One of the benefits of WooCommerce is it grows with your store, or your clients’ stores—you could start with one product and work your way up to thousands without needing to change platforms. However, even though WooCommerce can handle a massive product catalog, having that many items for sale can come with many other challenges.

For one, you could lose out on sales as customers struggle to find what they’re looking for. Not only that, but too many options can lead to choice paralysis and many customers (maybe even more than half) leaving your store empty handed. On top of that, there are also the issues on the store management front, with tasks like adding product listings, bulk editing products, and tracking orders.

Some retailers, such as Tesco, have gone as far as reducing their SKUs by 30 percent to deal with problems related to having a large product catalog. While that’s certainly one way to overcome this issue, dramatically reducing your selection certainly isn’t the only option.

The good news is there are some great extensions available for WooCommerce that make it much easier to manage stores with large product catalogs. Whether you’re coming at this issue from a store management perspective or a customer experience angle, there are solutions to extend WooCommerce to handle huge product ranges more effectively.

In this article, we’ll cover a selection of WooCommerce extensions that can help you manage your eCommerce store and its large product catalog more effectively.

Break up your catalog with nested categories

By default, WooCommerce displays products on the shop page without any categorization. If you have a large catalog this can be overwhelming for your customers both in terms of finding what they’re looking for and because of choice overload.

One way to display your products that’s easier for your customers to digest is to use the Nested Category Layout extension ($79/year at WooCommerce.com).

Rather than simply displaying an uninterrupted list of products, this add-on groups products by category and subcategory. The name of the category is displayed on the product page as a header, helping to break up the stream of products.

A Nested Category Layout example.

The category names are also links, so if a shopper sees a category or subcategory that’s of interest to them, they can click through to browse similar products.

You can choose which pages will use the nested category layout, and how many products will be displayed from each category when configuring the extension.

Developers can customize the output of the extension further, like controlling how the category and subcategory names are displayed with the following code:

<?php
add_filter( 'wc_nested_category_layout_category_title_html', 'wc_nested_category_layout_category_title_html', 10, 3 );
function wc_nested_category_layout_category_title_html( $title, $categories, $term ) {
 
          	$category = $categories[ count( $categories ) – 1 ];
          	$url = esc_attr( get_term_link( $category ) );
          	$link = '<a href="' . $url . '">' . wptexturize( $category->name ) . '</a>';
 
          	return sprintf( '<h2 class="wc-nested-category-layout-category-title">%s</h2>', $link );
}

The Nested Category Layout documentation has more information on exactly how this extension works and how it can help you display products from a store with a large category in a more customer-friendly way.

Organize products by brands with a custom taxonomy

Another way to organize a huge catalog for customers is to group your products by brand. A quick way to do this is to install the Brands extension ($29/year at WooCommerce.com). Once activated, a new product taxonomy called brands is created, which works in a similar way to categories and tags. Now you can start creating brands for your shop, and then assign products to those brands.

WooCommerce Brands management screen.

Once you’ve created a brand, you can use one of the extension shortcodes to display a list of your brands on a page at your shop.

An example of the WooCommerce Brands display.

You can also use the shortcodes to display products from one or more brands. There’s also a shortcode for inserting a link that takes customers to a page where all products assigned to a specific brand can be viewed.

A page with all brands displayed.

Another nice feature of this extension is that you can use it to display the brand image on your individual product pages. Shoppers can then click on the image to view all of the products that have been assigned to that brand.

Brands displayed on a product listing.

If you want to enable the brand image on an individual product basis, you can simply use the appropriate shortcode. Otherwise, you can add this code snippet to your functions.php file to display the brand image on every product page:

add_action( 'woocommerce_single_product_summary', 'wc_ninja_add_brand_to_product_page', 19 );
function wc_ninja_add_brand_to_product_page() {
          	echo do_shortcode('[product_brand width="64px" height="64px" class="alignright"]');
}

Creating brands with this extension gives you another way to organize your products into subgroups that can make it easier for your customers to browse your inventory.

If the idea of editing your existing products individually to assign them a brand sounds like too big of a job to tackle, later in this article we’ll cover product editing via CSV, which will enable you to speed up this process considerably.

Let your customers compare products side-by-side

A product comparison tool allows your customers to select products to view side-by-side to help make their buying decision. With the Products Compare extension ($49/year at WooCommerce.com), your customers can select a few products to compare side-by-side to sort out which product has the feature set they’re looking for before adding it to their cart.

The Products Compare button appears under products.

The extension displays a compare button under each product, so all a customer has to do is select the products they want to compare, then click the Compare icon. Those items are displayed in a comparison table, where their key features are presented in an easy-to-read format.

The Products Compare table.

This extension also has a smart widget that can display recently viewed products in the sidebar (or other widget-friendly parts of your site). Customers can click a button on that widget to quickly compare the last few products they’ve looked at.

