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Tools, apps and e-commerce websites

Why You Should Use At Least One Product Or Shopping Feed

They’re everywhere, even if you don’t know it! We’re talking about product or shopping feeds, which are an invisible part of your favorite online stores. 

While you may not see them as an ecommerce buyer, they can be easy to miss for marketers too, even though they’re incredibly useful for store owners! The idea of a shopping feed still confuses ecommerce owners and marketers to this day – but we want to take the mystery out of the product/shopping feed.

Understanding Product Feeds

So, what are product or shopping feeds all about?

In their simplest explanation, product data feeds (aka product feeds or shopping feeds) are CSV, TXT or XML files which contain a lot of product information. This information is used by product marketing channels like on Amazon, Google and Facebook to process merchant product data in order to display product listings later.

A product data feed can be understood as a file that includes a list of data in text form, as well as the  attributes from your eCommerce store. The product feed file will include product details that are uniquely shown, advertised or contrasted online.

The fields that are typically included in a product data feed include the product’s title, description, price, size, image and identifier. Some complex feeds can include different languages and currencies, ad copy, customised Google labels, social recommendations, product ratings and more! The place you want your feed to show up will determine what type of data you should include.

Why they’re useful

One thing to consider is that product feeds are typically required to submit product data to shopping channels.

That’s how many ecommerce retailers use product feeds; basically, they’re used to move product data between two different places. Technically, there’s nothing bad about submitting unoptimized product data if you have to.

But we feel obliged to mention that there’s a deeper meaning behind your product or shopping feeds. This is because shopping channels and marketplaces can often use your product data as  indicators as to the quality of your ad campaigns. Some channels may draw from your feed data to conclude whether or not to show your product for a particular search query. And obviously, you want this answer to be ‘yes’ most, if not all of the time! 

Your product or shopping feed can then be seen as a tool to drive the success of your ecommerce campaigns.

There are a lot of benefits that come with having an optimized product feed. Here are a few top benefits:

  • Better Quality Scores. Channels can only use your product data when their algorithms and complex systems ultimately device which listings are shown to shoppers. Therefore, what you include in your product feed can make a world of difference. 

A more complete set of product/shopping data is essential to win the battle against the algorithm.

  • Accuracy of your data. Have you double checked that your product listings are in-line with your store data, including stock levels, price updates and more? If not, this could damage your campaign. 

Having inaccurate, outdated data used in your product listings will cause a bad user experience, and could also mean that you don’t show up on some channels.

  • Flexible product data. Don’t forget that you’ll need to stick to best practices in order to gain more conversions. Using a product feed allows you to have some flexibility over your product data. You can change, move around and enhance your store data in order to leverage your web traffic better. 

Your customers will love your store once they’ve clicked on the initial product listing, because it’s a better change to show off your tone of voice, brand message and overall style.

Who can benefit from using a Shopping Feed?

Let’s put it this way: If you sell products online, you should start using a shopping feed or product feed if you haven’t already started using them.

Now, you’ll need to decide if you want to manage product feeds manually or using an automated system or API.

You’ll need to understand the implications of each method before deciding which one works best for you. 

  1. Manual product feeds, with spreadsheets. You’ll have to manage your shopping feed data using a spreadsheet that is manually updated on Excel/Google Sheets. Every time you make a change, you’ll need to reupload your file to each channel. 

This is best for small-scale sellers with a low variety and volume of stock.

  1. Using content API for direct product feeds. You’ll need to set up a connection between your web store host and the channel you’re selling on. Some examples of this include Shopify and Bigcommerce, to name a few. This is a quick way to connect to channels easily. The negative to this is that you can’t customize or optimize your data much, and it will go out exactly as it is listed in your store. 

This is a good option for new sellers, who don’t know much about product feed optimization or have a lack of time available for this. 

  1. Automated product feeds, using tools/apps. This is the ideal way to save time and effort, while simplifying the whole process. What you’re looking for here is a product feed optimization tool or app that is affordable and scales easily with your potential. Initially, you don’t need something too complicated.

Automated product feeds are best for sellers with a large variety of products – we’re talking hundreds, if not thousands of products, and beyond! This is also the preferred method for sellers with seasonal/changing products and those interested in selling on multiple channels at once. It’s important to remember that your feed isn’t optimized for any one channel – it’ s optimized for your store. This is also known as a multichannel feed.

Using product feed with Google Merchant Centre

Did you know that google has a dedicated service known as Google Merchant Centre? It’s a specialised tool that focuses entirely on your shopping and product feed data. It can be used to help make your ads ready for Google Shopping ads and other Google services.

You can find out more about the Google Merchant Centre here. 

One of the many benefits to signing up to the Google Merchant Centre is that you’ll be able to set up your own Google Shopping Feed. You’ll need to set up a primary feed in order to get going.

A primary feed is the main, necessary data source that Merchant Center will use to show off your products on Google. It will need to meet Google’s product data specification and policies. Product or Shopping data that does not meet the Google Merchant Center requirements can be adjusted by using some advanced feed features. .

Some of the things you can use primary feeds for is adding or removing product data, setting language/country targeting, and implementing feed rules for your data. You can only add or remove products using a primary feed. 

Other things that you can alter in your primary feed include feed destinations, your primary feed name, your input method, the file name, the country of sale, the language of your product data and more. 

After you have added detailed information to your Primary feed,  you can view and manage your newl-y created feed in the “Feeds” section of your Google Merchant Centre account. You will use this feed to add listings to your Google Shopping Feed.

With Google Shopping Feed and Merchant centre, you also have the option to add Supplemental feeds. These can provide extra data that can be connected to an existing data set. They cannot be used as standalone shopping feeds. A supplemental feed works best when connected to your primary feed, which can be linked with it’s ID attributes.

You can find out more about creating a Google Shopping feed here. 

Conclusion

If you didn’t know what a Product feed or shopping feed was, you’re not alone! However, the fact is that if you’re an ecommerce merchant or advertiser, you need to be listing your products using a product feed. We can assure you that you’ll be missing out if you’re not updated! 

There are many options in doing this, including manually updating your own document, using an API to help you out, or even fully automating the process. You should consider the scale and amount of items sold in order to decide which of these methods would work best for you.

A simple introduction to a shopping feed is the Google Shopping Feed, which you’re probably familiar with. You’re probably wondering how to use this for your own business. You can sign up for an account at the Google Merchant Centre in order to start turning your own primary feed  data into a Google Shopping Feed listing.

Need more help with your shopping feed?Now’s the time to consider using ShoppingFeeder and it’s Google Shopping extension. We’ll take the hard work out of listing your products on product feeds.

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