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In this article, we will delve a bit deeper into product taxonomies and how they relate to product information management (PIM).

What is product taxonomy? 

Broadly speaking, we understand a ‘taxonomy’ (Greek for: ‘laws of ordering’) to be an authoritative, restricted list of terms, names, labels, or categories, where each term is for a single unambiguous concept (Encyclopedia of Knowledge Organization). Practically speaking, when it comes to your website, imagine for example a curious customer looking for the latest men’s swim shorts. You could imagine that he or she would go through the following categories:


Men’s clothing < Summer clothing < Swimwear


This is what we call a product taxonomy.  A taxonomy serves to support indexing, tagging, categorizing, and the metadata management of content, as well as facilitating the findability in both browsing and searching. They are also subjective to a hierarchical structure or groupings, as we can see in our example above, the customer first needs to click on ‘Men’s clothing and then work his or her way to the actual product.

Having a proper product taxonomy requires a good knowledge of your products, and having insight into how you can best present them in a logical way to your customers. The customer should intuitively end up with the product they came to find. It should work the same as being in a supermarket, and expecting to find the milk and yogurt in the dairy section, instead of near the spices.

Advantages of Taxonomy

A well-structured taxonomy is critical for organizations to manage their existing catalog or to grow into new domains. It can improve your search engine rankings, generate higher conversion rates, and eventually more sales.

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A proper PIM is able to connect the correct attributes to your taxonomies, so your coffee cups, for example, will not get the measurements of – say- your extension cords, and therefore present false information to potential buyers. Furthermore, product taxonomy is necessary for collecting the data on your products in a normalized and consistent fashion, by using a PIM. This enables you to monitor and evaluate your product data for redundancy, better methodize products according to the correct taxonomy and maintain a tight quality check on the final output. 

 For those of you who use Google Adsense, your miscategorized products may appear in search queries that are not relevant and thus you may see an increase in clicks but a decrease in conversions. Moreover, you may also have to increase your bidding in Shopping campaigns just to get your products to appear in “relevant” queries.

Finally, while this article has mainly focussed on the output side of things; from an input perspective, maintaining proper taxonomies/ classifications is crucial to linking up with your external content suppliers. A properly equipped PIM, which adheres to standards such as GS1 or ETIM, allows you to relatively easily buy product content and use it online. In doing so, the speed by which products can be displayed online – and therefore be bought- increases dramatically. 

By showcasing ‘Featured Categories’ you can attract the attention of customers to any actions you might have going on. 

Want to learn more about PIM?

If you have any questions regarding Product Information Management, from PIM Selection to Implementation or how a PIM would fit in your IT landscape? Feel free to browse our Knowledge Base of articles on everything PIM related.

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