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How Do I Set Up a Catalog in Magento 2?

By using the catalog menu in the Magento 2 CMS, users can access an entire slate of tools for product creation, category, and inventory management tools. Once products are added, users can begin crafting category hierarchies —typically a major category and a subcategory— with the use of attributes and tags for further detail.

Catalog Structure on Magento 2

Catalog Structure

An online retail environment applies taxonomy —the process of naming and classifying— to create relationships between the products themselves, and between products and customers. Products are classified into categories, which define the catalog's overarching hierarchy and navigation.

Product attributes drill down further into shared characteristics within the original category, i.e. filtering by color, brand or price, etc. Customers spend less time looking for what they want, which can lead to a higher conversion rate and positive customer experience, particularly when combined with an optimized checkout process.

The display of relevant, related products for customer consideration is configured and automated, based on variables established within the system. The display of accessories or “customers also bought” options can increase the average order value (AOV) per customer and be used strategically to promote less-popular products.

The more flexibility there is for product placement and product page design, the easier the customization of the system. This is particularly important for companies managing multiple online stores with different demographics and inventories.

Before loading products into the system, it's essential that companies define the product requirements in terms of taxonomy and how they engage within the system.

Some of what is discussed in this blog will directly impact the user interface, but much of what is discussed relates to how Magento's backend can structure and manage the product catalog design.

Category Trees

Category Tree

It's suggested to keep the initial structure to a major category and a subcategory, remembering Magento 2 allows the use of attributes and tags to further define the details. An example might be:

Major Category: Women

Subcategories:

  • Dresses
  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Shoes
  • Purses
  • Accessories

Attributes:

  • Color
  • Brand
  • Size
  • Price

This is a simple example that would be replicated with different categories and subcategories until all products have been classified. The category tree can be viewed visually, with a drag-and-drop interface.

The complexity of your inventory may require a different approach. Some online stores define categories for a larger product range, such as Electronics, Garden, Automotive, or Clothing. The definition of subcategories and attributes will customize the structure.

Customizable URLs

Customizable URLs

It should be noted that product categories and subcategories can be used in the URL of the product page. Using the example above //www.companystore.com/women/pants/workout-leggings-yoga-pants. Magento also allows users to hide the pathway: //workout-leggings-yoga-pants.

The relationship between the category, product names, and search optimization inside and outside the system should be a factor in designing the taxonomy.

Magento allows system admins to control some parts of the URL structures and the words used in the URL for categories, products, and content pages as well as create static URLs. Magento has a system that generates dynamic URLs which look like static URLs. With extensions users are offered fine-tuned control to generate URLs that best support your SEO strategy.

Attributes

Attributes

Attributes are used to define related products, visual product labels, product documentation, and much more, to better populate search results. Simply put, an attribute is how a site allows customers to quickly filter the product catalog to suit their purchasing preferences:

Attributes:

  • Color
  • Brand
  • Size
  • Price

There are default attributes in the system to set up custom attributes. Magento makes it easy to change attributes, then apply the change to multiple products.

Using a sale on seasonal merchandise as an example, navigate to the product page from your dashboard. Find the relevant products and click the check box to include them in a bulk action from the dropdown. Choose Update Attributes which takes users to a list of available attributes.

Magento 2 even allows users to set promotional pricing within a specific time frame. The changes are applied in bulk to all the products checked.

Attribute Sets

Attribute Sets

In Magento, attributes can also be applied as a set, composed of a specific group of attributes. These sets are applied like a template, so catalog managers can quickly add them to SKUs.

Creating attribute sets in Magento is a simple process. Add or delete attributes using a drag-and-drop interface. Once your set is finalized, users can apply it to a category or subcategory of products or a specific product type. Magento 2 also allows users to manually apply it to a subset of products.

Product Types

Product Types

Magento includes six product types that incorporate products that require shipping and digital products for download.

PRODUCT TYPE DESCRIPTION FUNCTION
Simple Product with a single SKU that covers all variations Baseline product. Track sales by single SKU
Configurable Product with multiple variations with their own assigned SKUs Visibility into variations. Track sales by variable SKUs
Virtual Digital product used for purchases of services, subscriptions, warranties Intangible Products. Track sales by individual SKUs
Downloadable Digital product for downloading files or content Electronic fulfillment. Track sales by individual SKU
Grouped Related products clustered by the store to be purchased singly or as a group Business Strategy. Track sales group and individual SKUs
Bundle Customers bundle simple and virtual products into a single purchase Customer controlled. Track sales by setting dynamic or static SKUs

While the virtual and downloadable product types are self-explanatory, it should be noted that Simple and Configurable product types can be included in a Grouped product sale. Simple and Virtual Product types are combined to create Bundle products.

Whatever you need to sell online, Magento has the built-in functionality to deliver any type of product your business sells, including tangible and digital purchases.

Adding Products

Adding Products

Products can be added to the system manually but the initial inventory is typically added by importing a CSV file, using the Data Migration Tool from another site, or syncing with an integration. Magento's flexibility allows for variations in field structure, so category fields can be included in the import or added later using a mass action to populate the field.

Importing and exporting data is done with a simple click. Data sharing is an option if the platform is integrated with existing business systems. Magento's product page menu is well-designed and easy to use. Add or remove products from the catalog, add or disable product variations and assign attributes.