How to Set Up a Successful Navigation Strategy for eCommerce

Perplexed about how to set up store navigation? In this article, we'll help get you started on how to set up a successful navigation strategy for e-commerce. Take a moment to find out what we've learned from many merchants over the years about store taxonomy and navigation best practices.

1. Think Mobile-first

With limited screenspace, comes great responsibility. There are several clever implementations of navigation for mobile including offset and top navigation schemes - both work well! We've moved in favor of top navigation for our templates. That's not to say we don't offer an offset style - in fact we do! However, it's not something every store merchant wants to maintain, and is a custom implementation.

2. The Fat Finger Problem

I don't know about you, but, I've got some pretty fat fingers. Mis-taps and frustration will ensue when you place tiny links too close together. Providing larger, image-based navigation links has proven successful for many merchants, especially when it comes to mobile shopping.

3. TMI (Too Much Information)

By now, we hope you know your business better that we do. If not, we can always dig into some data and see what your customers are looking for, and find out real fast what's most important to them. Putting the most important navigation items front-and-center creates visual 'hierarchy', using store data can help guide those navigation decisions. Overwhelming with too many links can end up being frustrating for shoppers.

Navigation Power User: Costume Kingdom

To see every possible navigation style under the sun - check out

Large, broad-level categorical visual links from the homepage.

Top navigation for root-level category access from anywhere in the store

Offset style for mobile (this is custom)

Thematic filtering on deep categories

Solution: The best navigation strategy relies on combo of search, contextual navigation, broad-level visual cues and thematic filtering.

Always make space for your search bar - especially on mobile and stores that sell specific parts by number. If your store is selling parts of any kind, search will be the first place many of your customers will go to begin their shopping experience.

Context is Important!

When a shopper lands directly on a category or product page, contextual visual cues and navigation are indespensible! Upload images to store categories, manufacturers or departments to easily create contextual links.

Use Visual Cues

Take photos - good ones! Use icons or large typographic elements if your products aren't visually distinguishable. You can use featured entities to set up image-based visual cues on the homepage.

Learn more
Thematic Filtering

Provide filtering where necessary! Setting up thematic filters takes time, but is well worth the time and effort. We offer guided navigation as an add-on to create thematic filters for e-commerce.

Demo add-on

A Friendly PSA About Your Homepage

Unless you have an extremely well-established brand name that random people are googling or typing directly in to the browser, the majority of shoppers coming to your homepage are return customers. Chances are, they're looking for easy access order/account information, if a seasonal sale is happening, location or hours of operation, or to start their shopping experience at a very broad level. Think of a large department store, when you first walk in, you're looking for broad groupings of segmented products, or aisles in the store. Same goes for your store navigation; make those broad groupings of product obvious, easy to see and navigate from multiple entry points. It's also important to keep this fact in mind:

On average, less than half of your store traffic will land on the homepage.

Traffic is segmented between 'transient' and 'return' customer traffic. What are transient shoppers? Transient shoppers are customers who come to your site via search query, or other external links. They most likely won't land on your homepage, but rather, an internal landing page such as a category or directly to a product page. Showing access points to root-level categories is quite possibly one of the most important aspects of your stores' user experience.

Featuring Categories, Brands or Departments on Your Homepage vs. Featured Products

A common misconception a lot of merchants have is to go wild featuring products on the homepage. For most merchants, you'll find that they don't get as much engagement over time as broader, categorical visual navigation will.

The only exception to this would be a site that sells highly unique (one-of-a-kind) items, a daily deal/flash sale site, or a site that sells less than 10 products. If your store doesn't fall into any of those categories, your customers probably aren't interested in random featured products on the homepage. They are however, interested in broad, root-level category groups and visual cues!

Visual Navigation Example: Blooming Bulb uses images for navigation, instead of a long list of links.

Not only do pictures say 1,000 words, they're a lot easier to tap with your finger on a mobile device.

Have more questions? Contact us! or Request a demo