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What is feed management, and why do I need it?

January 11, 2022

Feed management

The management of selling and advertising on multiple online platforms can easily become too complicated and time-consuming to handle manually. Does this sound familiar to you? Instead of struggling alone, add feed management into your marketing repertoire and solve challenging problems with ease! Read on and we’ll take you through every aspect of feed management in this easy to understand article. We strongly believe that feed management is an essential asset for the future of eCommerce and we hope you’ll agree with us after reading more.

What is feed management, and why do I need it?

Ecommerce goals appear simple, but it’s quite a different matter actually delivering on them in highly competitive environments. Reaching your target audience, driving traffic to your online shop and making your products or services visible are just some of the challenges every online marketer is facing. Feed management is a fantastic tool to help you effectively advertise and sell, whilst building a sustained and successful online presence.

What is a product feed?

A product feed or data feed is the digital file that contains an overview of the products or items that you would like to advertise online. Product feeds are diverse and used in all sorts of industries and sectors. Information on physical products can be collected in a data feed just as easily as information about subjects such as travel offers or job vacancies. A data feed usually comes in a specific format such as XML, CSV or a text file. If you manage an online shop built on an eCommerce platform like Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce, it is straightforward to extract this data file from your system. In other cases, a custom data file is your source for feed management.

WhatISAFeed_Infographic.png

Ok, so what information is included in a product feed?

Product feeds include information on a range of product characteristics. Some examples are listed below:

  • Title: what's the name of the product?
  • Description: what exactly is the product?
  • Price: how much does the product cost?
  • Category: what department or category is the product in?
  • Availability: is the product in stock?
  • Quantity: how many are there?
  • Extra information in bullet points: does the product have any key features or selling points?
  • Other key attributes: material, size, colour, EAN/GTIN number and basically any information you want to communicate to the customer about the product

But wait, why do I need to manage my product feed?

When you start advertising through third parties, such as price comparison sites, marketplaces or affiliate networks, you’ll notice that they require product information in a specific format, which probably doesn’t match the format of your original data file. Exporting your product catalogue to various channels and making sure it fits a range of purposes means that you will need your product feed in various formats. Different channel requirements can become overwhelming and hard to manage. Especially if you want to advertise on multiple channels at same time. This is where a feed management tool suddenly starts to make sense.

Hang on a second, what do you mean by multiple channels and channel requirements?

If you want to start advertising through various channels at the same time, you will quickly notice that each channel (e.g. Google Shopping, Facebook, TikTok etc.) all have unique requirements when it comes to product feeds. This fact definitely complicates things and that is why meeting channel requirements should be your first port of call.

First you need to create your product feed and then you need to optimize it so your product information meets the exact requirements of each channel. Optimising your product feed is the key to improving your conversion rate.

There are different types of fields you can use.

  • Required fields: a feed that meets the exact feed specifications of the channel where all mandatory fields have to be included
  • Optional fields: channels usually have a wide range of fields that are not required, but can help your customers understand your product better; like product type, price or delivery information
  • Custom fields: some channels will allow you to add data for a field they haven’t even created yet. You can add a field you’ve designed yourself called a “custom field", to make sure you have all the relevant product information in your feed

How can a feed management tool help me optimize my product feed?

A feed management tool is a SaaS solution that enables you to upload your original data file and reproduce it multiple times in different ways. The product information is modified every time depending on the requirements of your desired export channels.

The key with a feed management tool is feed optimization. The more data you provide, the better the channel can understand what you’re selling and match your products with visitors’ search queries. With a feed management tool, you can add additional data to your feed, enrich the product information and easily filter content based on a rule system. Just to make it crystal clear: synonyms describing the same functionalities are product feed management, shopping feed management or data feed management.

What happens without product feed management?

Most eCommerce businesses have a huge catalogue of products over multiple channels. It can be a huge challenge to bring all of this together and make things work in the most efficient and effective way possible. And without a product feed management tool you’ll have to overcome the following challenges on your own if you don’t have a dedicated in-house team. We have listed some of the issues you might face without a product feed management solution below.

