- What is a product feed?
- Why do I need one?
- Is it easy to implement?
- What sort of effect we can expect and within what timescale?
- What would you recommend?
What is a Product Feed?
‘’A product feed or product data feed is a file made up of a list of products and attributes of those products organized so that each product can be displayed, advertised or compared in a unique way. A product feed typically contains a product image, title, product identifier, marketing copy, and product attributes.’’ – Via Wikipedia
Why do I need one?
So that your products can be found online. The aim is to provide consumers with high quality, accurate information so they can make a buying decision in the following online locations:
- Search engine Ad networks (Google, Bing).
- Price comparison websites (Connexity, Kelkoo).
- Affiliate networks (Awin, Webgains, Linkshare).
- Marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Fruugo, Newegg).
- Social networks (Facebook, Instagram).
The structured format of a product feed allows the end platform to present the results to consumers in a uniform and meaningful way and ultimately drive your online visibility and sales.
Is it easy to implement?
As with most aspects online, there is a very broad spectrum of work when compiling, structuring and optimising your product data. This is based on many factors such as product type, size of range (and variations), brand restrictions and many more.
Most channels produce a fixed structure of acceptable values and format. Platforms such as Magento, Shopify and Woo Commerce provide the structure for your data and product feed and has a network of tools to integrate across channels (for example they are free to plug directly into Pricesearcher).
Marketplaces and shopping sites may provide a template or portal to upload your products from creating listings one-by-one through to mass loading against existing seller details.
What is not to be underestimated is the level of resource required not only to set-up new feeds for new sales channels but then also to keep them updated and optimized as developments are made on the different platforms.
For example, a pair of trousers could be ‘Apparel’ on one platform and ‘Clothing’ on another. Word’s may be Americanized such as Colour. One of the biggest challenges when selling across multiple channels is meeting these varied requirements and keeping on top of any changes.
Because of these challenges, there is a huge ecosystem of solution providers able to support managing data, sales, stock and pricing across multiple channels.
Some companies, particularly online Pureplay sellers, may see the product feed is such a fundamental part of the operation and retain dedicated competency in-house.
If you are considering an outsourced provider, it is useful to review the different models that are available and the costs involved.
- SKUs In
- Feeds Out
- Package / Bundle / Revenue share
- Fixed SaaS fee (Tiered depending on SKUs / Revenue)
What sort of effect we can expect and within what timescale?
Timescale really depends on the sales channel and how often your product feed is updated. For example, Pricesearcher accepts feeds a number of different ways. Those using a plugin such as Magento, Shopify or Woo Commerce instantly pass us any changes. Whereas someone sending via FTP will only update once a day on the next upload.
Changes such as the brand or colour examples earlier would have an instant impact on relevance, where you appear in search and therefore the number of users visiting your product page.
The impact and timings will be driven largely by the sales channel you are working with and any middleware/solutions provider.
What would you recommend?
Selling online successfully is mostly about finding buyers, placing your products in front of the right person at the right time, meeting their expectations and then enabling them to purchase easily.
Utilising as many sales channels as possible, from your own site, marketplaces, to social media is important but requires attention to ensure you are showing the right data to represent your business.
It is important to consider the impact of your own terms compared to the terms expected in the wider marketplace. In practice, you may show a Grey t-shirt on your website, but call this ‘Charcoal’ in the title and description. Unless you are including somewhere in the data that the t-shirt is ‘Grey’ it is most likely only to been seen by users searching for a ‘Charcoal’ t-shirt.
We saw an instance of a brand’s direct website appearing in our search results lower than the retailer it also supplied. Why was this? The retailer used the Brand’s name in the product title since that was important for their on-site search and they replicated this in their product feed. The brand, on the other hand, may have assumed it had no reason to add the brand to the title for on-site search since the shoppers were on their brand site shopping. The product feed supporting their site may have been functioning perfectly satisfactorily for their own site, but the moment they pushed the data to another platform this became an issue. The lesson is to consider adapting your data appropriately for each platform.
The more compelling, accurate and complete the information you put into your product feeds the better performance you should get out of them.
Questions to ask yourself could be: Do your titles make sense? Are you including brand titles and terms that the shopper would be using? How do you compare to other sellers?
One of the most important aspects of selling online is driving buyers to your offering. What is your product feed strategy and how are you going to make the most of the tools available to you to create, optimise and share your product feed?
If anyone would like more information on product feeds or have further questions, please get in touch with the team.
Why are we in a position to share our knowledge about Product Feeds?
Our team have spent years working with some of the biggest names in ecommerce and retail including Amazon, eBay, Tesco, Sky, King and PwC.
Pricesearcher is a free product search engine used by millions of consumers to find products they are looking to buy. Users can assess their buying options across online sellers, retailers (IKEA), brands (Dyson), marketplaces (Amazon), deal sites (Groupon), classifieds (eBay) and price comparison websites (Kelkoo).
Some of this blog quotes our recent Whitepaper. We can help you understand some of the detail behind the data and would love you to download and review our free whitepaper research from findings based on 4 years of experience working with 500m+ individual SKUs and thousands of individual product feeds across 10 countries.
This is an opportunity for us to share our learnings and data insights about product feeds with the wider ecommerce community. Sharing this information and presenting an aggregate view allows online sellers to benchmark and compare industry averages to their own operations for things such as – product title length; what the most common feed file format; and how many product feeds include an accurate barcode. This research is about us sharing data and hopefully arming you with information that you will find useful.
You can find our whitepaper at Pricesearcher.com/research