Category Archives: data feed specifications

Your Multichannel Business Can Be A Ticking Time Bomb Without These Inputs

Daniel Posted On - April 18, 2016

Multichannel selling software
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The gist of the list stating why multichannel endeavors are a must for all e commerce sellers to engage in, is very arresting indeed. In simple words, which seller today would not want to be exposed to millions of unique visitors in hundreds of top performing marketplaces and comparison sites, gain a surge of orders from the same and break all barriers of profit limitations that may have been dwarfing their respective endeavors? Amazing as this sounds, the flip side of multichannel selling can weigh down on the sellers in many ways than one. And costs is only the beginning of it all.

When you have your presence over two or more different platforms of sale, you will have to carry out the same operational tasks over and over again for every single marketplace. This applies to creating listing (which is perhaps the most annoying of them all), followed by managing inventory in all the different marketplaces and then comes the hurdle of keeping track of the inflow and outflow or orders, tracking performance in every single platform of presence, following up with customers, mobile integration for each and many more. Basically, multichannel efforts may come with the assurance of some serious profits, putting the act together can pose as a major reason for sellers to collapse under pressure.

Smart sellers these days, don’t commence their spread over multiple platforms of sale without the assistance of proper multichannel selling softwares. This is by far the most important input that can prevent your efforts to sit on a time bomb that can blow up any time without warning. It may have been repeated infinite times over, but no one can say it enough that you need to use these softwares right from the beginning. The task of these solutions is to harmonize and integrate your presence over all your chosen marketplaces / comparison shopping platforms.

On integrating with these solutions, you will be able to keep a crisp control on multiple platforms through a single interface. Say for example, with data feed management software, which are a part of the multichannel softwares, you will be able to upload, import or even introduce changes to your store listing to multiple marketplaces in tune with their specifications with nothing more than a click or two. Say for example if you are present in 5 platforms, you will be able to save 4/5th of the time you will otherwise need to complete the task.

Same can be said for inventory control, pricing, repricing, tracing performance, maintaining customer information, completing orders, managing abandoned carts, integrating with affiliate sites and mobile platforms and many more without having to buy and deal with single individual tools.

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Product Data Feed specifications for Amazon, Ebay, Sears, Buy.com, Newegg, OverStock

Steve Burns Posted On - February 5, 2013

Product Data Feed specifications for Amazon, Ebay, Sears, Buy.com, Newegg, OverStock
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Data feeds specifications are very important for the e-commerce merchants for letting their wide range of products to earn the required visibility. For listing products correctly and for optimizing returns, it is crucial to categorize products in the right way and to have the data feed files updated with the accurate and specific information.

Amazon

This online marketplace which is always among the top slots has its wide variety of product categories like electronics, office products, software, cell phones & accessories, tools & home improvement and the like. Apart from furnishing of the accurate and specific product details and description, the free super saver shipping option offered by Amazon is something to be checked out. For facilitating the process of product listing, offering the product identifiers like ISBN, ASIN, UPC, MFT (Manufacturer part number), product URL, product title,price are crucial. For choosing the apt department and to engage in sorting of the products for greater exposure, revealing the required stock status, updating and automating feeds, ChannelSale can offer the immaculate data management services to its channel partners.

Ebay

Ebay is the global e-commerce platform that always sate the sellers and the buyers. The different categories that the sellers must judiciously choose for highlighting their products are baby, eBay Motors, Collectibles, Business & Industrial, Sporting Goods and a number of other categories. It is the format which the e-commerce merchants need to use wisely are ‘Auction, ‘ ‘Buy it Now,’ and the like. The condition of the product needs to be specified like whether new, used and the like. The other important considerations in the product feed specifications is the price, shipping details, item location which the sellers must check out for effective product listing.

Sears

For the Sears data feed upload, it is the submission, management and optimizing of the products with all the required details, which can be dealt well by ChannelSale. From digging out the required product details like product name, description, URL and the like from the sellers who offer the required details in different file formats and the placement of the products in the specific categories for better optimization, we offer you quality assistance.

