Shopify's product taxonomy

A product category is the standard category of a product from the Shopify Product Taxonomy. You don't need to apply a product category, but it can help you to manage your products better within Shopify.

Shopify's standard categories are used to:

  • determine the rate at which the product is taxed. Your products might be subject to special rates or exemptions. When a product is categorized correctly, the most accurate tax rate will be collected at checkout.
  • manage your products better within Shopify, for example, as a condition for an automated collection or to help filter your product list.
  • make it easier to sell products in other channels that require a standardized product type, such as Facebook or Google.
  • unlock product attributes, referred to as category metafields, that map to each product category.

An example of a product category is Home & Garden > Linens & Bedding > Bedding > Bed Sheets.

Some standard product category have available category metafields with default entries. For example, if you add the product category Apparel & Accessories > Clothing > Shirts & Tops, then you can add category metafields for clothing size, neckline, sleeve length type, length type, age group, material, and color. Category metafields have default metaobject entries that you can either use as is or customize further. For example, if the color black isn't in line with your branding, then you can rename it to graphite. These category metafields can be used in your storefront for customers to find the products they need faster. When you use color entries as variant options, you can display variant options as swatches for color options on your storefront products pages.

Category metafields are in early access and only available for the following standard product categories:

  • Apparel and Accessories
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home & Garden
  • Food, Beverages & Tobacco
  • Sporting goods
  • Furniture

How are product category and product type different?

Each of your products can have only one product category and one product type. Neither are required to sell your products but both are useful for your store. Product category is a standard field from the Shopify Product Taxonomy and can help with your tax calculations and when you sell products on your sales channels, such as Facebook. The product type is a custom field that is unique to your products. You can use both product type and product category to help you organize your store.

Learn more about product types.

Considerations for using product category

When you set up apps and channels, such as Google, to sync with your products, product details that you entered into Shopify are imported. Submit high quality data for your products so that the apps and channels have the most accurate information.

Before you add a product category, review the following considerations:

  • Use only a predefined Shopify product category listed in the Shopify Product Taxonomy.
  • In a CSV, you can submit either the ID number or the path of the product category, but not both. Both the ID and the path can are available in the Shopify Product Taxonomy.
  • Use the product category that best describes your product. Choose the category based on your product’s main function. For example, if your product is an alarm clock that might have other functions, such as a light, then its main function is as an alarm clock. In this case, use the alarm clock category. In a CSV, use the format Home & Garden > Decor > Clocks > Alarm Clocks (or ID 3097).
  • Use the most specific category possible. For example, for an alarm clock, use the alarm clock category. In a CSV, use the format Home & Garden > Decor > Clocks > Alarm Clocks (or ID 3097). Don’t just use: Clocks (or ID: 3096).
  • If the taxonomy of product categories isn't available in your language, then use the English values or numeric ID.
  • If you already have a Google Product Category for your products and prefer to use this taxonomy, then Shopify maps the accurate product category to your products. Your Google Product Cateogory needs to match Google's values in English, or the ID number. Refer to the Google's Product Category taxonomy for acceptable categories and IDs.
  • If your customers checkout directly on Instagram or Facebook, then you must provide Google Product Categories for tax reasons even if you’re already providing a standard Shopify product category.

Add a product category

Until you assign a product category to each product, a suggestion for each product might display, which you can accept or reject. If the suggestion is inaccurate or if you want to browse product categories for a more accurate type, then you can search for the best product category.

Steps:

  1. From the Shopify admin, click Products.
  2. Click a product.
  3. In the Product organization section, do the following:
    • Enter your product’s category, and then select the most accurate result from the Product Category list.
    • Click through each level of the categories and subcategories to find your product category.
  4. Click Save.

Category metafields

Category metafields are product attributes that map to a specific product category. Category metafields help you add the right information to your products to make them more discoverable by visitors on your site, on marketplaces, and on search engines.

For example, if your product category is Home & Garden > Linens & Bedding > Bedding > Bed Sheets, then you can select entries for bedding size, color, items included, material, pattern, and thread count. Category metafields are powered by metaobject entries. You can use the default entries or edit them for your brand. For example, if you select black, then you can edit it to be graphite across all areas where that entry is connected.

