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Product Categories

You can group products together using a category to make them easier to find and browse for shoppers.

A product can be assigned to multiple categories, and categories can be based on attributes that matter the most to your customers, such as:

  • Mens, Womens, and Kids categories for clothing/apparel
  • Road and Mountain categories for bicycles
  • Size, Color, or other product traits
  • a Sale category for discounted items

Here’s how some example categories look on a storefront using the Cornerstone theme:

Categories highlighted on a storefront with the Cornerstone theme

The way categories appear on your storefront depends on your store’s theme.

Go to Products > Product Categories to create, organize and manage your store’s categories.


Creating categories

The steps below show you how you can create categories in ProductsProduct Categories. You can also create a category when adding or editing a product.

1. Click Create a Category.

Create a Category button

2. Enter the Name of your category. The other fields are optional.

3. Click Save & Exit or Save & Add Another when done.

Managing Categories

  • To change the order of your categories, hover your mouse over the category row, then drag the category up or down. Drag left or right to "nest" a category into a subcategory.
  • To view the products assigned to a particular category, click Action Products.
  • To Disable or hide a category without deleting it, click the green checkmark to the right of the category. When it changes to a red X, it has been removed from your storefront menu. Note that products in hidden categories still appear in other places like search results, featured products, and new products.

Category action button


A subcategory is a category that is "nested" in another category. Subcategories are sometimes referred to as child categories, and the category they belong to is the parent category.

There are several ways to create a subcategory:

  • Create a category following the steps above, and select a parent category
  • On the desired parent category, click the Action icon › New Sub Category
  • Create them in a CSV file

Assigning a Category

1. Add or edit a product and go to the Category field.

2. Select one or more categories to assign the product to. To assign a subcategory, click the + next to a parent category to display its children.

Categories in the Add/Edit a Product screen

To create a new category from this page, click Create New and enter the category's name and parent category. Save.

3. Save your changes.


Category Settings

  • Name — the category name as it appears in your store (limit 50 characters)
  • URL — the category URL (defaults to the category name if left blank)
  • Description — a WYSIWYG content editor that will appear at the top of your category page
  • Parent category — if this will be a subcategory, select the parent category
  • Template Layout File — the category template file
  • Sort Order — sets the priority in which the categories are listed; 0 is the default
  • Default Product Sort — set how you want products to be sorted within this category.
    You can keep the global setting from Store SettingsDisplay (Category Settings) or set one for your particular category.
  • Category Image — select an image to appear on the category page (not supported by all themes).

Additional category settings can be found in Store Setup › Store Settings under the Display tab. Depending on your theme platform, some of these settings may be accessed from the Stencil Theme Editor.

Store Setup › Store Settings › Display tab › Display Settings

  • Products Per Page (*Blueprint themes) — How many products appear on each category page
  • Product Breadcrumbs — Show the category tree of a particular product; choose between Show all, Don't Show, and Show One

Store Setup › Store Settings › Display tab › Category Settings

  • Category Product List — where products on a category page are fetched from
    • Show products from the current category only
    • Show products from child categories if the current category is empty
    • Show products from the current category and its children
  • Default Product Sort — storewide setting for the order in which products are displayed; can adjust individual categories to a different sort if desired
    • Featured
    • Newest Items
    • Best Selling
    • Alphabetical (A-Z)
    • Alphabetical (Z-A)
    • Average customer review
    • Price (Low to High)
    • Price (High to Low)
  • Category Display Mode (*Blueprint themes) — how are the products displayed within the category?
    • Show products in a list
    • Show products in a grid
  • Category Menu Style (*Blueprint themes) — how the list of categories should be displayed
    • In a fly-out menu (hover drop-down list)
    • In a simple
  • Menu Display Depth (*Blueprint themes) — how many levels deep you want the fly-out to display?
  • Menu Fade Timeout (*Blueprint themes) — after how many seconds should the fly-out menu fade?

*For Stencil themes, products per page for category pages, category display mode, category menu style, and menu display depth are set using the Stencil Theme Editor.


Deleting Categories and Reassigning Products


Deleting a category will delete all products assigned solely to that category unless you reassign them. There is no way to retrieve deleted products unless you have backed up your store.

Categories can only be deleted from ProductsProduct Categories.

1. Check the box to the left of the category or subcategory you wish to delete. Deleting a category will automatically delete its subcategories.

2. Click the Trash icon at the top of the menu.

3. If prompted to reassign your products, select the new category and click Continue. Click Delete Selected Categories.

If you are not prompted to reassign your products, click OK to approve the deletion.


Troubleshooting Categories

If one or more categories are not appearing on your storefront when you expect them to be, there can be several potential causes:

  • some customer groups may not be configured correctly or need to be adjusted
  • your display settings may not be configured correctly or need to be adjusted
  • the category's visibility setting may be disabled
  • your product/category database may need to be refreshed
  • if you've made changes to an HTML template file, the category panel may have inadvertently been deleted

Check Customer Groups

If you use customer groups, check the Customer Group for Guests setting and make sure it is set to whichever group's permissions match what you want guests to see (e.g. Retail or Default).

Check the Customer Group for Guests setting

Check the Group Access settings for each customer group. If the customer group does not have Group Access checked, make sure that the missing categories and subcategories are checked. Subcategories are not automatically selected when a parent category is selected, so make sure that the subcategories that aren't appearing have been selected.

Check which categories the default customer group has access to

Check Category Visibility

Go to ProductsProduct Categories.

Locate the categories that aren't appearing. In the case of subcategories, click the + sign to expand the parent categories until you see your category. Make sure that the category has a green checkmark next to it, not a red X. If the category does have an X, click the X to change it to a checkmark. The checkmark shows that a category is visible in the navigation menu.

Refresh Category List

Sometimes the database caches categories a certain way, which can lead to them not appearing correctly. In this case, toggling the categories can refresh the database and fix the display.

  • Click and drag a category up in the category list. You will notice the Category page reload.
  • Drag the category back to its original position.
  • Refresh your homepage to see if the categories appear. You may need to clear your browser's cache to see the changes reflect.


Can I hide categories from customer groups?

Yes. If you're on a Plus plan or higher, you can use Customer Groups to control which customers can see which categories.

Can I assign categories to products in bulk?

Yes, you can:

  • edit products in bulk (including assign categories) in the control panel using the Bulk Edit tool
  • use a CSV import to assign categories to products

Can I create categories in bulk?

Yes, you can:

  • create and manage categories directly using the BigCommerce API
  • create a temporary product and assign all new categories to it using a CSV import

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