Buy.com

For the sellers to list their products on Buy.com, it is crucial to determine the Buy.com categories in tune with a seller’s business, review the product requirements that this online marketplace demands and the product inventory also needs to be prepared accordingly. Buy.com supports a wide range of categories and the sellers need to furnish the required information to add new products to the Buy.com catalog. The new product feed specifications document involves the following information to add more products for the sellers in a catalog. It is the fields that are required, field length limitations, example values and the like which needs to be checked out. The category attributes like the category ID values, accepted attributes, valid attribute values must be paid heed to by the sellers for offering the required information of the products.

Newegg

For maximizing the reach of the products to the target niche, Newegg is one of the resourceful platforms. For creating a seamless and integrated shopping experience for the buyers, the e-commerce merchants must sign up or a create a Newegg Seller Account to get started for effective product listing for greater exposure. Newegg has a wide range of categories like apparel & accessories, arts & crafts, baby, beauty, home & living, jewelry and much more. It is the lowest commission rates that Newegg offers which is one of the key reasons for this online marketplace to become more favored by the sellers.

Overstock

For greater exposure of the products of the sellers that the e-commerce merchants want to sell to the prospective customers, Overstock is also a potent platform. The data feed or the file loaded with a plethora of product information must be done accurately. For Overstock, the data field specifications include product SKU, product name, brand name, manufacturer, manufacturer part number, product size, category, price, quantity on hand and the like. The data feed submission, managing and optimization needs to be done effectively for the retailers to have a sound reputation and for observing voluminous sales.

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Google Shopping impact on Online Retail Business?

Steve Burns Posted On - September 11, 2012

Google Shopping impact on Online Retail
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It is a change that Google claims will better connect merchants to their consumers, though merchants will now have to pay Google to get into the bandwagon and gain visibility.

Google Shopping will feature Product Listing Ads which were earlier exclusively found on Google Ad words and displayed along with organic listings and Google Product Search Results.

The free lunch is getting over and merchants will now have to pay for their visibility and clicks. So let’s find out what merchants should be aware of to adjust to this new reality.

The transition to Google Shopping is expected to be completed in the US this fall and in the rest of the world by next year. Once the changeover is implemented, browsers will see three types of results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – AdWords ads (paid), Organic results (free) and Shopping Results (paid).

Post the transition it is expected that close to 2/3rds of the search results property will be devoted to paid listings.  The AdWords and Shopping results will feature images that will automatically make them more prominent in the eyes of the browser. This will offer merchants another interesting way in which to engage with the customer.

The net-net result will be that organic listings will get crowded out by display ad types that use graphics to drive home their point.

Despite the obvious fact that paid listings will automatically increase the prices of goods sold through this route, there is good news for 99% of the online merchants. Until now Google Product search used to be completely dominated by the big ticket online retailers like WalMart, eBay, and Amazon. Now every merchant that is willing to pay will have their stores and wares featured on the search results. This will in a way level the playing field, albeit at a cost.

Those who have the knack of discovering niche products and lines of business wherein they can compete with the big boys and still turn in a decent profit will benefit. For example, a small online store selling sports goods can compete with the bigger stores like HealthKart.

In an interesting finding, a Google search for the new Samsung S3 returned results of 19 different retailers with listings, with the big daddies like Amazon, eBay, Verizon etc. not featuring amongst them. This is proof that even in the popular product categories, small retailers can muscle in their way to greater visibility with intelligent advertising, through merchandising and bid optimization.

Time to improve your feed management strategy

The change in Google Shopping will necessitate a re-evaluation in the way merchants judge their feed management and comparison shopping engine investments. Now that comparison shopping listing will cost money, merchants must take an ROI centric look at their investments.

Alexa states that none of the top 30 searches on Google are related to products or shopping. This demonstrates the fact that most merchants use online mass retailers like Amazon or eBay as their true product search engines.

Online merchants should look at Amazon, eBay, Nextag, Shopping.com etc. to list their products if they have not already done so.

Placing a small feed for a high value product is a good way to test a new site for efficacy in driving traffic and sales. Tracking products on different channels will help you take a considered decision about expanding activities in the channel.

