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Taxonomies Demystified

Samarth Mehta

By Samarth Mehta

On June 21, 2018

Do you ever walk into a supermarket and get a sense of déjà vu? Just look around, the produce, bakery, frozen foods, cleaning supplies, and other utilities are all well organized in a different aisle, just the way you like them! Each aisle has a big banner, helping you navigate through the maze and arrive easily at exactly what you need.

We are habitual to an organized environment that helps us make decisions faster. Retailers realized the importance of this quickly and started organizing their stores based on consumer buying patterns. They started influencing consumer decisions by grouping relevant things together. So, what is a taxonomy? Simply put, it’s the science of how things are grouped together!

Super Bowl SundayHow does this relate to a data management and in particular, a PIM system? We tell our customers, “Taxonomies are the backbone of information management…. they add relevance to your data objects for easier information management. Taxonomies add life or dynamics to static product objects.”.

For instance, let’s compare a shirt to a mobile phone. To a retailer both are products. How do they track sales of all shirts vs. mobile phones? How do they maintain rich data information of a mobile phone and shirt without creating separate data objects?


The answer, taxonomy!

Taxonomies group together relevant products for better sales\performance analytics. They assist in better information management by helping maintain different attributes driven by the classification nodes in the taxonomy. So how do we define our taxonomy?

There’s good news and bad news. Bad news first, taxonomy definition is no exact science. However, the good news is there are some simple rules-of-thumb, or guidelines from our experience that will help retailers get started.

  1. Create a consistent taxonomy, with the same depth across the tree.
  2. Always create products at the leaf level.
  3. Avoid ambiguity. One product, one classification.

For more reading, Riversand also published a post on Navigating Taxonomies in Master Data Management (MDM).

I’ve heard stories of customers dissuaded by the idea of the taxonomy by PIM vendors, simply because of the effort involved! No doubt, there is no easy shortcut to taxonomies, but it leads to an organized product information heaven.

If you are looking for help to define your next generation information model, reach out to us to get expert insights into best practices and standard industry solutions.