17 min read

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Shop categories

Creating product categories, like most things in PrestaShop, is easy and we will cover that soon. First we need to plan the ideal category structure, and this demands a little thought.

Planning your category structure

You should think really hard about the following questions: What is your business key – general scope or specific? Remember, if the usability is complex for you, it will be difficult to get future customers. So what will make the navigation simple and intuitive for your customers? What structure will support any plan you might have for expanding the range in the future? What do your competitors use? What could you do to make your structure better for your customers than anybody else’s? When you have worked it out, we will create the category structure and then we will create the content (images and descriptions) for your category pages.

First you need to consider what categories you want for your product range. Here are some examples:

If your business is geared to the general scope, then it could be something like:

  • Books
  • Electronics
  • Home and garden
  • Fashion, jewelry, and beauty

However, if your business is a closed market, for example electronics, then it could be something like:

  • Cameras and photography
  • Mobile and home phones
  • Sound and vision
  • Video games and consoles

You get the idea.

My examples don’t have categories, subcategories, or anything deeper just for the sake of it. There are no prizes for compartmentalizing. If you think a fairly fat structure is what your customer wants, then that is what you should do.

If you are thinking, “Hang on, I don’t have any categories let alone any subcategories,” don’t panic. If your research and common sense says you should only have a few categories without any subcategories, then stick to it. Simplicity is the most important thing. Pleasing your customer and making your shop intuitive for your customer will make you more money than obscure compartmentalizing of your products.

Creating your categories

Have your plan close at hand. Ideally, have it written down or, if it is very simple, have it clearly in your head. Enough of the theory, it is now time for action.

Time for action – how to create product categories

Make sure that you are logged into your PrestaShop back office. We will do this in two steps. First we will create your structure as per your plan, then in the next Time for action section, we will implement the category descriptions. Let’s get on with the structure of your categories:

  1. Click on Catalog and you will see the categories. Click on one.
  2. Now click on the green + symbol to add a new subcategory. PrestaShop defines even your top-level categories as subcategories because the home category is considered to be the the top-level category.

  3. Just type in the title of your first main category. Don’t worry about the other options. The descriptions are covered in a minute and the rest is to do with the search engines.

  4. You have created your first category.
  5. Now that you are back to the home category, you can click on the green button again to create your next main category. To do so, save as before and remember to check the Home radio button, when you are ready, to create your next main category.
  6. Repeat until all top-level categories are created. Have a quick look at your shop front to make sure you like what you see. Here is a screenshot from the PrestaShop demo store:

  7. Now for the subcategories. We will create one level at a time as earlier. So we will create all the subcategories before creating any categories within subcategories. In your home category, you will have a list of your main categories. Click on the first one in the list that requires a subcategory.
  8. Now click on the create subcategory + icon. Type the name of your subcategory, leaving the other options, and click on Save.
  9. Go back to the main category if you want to create another subcategory.
  10. Play around with clicking in and out of categories and subcategories until you get used to how PrestaShop works. It isn’t complicated, but it is easy to get lost and start creating stuff in the wrong place. If this happened to you, just click on the bin icon to delete your mistake. Then pay close attention to the category or subcategory you are in and carry on. You can edit the category order from the main catalog page by selecting the box of the category you want to move and then clicking an up or down arrow.
  11. Finish creating your full category structure. Play with the category and subcategory links on your shop front to see how they work and then move on.

What just happened?

Superb! Your category structure is done and you should be fairly familiar with navigating around your categories in your control panel.

Now we can add the category and subcategory descriptions. I left it empty until now because as you might have noticed, the category creation palaver can be a bit fiddly and it makes sense to keep it as straightforward as possible. Here are some tips for writing good category descriptions followed by a quick Time for action section for entering descriptions into the category itself.

Creating content for your categories and subcategories

I see so many shops online with really dull category descriptions. Category descriptions should obviously describe but they should also sell! Here are a few tips for writing some enticing descriptions:

  • Keep them short—two paragraphs at the most. People do not visit your website to read.
  • The detail should be in the products themselves. Similar to a USP, category descriptions should be a combination of fact and emotive description that focuses on the benefit to the customer.
  • Try and be as specific as you can about each category and subcategory so that each description is accurate and relevant in its own right. For example, don’t let the category steal all the glory from a subcategory.
  • It is very important for SEO.

Time for action – adding category descriptions

Be ready with the text for all your categories or you can, of course, type them as you go:

  1. Go to Catalog and then on the first categories’ Edit button.
  2. Enter your category description and click on Save.
  3. Click on the subcategories of your first category. Then enter and save a description for each (if any).
  4. Navigate to the second main category and enter a description. Repeat the same for each of the subcategories in turn.
  5. Reiterate the preceding steps for each category.

What just happened?

You now have a fully functioning category structure.