Using a multichannel media mix to drive enhanced sales

Merchants who earlier relied on Google Product search to drive traffic will now have to face a difficult choice. Lose traffic or pay for visibility. The best way around this is to analyse the marginal ROI for your spends in every channel and invest in channels that deliver the highest returns.

Will Google Shopping be worthwhile? Only time will answer that question, but merchants will need to be more calculative about their spending, productive ads will warrant more spending and vice versa. Product Listing Ads are tied to Adwords, so merchants should set up automated reports to ensure that they don’t exceed their budgets.

To make up for lost traffic and sales, it is time to get Bing campaigns up and running and look at facebook to increase brand awareness. People who depended on Google Product search will have to search for other free feed channels to make up the traffic numbers. They should bone up on Adwords and paid search as this will be new mantra for success on Google advertising.

On the whole though smaller merchants should be happy that the playing field has been levelled in their favour, albeit at a cost.

This blog is brought to you by Channelsale.com a platform that enables you to handle your feeds and get analytics about your performance across multiple marketplaces and comparison shopping engines. We offer both self driven as well as managed solutions that helps online merchants to improve their results.


To see more, visit http://www.ChannelSale.com

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Google Product Feed Specifications for optimal listing

Steve Burns Posted On - August 24, 2012

Google Product Feed Specifications for optimal listing
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One of the last things you have to happen is for your product feed to be suspended. This is similar to having your shop closed and your stock remaining hidden in your warehouse! The way to ensure that this never happens to your product data feed is to ensure that you read the Google Product Search Policies carefully before creating a feed.

In this page, we have listed all the attributes you need to provide so as to have your product displayed in the Google Product Search. Some of these attributes are required for all kinds of products, some of them are required for certain kinds of products (say apparel/Clothing) and some of these attributes are recommendations. Failure to provide the required attributes may result in the product failing to show in the Google Search Results whereas failure to upload recommended attributes will result in your products showing up in the search results with reduced frequency.

Do take time to read through this entire document to ensure that your products find enhanced visibility in Google Product Search results. Before creating your product data feed, choose the file format that is suitable to you.

There are many sections to this document – each section deals with one attribute and the Google requirements related to each attribute.

1.    Basic Product Information: These relate to basic information that describes your product – such as “title”, “description” and “type of product”.

2.    Availability and Price: Attributes that inform about the availability and prices that you quote for the product.

3.    Unique Product Identifiers: Attributes that ensure that your products appear on the correct page – example Brands, UPCs and EANs.

4.    Apparel Products: Descriptions related to the colour and the gender that the product is targeted towards.

5.    Product Variants: Attributes that describe how variants differ from the product listed – in terms of size, colour, material or pattern.

6.    Tax & Shipping: How to convey information related to the applicable taxes and the shipping charges etc.

7.    Nearby Stores:  Display information about where these products are available in physical stores in different locations.

8.    Loyalty Points: (for Japan Only) Attributes that specify the loyalty points that Google Product Search Users gain when buying the item.

9.    Multiple Installments: (Brazil Only) Attributes that specify the multiple payment options when people buy products.

10.    Additional Attributes: Other attributes that describes your products.

We commonly use the term “item” do describe a single product listing. If you are using the text or Tab delimited format, an item equals one line in your data feed. Items are similar to products but we assume that products may have multiple variations. These product variants may differ in terms of size, colour, material or pattern. A “item” is a single variant of a product.

1.    Basic Product Information:

The following attributes contain basic information about your items.
•    id [id] – An identifier of the item
•    title [title] – Title of the item
•    description [description] – Description of the item
•    Google product category [google_product_category] – Google’s category of the item
•    product type [product_type] – Your category of the item
•    link [link] – URL directly linking to your item’s page on your website
•    image link [image_link] – URL of an image of the item
•    additional image link [additional_image_link] – Additional URLs of images of the item
•    condition [condition] – Condition or state of the item

2.    Availability and Price:

The attributes in this section inform buyers of the availability in stock of the product and the prices at which you are offering them. Since the availability and price of the products you are selling may frequently change, you need to update this information to keep it up to date and current. The data feed for this will appear as:
•    availability [availability] – Availability status of the item
•    price [price] – Price of the item
•    sale price [sale_price] – Advertised sale price of the item
You can recommend products that you want to put up for sale.

