Aisle psychology is not a new concept for supermarkets. Utilizing strategic product placement to manipulate consumer buying and influence sales had been used in grocery stores for years. In the case of chips and pop this strategy increased average sales of the two products by 9%, just by placing them together. But what if the same psychology could be applied in ecommerce? Similar to brick-and-mortar aisles, ecommerce category pages introduce an entire range of subcategories and products to your customers and can make a customer’s shopping experience seamless, if designed correctly. Page layout, navigation, product cards URL structure and SEO are all crucial influencers. Luckily, we’ve researched some of the most effective category page practices to ensure your online aisle psychology is fostering conversions.
In recent studies by Forrester Research, the company estimated that 50% of potential online sales were lost because users could not find the information or products they were looking for. To help rectify this and reduce cart abandonment there are many aspects to consider before choosing the most effective category page layout for your ecommerce store.
Typically, category pages are designed with a symmetrical grid format. However, in some cases categories may only feature a handful of products. If you are a merchant who is faced with this dilemma, you may want to avoid a side-by-side layout for your product cards to make your page look more complete. Instead, switch to a list format. Spinlife.com implemented this with a category page that only featured seven products and saw a 16.1% increase in sales. Additionally, switching to a list leaves a little extra space for longer descriptions on these pages, which is great for complex products that require more supporting text.
Alternatively, ecommerce sites that have a great deal of products on each category page, which do not require lengthily descriptions, may find a grid layout to be most effective for conversions. SmartWool reformatted their category pages to consist of symmetrical grid layouts and saw a 17.1% increase in revenue.
Just as too many aisles and lack of proper signage would deter a shopper from finding their perfect chip and pop combo, the same applies online. To ensure usability is seamless when navigating between category pages, proper menu functionality and filtration systems are essential.
Mega menus, if structured correctly, are advantageous in allowing both search engines and users to get to more pages with a single click. They also help to organize ecommerce stores that have many categories and sub categories (Lowe’s being a good example), allowing them to list more things on the menu, giving it a flat-side architecture. However, inefficient, unorganized mega menus can be worse than not having a proper menu at all. To avoid this, be cautious of how many categories you are adding to yours and do not duplicate links in categories, or subcategories. Remember, simplicity is key. Also keep in mind that the larger the menu, the more products are being covered on the page your customer is viewing. Consider displaying only your most popular categories and a “view all” option if you are concerned about blocking page content.
A second navigation element that contributes to effective category pages is the use of filtration systems, with an Ajax-based system being the most popular. This creates a streamlined process, which gives users the ability to check off attributes or parameters they are looking for in a product, refreshing the content portion of your category page without having to reload the page itself.
What would an effective category page be without products? These cards will be your chance to hook customers into clicking through to the product pages, or even better, checking out from the category page itself. Poorly performing, or overly cluttered product cards will not only confuse customers, but will distract them from making a purchase, increasing online shopping cart abandonment. To ensure your product cards are optimized, high-quality images are crucial. Other components that contribute to usability are effective titles, a quick description, price and add to cart, wish list and social share buttons.
To prevent an over-crowded page, quick-views are an effective alternative. Lush perfected their product cards by including high-quality images and a quick-view option for products on their category pages. The quick-views are equipped with an informative title, description, price and a buy button that adds the item to their cart and allows them to continue shopping on the category page. Alternatively, the customer can visit the product page for further information, reviews, product videos and wish list options.
Be sure to use search-friendly URLs for your category pages. Not only will this benefit your customers who may be browsing with multiple tabs open, but search engines will better understand what pages are associated with each URL. The most effective category page URL structures are:
- Category Page: website.com/category/
- Sub-category page: Website.com/category/sub-category/
- Product page: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name
Lastly, you want to ensure each category page is equipped with descriptive copy that provides readers (and crawlers) with a high-level overview of that page. A 300-word summary at the top of each page can make or break your ranking. Clarity Ventures proved this in a study where they added descriptions on 10 category pages just above the product listings, all of which ranked #2-5 for their main keyword and lacked any content. In one month, 7 of the 10 pages had jumped from being #2-5 to the #1 ranking for the chosen keywords. The team over at Lush provided us with another example of category pages done right, utilizing engaging and informative copy at the top of each category page.
Ultimately, you will never be able to perfect your category pages, however, we are confident you can come pretty close. Maintain the momentum of your customers’ shopping experience by using these pages to provide the information they need. By assessing which best practices work well with your ecommerce site and tracking click through rates, engagement, conversions and average revenue per visitor, you should be able to A/B test your way to finding the most effective online isle psychology for your ecommerce store.