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Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Time to Admit It’s Broken

By Bryan Eisenberg
July 22nd, 2008

Every retailer I have spoken with in the last couple of months keeps telling me they feel they have problems with their category pages. If you feel the same way then you aren’t alone.

I can’t think of many retailers who feel that their category pages are awesome. However, retailers keep copying from each other in the hope that someone knows what they are doing here. Maybe it’s time to admit we need to rethink this issue from scratch and that most category pages are broken because they don’t do their fundamental job well.

The job of the category page is to help the visitor narrow down his selection so they can find the right product to fill their needs. This is something we have been researching with clients extensively and have come to the realization that sometimes you can’t patch up something that is completely broken; sometimes you need to re-invent it.

It’s a fairly simple process when you use Persuasion Architecture. If you want some help with your category pages in order to increase your sales, just let us know.

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Comments (11)

  1. Can you point out 3 companies you feel are doing them well Bryan?

  2. Jason,

    The answer is not really. Most are still too challenged to make a radical change. There are 3 general parts to category pages; gallery, narrow & refine, product (or sub-category) selection. I’ve seen brilliant executions on the elements, but not on the complete page.

    I am ready for someone to do the whole thing. It requires real strong planning and hard work though.

    Bryan

  3. I think this is another “it depends” situation. There is a significant cognitive difference between browsing, shopping, comparing choosing and buying. I don’t know that there is a single method that will work as well for a clothing site as for an electronic components reseller.

  4. A complete re-invention of the wheel? I’m intrigued :)

    Until then, I appreciate when e-tailers offer:
    “View All” links,
    Appropriate sort-by tools,
    Sub-categories that solve by problem (Sephora) or gift recipient/personality
    Showing colors available, available sizes and in-stock availability
    Quickview images, or product/color/image view switching with rollover (Eddie Bauer does this well)
    Showing product information pre-click (Rampage does this well with AJAX rollover previews)
    Showing top rated items at the top, with star rating visible

  5. Jim,

    Agreed that there are significant cognitive differences based on buying cycles and the product itself. But there is a single method to constructing a category page. Using Persuasion Architecture methodology we first focus on the customer’s need, then the profitable action we want them to take, and lastly we answer the question “How do we get them to take that action”. With our “3 question” method we are able to map a page that will deal with several buying types in several buying stages buying ANY product.

    As I think you were suggesting ,the PA category pages from site to site can be drastically different in terms of elements and layout, but were all constructed using a single customer focused method.

  6. It still amazes me that most online retailers react to what others do. They don’t test. They should focus on their market and see how they react to their copy and structure. And not simply focus on what the competition is doing.

  7. [...] Click to Compare By Melissa BurdonOctober 21st, 2009 A lot of companies agree that they have problems with their category pages. Coming into the Holiday Season, it’s incredibly important to think of those things that will [...]

  8. [...] lot of companies agree that they have problems with their category pages. Coming into the Holiday Season, it’s incredibly important to think of those things that will [...]

  9. [...] 27, 2009 by in Marketing Optimization – Leave a comment! A lot of companies agree that they have problems with their category pages. Coming into the Holiday Season, it’s incredibly important to think of those things that will [...]

  10. In some case category plays a major role and ofcourse that right category may add up its image and ofcourse increase traffic of the site

  11. don’t know that there is a single method that will work as well for a clothing site as for an electronic components reseller.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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