of traffic from search engines.
It ranks for more keywords and attracts more traffic to your store than other pages.
In fact, according to a 2018 Salesforce report, it was evident that 87% of visitors searched for products online, which was a 16% increase from the year before. And this is what builds a good case for a high-converting category page.
A well-optimized category page could help send more visitors to the product page, complete the conversion funnel, and lift your conversion rate.
In fact, a survey of over 30 top U.S eCommerce websites concluded that category pages drive 413 percent more estimated traffic than product pages.
And this is why here’s a guide that can answer some of the most commonly occurring questions around category pages.
Amongst other interesting sections, this guide will mainly focus on:
- 13 ideas to take your eCommerce category pages to the next level
- 8 indispensable elements to make your eCommerce category pages work better
- How to Turn Your Category Page into a Conversion Driver
- What Makes a Good eCommerce Category Page?
13 ideas to take your eCommerce category pages to the next level
Top eCommerce stores take their category pages more seriously—they ultimately impact conversions.
They also use these category page optimization ideas to boost their conversions:
1. Help shoppers compare products quickly
The average time a shopper spends on an eCommerce site is 50 seconds. You have to make it easy for customers to scan and compare products, prices, images, and customer reviews to make a purchase decision.
Here’re two tips you can use—
a) Provide options to switch to a grid/list layout
Offering customers the choice to switch to a grid and list layout lets users decide what’s best for them.
While a grid view is great for visual distinction where customers can view product images, the list view works great when customers have specific requirements.
BuiltAthletics provides options for site visitors to switch views.
The list view has plenty of space for textual elements such as product description, reviews, and title which help customers in making an informed decision. It is excellent for detailed scanning and works better when there's a lack of screen space.
Summing up, a list view works well when customers are serious about buying while a grid view works well while casually browsing. Allowing users to switch between the two is great UX leading to higher conversion rates, a common attribute in the best eCommerce category pages.
- Use a pop-up message to highlight grid/list layout switchability options
- Mention the product ID in the product title for easy product discovery
- Include the number of customer reviews for the product rating to increase the perceived benefit of the product
- Add price drop badges, fast-selling, and sale badges to trigger urgency to buy
- Add a timer to the product thumbnail on the product category page to reinforce limited-time offers
b) Provide a dedicated option to compare
Too much browsing and looking for information could kill the chances of conversions. Make it easier for customers to obtain information without having to move to different product pages.
American Tourister provides a dedicated option to compare 4 products on its category pages.
Allowing customers to compare products within the eCommerce category pages reduces cognitive load. According to Cognitive Load Theory, humans have a limited working memory and if exceeded, cognitive load occurs. Meaning that humans can only absorb little information.
Product descriptions can only do so much—the reason 46% of customers want eCommerce brands to provide product comparisons.
The click and compare option allows users to compare products based on parameters such as reviews, dimensions, weight, material, packing features, technology, warranty, etc.
- Include video testimonials for customers to use visual social proof as an aid to make purchase decisions
- Add interactive information icons next to technical terms
- Mention dimensions if the product category comes under hard goods
2. Help customers choose with "easy to select" categories and sub-categories
The cost of a bad UX is unrecoverable. 88% of customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.
To ensure your eCommerce category pages are easy to navigate, here’re three things to implement—
a) Add category thumbnails on your homepage
Category thumbnail for category pages makes it easier for customers to find products. Visuals transmit faster information than text or verbal. The human brain can process visual information in less than 1/10th of a second.
Terra Origin includes a category thumbnail on its homepage to guide users.
Customers are highly likely to click on them since it is included above the fold. It gives a sense of direction helping customers figure out the next action.
b) Include a vertical category sidebar
If your eCommerce website has top-tier categories, adding a vertical category sidebar makes more sense. It can accommodate a lot more categories allowing users to access more specific categories without having to go to the subcategory page.
Patagonia uses a vertical category sidebar on its website.
A vertical navigation menu makes it easy to scan, read and locate as the information is presented in a hierarchical structure. Users can select categories and subcategories easily. Studies have shown that visitors look at the left side of the screen 80% of the time which ensures cognitive ease—the fluency of the brain to process information.