Category metafields can also be used to create your product variants options and values. This means that you can edit the color black to be graphite and your variant values are updated anywhere that color is used. When you use color entries as variant options, you can display variant options as swatches for color options on your storefront products pages.

Category metafields are in early access and only available for the following standard product categories:

  • Apparel and Accessories
  • Health & Beauty
  • Home & Garden
  • Food, Beverages & Tobacco
  • Sporting goods
  • Furniture

Add category metafields

You can add category metafields when you assign a standard category to one of your products.

Steps:

  1. From the Shopify admin, click Products.
  2. Click a product or add a new one.
  3. In the Category section, do the following:
    • Enter your product’s category, and then select the most accurate result from the Product Category list.
    • Click through each level of the categories and subcategories to find your product category.
  4. Standard category metafields will display in the Category metafields section, if they're available. Click into the field next to the category metafield, and then click again to do any of the following:
    • Select a default entry from the dropdown list.
    • Click Add new entry to create a new metaobject entry for the category metafield. Fill in any of the predefined fields, and then adjust any base values, which connect your entry to Shopify's standardized list of values. Click Save.
    • Select a default entry, and then click the name and Edit to edit that entry. Edit or change any of the predefined fields, and then adjust any base values, which connect your entry to Shopify's standardized list of values. Click Save.
  5. Click Save.

Add a variant with category metafields

You can add variants by connecting a variant option to a category metafield. When variant options are connected to metafields, it makes data reusable across your store and content edits are much easier. For example, if you needed to change the name of your color black to graphite, you can edit the entry from the Content > Metaobjects page in your admin and the change will update everywhere.

Steps:

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Products.

  2. Click the product that you want to edit.

  3. In the Variants section, click + Add options like size or color.

  4. If a category metafield is available to connect to, then select it from the list. The option values are automatically filled with the entries from the category metafield. The category metafield is removed from the Category section and placed in the Variant section as an option with the same name as the category metafield and the Option values are the entries.

  5. Optional: If you want to add in custom option values, then click Edit, and then click Add new entry. Fill out the entry fields, and then click Save.

  6. Click Save to save the product.

Disconnect a category metafield from a variant

You can disconnect a category metafield from a variant.

Steps:

  1. From your Shopify admin, go to Products.

  2. Click the product that you want to edit.

  3. In the Variants section, click Edit next to the option that you want to disconnect from your category metafield.

  4. Click the category metafield name, and then click Disconnect. The option is removed from the Variants section and placed in the Category metafields section.

  5. Click Save to save the product.

Bulk edit product categories

You can edit your product's category in bulk, rather than one at a time.

Steps:

  1. From your Shopify admin, click Products.
  2. Select the products that you want to modify by doing one of the following:
    • To only edit specific products, check the check box next to each product.
    • To only edit the variants of just one product, select only that product.
    • To select all list items on a page, check the check box at the top of the product list.
    • To select all products on your store, check the check box at the top of the product list, and then click Select all 50+ items from your store.
  3. Click Bulk edit.
  4. If you don't have the Product category column in your view, then click Columns and then select Product category.
  5. In the Product category column for your products, do the following:
    • Accept or reject each automatically generated suggestion, if necessary.
    • Click the drop down for a list of product categories. Select the product category. You can click Browse all to expand the list or search for a category.
  6. Click Save.

Managing product categories using a CSV file

You can import product categories and types using a CSV product import. In addition, you can add and edit product categories and product types in the CSV file.

To verify that your product category values matches with Shopify's predefined list, you can refer to the Shopify Product Taxonomy.

If you already have a Google Product Category for your products and prefer to use this taxonomy, then Shopify maps the accurate product category to your products only if it matches a taxonomy value in English exactly or the Unique Identifier (UID) is provided.

You can do the following in your CSV file:

  • Refer to the accurate Google Product Category with the google_product_category field of your CSV update.
  • Enter a supported category from Google's product taxonomy.
  • Provide either the category path or the ID number, as you can with Shopify's product category.

You can download and view a sample product CSV file to use as a template.

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