Now we can go on to look at adding some of your products.

Adding products

Click on the Catalog tab and then click on product. It is pretty similar to category.

In the Time for action section, I will cover what to enter in each box as a separate item. However, I will skip over a few items like meta tags because they are best dealt with on a site-wide basis separately.

The other important option is the product description. This deserves special treatment because it needs to be effective at selling your product.

With the categories, I specifically showed you how to create the structure before filling in the descriptions because I know others who have got into a muddle in the past. It is less likely, but still possible, to get into a bit of a muddle with the products as well. This is especially true if you have lots of them.

Perhaps you should be the judge of whether to fill in your catalog before adding descriptions or add descriptions as you go. So here is a handy guide to create great product descriptions. It will help you to decide whether you should fill product descriptions at the same time as the rest of the details, or whether you should just enter the product title and revisit them later to fill in the rest of the details.

Product descriptions that sell

Don’t fall into the trap of simply describing your products. It might be true that a potential customer does need to know the dry facts like sizes and other uninspiring information, but don’t put this information in the brief description or description boxes. PrestaShop provides a place for bare facts—the Features tab (there will be more on this soon).

The brief description and description boxes that will be described in more detail soon are there to sell to your customers —to increase their interest to a level that makes them “want” the product. It actually suggests they pop it in their cart and buy it.

The way you do this is with a very simple and age-old formula that actually works. And,of course, having whetted your appetite, it would be rude not to tell you about it. So here it goes.

Actually selling the product

Don’t just tell your customers about your product, sell them the product. Explain to them why they should buy it! Use the FAB technique—feature, advantage, benefit:

  • Tell the customer about a feature:
    • This teddy bear is made from a new fiber and wool mix
    • This laptop has the brand new i7 processor made by Intel
    • This guide was written by somebody who has survived cancer
  • And the advantage that feature gives them:
    • So it is really, really soft and fluffy!
    • i7 is the very first processor series with a DDR3 integrated memory controller!
    • So all the information and advice is real and practical
  • Then emphasize the real emotive benefit this gives them:
    • Which means your little boy or girl is going to feel safe, loved, and secure with this wonderful bear
    • Meaning that this laptop gives your applications, up to a 30 percent performance boost over every other processor series ever made
    • Giving you or your loved one the very best chance of beating with cancer and having more precious time they have with the people they love

Don’t just stop at one feature. Highlight the most important features. By most important features, of course I mean the features that lead to the best most emotive and personal benefits. Not too many though. If your product has loads of benefits, then try and pick just the best ones.

Three is perfect. Three really is a magic number. All the best things come in threes and scientific research actually proves that thoughts or ideas presented in threes influence human emotion the most. If you must have more than three features, summarize them in a quick bulleted list. Three is good:

  • Soft, strong, and very long
  • Peace, love, and understanding
  • Relieves pain, and clears your nose without drowsiness

Ask for the sale

When you have used the FAB technique, ask the customer to part with their money! Say something like, “Select the most suitable option for you and click on Add to cart” or “Remember that abc is the only xyz with benefit 1, benefit 2, and benefit 3.Order yours now!”

Create some images with GIMP

If you have a favorite photo editor then great. If you haven’t, then I suggest you use GIMP. It’s cool, easy, and free: www.gimp.org.

Time for action – how to add a product to PrestaShop

Let’s add some products:

  1. Click on catalog and then click on product.
  2. Click on the Add a new product link. You will see the following screenshots. Okay, I admit it. It does look a little bit daunting. But actually it is not that difficult. Much of it is optional, and even more we will revisit after further discussion. So don’t despair. There is a table of explanations for you after the screenshots.

  3. Field

    Explanation

    Name

    The short name/description of your product. There is a brief description and a full description box later, but perhaps a bit more than a short name should go here.

    For example, 50 cm golden teddy bear-extra fluffy version.

    Status

    Choose Enabled or Disabled. If your product is for sale as soon as you’re open, click Enabled. If your product is discontinued or needs to be removed from sale for any reason, click Disabled.

    Reference

    An optional unique reference for your product.

    For example, 50cmFT – xfluff.

    EAN13

    The European Article Number or barcode. If your product has one (and almost everything does), use it because some people use this for searching or identifying a product.

    Jan

    The Japanese Article Number or barcode. If your product has one (and almost everything does), use it because some people use this for searching or identifying a product.

    UPC

    The USA and Canadian Article Number or barcode. If your product has one (and almost everything does), use it because some people use this for searching or identifying a product.

    Visibility

    If you want to show the item on the catalog, only on the search or everywhere.

    Type

    You can chose if there is a physical product, pack, or a downloadable product.

    Options

    To make the product available/unavailable to order. To show or hide the price. To enable/disable the online message.

    Condition

    If the item is brand new, second hand, or refurbished.