Another benefit of vertical navigation is mobile responsiveness compared to horizontal navigation, a priority that just can’t be overlooked.
c) Mention sizing in the sub-category title
Parenting is hard, including finding the right size for your kid. 29% of American parents find it difficult to find the right size for their child due to the lack of consistency. The sizing difference from brand to brand is a cause for concern.
The North Face has found a fix to this problem by including sizing and age group in its category page menu.
This makes it easier for shoppers to find the product without infinite scrolling or browsing on the internet. Customers can make well-informed decisions without friction. This reduces the return rates contributing towards a positive customer experience.
- Include emojis for new and best sellers as visual cues
- Add images to sub-categories to ensure a better user experience
- Highlight sale or clearance in red to initiate urgency
3. Make product discovery easy with ‘quick shop’
To make exploring products easier for customers, a quick shop option on the product listing can help customers check out products without having to go to the individual product page.
This makes product discovery easy. Anthropologie has a quick shop option appearing on the hover of the product listing on its eCommerce product category pages.
The quick shop feature helps reduce friction which can hurt your conversion rates. Shoppers will be able to better understand if the product meets their needs narrowing their product selections to the best.
This invokes heuristics—mental shortcuts that help customers make decisions and solve problems. It guides users in decision-making helping them decide the next course of action.
- Provide basic details of the product in quick shop
- Mention the number count of people who have products in the cart to initiate urgency
4. Reach out to more potential customers with category page SEO best practices
eCommerce category pages offer terrific scope for ranking and shopping traffic. This is because the keywords visitors search for to reach category pages are priceless. Shoppers use it frequently to search for products they need. Hence adding them to your category pages can see a huge rise in traffic and sales.
There are several ways to optimize your category pages for search:
a) Use the right keywords
Add the primary keywords in the category title and in:
- Product headlines
- Image titles and alt description
- Category and product meta descriptions
- Product descriptions
Use the Google Keywords Planner or your Google Analytics search terms report to identify profitable keywords for the category pages.
b) Implement structured data markup
An SEJ experiment found implementing schema markup for one of their clients increased their clicks by 43% which boosted impression by close to a percent, and improved average ranking positions by 12 percent.
Schema markup of the product pages adds additional information to the organic search result, like prices, star rating, and availability.
The ‘stylish’ star rating adds aesthetics to the listing, making it easily noticeable. Check out how it helps Amazon stand out and dominates the organic competition.
Implement these 5 eCommerce schema markups to stay ahead in the SEO war:
- Product schema
- Rating and reviews schema
- Local business schema
- Price schema
- Product availability schema
Pro tip: Use Google Structured Data Markup Helper to quickly markup your category and product pages.
c) Set the canonical tag
It might surprise you to know that every page you create on your website has at least 10 duplicates.
For instance, these 5 different Amazon URLs will return the same content, creating a big duplicate issue that confuses the search engines on the correct URL to index.
Amazon resolves the issue by redirecting the URLs to https://www.amazon.com/ and setting the URL as canonical.
Canonical tags indicate to search engines the URL to index, providing a straightforward way to deal with URL variations’ duplicate content.
Pro tip: Set the canonical tags on the HTTPS URLs.
d) Build quality links
Building quality links to your website and listing it on popular business directories is the surest way to dominate the organic competition. And getting it wrong could jeopardize your entire SEO efforts.
Here are some ideas to build powerful links to your category pages
- Publish as much helpful content as possible, targeting shoppers at each buying stage.
- Distribute the content on social media and other channels.
- Consider using affiliates to promote your products. The referral links from the affiliate websites could be a good source of inbound links.
- Encourage shoppers to share category pages with their friends on social media.
5. Promote popular categories with featured banners and content blocks
Selling the benefit is the new age mantra for getting sales. Using a product badge on the particular product listing can help you sell the perceived benefit of the product.
Rumpl has a product badge on its category pages.
