This week’s blog is from Retail Assist’s partner, Channable. Channable are feed management specialists and, together, we help our customers make their product data futureproof, speeding up the route to market.
The longer you work in eCommerce, the more you begin to realise that it’s an industry that can sometimes seem infinite, notably in terms of the number of eCommerce technology solutions out there.
Ecommerce naturally evolved with the development of technology, with many historians citing the beginning of eCommerce as the day that EDI was invented way back in 1960. However, understanding what they all do and how they support your eCommerce business can be a struggle. Feed management is an eCommerce technology that you may or may not have yet come across, but you can probably identify with the problem it offers to solve. Feed management helps when the management of selling and advertising on multiple different online channels becomes too fiddly to handle alone.
The retailer’s juggle struggle
Many retailers will be using online channels to increase sales or drive more traffic to their sites. These channels include online marketplaces like Amazon, comparison sites like Google Shopping, affiliate networks such as AWIN and many others.
Making use of online channels requires retailers to supply a file containing their inventory, also known as a data feed. If you’re doing this, you’ll be familiar with the errors you can encounter when your product information is not in the same format that the channel has requested. So, even after using a PIM system, like OMIO PIM, to organise your raw data and get it all in top shape, you’ll encounter that some online advertising channel has a different category mapping to you. Generating a new file that is compatible with the channel is already quite a feat, but when you need to make multiple new files or have thousands of products, this will become too hard to manage. In steps feed management tools!
How do I use a feed management tool?
A feed management tool is usually based online and you just need to log in and upload your data feed or connect to your online shop in a few simple steps. Your product information will then be in the system ready for you to make easy adjustments, to correct or enrich your data for the online channel you want to use. Feed management tools, such as Channable, allow you to change the data using rules (imagine these as easier-to-use excel formulas). You can copy and paste information, extract information, make calculations, amend values and so much more.
Once you’re all done, you can either download the new and improved data as a file or the feed management tool can push your product information instantly to the online channel of your choice. This depends on whether the online channel supports a direct connection (an ‘API connection’) or not. In addition, feed management tools will continually fetch the product data from your upload and ensure that any/all data sent to the online channels is also updated. This is particularly handy if perhaps an item is out of stock and comes back in stock. You can also create rules to save you advertising products that are low in stock.
Feed management tools are often confused with PIM or PXM systems, but it’s good to remember that with feed management your raw data will not be modified as you’re creating new files to be sent. In fact, PXM systems and feed management tools can work in harmony because you’ll need to ensure your product information is complete before utilising online advertising channels.
Is there more I need to know?
Today, feed management tools have evolved to offer additional add-ons or services such as order management or PPC automation. If you’re considering signing up for a feed management solution, there are a few things you need to evaluate.
Look into what online advertising channels a tool offers, as some tools might not offer all channels you want to sell on. If you’re considering other eCommerce solutions such as order synchronisation, PPC management or even a connection with analytics, check if you can find a tool that rolls them all into one.
Pay attention to what is included in the base price and any extra costs. Some tools charge for the setup or even per channel that you want to use. See whether the tool is subscription-based or contractual, and which model you’d prefer to commit to.
It’s also good to check whether the tool offers free support because you’ll most likely need plenty of help in the beginning. Most tools will offer a free demo to give an insight into how it works and so you can ask any burning questions.
As with all things in life, there is no perfect tool but it’s good to let technologies automate tasks that would otherwise require tedious manual work. By letting them do the leg work, it frees up time for you to focus on delivering higher quality experiences to your clients and optimising your advertising.