    Short description

    Here you need to add a brief description about the item.

    This text will be shown on the catalog.

    Description

    When a customer clicks on the item, he will read this text.

    Tags

    Leave blank for now.

  4. Fill in your product page as described previously.
  5. Click on the Images tab at the top of the product page.

  6. Browse to the image you created earlier and upload it. Note that PrestaShop will compress the image for you. It is worth having a look at the final image and maybe varying the amount (if any) that you apply when creating your product images.
  7. Click on Save and then go and admire your product in your store front.
  8. Repeat until all your products are done, but don’t forget to check how things look from the customer’s point of view. Visit the category and product pages to check whether things are like the way you had expected them to be. If you have a huge range that is going to take you a long time, then consider just entering your key products. Proceed with this to get the money coming in and add the rest of your range in a bit over the course of time.

What just happened?

Now you have something to actually sell, let’s go and showcase some of your products. Here is how to make some of your products stand out from the crowd.

Highlighting products

Next is a list of the different ways to promote elements of your range. There is also an explanation of each option and how to do it, as well.

New products

So you have just found some great new products. How do you let your visitors know about it? You could put an announcement on your front page. But what if a potential customer doesn’t visit your front page or perhaps misses the announcement?

Welcome to the new products module.

Time for action – how to highlight your newest products

The following are the quick steps to enable and configure the highlighting of any new products you add. Once this is set up, it will happen automatically, now and in the future.

  1. Click on the Modules tab and scroll down to the New products block module.
  2. Click on Install.
  3. Scroll back down to the module you just installed and click on Configure.
  4. Choose a number of products to be showcased and click on Save.
  5. Don’t forget to have a look at your shop front to see how it works. Click around a few different pages and see how the highlighted product alternates.

What just happened?

Now you are done with new products and they will never go unnoticed.

Specials

Special refers to the price. This is the traditional special offer that customers know and love.

Time for action – creating a special offer

The following steps help us create special offers and make sure they will never go unnoticed:

  1. Click on the Catalog tab and navigate to the category or subcategory that contains the product you want to make available as a special offer.
  2. Click on the Products to go to its details page.
  3. Click on Prices and go to the Specific prices section.

  4. Click on Add a new specific price.
  5. You can enter an actual monetary amount in the first box or a percentage in the second box. Monetary amounts work well for individual discounts and percentages work well as part of a wider sale. But this is not a hard-and-fast rule. So choose what you think your customers might prefer. Click on Save.
  6. Now go and have a look at the category that the product is in and click on the product as well. You’ll notice the smart enticing manner that PrestaShop uses to highlight the offer. You can have as many or as few special offers as you like.
  7. But what if you wanted to really push a product offer or a wider sale? Yes, you guessed it, there’s a module.
  8. Click on the Modules tab and scroll down to Specials block and click on Install. Getting the hang of this? Thought so.
  9. Go and have a look at the effect on your store.

What just happened?

Your first sale is underway.

Recently viewed

What’s this then? When customers browse products, they forget what they have seen or how to find it again. By prominently displaying a module with their most recent viewings, they can comfortably click back and forth comparing until they have made a buying decision. Now you don’t need me to tell you how to set this up. Go to the module, switch it on, and you’re done.

Best sellers

This is just what it says. Not necessarily an offer or anything else is special about it. But if it sells, well there must be something worth talking about it. Install the best sellers module in the usual place to highlight these items.

Accessories

I love accessories. It’s all about add-on sales. Ever been to a shop to buy a single item and come out with several? Electrical retailers are brilliant at this. Go in for a PC and come out with a printer, scanner, camera, ink, paper, and the list goes on. Is it because their customers are stupid? Of course they are not! It is because they offer compelling or essential accessories that are relevant to the sale. By creating accessories, you will get a new tab at the bottom of each relevant product page along with PrestaShop making suggestions at key points of the sale.

All we have to do is tell PrestaShop what is an accessory to our various products and PrestaShop will do the rest.

Time for action – creating an accessory

Accessories are products. So any product can be an accessory of any other product. All you have to do is decide what is relevant to what. Just think about appropriate accessories for your products and read on. The quick guide for creating accessories are as follows:

  1. Click on the Catalog tab, then click on product. Find the product you think should have some accessories.
  2. Click on it to edit it by navigating to Associations on the page and find the Accessories section, as shown in the following screenshot:

  3. Find the product that you wish to be an accessory by typing the first letters of the product name and selecting it.
  4. Save your amended product. You can add as many accessories to each product as you like.
  5. Go and have a look at your product on your shop front and notice the Accessories tab.

What just happened?

You just learned how to accessorize. It’s silly not to accessorize, not because it costs you nothing, but because a few clicks could significantly increase your turnover.

Now we can go on to explore more product ideas.


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