While traditionally, product badges are used to highlight discounts and price drops, this sells the benefit. For instance, it could be fire-resistant, water-resistant, or anti-fog.
The idea must be to sell the USP of the product on your product category pages.
- Include membership discounts on the product listings
- Include color swatches in your eCommerce category pages
- Mention the unique aspects of your product like sustainability and eco-friendly packaging through product badges
6. Make browsing easier for visitors with category specific filters
Product categories differ, and so do their attributes. Product filters help in reducing analysis paralysis, matching products to customer needs, and reducing the time to checkout. They match products to the search intent.
Customers browsing on eCommerce category pages look for features or attributes that are unique to the particular category.
Picture this, you’re shopping for clothes online, and category specific filters like fabric, occasion, and activity can help zero in on what they want.
And, yes they’re SPECIFIC only to that category.
Shockingly, 42% of eCommerce sites don’t have category-specific filters.
The Iconic uses category-specific filters for each product category.
Take a look at its supplement category filters. Aren’t they category specific?
- Highlight important product filters at the top
- Permit users to apply multiple filter values of the same type
- Add thematic filters to allow users to find products related to specific themes
7. Use sorting to show relevant products to visitors
Product sorting helps in product findability refining product searches based on a specific standard enabling users to view the products in a particular order.
Sorting ranks products based on user intent. For instance, price(high to low), price (low to high). Here’re other ways to improve your sorting better—
a) Customer Top Rated
A customer top rated sorting option helps shoppers understand the experiences based on the collective experiences of the earlier customers. It helps customers make decisions when they have little to no domain knowledge.
46% of US customers buy online because customer reviews make them feel confident.
This reduces risk aversion and encourages new customers to purchase. The average rating based on the sample size of the customer reviews certifies the credibility of the product.
It could be your trump card since 36% of eCommerce websites don’t offer customer rating sorting.
b) Recommended for you
Customers may not always know what they want. A ‘recommended for you’ sorting invokes authority, a persuasion principle where customers follow the advice of legitimate and credible experts.
It sorts products according to different criteria such as discounts, new colors, clearance, latest, and popular products. It’s a mixed bag offering the best recommendations. First-time customers will be open to trying new experiences as it induces personalization.
- Mention the sample size for customer ratings as a reference to build trust
- Encourage more customers to give reviews as users trust the number of ratings as opposed to a higher average
- Frame your sorting options differently. Instead of New Arrivals use What’s New for a better response
8. Show personalized product recommendations
Top eCommerce brands use behavioral data to provide personalized experiences to shoppers.
They leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to recommend products to shoppers based on their browsing history, helping tailor product discovery to their needs, leading to faster checkouts.
Category page product recommendations can lead to an additional 1.3% boost in revenue. You can use this space to display your best-selling products that your customers may have missed out on.
Amazon personalizes buyer’s shopping experience with custom product recommendations.
- Personalized product recommendation improves AOV by 11 percent.
- Amazon’s product recommendation drives 35 percent of its revenue.
- Andy & Evans increased engagement by 50 percent using product recommendations.
- Personalized product recommendations drive a 56 percent customer return rate.
- Set up product recommendation pop-up to reduce drop-off and drive more conversions.
- Use Shopify Product Recommendation API to implement product personalization on Shopify stores.
- Suggest products to customers on a WooCommerce store with the Recommendation Engine.
9. Simplify the shopper’s journey with smart breadcrumbs
Enable shoppers to take complete charge of their navigation experiences.
Using breadcrumbs can make navigation sweeter. Breadcrumb is a secondary navigation scheme that reveals users’ location on a website and shows their trails.
Shoppers often get lost while browsing products, and most times, they rely on the browser back button to retrace their path. You can make this easier for them by implementing breadcrumbs.
AliExpress uses this feature to make product navigation more seamless.
- Breadcrumb is a secondary navigation option; avoid using it as the primary navigation.
- Use arrows (>) to indicate the navigation trail.
- Implement breadcrumbs on categories with more than two subcategories.
- Display the breadcrumb as a horizontal stripe at the top of the page but below the primary navigation.