Format                        Number
Text/Tab delimited      12.00 USD
XML                          <g:sale_price>12.00 USD

Important:

•     You should (even in the case of a sale) recommend the normal price at which the product sold before the sale.
•    The price must include specification of the currency quoted.
•    Submitted sale price must exactly match the sale price displayed on your site. Both the prices must be listed on the landing page – the regular price and the sale price. Yet, the sale price must be most prominent in display.
•    You cannot quote a price of US$0.00 for any product. Items with 0 price will not be displayed the search results.
sale price effective date [sale_price_effective_date] – Date range during which the item is on sale
3. Unique Product Identifiers

Unique Product Identifiers such as UPC, EAN, JAN or ISBN enable Google to display your product in the right page. If you do not provide the Unique Product Identifiers, your store may not appear on the product pages and all your items may be removed from the Product Search.
Google requires Unique Product Identifiers for all products except for custom made groups. You need to submit at least two of the three attributes ‘brand’, ‘gtin’ and ‘mpn’ for these items.

For media products like – books, music, videos and video games, you must submit the “gtin” attribute. In all cases we recommend that you submit all the three attributes.
Additionally for products in the apparel and the accessories categories, you must submit the brand attribute even though Unique Product Identifiers are not required.

•    brand [brand] – Brand of the item
•    gtin [gtin] – Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) of the item
•    mpn [mpn] – Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) of the item
4. Apparel Products:

According to Google’s Taxonomy (for the US market) the Apparel Category comprises of Apparel and Accessories including all its sub categories such as gender, age group and colour. Additionally, the size attribute is only required for categories – ‘Apparel & Accessories > Clothing’ and ‘Apparel & Accessories > Shoes’.

For all other countries, the apparel attributes that are not currently required, but might become applicable in the future. We therefore strongly recommend that merchants include all the attributes where possible even for countries outside the US.

•    gender [gender] – Gender of the item
•    age group [age_group] – Target age group of the item
•    color [color] – Color of the item
•    size [size] – Size of the item
5. Product Variants

Product variants are a set of identical products that vary only in attributes such as color, gender, material or size. Details of variants are required only for the Apparel and Accessories and its attendant sub categories. Apparel variants are required solely for products sold to the USA. For all other countries, attributes are only recommended but may become mandatory in the future.

If you are not displaying variants and its attributes in your feed, it should not be displayed as different product listings (example: the same product in different colors and sizes). These listings will be classified as duplicates in the Google search policies.

Submitting product variants proves to be of great help to the consumer who can navigate their way to different variations on a detail page. They can also discover different variants in terms of color, sizes, patterns etc. For a particular product.

Ways to submit variant data:

•     Start by submitting an item for each variant – for example if you offer T Shirts in 5 colors and 5 sizes, you need to submit 25 item variants.
•    Make sure to include a unique “ID” attribute values for each variant, just as you would for other products in your feed.
•    In order to identify these products as variants of one another, you are required to submit the “item group ID” attribute (For US feeds only) and submit identical value of these attributes for each variant in the group.
•    You will have to include variant attributes that make each variant unique. You can include attributes such as “colour”, “material”, “pattern” or “size”.
•    Include only single values for each of these variant attributes- make sure that the values of these attributes are unique across all variants in the group. For example – if you are offering (one item) T shirts with Blue and S attributes, all the items in the variant group must have values for colour and size. Each of these must be different combination of values – so you could have Blue and S, Blue and M, Blue and L etc.
•    You need to send variant attributes only in cases where you have variations – so if all your T Shirts are made of Cotton, there is no need to send the “material” attribute. But if you have 3 colours and 3 sizes of T Shirts, you must send 9 separate line items with variations in colour and size.
•    For all apparel items it is mandatory for you to have a unique image of the specified variant if the item differs in colour, pattern or material. When variants differ only by size, you can send identical images. Sending separate images for variant products in other categories is also recommended, but is not yet mandatory.
•    We recommend submitting URL links that pre-select the variant. For example if a customer selects a Maroon T Shirt in the size 12, he should be taken to a landing page wherein the Maroon T Shirt in the size 12 is already pre- selected. If doing this is difficult, we recommend, you include identical link attribute values for each of the variants in the group.

