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Rethinking the Category Page

Taking a new approach to presenting product groups

Every manufacturer or retailer with a deep catalog faces the same challenge when presenting their products online: how do you help customers identify the products that best fit their needs from among many, many similar options.

Like most manufacturers, Nikon USA relied on a grid-based layout to display its wonderful products in a robotically humdrum way—page after page of smallish 3/4 front views with filtering and sorting tools. For two years, we worked to improve those pages—the style and location of the filter and sort controls, the size of the products, the number of products per page and on and on—all changes that made the page look great but barely moved the conversion needle.

But then one day at a meeting with Nikon, a product manager walked in with a box of about 20 cameras. She set them up in groups of four or five, and started explaining what each group offered—these cameras have advanced performance, those have massive zoom capabilities, these have larger displays and controls, etc. The cameras looked beautiful sitting there on the table in front of us, and instead of trying to make sense of 20 individual product stories, we were comfortably comprehending just five shared stories. It was your classic a-ha moment.

As soon as we got back to our office, we started recreating that tabletop experience. We first wrote the stories of each group—the positioning statements, key features and benefits. Then we developed layouts that told those compelling stories visually through end-result photos and videos, close-ups of shared features and, of course, tabletop-style arrangements of the products within the group.

Nikon’s COOLPIX cameras line was the first product category to adopt the new solution, and in the first month of its life, the page produced a staggering 22% increase in purchase intent and a 14% increase in actual conversion. We were floored. Armed with these ridiculous metrics, we quickly applied the solution to Nikon’s other flagship categories, Nikon 1 and D-SLR cameras, where we’ve also seen increases in purchase intent and conversion.

The effort has been a reminder of two things: 1) a beautiful, highly refined humdrum page is still a humdrum page, and 2) it’s never too late to rethink a “classic” approach.

Check out the Nikon D-SLR version
Check out the Nikon 1 version
Check out the Nikon COOLPIX version