- Use links in the breadcrumb levels to reduce bounce rate. For instance, each level in this breadcrumb Shoes > Males > Children should have a link that leads to the appropriate pages.
- Use keywords in breadcrumbs to enable shoppers to navigate quickly based on their intent.
10. Make shopping smoother for mobile shoppers too
The goal of category pages is to ensure customers don’t lose track while purchasing. Since mobile devices are the most popular mode for shopping, customizing category pages for mobile is a must.
Usability and transparency are the most important factors to keep in mind here.
A lack of clear design for your category pages will make visitors abandon your cart.
- Allow shoppers to toggle between grid and list views to control how they see the products.
- Make it easier for them to select the number of products that display on a page.
- Use collapsible toggles to make product filters manageable.
- Make category layouts responsive on different mobile screen sizes.
- Avoid infinite scrolling; use pagination to make product selection less overwhelming.
11. Avoid decision paralysis with pagination
Just like in mobile optimization, also avoid implementing infinite scrolling on the desktop version. It could overwhelm shoppers and might lead them to abandon the page, or at worst, the website.
It’s especially difficult for visitors with physical disabilities to navigate with infinite scroll. Also, the pages may take a long time to load.
Use pagination to make product choices easily manageable to encourage faster checkout.
The 2 most common ways pagination is used is in the form of page numbers or load more option.
Here are some ways pagination can improve the category page experience for your customer:
- It helps avoid the paradox of choice—giving shoppers many options, rather than making them happy, could cause them stress and problematic decision-making.
- Infinite scrolling delays product decision-making, slowing the checkout rate. Pagination offers more control and helps customers edge towards confirmed decisions.
- Autoloading products makes it challenging for shoppers to access the footer content until all products load, and it could be frustrating if the category has an overwhelming number of products. With pagination, this problem is easily solved.
- Use both a load more button and a page number option. This will ensure you get the UX benefits from the load more button as well as let visitors head on to specific pages.
- Use a clear URL structure for all pages in the pagination sequence.
12. Build a strong purchase desire with image optimization
Images bring products to life and drive customers to make a purchase by giving them an informed and captivating experience.
87.6% of customers opine product imagery to be the crucial element of the shopping experience.
Product images give instant information about the product. It shows the product in context convincing users about its value. It helps reduce eCommerce rates as what you see is what you get.
Animations and GIFs are a great addition to your eCommerce category pages. They help in refining the message to its crucial and important aspects. Dynamic images like GIF have greater engagement levels compared to static images.
UnderArmour uses animated images in its category pages to show the utility of its products.
Using 360 degree images on your eCommerce category pages can increase your conversion rates by 30%.
- Limit your GIF size to 480x480 so it's visible to your customers
- Provide an option to view 360 degree of the product to strengthen the expectations of your customers
13. Provide all essential information to help visitors make informed decisions
88% of customers won’t return to a site after having a bad experience. So if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll simply leave.
Category pages are almost equivalent to the aisle in a brick-and-mortar store. If the experience is confusing, your customers will end their journey then and there.
Your customers come to your category pages to get more information. These are the crucial elements that you can’t miss out on.
Here’s the essential information to include in your category pages to boost customer conversions:
a) An attractive layout
The way you arrange information—links, texts, and images—impacts how your customers will interact with your products. In fact, 38% of customers leave because of unattractive page layout
b) Simple navigation bars
This is a super important element since it grounds the visitor and directs them to specific actions. Breadcrumbs are an essential navigation element to this end. On the category page, the navigation bar helps customers get an overview of the products.
c) Sorting and filtering options
Ditch the one-size-fits-all approach and dig deeper. Every customer has different needs. An intuitive sorting and filtering option can help customers reach out to the exact products that they need.
d) Catchy feature banners
If you want to catch your visitors’ eye with attractive promotions, top-selling products, or the latest arrivals, feature banners work best. A/B test the placements to get the best results.
e) Complete category information
You may have similar categories or ones that may seem to be overlapping. This can be confusing for the visitors. So a clear and specific category name is a must. Next comes a high-quality, contextual image that best describes the category. The descriptions should highlight the exact benefit customers can expect. The price ranges matter a lot for the customers so make sure you mention that and not keep it hidden.
f) Add compelling social proof
The push that’ll finally convince your customers to go ahead with your products is when they see others are using it too. Adding ratings, testimonials, and reviews is a great way to drive social proof.
