The Importance of Subcategories on E-Commerce Websites

An website that is organised and functional always experiences more success. See how subcategories can streamline your store’s shopping experience.

An Introduction the Subcategory Feature of E-Commerce Stores

If you've ever encountered an online store with confusing navigation, then you already understand the importance of subcategories! Subcategories are an e-commerce store feature that often falls to the wayside as bigger store features are prioritised. Especially for smaller sites with fewer products, the need to embrace subcategories may feel unnecessary. This is an easy mistake to make, and stores may find it difficult to go back in later and implement the organisation they desire as they grow. Much like organising a filing cabinet full of files is quite a task, it’s easier to start organising now when you don’t have as many products in your store!

Why Subcategories Matter

Subcategories aren’t just an e-commerce store feature that adds a layer of categorising for nothing! Subcategories are beneficial to Shopify stores, both internally and externally. Here’s how.


First and foremost, subcategories are necessary for site organisation. They clean up a site by decreasing clutter, creating a hierarchy of products to be built upon in the future.

Help Those Browsing

Subcategories can be helpful for new site visitors just going through your products. Proper categorising guides them towards product groups that pique their interest, and streamlines that user experience.

Help Those Searching

For anyone seeking a specific product, subcategories offer simple and easy directions to groups of products that may fit their needs. This is notably helpful for customers that need a product for a given purpose, but don’t have opinions yet on what form that product may take.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Having product category pages, especially those with additional text and imagery with completed meta and alt data, can greatly improve how your site ranks amongst search engine queries. While the analytic differences may be subtle when stores are smaller, it’s easy to see how searching for “women’s pants” on Google could land you on an e-commerce site that sells much, much more than that, and simply has the organisation to facilitate traffic to that page best.

How to Best Subcategorise

If your site is in need of an organisational refresh, it's time to start categorising! The best way to get started is by changing your mindset. Think like a buyer — where and how would you want to find your products grouped?

How to Create Subcategories

Logic is your friend when it comes to creating subcategories, though some products offer challenging diversity that makes classification a tad harder. For instance, would you expect to find sweaters under “Tops,” or do they deserve their own category? In situations like these, keep the number of items across the store in mind. If you have only one or two sweaters, they may be best suited to stay under "Tops," but hundreds of products can warrant moving sweaters to their own section. There are no hard and fast numbers, but generally speaking, you don’t want the overall amount of categorisation to exceed 100 items within a single overarching category.

How to List Subcategories

Once your subcategories are created, it's time to list them. Hamburger navigation or drop-down toolbars are most common for displaying a list of navigational pages. Some Shopify stores will choose to list categories in terms of popularity, with the most frequented pages at the top of the list. Others find that putting things in alphabetical order makes the most sense.

How to Add Imagery

Nothing ruins a user experience faster than someone trying to find a product with no clear category. When something could logically fall into more than one product grouping, customers can quickly become frustrated by the search process. In order to circumnavigate this issue, help define the boundaries of your categories by providing images with them. Adding a compiled product image or a lifestyle image that demonstrates the category's purpose can go a long way in the eyes of a shopper.

What About Sub-Subcategories?

Sub-subcategories — sometimes written as sub-sub-categories or sub-sub categories — can be very valuable. An example of a sub-subcategory would be a retailer having sections that go: Women's → Bottoms → Jeans, Slacks, Skirts, and Sweatpants. Sub-subcategories feel obvious for things like clothing, but it's not always that easy.

Ultimately, sub-subcategories help better the customer experience when they’re not sure where to find things. For instance, say someone is searching for a pair of joggers, a loose set of soft sweats with a casual feel that can be worn indoors or, often, for running casual errands. Joggers can logically fall under a few categories, including Bottoms, Pajamas, Athleisure, and Leisurewear. By adding sub-subcategories, Joggers can have its own section, allowing customers to quickly navigate to their desired pants. Conversely, the existing sub-subcategories can steer customers away from the wrong categories. If “Jeans, Slacks, and Skirts” are the only sub-subcategories under “Bottoms," it's intuitive that joggers would be found in another category, such as Leisurewear. How Radiant Can Help As mentioned before, not all product categorising is simple. Shopify store owners can struggle to properly display products in a way that makes sense to consumers, especially when the store’s items are more niche. Radiant offers a variety of website build options with varying complexities, as well store set-up services and growth specialisation. Get in touch today through our website and see how we can improve your Shopify store, even through just the little things.