Why an Item's Category Matters

by Jeanne Croteau, on December 12, 2018

Amazon customers love the online retailer for many reasons, including the ability to scan through thousands of unbiased reviews before making a purchase. They may not realize, however, that their experience could actually be shaped by the type of product they intend to buy.

As a seller, it’s important to understand how categories work in order to maintain your competitive edge. Let’s dig into this topic and then discuss how you can use your MarketScout report to your advantage!

Why Category Matters

As you may have already guessed, products with good reviews perform better in the Amazon search algorithm and, therefore, benefit from greater visibility. If these items earn a higher ranking simply because they belong to certain categories, this can make a huge difference in your sales and success.

Our Silicon Valley-based friend, Max Woolf, a data scientist, conducted his own research by looking at more than 80 million reviews and 20 million reviewers. This is what he found:

The top-performing categories on Amazon (based on average product ratings):

  • Digital music
  • CDs and vinyl
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Books
  • Grocery & gourmet food

These are the Amazon product categories with the lowest average ratings:

  • Cell phones and accessories
  • Video games
  • Office products
  • Apps for Android devices
  • Patio lawn and garden

While you certainly shouldn’t try to “game the system,” knowing whether a product is in one of the top-performing categories can be incredibly valuable, especially when it comes to making informed stocking and inventory management decisions.

Some Categories Require Approval

More than anything, Amazon wants their customers to be satisfied with their online shopping experience. In order to gain trust and give buyers confidence, Amazon requires that merchants and vendors request approval to sell certain products and within specific categories. If permission is granted, those sellers may be subjected to additional fees and performance checks, among other things.

It doesn’t end there, of course. Even if your chosen item is not in a category that requires approval, you may still need permission to sell the product itself. These restricted items may include hoverboards, laser pointers (and related products) and specific products in the Software category.

Additionally, it’s extremely important that you become familiar with Amazon’s list of Restricted Products. Not only do you want to avoid putting your status as a seller at risk, but you also don’t want to invest a lot of money into stocking a product that you can’t even sell.

Quickly Identify Your Item’s Categories

Within MarketScout, users can quickly gather competitive data about the products they plan to add to their inventory. We will provide you with a handy template where you can easily add ASINs, EANs or UPCs as well as cost data. The tool will then generate a report filled with information about Amazon fees, product rank and, yes, categories.

While you could do this manually for each product you’re researching, it’s much faster and far more accurate to let our software do the heavy lifting. Once you’ve uploaded the template to MarketScout, your lookups will begin automatically and you’ll receive an email once your report is ready.

Users can choose whether to view an abbreviated report within the tool or download the full report as a CSV file. From there, you will easily be able to determine your item’s categories, allowing you to proactively come up with a strategy for your business.

Faster Product Research 

You want your business to be profitable and thriving, so why risk making important business decisions without the right intel? We know that approximately 67% of Amazon merchants conduct competitive and market data research before stocking a new item.

While this can help you avoid entering a tough product category, this type of research can be time-consuming. By automating the process with MarketScout, you will gather the information you need about your item's category and much more in a fraction of the time.

Ready to get started? We’ll give you your first 100 credits for FREE — no commitment or credit card required. Try MarketScout today!