Eastern Leaf successfully creates neat category pages for all their product ranges. Each category has banner blocks for sub-categories and also options to filter and sort products on the left.
- Draw the attention of customers to discounts with strikethrough prices and discount percentages
- Use eye-catching colors for important elements on your site such as SALE announcements
- Use ascending-descending ranking options based on price, popularity, and latest arrivals
8 indispensable elements to make your eCommerce category pages work better
What you’re about to read might sound simple, but the fact is they can easily be overlooked if you’re not actively thinking about UX. Here’s a quick list of elements that are super essential to your category pages - and how they’re experienced by visitors.
1. The right layout
It’s not unusual for some of us to think that all category pages essentially come in rows. The typical layout features an average of three items in a line and this stretches across hundreds (and sometimes, thousands of products).
However, this may not be relevant for all kinds of products. Let’s say the kind of products you sell have information that need to be assessed before a purchase. Columns work better for this kind of content to be featured on a category page.
Amazon, for example, displays its tech products in a column format. And the reasons are obvious - long product names, membership information, price, assured delivery date etc. However, what they also do is to create relief by displaying some recommended tech items in a row along with a reading resource that shoppers may find useful.
In an eCommerce storefront with very many products, no filtering option can pose a challenge for visitors. After all, they’re quickly trying to figure out if your store has what they are looking for - either an exact match or a close match. And this is why an advanced filtering system can mean a lot of time saved.
When considering filtering, remember there are certain locations that the average user will look to for filters. Usually, it either comes attached to the top nav bar or figures as part of left hand navigation.
Ikea clearly sees value in promoting filters right beneath the category page description - so that they’re immediately visible and require no scrolling to be discovered.
3. Product Recommendations
Category pages and product recommendations have one thing in common - they help shoppers discover and ideally, they should help at better discovery. And this is why if you’re able to suggest relevant products as part of your category pages, the higher are the chances that a shopper will be able to deepen their search.
Bed Bath & Beyond subtly takes the shopper’s attention to a range of products they recommend on their category pages. In our example, it’s a specific range of wine glasses in the category page for wine glasses.
4. Reviews & Ratings
Since shoppers are still at a discovery phase when they’re on category pages, social proof can come in handy. Social proof at this stage makes it more attractive for shoppers to want to deepen their search. The logic is simple - if other people have bought a product and found value, then it’s possible a specific shopper will find it too.
While a full-fledged review section isn’t the usual norm, businesses display star ratings as well as number of reviews alongside displayed products.
Vanity Planet, for example, clearly displays ratings for the products that have been rated by customers before. If products don’t show ratings, it only means they haven’t received ratings yet.
Every eCommerce business has one primary goal - to get shoppers to buy (and in the ideal scenario, to come back again and again to do the same). However, reality isn’t as ideal and shoppers won’t add to cart for a bunch of reasons including choice paralysis, lack of research, being unsure that they really need a product or a lack of funds.
Enter the wishlist option, which needn’t be just a product page resident.
When you introduce the wishlist option on a category page, you’re essentially conveying two crucial messages.
“You don’t have to go into product pages to save this for later.”
“You can wishlist quickly and spend the time in hand to browse through more products.”
See where we are coming from? This is a feature that shoppers will use hands down and will come back to review later (especially if you throw the right nudges their way).
Asos uses the heart symbol on their product images across category pages, to make wishlisting easier.
6. Product Variations
It might seem like it’s the right decision to display all similar product types separately across your category pages, but hey, there’s an even better way to do it. If a product belongs under a particular category and then is a sub-type itself, club all the variations under it.
