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Explore Storefront Design Best Practices

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe catalog configuration best practices.
  • Explain why it’s important to mirror page and catalog navigation.
  • Explain the importance of quotas.
  • List two Quickview best practices.
  • Explain how the Show in Menu Navigation attribute works.

Storefront Design Best Practices

Storefront design can make or break a merchant’s online success story. Paying attention to the shopper’s experience is critical. Their interests, attention span, and motivation are just some of the factors. Merchants must understand what draws shoppers to their site, motivates them to buy something, return for more, and tell friends and family about their awesome experience.

Our best practices, gleaned from hundreds, if not thousands of successful (and challenging) implementations, can help move the needle on customer satisfaction.

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In this unit, we talk about these storefront best practices:

  • Catalog structure
  • Navigation
  • Certain types of storefront pages

Refresh your knowledge of catalogs in the Salesforce B2C Commerce for Merchandisers module.

Catalogs

The catalog is the heart of the storefront. It’s the set of products brought to market in cyberspace for the shopper’s choosing. In Salesforce B2C Commerce, we’ve identified some best practices for creating the catalog structure and catalog performance boundaries.

Configure Catalogs

B2C Commerce supports multiple catalogs for the same site, but only one catalog is exposed to the storefront at a time. Best practice is to configure a master catalog that owns all products and a storefront catalog that’s assigned to a subset of products. Typically, master catalog data is imported from a system of record.

Best practice is to use two catalogs: master and storefront.

This master/storefront catalog configuration ensures that the merchant has a catalog structure that supports both current and future business requirements. A new online merchant with simple requirements might not need this level of separation at first. But later, they might want to configure multiple storefronts that each use a unique assortment of products derived from the master catalog.

Remember, categories drive storefront navigation. With a unique storefront catalog per site, you can assign a different set of categories and subcategories to each, customizing navigation by site.

The master/storefront catalog navigation lets merchants:

  • Maintain a single record of the product.
  • Create unique storefronts for each site with independent navigation.
  • Easily expand sites for both domestic and international storefronts.
  • Replicate products separately from the storefront because they are owned by the master catalog, and not the storefront catalog.
  • Perform replication and jobs a lot faster because product data is separate from the storefront catalog data.

Catalog Quotas

Like content and content slots mentioned in the last unit, catalogs have quotas, too. Quotas are hard limits after which performance suffers. To help with this, B2C Commerce automatically reports when these limits are exceeded.

Quota Name Description Limit
Sub-Categories per Category Number of sub-categories that can be created under a category 1,000
Catalogs Number of catalogs that can be created 200
Options per Product Max number of options that a product can have 1,000
Products per Bundle Max number of products that can be in a bundle 100
Products per Set Max number of products that can be in a product set 100
Variants per Master Max number of variants that can be associated to a master 1,000

Mirror Page and Catalog Navigation

Best practice is that the storefront page navigation should mirror the storefront catalog structure. This ensures that merchants can control which categories appear in the storefront navigation and the order in which they appear.

Otherwise, confusion ensues—for the merchant and for the shopper!

For example, a shopper navigates to a storefront and a category page opens showing a sale on shoes. The shopper is confused, not knowing what to click. They definitely didn’t want to buy shoes that day, so they abandon the site. A more daring shopper might enter a search term and go from there.

A better way would be to show top-level categories as a set of tabs on the landing page. The shopper clicks a top-level category, and the sub-categories display in a pane, or as a list of content slots on a mobile device. The page flow matches the storefront catalog structure.

This example shows a list of sub-category content slots on a mobile device. The top-level category is Women’s. The sub-categories are Summer Style, Women’s Dresses, and Women’s Jewelry.

Subcategory navigation: Summer Style, Women’s Dresses, Women’s Jewelry

Show In Menu Navigation

Best practice is to use the Show in Menu Navigation attribute for all categories to give merchants more flexibility. Merchants can turn categories on or off by setting this attribute in Business Manager. By default, all categories are available.

