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How to prepare for importing products to the online store?


Many people decide to start trading on the Internet, but do not realize how different elements affect the company’s visibility in search engines. If you have decided on specific software for your online store and want to import your first products, you should consider their name, specification and description. Do you know what importing products for e-commerce should look like?

Online store database

Each online store must have a database in which its data is stored, in the simplest language, not to go into technical details, these are tables that contain all information about the goods. There are various connections between the database tables, thanks to appropriate commands we can change field values or extract information meeting a specific condition. Most of the data stored in database is graphically reflected in the online store, thus we do not need to know e.g. SQL language to manage our site. Of course, if someone has technical knowledge, they can carry out mass operations from the database and in this way accelerate many activities.

The online store’s facilities – administration panel

The administration panel of the website enables to manage the site’s appearance, there are fields to set up content, but most importantly, it allows to add new products to the online store and update information about the goods. Depending on how much data we have to enter or their complexity, these operations can be performed manually or imported into the store.

When can products be imported into the online store?

The best answer is “always,” but importing products into the online store depends on the functionality of software, i.e. you need to find out if the store has a built-in module for importing goods and get a specification for the import (instruction from the creator of website).

Such a specification should include, among others:

information on what types of files can be imported to the online store
specify the import file structure
specify what format to be encoded
description of what is often called column mapping, i.e. information how to assign data from our file (column) to appropriate fields in the store database.

Creation of an import file template to the online store is also possible without this knowledge, but it will take much more time and will be based on the trial and error method, which means that you will have to modify and import the files many times until you get the correct look of displayed product data.

First import of products into the online store

Importing products can be used for the first full stock up of online store. Some manufacturers or distributors provide csv, xls or xml files containing basic or full product information. Sometimes these are ready-made files for import, but due to positioning, it is not worth entering such data into your database in the form of 1:1 tracing paper, as this is information that has already appeared on the Internet, so Google will consider it as duplicate content – it is better to spend time and resources on creating your own descriptions.
You can also choose a different direction and use this data as a basis for our products (full specification), then customize the name and create a unique description before setting product availability from the front.

How to prepare for importing products to the online store?

If we already know the import/export instructions to the database, created by the creator of online shop software, we can start creating a file. The most convenient and most frequently used file format for product import is csv and we will focus on it.

The product import file should contain all the information that we want to add to the database, thus it is necessary to create a list of fields that appear next to the products and category tree. On systems that include the export option, you can generate a file containing all column headers, which we will use to create the import file, but you may need to manually enter different types of sample products in order to map the data in csv file’s tabular layout.

In the administration panel, where we have the file import options available, there should be a panel where we assign individual column names from the online store database to the column names of csv import file. This process is often called “mapping” in the instructions, it can be column mapping, category mapping, etc. Some systems for importing goods into the online store do not have the mapping option, then the order of columns to be imported and overlapping of column names shall be important for the data to be properly imported.

It is important to remember to include the product in SKU file of the online store, as this value shall be the basis for future update of goods based on the import or creation of links with the warehouse program.

In the settings of online store import file, it is very important to encode and separate columns (field separators) and text separators (text delimiters); failure to include one of them in the file for importing products shall result in assigning data to incorrect tables or columns in the database. When saving the csv file, we can choose the encoding format (preferably UTF-8) and type of separators. There are also other separators which, for example, specify that the goods shall be assigned to two categories, then the separator shall separate two paths to the category.

The person responsible for preparing the import file for online store should know the basics of database operation, because understanding the mechanisms of connections will help to avoid many errors and so called “database mix,” i.e. inconsistencies of data in the database resulting from importing the file e.g. with the wrong order of columns or wrong separators.

Importing products – uploading a file to an online store

The prepared file should contain a header with the names of columns into which the values will be imported and the fields filled in.

An example file can contain fields: name, manufacturer, description, color, height, width, length, depth.

If we don’t know the value for one of the fields, e.g. color, we leave this field blank, remember not to remove the column from the import file, it must remain there in order not to lead to assigning incorrect values for other fields in the database.

The completed file is imported to the database, if the operation was successful, you can go to the product panel and check whether everything has been uploaded correctly, or whether we have made a mistake in the order of columns or separators. If you see any irregularities, you can correct them manually or upload a corrected import file with the product update option setting or remove the incorrectly created goods and upload the changed file again.

Importing images to products

Adding images to products in the online store is carried out in the same way as importing product descriptions, but depending on the system settings, there may be differences in requirements as to the order of operations.
The specification should specify whether the images should first be uploaded via FTP to the appropriate folder and in the file, specify the path to image or first import the full data file in which the path is contained, then upload the images.
It also happens that the online shop database is not located on our private server, the company uses the creator’s server, often in this case it is difficult to get FTP access, then it may be necessary to manually add images to products – however, this option, after importing the descriptions, is still faster than fully manual adding products.

Importing products into an online store not only accelerates the publication of goods on the site, but also relieves employees and allows them to focus on sales. It is worth taking the time to prepare the file import instructions reliably and increase the time needed for the company.

If you are looking for a company that will create an import file template for an online store. Write to us!

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