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What exactly are Categories, Subcategories and Tags?
Categories are your main items or services in which people are supplying or buying on your marketplace.
When creating your categories for sellers to list their items or services, it’s important to understand that this is the first level of item description that sellers will see as options. Buyers can sort their search using these categories when searching for an item or service.
First, you need to establish what kind of items or services you will be allowing users to buy and sell on your marketplace. Starting out, you want to be as narrow as possible. This will help you grow your marketplace at a steady and secure level. We suggest starting out with roughly 5 categories when you first launch.
Creating Categories for Sellers
Your goal is to help your sellers (service or product) easily identify and assign an accurate category for their product or service. The best way to guide them is by:
- Offering categories that describe items or services as accurately as possible.
- Offering categories that are straightforward where the seller can easily choose the category that best suits what exactly their item or service is. For Example:
For a Product Marketplace does the item belong under:
- Clothing and Shoes?
For a Service Marketplace, is the service for:
- Home Improvement?
- Taking Lessons?
- Online Work?
How this works for buyers
When setting up categories for the seller side, your main goal is to guide them to choose the category that best describes what their item or service is. You also want to think about the buyer and shape their experience when setting up your categories. If you’re just starting out, odds are you won’t have a ton of items or services listed under each category. You may still be recruiting sellers or service providers. You wouldn’t want a potential buyer to select one of your categories and find that there aren’t any products or services available under that category. The buyer may think that your site is incomplete and might not want to come back. This is why it’s better to start out with 5 categories or less, so that your site looks fuller and more active.
How categories are organized
The categories are organized in a way that defines what the item or service is, as opposed to what it’s for, what it’s made of, or specifications of the service.
Product Marketplace Example:
Let’s take red suede Michael Kors Heels:
- We know the item is a heel, however its general label is clothing item, so it’s category would be Clothing & Shoes.
Service Marketplace Example:
Let’s take a daytime female babysitter certified in CPR that also likes to do outdoor activities with the children she babysits
- Even though the service she offers is babysitting, she only offers daytime babysitting services, so the category would be Daytime Babysitting.
*** We’re only talking about Categories for now and will further explain Subcategories and Tags later on in the article.
Below are some additional examples of how some well-known product marketplaces and websites have their categories set up:
Ex: Etsy’s Categories
Ex: Rooms To Go Categories
Ex: Poshmark a Marketplace for Women – Categories
Here are some examples of how some well-known service marketplaces and websites have their categories set up:
Ex: Angie’s List Categories
Ex: UpWork Categories
Ex: Home Depot’s Categories
How Subcategories are organized
At this point, you understand that the category defines the item or service at a high level. The subcategories are the second step in what we like to call “following the rabbit hole”. The subcategory’s purpose is to further define the category, so each subcategory will directly relate to a particular or multiple categories.
Product Marketplace Example:
Let’s take the red suede Michael Kors heels:
- The high level definition for the heels is Clothing & Shoes, so the subcategory should first, relate to Clothing & Shoes and second, further characterize the item. For this example, “Women” is a fitting subcategory because it relates to the category and provides a label that further classifies the red suede Michael Kors heels.
Service Marketplace Example
Let’s take the daytime female babysitter certified in CPR that also likes to do outdoor activities with the children she babysits.
- It’s understood that the category, Daytime Babysitting accurately defines the type of service she offers. The subcategory should first, be relatable to the category and second, prompt more detail about either the service or service provider. In this case, “Women” is a suitable subcategory because it can relate to the category and provides details about the service provider. Some parents may prefer women only babysitters, so it’s a good option to include as a subcategory.
Below are some additional examples of how some well-known product marketplaces and websites have their subcategories set up:
Category= Electronic > Subcategories=
Ex: Rooms To Go
Category= Dinning Room > Subcategories=
Category= Parts and Accessories > Subcategories=
Here are some additional examples of how some well-known service marketplaces and websites have their subcategories set up:
Category= Web, Mobile and Software Dev > Subcategory=
Ex: Home Depot
Category= Roofing and Gutters > Subcategory=
Category= Business > Subcategory=
How Tags are organized
The final step to “following the rabbit hole” is setting up tags. Just like the subcategory’s purpose is to further define and classify the category, the purpose of tags is to further describe the item in more detail. Tags directly relate to a particular or multiple subcategories, which relate to a specific or multiple categories. Buyers and sellers can select multiple tags when either listing their item or service or searching for an item or service. They’re the nitty gritty detailed descriptors of what the item or service is.
Product Marketplace Example
Going back to our original item, the red suede Michael Kors Heels:
- We understand that the category is the most broad level of defining the item, Clothing & Shoes, and the subcategory further classifies the item under Women. The tags should offer more details about the item such as what the item is made of, if it’s a designer brand, type of shoe, color etc. So, the tags “Heels” describe the type of shoe, “Suede” describes the material of the shoe and “Michael Kors” is the designer. Another tag you could add would be “red” to describe the color of the shoe. Now we have everything that could possibly describe the red suede Michael Kors heels. The seller is able to easily list this item on their marketplace and the buyer can easily search for it.
Service Marketplace Example
Back to the daytime female babysitter certified in CPR that also likes to do outdoor activities with the children she babysits
- We understand that the category is the most broad level of defining the service type, Daytime Babysitter, and the subcategory further classifies the service provider under Women. The tags should offer more details about the service provider or about the service they offer that may attract potential buyers such as any special certifications, activities included in the service, preferences, etc. The tags “CPR Certified” describes the baby sitter’s certification, “Outdoor activities” describes an activity the babysitter engages in while she babysits, and Toddlers is most likely the babysitter’s preference of child to babysit. The babysitter is able to easily list their service with ample detail on the marketplace and the parent looking for a babysitter can easily search for her.
Here are some additional examples of how some well-known product marketplaces and websites have their tags set up:
Ex: Rooms To Go
Category= Dining Room > Subcategories = Dining Tables > Tags=
Category= Parts and Accessories > Subcategories = Boat Parts > Tags=
Category= Electronics > Subcategories = TV and home theater > Tags=
Here are some additional examples of how some well-known service marketplaces and websites have their tags set up:
Category= Web, Mobile and Software Dev > Subcategories = Q&A > Tags=
Category= Business > Subcategories = Marketing > Tags=
Ex: Angie’s List
Category= House > Subcategories = Window > Tags=