While the storefront page structure maps to the category structure that’s defined within a catalog, search refinement happens after a search. Search refinement can be by category and subcategory, but it can also be by color, size, fabric, and so on. For merchants who use search refinement, using the Show in Menu Navigation attribute allows them to show a different set of values (in a separate pane or as a list of selections) from the page navigation categories. They can turn menu navigation off for certain categories and use refinements instead.

With search refinement, shoppers can search using multiple attributes such as price, category, or product type. For example, a search for jewelry by type (bracelet, ring, necklace, earrings, or sets), metal (gold, silver, or platinum), and category (fine jewelry or costume) yields more targeted results than searching the entire catalog.

Use Existing Attributes

Use existing attributes instead of creating new ones. If the storefront page navigation needs to be shown a certain way, investigate existing controls before customizing.

For example, if you want to show standard vertical tabs for each category, with the tabs displaying horizontally, use the standard Header Nav Menu Banner attribute. Alternatively, if you want to show categories horizontally, with categories displaying from left to right, use the Header Menu Orientation attribute.

Headers

Best practice is to display authentication info in the header. Also, the header must change to reflect the shopper’s level of authentication. Are they unauthenticated, authenticated, or recognized?

The header displays as Sign In / Register, for example, for an unauthenticated shopper. It displays as Hello, Henry (Log Out?), once they log in.

Footers

Footers have best practices, too. They should use content assets so it’s easy to update the content directly from Business Manager.

Footer elements that use business logic, such as an email signup form, however, should be coded into the ISML to prevent merchants from accidentally altering the code.

Storefront Pages

Let’s take a look at best practices related to the key storefront pages: category and product details.

Category/List Pages

A category landing page is the result of selecting a category. It can be a static page or it can look similar to a search results page, with a list of the products for the selected category instead of the products in the search results.

Like all B2C Commerce web pages, a category page should not contain more than 6 content slots.

Quickview

This is an abbreviated version of the full product details page. It should always contain a link to the full product details page. Mobile experiences should not include a Quickview page.

Product Details Page

Certain details about a product can change dynamically, such as its inventory and the promotions that apply based on other items in the cart, a coupon code, or a customer group that the shopper belongs to. Best practice is that this page changes dynamically to reflect the business rules that handle this information. For example:

  • Inventory rules used to support in stock, out of stock, pre-order, and backorder
  • Promotional messaging for item and order level discounts

SEO Support

Best practice is for templates to use standard data, such as product-name, as the default metadata. This ensures that relevant data populates the page metadata programmatically, while merchants can override the information with more detailed or pertinent information. Here are some examples.

Page Type Metatag Default Syntax
Product Details Page Title <product-name> - <Site Name>

Description <product-description> <Site Name>

Keywords <product-name> <Site Name>
Category Page Title <category-name>

Description <Site Name>

Keywords <Site Name>
Content Asset Title <asset name>

Description <Site Name>

Keywords <Site Name>

Here are some more SEO best practices.

  • Include a keyword-rich, HTML sitemap for use by both shoppers and robots.
  • Don't require the use of cookies to browse catalog pages.
  • Design pages to reference content assets that are managed in Business Manager, so that changes don't require changes to site templates or code.
  • Optimize page design to avoid code bloat.
  • Create customized 404 error pages containing alternative paths into the site or product catalog if the shopper lands on an outdated URL.
  • Use meta tags to provide structured data about an HTML web page.
  • Create keyword-rich body text, intra-site links, anchor text, and image <alt> tags.
  • Remove duplicate content from your site. For example, if two URLs contain the same page content, remove one of them.
  • Use static mapping or dynamic mapping rules to map legacy URLs.
  • Identify inbound links from other sites and ask them to update with new URLs.

What's Next

We discussed storefront design best practices, such as using master and storefront catalogs for your product data. We also gave you guidance for optimal navigation and SEO. In the next unit, we learn about mobile best practices.