When you click the category page for “Electronics” on Amazon, you’re shown Airpods, keyboards, monitors, external hard drives, gaming consoles, cameras, printer cartridges, smartphones, and all manner of other electronics.

Amazon could break down its many electronic products into dozens of categories and subcategories, but it doesn’t. Amazon shows you the full range of electronic products it offers. So while dividing the products in your category pages into sections of little subcategories seems like a good idea, it isn’t.

Your category pages aren’t where customers make purchasing decisions. It’s where they go to see the full breadth of what you have to offer. It’s the online equivalent of window shopping. And the best way to draw in window shoppers is by showing them as many products as possible.

If you owned a brick-and-mortar clothing store, you wouldn’t just display t-shirts in the window. That would give the impression that yours is only a t-shirt store. Instead, you would display one of everything. You’ll have t-shirts, shoes, pants, suits, belts, dresses, and skirts. This maximizes the chances that a passerby will be enticed by something and come in. You should apply the same mentality to your online store. The category pages are your shop windows.

The problem with sectioning

The problem with sectioning is that it’s limiting. Take Amazon’s “Electronics” category page for example. Amazon could break it down into sections like “Laptops,” “Phones,” “Printers,” “Hard drives,” “CCTV cameras” and the like.

But there is that there is only so much screen real estate. You can’t fit all those sections above the fold. You will have a hard enough time fitting two sections. If a user clicks on the “Electronics” category and “Laptops” is the first subcategory, he will have to scroll through a whole lot of laptops before seeing another section, say, “Cameras.”

Sectioning is limiting like that. A user who clicks on Amazon’s “Electronics” category looking for printer cartridges and only sees laptops might come away with the impression that laptops are the only kind of electronics Amazon sells. That isn’t true but the user would have to do a tremendous amount of scrolling just to come to a second section.

Luckily, Amazon solves this problem by having a laptop next to a phone, which is next to a hard drive, which is next to a printer. So, even if a user doesn’t see a printer cartridge on the first page, he’ll be reassured that Amazon stocks printer cartridges because he has seen so many kinds of electronic products.

Use filters for sectioning

A row of filters in the left margin can then be used to zero in on subcategories and sub-subcategories that a customer is interested in. This way, you get to showcase the full extent of your inventory. If the customer wants a specific product, he can use the nested filter to get to it. Or the search bar.