Typically variants include color and size. Displaying both can be helpful for shoppers who are eager to take a “quick look” to see what they can expect to find if they go deeper into the product page(s).
Here’s a look at how Warby Parker showcases product variations on their category pages.
7. Browsing History
When a shopper is in discovery mode, they are more likely to be aware of where they are going. What can make a category page come alive is a section that also shows shoppers what they have browsed before.
Ready access to one’s own browsing history is a relief because a shopper does not have to work hard to remember the different products they have viewed. It also offers ready recall and an opportunity for a shopper to reconsider buying a product they’ve already browsed.
Allbirds, for example, introduces a “recently viewed” section to help shoppers stay on the top of their personal browsing history.
8. Related Categories
Like it’s important for related products to find a place in your category page product display, it’s the same with similar categories.
Displaying related categories has ONE DISTINCT ADVANTAGE - it makes navigation quicker and easier for the shopper, and for you at the backend, it becomes evident what pattern is emerging from their browsing behavior.
Dorothy Perkins, the women’s fashion brand, keeps all related sub-categories within handy reach for the shopper.
How to Turn Your Category Page into a Conversion Driver
Customers head over to the product detail page when they’re sure about what they want. But if they’re still browsing, heading over to the product page just to find out more about the products seems a bit of an extra step.
This is where the eCommerce category page comes in.
A well-structured category page will give your shoppers necessary guiding cues before they land up on the products they may eventually want.
When the visitors can view the products on the category page and get a glimpse of the info, it saves their extra effort to head over to the product page to see if it meets their needs or not.
You can use your category pages to drive various customer actions such as:
- Browse products and see all the product information in one place
- Compare products and prices from multiple categories and explore their options
- Navigate to product pages after exploring all products within a particular category
- Add multiple products to cart without having to open all the individual product pages
What Makes a Good eCommerce Category Page?
This is a question that you can easily find answers to if you remember what the larger goal of a category page is - to inspire shoppers to head over specific product pages, and beyond that, to add items to their cart.
There are a bunch of things that need to go right for a visitor to feel convinced to explore more. In the following video, we capture a few elements that will undeniably offer your existing category pages a much needed pull-up.
Are you optimizing your eCommerce category page for more conversions?
Your conversion goals should dictate how you’ll structure your category pages.
The type of category page you’ll use on your store depends on the type of store your run. If your store has products with multiple subcategories within a category, then an Amazon-style intermediary category page would work for you.
However, if you run a store with fairly straightforward product categories, then a product listing category might be the right option. For stores with sizable but not too many subcategories, a blended category page should work.
Here are 3 category page structures that work:
a) Product Listing Category Page
This structure lists all the products in one place, enabling shoppers to browse product selections and compare prices quickly.
Shoppers can easily filter and sort products to quickly match product searches to their intent. The purpose is to browse product selections, compare prices quickly, filter and sort product selection on the fly, and make a purchasing decision right on the category page.
Nordstrom’s eCommerce website uses the product listing category page.
b) Intermediary Category Page
This structure gives an overview of all the product category pages on the eCommerce store, enabling shoppers to navigate any specific category quickly.
eCommerce brands with extensive product offerings often use this category page type to help shoppers quickly dive into the right product category, enabling them to save time and check out faster.
eBay uses an intermediary category page to make product search more straightforward.
c) Blended Category Page
This is a hybrid of product listing and intermediary category pages that brings together the wins of product listing and intermediary category pages.
It lists the products in one place and also offers shoppers an overview of related categories or subcategories.
Shoppers can browse product selection, compare prices, narrow down products to their specific intent or quickly navigate another category without worrying about finding their way.
LuckyVitamins understands how to blend both worlds to make shoppers' product discovery experiences more meaningful.
Wrapping it up
Action the insights on this guide to level up with the successful eCommerce brands, and don’t forget to cater to your mobile shoppers—about 51 percent of your shoppers might be coming from mobile.
Don’t assume things; use A/B test ideas to implement changes your shoppers love. Run product discovery on competitors’ websites to learn their shiny secrets. Audit your website to gain quick, professional help.