In e-Commerce, product feeds or data feeds are used regularly especially when you are exchanging large amounts of information or data. But what exactly is a product feed? Why do you need it? And what are some best practices when it comes to creating and using them?
What is a Product or Data Feed?
A product feed is a file that contains a list of all your products and its attributes. Attributes can include:
The most commonly used file formats are XML, CSV and TXT. While they can sound intimidating, think of them as a fancy excel spreadsheet with all your products information nicely organized.
Product feeds are used to provide information from your store to sales channels so buyers can easily find your products. So for example, if you are a manufacturer and you want to get your products listed on marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, a product feed enables your products to be added to their site quickly.
In the world of affiliate when we talk about data feeds we are referring to product feeds that merchants provide to affiliates to better list and promote their products. The affiliate can take the information in the feed and manipulate it in any manner they want to use on their own websites.
They can display all the products, maybe they just want to list some categories, list by price or offer a curated selection of products. Affiliates love to work with merchants that have data feeds so if you currently don’t have one, you should make this a high priority. Providing a detailed and up to date feed to your affiliates is sure to help them better promote your products, helps with your long-term relationship and ensure you have a more successful affiliate program.
Why do affiliates need a data feed:
Data Feed Requirements
Each affiliate network will have different requirements. It’s important to format the data feed to each networks specifications. While this can be time-consuming to format for each one, it really offers you the best chance for success in each network.
For example, ShareASale has 6 mandatory fields that are required:
The file must be saved as a zipped.CSV and can be uploaded under Creatives >> Datafeed.
There are helpful documents available within each network to help you format the feed to their specification. Once your feed is ready, upload to your account. Affiliates can then import your data feed to your website.
Several networks have created some tools to help affiliates get the most out of data feeds. ShareASale has their Make-A-Page tool which helps bloggers create a storefront so that readers can shop from a list that they have curated. There are also several software applications, for example, datafeedstudio and datafeedr. These make it easy to import products from feeds and build your own stores.
Here is an extensive list that we compiled and is available on our blog: https://www.amnavigator.com/blog/2012/04/13/20-affiliate-tools-for-working-with-product-data-feeds/
So know that you know what a Data Feed is and how to use it, what are some best practices?
As the world of e-commerce continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to have a well planned and updated feed. This will help set you apart from your competitors, encourage affiliates to promote your products and hopefully lead to increased sales.