There is a deep connection between millennials and online shopping in the modern world, a connection so deep that even necessities like groceries, food, clothes, etc., are being bought online. People expect the same kind of experience that they get when shopping at a physical store while shopping online, and it is up to the e-commerce businesses to deliver that to the customer. Consumers want to find the products they want easily and as quickly as possible, and product taxonomy helps achieve that. 

What is product taxonomy?

In very simple terms, product taxonomy refers to the categorization or organization of your products based on their type to facilitate the users while they search within your product catalog. It is a way of providing a structure to all the products that you sell on your e-commerce site. A good product taxonomy structure enables users to find the product they want with the minimum clicks possible. 

Let’s look at an example. 

Let’s say Elaine is hungry for some pancakes and she visits an online grocery store. She is particularly craving for blueberry pancakes. So, in a vast online store, how does she navigate and land on that exact product that she’s looking for?

pancake taxonomy

Well, she would first go to the online store and look at the navigation menu with the title “Foods” and under that, she’d look for “breakfast foods”. She would then identify “pancakes” with two sub-categories: “classic pancakes” and “flavored pancakes”. Under flavored pancakes, she’d end up finding her favorite “blueberry pancakes”.

Quite a journey right?

In e-commerce, there are 2 main elements associated with product taxonomy: categories and attributes. These two elements dictate the entirety of product taxonomy. 

Product categories are common products grouped under a single type, while attributes apply to products of each category. A category groups the product while an attribute describes a product. In our example. “breakfast foods” is a product category and “Blueberry pancakes” is an attribute.

Why is Product Taxonomy Important?

Product taxonomy is important for several reasons, particularly in the context of e-commerce and online retail. Here are key reasons why product taxonomy holds significance:

  • Enhanced user experience: An organized website is easier to navigate and helps in saving time and making quick decisions. It helps in easily locating products and elevates the browsing experience
target taxonomy
  • Improved searchability: When the e-commerce store is large with hundreds and thousands of products, product taxonomy helps in easier filtering of products so that it becomes easy to quickly search and find what they’re looking for

Look at this example from Nordstrom that shows various attributes for the category “Shoes”.

nordstrom taxonomy
  • Better product organization: Product taxonomy brings logic and meaning to product categorization and grouping. Here’s an example from Macy’s that shows the categories and sub-categories
  • Facilitates marketing strategies: Businesses can tailor their marketing messages to specific customer segments by bringing order and coherence through product taxonomy
  • Consistent information architecture: Product taxonomy creates a consistent information architecture across the website – this helps users understand the structure of the site, making it more intuitive to explore and locate products

Challenges With Product Taxonomy

  • When the product catalogs are voluminous, creating product taxonomy can be challenging, particularly in maintaining consistency
  • When new products and categories are introduced, adapting the taxonomy to accommodate these changes could be a challenge
  • Customers have different perspectives and may search for the same product using varied terms. Creating a taxonomy that fits in with diverse language preferences and regional differences could be difficult
  • ]As products are added, removed, or updated, maintaining the taxonomy requires ongoing effort

How Product Taxonomy Can Help Grow Your eCommerce Store

Every e-commerce retailer wants to ply their trade across channels and marketplaces. 

However one of the main challenges for brands that want to be present across marketplaces is adjusting to the different product categorization rules of various sales channels. For each channel, there are different product data rules and preset guidelines that need to be met. 

The categories for products might be different on Amazon, while you might sell the same product under a different category on your website. Finding a structure and maintaining product data consistency becomes a big challenge and results in loss of sales for e-commerce retailers. A PIM solution like PIMworks helps structure your product catalog data and enables your taxonomies to comply with various channels. 

Customers want to explore more categories and subcategories. By making them more structured, customers are more likely to find something they might buy.

A Forrester research report says that e-commerce sites sell 50% less when they have a poor product taxonomy structure. Only 53% of users proceed beyond one search, and even smaller audiences do two or more searches. A well-built taxonomy will allow your website to display related products. Rather than losing a customer for the unavailability of a product, you can suggest some alternatives that help with your conversion.

In addition to making your product data organized, a well-implemented product taxonomy has many business benefits. From enhancing the overall sales by influencing users’ purchasing decisions and improving the overall brand visibility, taxonomies help you gain insights to find more business opportunities. 

1. Better ranking in search engines with SEO 

E-commerce product taxonomy plays a very important role in the SEO of the website and your marketplace store. Good product taxonomies help your website rank better among competitors. Your consumers search for a product using specific keywords. If the product catalog has that keyword, it can directly showcase that product, and the customer’s life becomes easy. Or, if the keyword is not present, it can at least show related products.

2. Improved customer experience with structured data

Different retail platforms require different structures for displaying product data. A good product taxonomy brings in the necessary structure, improving the customer’s experience. Customers have limited shopping time. A clear product hierarchy helps the buyer choose their product quicker by reducing the number of steps needed to reach a product improving their buying experience. 

3. Reach more customers with a standard dataset 

One of the main business advantages of having a structured product taxonomy is that selling across multiple countries becomes much easier. Usually, when selling across countries, terminology and currencies differ, causing confusion among the users. Product taxonomy helps in providing a standard, a hierarchy of sorts that enables the users to get consistent information wherever they go.  

4. Driving more sales with clear navigation

Shoppers, especially online shoppers, tend to buy a product if the e-commerce site caters to their needs. In other words, if the site can help them with all the necessary information about buying a product, they buy the product. A well-structured product taxonomy helps the users navigate better through the websites enabling them to make informed buying decisions and convert casual shoppers into regular customers. 

Final thoughts

As tempting as it may seem to bring in more product taxonomy, even nectar if consumed more, can be poisonous. There are some best practices that businesses must follow regarding product taxonomies. Not going overboard on product categorization, ensuring the use of market standard terms for category names, separating categories and attributes, avoiding repetition or duplicate categories, etc., can go a long way in influencing customers’ purchasing decisions. 

Taxonomies may look like a simple logical concept, but it is quite hard to implement correctly. A PIM software like PIMworks, which has automated product taxonomy mapping capabilities, would surely come in handy when preparing taxonomies for your product. PIMworks reduces the time needed to take your product to market by bringing in automation. Also, you can ply your trade across platforms through the integration PIMworks provides. 

What are you waiting for? Make your product taxonomies better with PIMworks


What is product taxonomy?

Product taxonomy is a hierarchical classification system that organizes and categorizes products into logical groups and subgroups based on shared characteristics, features, and attributes. It facilitates efficient navigation and search on e-commerce platforms and websites.

Why is product taxonomy important for an online store?

Product taxonomy is crucial for enhancing user experience by providing a structured and organized way for customers to navigate through a diverse range of products. It improves searchability, supports marketing efforts, and contributes to efficient inventory management.

How should I create a product taxonomy for my business?

Creating a product taxonomy involves understanding your products, target audience, and industry trends. Start by defining high-level categories and progressively break them down into subcategories. Consider user feedback and iterate based on real-world interactions for continuous improvement.


Product Marketer for a career, Enjoying Life for a living. I believe that the universe gives things to people who truly deserve it. I love spinning stories about anything and everything. If I am not doing that, you can catch me with a Sudoku puzzle or playing, sorry, winning games against my brother

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