When users visit a website they want to be able to easily find the product they want, so you need to think about how they might want to find your products so you can organise them correctly (called product taxonomy).
Traditional Product/Category Layout
Ecommerce sites typically contain hundreds or thousands of products, traditionally stored in categories and sub-categories. Visitors to the website can then drill down through the categories to find the groups of products they are interested in. This is a standard product/category function which REC supports.
On Site Search
This is a simple search bar in the header allowing visitors to quickly type a few words relating to the product and see a list of matching results. REC allows you to configure how on site search works, for example, search on product and/or options or use part codes only (useful for technical product sites) and whether to enable autofill.
The system stores these searches and can then create an SEO tag wall on the product page showing what people searched for on the site to get to that page. This is useful because it adds the phrases people use to find the product onto page, expanding the number of keywords by which the page can be found.
Traditionally, you can also use Advanced Search Manager to configure a sidebar search app to include product options and attributes in your search results. We now suggest looking at Product Filters as the preferred search method.
On modern sites, the visitor often wants more choice about how they search for products, for example by product category, colour, size, price and so on. REC has a product filter system which allows you to build up a custom product search sidebar app with these search features.
A powerful feature in product filters is the use of product tags, allowing you to set up tag groups and add tags to products which can then be searched on. This is useful if you wanted to cross tag lots of products into different categories, for example coats could appear for Autumn, Winter and Spring searches in a "Season" tag group. Boys coats could then also appear in a Boys tag group, blue ones in a Colours tag group and so visitors could then search for blue boys winter coats via the different tags.
Using product tags means you could consider replacing traditional categories, except these can be useful for department stores and pulling product categories through onto individual pages so due consideration needs to be given about how you structure your site. If in doubt use product tags with product categories too and you won't go wrong.
Read more detail about product filters and tags.
REC allows you to set up a department store. Each department is a collection of different categories, such as Home & Garden, Electrical, Women, Men etc like you would find at John Lewis for example. Each category can fit in up to 3 different departments.
Google has it's own set of product categories if you are using their Shopping channel (this is a paid service accessed via Adwords PLA's). These are separate to your own categories and don't need to match.
Tip: Google can sometimes update their categorisation without due notice, so you'll tend to see this as errors in your product feed.