Products Compare sidebar.

There are no settings to configure with Products Compare. However, developers can use its hooks to edit the output, including changing how many products can be compared at a time and what’s displayed on the comparison page.

Comparison tables can definitely help reduce choice overload, but have a secondary benefit as well: you may also find this feature increases average order values by introducing your customers to similar but higher-priced products that better meet their needs.

Add and edit products in bulk

The Product CSV Import Suite extension ($49/year at WooCommerce.com) was created to help you to add, edit, and export large numbers of products at scale.

WooCommerce has its own built-in product import functionality, so if you’re working with simple products, you probably won’t need this extension.

An example of a CSV of products to import.

However, if your eCommerce store has more complex products or you’re managing custom data from other extensions, such as WooCommerce Bookings, Google Product Feed, Product Vendors, and WooCommerce Brands (mentioned earlier), then you would benefit from the Product CSV Import Suite.

This extension removes the need to manually change the details of products through the WooCommerce dashboard. If product prices, descriptions, taxonomies, or almost anything else needs updating, you can quickly export your product catalog in CSV format, make the necessary changes in a supported spreadsheet application, such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, and then import the data.

Product export example.

Also, if you’ve experienced issues when trying to export your large product catalog, this extension can help. With Product CSV Import Suite, you have the ability to limit the number of products exported at a time, and the option of skipping the first X rows of products. That will help you avoid timeouts and other problems that can occur when exporting a large catalog.

Keep your orders organized even at a high volume

When you have a high-volume store receiving lots of orders, you may find the order numbers automatically assigned by WooCommerce aren’t sufficient for keeping things organized. You may also work with dropshipping or fulfillment partners who have specific requirements about your order number formats.

So if you’re having a hard time keeping track of orders or you work with partners who require customized order numbers, the Sequential Order Numbers Pro extension ($49/year at WooCommerce.com) is a flexible solution for your store. You can choose which number the sequence starts from, set an order number length, and define a custom prefix and/or suffix, all from the dashboard settings. Even if you have existing orders, this extension will still integrate seamlessly into your store.

Sequential Order Numbers Pro settings.

The prefix and suffix feature is particularly useful as you can use it to add the time and date the order was placed to the order number. Now you have another way to identify when an order was created at your store, something that could help with tracking down orders and analyzing your data.

For stores that receive a lot of orders, the extension also has a “performance mode”. Once activated, this mode should reduce any issues with generating sequential numbers that might occur when processing multiple orders a second.

The filter for enabling the performance mode is as follows: add_filter( 'wc_sequential_order_numbers_performance_mode', '__return_true' );

Take control of merchandizing your catalog

If you’re worried about certain products getting lost in your large catalog, a WooCommerce extension like Product Merchandizing ($49/year at WooCommerce.com) gives you a way to easily control where different products are displayed around your store.

The drag-and-drop interface lets you quickly choose the order for your products on various pages. If you have bestsellers you don’t want your customers to miss, or products you think go well together, this extension could help you increase sales and promote cross-sells by making those items more visible.

Product Merchandizing drag and drop.

This extension also works with WooCommerce Brands, so you can use it to control the order of products on your brand archive pages.

Key takeaways

As we’ve seen, large product catalogs can cause issues, potentially overwhelming your customers with too many choices, making it tough for them to find what they’re looking for, and increasing the difficulty on your end from a store management perspective.

However, there are steps you can take to combat these problems and run a successful WooCommerce store with a large product catalog, including:

  • Break up your product pages. Use nested categories and subcategories at your store to break up your product pages into more manageable sections.
  • Create custom taxonomies. Use a custom taxonomy to organize your products by brand to make items easier to find.
  • Make product comparison easy. Adding a product comparison tool to your store makes it quick and easy for customers to compare items and find the right one.
  • Quickly add and update products. Using CSV files to mass edit your products gives you a quick and easy way to add and update large numbers of products.
  • Make order numbers more meaningful. If your large product catalog generates lots of orders then taking control of the numbers assigned to those orders can help you with tracking and data analysis.
  • Display your products in the right way. Making sure you’re able to display your products in the optimal order and position is vital for stores with large catalogs where items can easily get lost.

The following extensions mentioned in this post are included at no additional charge in the GoDaddy Managed WordPress eCommerce hosting package:

  • Nested Category Layout
  • WooCommerce Brands
  • WooCommerce Products Compare
  • Product CSV Import Suite
  • Sequential Order Numbers Pro

Click here to learn more about GoDaddy’s WooCommerce hosting options.

Published by Joe Fylan

Joe is a freelance writer who has been using WordPress for years and enjoys sharing what he’s learned about building websites, choosing plugins, and customizing themes with other WordPress users. When not working, Joe enjoys traveling, hiking, and listening to podcasts.

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