For US merchants submitting apparel variants:

When apparel products differ by ‘colour’, ‘material’, ‘size ‘ or ‘pattern’ it is mandatory to include the ‘item group id’ for each variant.

For other Countries and categories:

All variant data are recommended but are not mandatory. Howsoever, if you choose to include ‘item group id’, it is required that you include at least one of the following variant attributes – viz. ‘colour’, ‘size’, ‘pattern’ and ‘material’ and the following guidelines:
Important: While you name your variant products, do include the title common to all variant items. Visit the ‘title’ attribute for more details.

•    item group id [item_group_id] – Shared identifier for all variants of the same product
•    color [color] – Color of the item
•    material [material] – Material of the item
•    pattern [pattern] – Pattern/Graphic of the item
•    size [size] – Size of the item

6. Tax & Shipping

Tax and shipping are important aspects of the purchasing decision online. In fact high tax and shipping costs are one of the major reasons for shopping cart abandonment in online commerce. The Tax attribute is applicable for only feeds that are targeting the US. In all other countries, the VAT is included in the price of the product.

There are three ways to display tax ( only US) and Shipping costs:

Settings in the Merchants Center

Google offers various ways to specify the tax and shipping costs if your pricing structure is relatively simple. For example – you can have one shipping cost for all items – or you can decide on the shipping costs depending on the weight of the item. In this case, you will have to include the shipping weight attribute.

Attributes in the field

You can use the tax and shipping attributes listed below to configure complex tax and shipping costs.

Combo pricing

You can list the default tax and shipping prices in the Merchant Center and then overrule them for certain products by specifying the attributes below.

You have to use one of these methods to specify tax and shipping in the US and shipping only in UK, Germany  and France.
If for some reason you can’t provide accurate tax and shipping figures, please provide estimates.

For example, you can provide tax and shipping costs for each product and state them individually by using tax and shipping attributes. Estimate tax and shipping costs in such a manner that the total costs in product search are either accurate or overestimated for most users.

•    tax [tax]
•    shipping [shipping]
•    shipping weight [shipping_weight] – Weight of the item for shipping

7. Nearby Stores

Multi channel retailers can display store locations next to the products. If the browser is looking at one of your products and has a specified location near to one of your stores, Product Search will show your store 9s0 on a map. We will display the telephone number, just in case the shopper wants to check with the store for availability. The shopper can also get driving instructions, so that he can locate the store with ease.

To enable this feature, submit your store locations through Google Places. Once you have provided this information, you can specify that an item is only available for purchase online, and not available in your physical store by providing the attribute as given below:

•    online only [online_only] – Whether an item is available for purchase only online

8. Loyalty Points

The attribute below applies to feeds that are targeted at Japan. It specifies how much and what type of loyalty points the customer receives when he buys a product.

•    loyalty points [loyalty_points] – Loyalty points that users receive after purchasing the item

9. Multiple Installments ( Brazil only)

This attribute is applicable only to merchants selling to customers in Brazil. It enables him to specify the payment options in instalments.

•    installment [installment] – Number and amount of installments to pay for an item.

10. Additional Attributes
These two attributes below enable you to control the destination of your items, and the period during which your items are valid.
•    excluded destination [excluded_destination] – Excluded destinations of your items
•    expiration date [expiration_date] – Date that an item will expire

To discover how to use Google Shopping more lucratively, speak to us at ChannelSale. We have some surprisingly effective and affordable solutions that will help you boost your top and bottomline.

You can contact us via mail info@channelsale.com or by calling us at 1-866-709-9495
ChannelSale.com is a platform that allows you to send feeds, analyze performance and track sales across multiple online Marketplaces, Comparison Shopping Engines and Affiliate networks.

