I’m starting with the assumption that most people understand how flexible and powerful categories are to your WooCommerce site. But we should never assume anything.
I was on a podcast recently and the host asked me to name a couple of my most favorite WordPress features. Without hesitation, I said categories. I think a lot of people underestimate that power and don’t take full advantage of categories.
The fact is, many plugins and themes have very cool features that involve categories. WordPress does the same thing. In a nutshell:
Categories in WooCommerce give you amazing control over how you sell, present and organize your products.
The Power of Categories in WooCommerce
Let’s start with the basics. Categories give you the opportunity to group products easily. You may choose to display categories using the WooCommerce widget, Product Categories, or create your own menu item that lists specific categories in your sidebar, footer or some other widget area on your store.
If you are using the Storefront theme, its homepage also allows you to show your categories. Same thing with a lot of other WooCommerce-centric themes. They might have a specific spot that you can pull in categories or a category and display only those products. Or, if you are using some kind of page builder, the sky is the limit on where you can display lists of categories, or a display of all products in a category.
Going back to your menus, categories can easily be listed in your main navigation whether you have a few, or several in a mega-menu. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Category-friendly Plugins, Extensions and Add-Ons
Beyond page builders, a large percentage of plugins, extensions and add-ons have some integration of categories in their functionality. Let me give you a few examples.
Creating Coupon Restrictions
By default, in WooCommerce, you can assign a coupon code to a specific category. But if you use the extension WooCommerce Coupon Restrictions, you can not only restrict by category, but by new customers, existing customers and geographic locations.
There are may be times you want to add an extra fee to a product. But what you need to add that fee to several products? Well, if they are already assigned to a category, you can give the fee the condition to be added to all products in that specific category with Fee Manager. And if they are not assigned to a category, you can easily create a new one and connect them.
Creating Custom Checkout Fields
There are times when it would help to have a certain field to collect information from a customer at checkout. The Conditional Checkout Fields plugin, based on conditional logic, does just that. For example, maybe you have a product that includes custom engraving and you want customers to input their custom text on checkout. You can easily do that by using a category created for just those products, which would only show up on the checkout page if it is added to the cart.
Setting Up Payment and Shipping Restrictions
Maybe you need to restrict certain payment and shipping to specific products. There could be all sorts of instances when you need to do this. With the Conditional Shipping and Payment extension, you can create a category for the products that cannot be shipped or paid for by through your normal options, and restrict those to only certain payment and shipping options.
Giving Customers Store Credits
Instead of discounts you might want to give customers a store credit for specific merchandise. The WooCommerce Store Credit extension gives you that ability. So instead of having to select certain items that the store credit will work with, you could easily create a category and restrict the credit to all the products assigned to it.
That’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg
I could go on and on talking about other plugins or extensions that use the power of categories, but that would make for one seriously long post.
Don’t take categories in your WooCommerce store with a grain of salt. They are there for a reason, so make the best use of that feature and try getting creative with your own ideas for using categories.