Improving Customer Experience With Smart Category Pages

July 27, 2023
Team Objective

There are two kinds of consumers online at any moment: those who know exactly what they want, and everyone else.

For those who know what they want, providing an effective search service is critical to help them reach their goal whether it’s to learn, find, or buy. For everyone else, including those who have a high-level idea to those just browsing, there are strategies and tools to help them discover what they’re looking for and take action.

One of these tools is Category Pages* - in this article we’ll cover what they are, what makes them great, and how AI can automatically create them.

*If you’re already familiar with Category Pages and why they’re useful, skip ahead to Introducing Smart Category Pages.

Category Pages Help Consumers Move Forward and Act

Imagine walking into a grocery store with 15,000 items, all randomly placed throughout the store. The apples are next to aluminum foil, frozen waffles are between deli meats and soap, and the cereal is underneath the wine. Shopping would be a bewildering and time-consuming ordeal, so stores are organized into departments to help consumers shop and buy.

It’s the same in the online world. But here, it goes far beyond organization into something much more powerful. Here are a few examples.

A popular electronics store has a collection of deal categories on their homepage because they know customers often browse sales. Clicking headphones deals takes the user to a category page full of headphones on sale where they can see at a glance what’s available, compare prices and reviews, and a bunch of other information to help them make a decision.

Category pages help a customer discover the inventory regardless of where they are in the buying process. Whether the customer is just browsing sales or already knows they want a pair of headphones, giving them an easy handhold to drive them further into the site and keep them there with valuable information increases the odds of a sale.

A well-known tech business publication organizes its stories into category pages called topics which range from “economy” to “open-source” to “startups”. Each topic has its own URL which readers can bookmark and revisit to see what’s new. Readers can also follow a topic to get notified, and find other like-minded readers.

For the publication, category pages help their readers find topics they’re interested in, establish a loop that keeps readers coming back, and provide valuable information to the publication about what their readers want.

A creative marketplace has category pages to help consumers find art for their projects. They have literally thousands of category pages covering every concept from “basketball” to “anger” to “The Beatles”.

Aside from helping users find what they need, these category pages are also indexed by search engines. This means any time someone searches for “bake sale template” on Google, the bake sale category page from the marketplace shows up in search results, leading to traffic.

As you can see, category pages go beyond just organizing information. They also:

  • Inspire your users to explore.
  • Help you structure your site based on how your users like to navigate.
  • Make it easier for users to understand what you have.
  • Help you react to events and occasions to promote certain items.
  • Help you rank on search engines and drive traffic. We’ll explore this in a future blog post.

Creating Category Pages the Traditional Way

Every CMS and e-commerce platform has a way to create a category and populate it with items. At its most basic, creating a category entails naming it and then adding items to it manually (e.g. this is how WordPress does categories).

It’s also common to manually tag items, then when it’s time to create a category, specify which tags should be included in that category. Any items with those tags will be made part of the category page. This works, but it’s tedious and potentially error-prone.

For example, to create this feelings category page from a stock image site, you would need to think of all the tags relevant to the concept of “feelings” and include them in the category. In this example, relevant tags would include “emotion”, “therapy”, and “wellness” (the image tags are circled in blue).

An approach like this opens the chance for missing something. For example, the feelings category page doesn’t include any images tagged with “happiness”, so images like this are missed:

In addition, some images may strongly convey emotion but are missing tags and therefore don’t get included, like this example:

Relying on a system that’s 100% tag-based, and where you have to manually specify which tags to include in a category, is labor intensive and leads to missed opportunities and mistakes. But with the recent advances in AI, there’s a better way.

Introducing Smart Category Pages

We're piloting Smart Category Pages, an upcoming enhancement for our Multimodal Search and Discovery Platform.

The idea is simple: building category pages manually is tedious and time-consuming, so let AI do the work instead.

How does it work? You just create a Smart Category with a descriptive name, e.g. “camping gear”, and from there, our system automatically gathers the right items for your category page. That’s it!

You can choose to fetch the results from Objective ahead of time, or every time a user (or web crawler) requests to see the category page.

There’s no need to manually specify anything. This is possible because our platform includes two powerful capabilities:

  1. Semantic Understanding. Our platform understands the meaning of your item tags and whether they relate to the concept of “camping gear”. So if you have items tagged with words such as “tent” and “headlamp”, those items will be included.
  2. Multimodality. Our platform goes beyond tags and natively understands your content whether it’s articles or product images. For our “camping gear” example, this means that even if you have few or no tags, the system will recognize pictures of tents and portable stoves, and include them in the category page.

With Smart Category Pages, what used to take several steps is now handled by AI, with you overseeing the work. You save time, get the freedom to generate accurate and rich category pages that suit your marketing strategy and user behavior, and open new, creative ways to drive traffic.

You can react quickly to trends, create temporary categories for events over the year (e.g. valentine's day), and leverage different ways of ranking in order to promote the content – for instance leveraging popularity, recency, and other signals.

Interested in trying out Smart Category Pages? Learn more here.

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