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Product Data Feeds in Comparison Shopping Engines Demystified

Steve Burns Posted On - August 15, 2012

Product Data Feeds in Comparison Shopping Engines Demystified
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Visibility is the first step to sale

In comparison shopping engines, as well as in normal shop shelves, to be visible is the minimum requirement for sale. What is seen can be bought, but what is unseen will seldom be sold.

The Problem of Product Feed Customization

The rules for gaining visibility in shop shelves are relatively simple, but things start getting complicated when we try to gain visibility in the digital world. Comparison shopping engines ( CSE’s) help shoppers to discover and buy the lowest priced product from the merchant making the best offer. A good comparison shopping engine will save the shopper both time and money as he does not have to scour the websites of different merchants to get the best deal. Comparison shopping engines deliver their results by analyzing data feeds that merchants provide them. The main issue that merchants face is that there is currently no standard format of data feeds, and each shopping engine has their own proprietary feed format. Not only do CSE’s have different formats, they also frequently change their specifications, periodically. While most of the time, these changes are backward compatible, it is not always the case. So, if the errors are left unattended, the product feeds will soon get demoted, or even removed. The result, loss of visibility and consequent lost sales opportunities!

Tentative Solutions

But the scene is not so dismal. Some shopping engines do allow connectivity to specific e commerce platforms- example – Price Grabber to Yahoo Store. Certain others accept common feed formats like Google and Shopping.com. There are also those like The Find that take data directly from the merchants’ website. The problem is that these seemingly “easy” techniques tend to be unreliable, and hence CSE’s normally recommend using their proprietary feed formats for getting the best results and enhanced visibility. This brings us back to the frequent changes in the format and the need to keep up to date with changes in feed formats across different CSE’s. The real problem lies in the fact that with competition increasing, and technology improvements coming through, these changes are expected to be more frequent and recurring.

The need for a managed data feed service

For small and midsized merchants who operate their business without an IT team, the problem of keeping abreast to these changes and updating their feed data is a real issue. They will be best served by hiring a data feed service that offers an outsourced solution to this problem. Merchants operating with the assistance of a data feed service are required to just sign on to the CSE and send one raw data feed from their store. The data feed service will reformat it, and submit it to CSE’s on a regular basis. A good data feed service will also cleanse your data and keep it abreast to changes that are happening during the course of business. They will also be responsible to keep the data feed up to date when specifications of CSE’s change in due course of time.

These services are not necessarily expensive, as most of the time, once the data feed has been set up, feed submissions run without any manual intervention. Monitoring, housekeeping and troubleshooting are all that is required.

Data Feed and optimization Services can be a profit generator

While the charges are generally low and affordable, they are by no means standard, since Data Feed management is not a science – it is almost an art.  A good service provider will not only ensure that your feed is up to date, but with his hands on experience and expertise he will be able to advise you on strategies to improve your visibility and sales. Handled by an expert who knows what works and what does not, it can be a vital enabler of profits for your online business.  You can choose to have a data feed specialist to work on your product data whenever there is a change in specifications, or when you are adding new products to your catalog. But data feed operators who include optimization as part of their offerings may in most cases charge a premium for the value addition they provide. This extra charge will be easily paid for by the added sales they help generate.

It is always handy to have an expert on hand to answer queries that may come in when you are preparing your data feed –“ does this  product need a UPC code?” or “Can landing page to where the customer is directed to have a pop up?”

Wrap Up

To summarize the above:

•     Small and midsized merchants face an issue in their data feed because of their complex nature and due to the fact that data feed formats of different CSE’s change periodically.
•    Most CSE’s have their own proprietary data feed formats and merchants are required to feed each CSE separately.
•    Data Feed Services can eliminate this pain point of small and midsized merchants by undertaking the data feed responsibility at a small fee.
•    Optimization of the data feed can help you get superior results and may be a worthwhile addition to data feed services.
•    A combination of data feed and optimization is a sure way to economically increase the sales and profitability of your online store.

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