  • Every channel has its own requirements and policies and you have to meet them all to sell or list your products
  • You have a huge catalogue of products but you don’t have an existing integration with each channel, so you have to list your products one-by-one which is laborious.
  • Your eCommerce platform might be integrated with certain channels, but you’re limited as to how you can change or format product data.
  • You don’t have the resources, expertise, or time to categorise all your products properly and optimise your product information to create better ad campaigns and search relevancy.
  • Your inventory has to be accurately displayed on each channel so you don’t oversell products and risk cancelling orders
  • You have to log into the seller portal in each marketplace to process and fulfil your orders which takes too much time - especially if you have a stack of orders.
  • Issues in your raw data mean that your product listings aren’t approved and are unlisted from your channels.

How can Channable help me overcome these challenges and optimize my product feed?

A great tool like Channable will help you with your product feed every step of the way so you can meet the challenges we talked about above. Channable can help you increase the quality of your data feed, make it easier to meet the exact needs of your channels and keep your product information automatically updated, which in the end helps to facilitate accurate advertising as well as optimize your customers experience and expectations.

Specifically, Channable can help you with product feed management in the following areas:

  1. Product Listing and categorisation
  2. Product Feed Optimisation
  3. Data Synchronisation
  4. Order Management
  5. Data Governance

Nailing all of these will help you reach the right customer, with the right product, at the right time. That is the perfect product feed optimisation!

Let's go through four of Channable’s key functionalities to increase your feed health and save valuable time

  1. Easy product categorisation
    A feed management tool allows you to organise your products so you can match the categories of the various different export channels. With Channable, you can even generate these categories instantly by utilising the built-in smart categorisation functionality. Using ’smart categorisation’ can save an enormous amount of time with the set-up of a new feed, maximise your visibility on a channel and increase your reach. NOTE: right now the ’smart Categorisation’ functionality is limited to the most popular advertising platforms. For minor channels you will still need to use the ’standard categorisation’ functionality.

  2. Powerful "if-then" rules
    You usually need a developer to update your product feed. With the support of a feed management tool, some easy "if-then" rules allow you to ‘code’ yourself. When you set up these rules, they will also be automatically applied to new products that are added to your online shop later on. This way you can precisely control the flow of products to each export channel and modify all the information at the same time. A good feed management tool will provide you with instant feedback after each rule is applied to your product catalogue.

  3. Top-quality data feeds
    Exporting a high-quality, consistent data feed will increase your online visibility. In general, you need to match the ‘fields’ containing product information in your import feed to the required ‘fields’ of the desired export feed. A feed management tool knows all the feed specifications for its integrated channels and stays up-to-date with changes and updates.

  4. Feeds & APIs
    Manually ensuring that the exported product information, such as stock levels, is always accurate can take a lot of your time. That’s why some marketplaces offer API connections for your online shop. Using APIs will enable an automatic and continuous exchange of information between the marketplace and your online shop. If you’re using a ’feed’ you can schedule when you want you data to be updated. With APIs you don’t need to schedule anything - your product data will be synchronised in real-time. This will, for example, help you ensure that your stock information is always up to date. NOTE: APIs are mainly available for marketplaces.

Channable feed management - an essential asset in the future of eCommerce

Automation and eCommerce go hand in hand, and the automation of online marketing activities is the key to productivity. But large inventories and increasing amounts of data are no reason to get scared. Feed management tools can help you get ahead of ever changing product catalogues and sales channels.

  • Everything is in one place. You have one single platform to optimize, enrich and maintain your product data, even for a large variety of export channels.
  • Feed management is compatible with the needs of your online strategy. You can create the perfect export feed for various price comparison sites, affiliates or marketplaces and define your own channel portfolio.
  • You stay in control. Feed management is a form of marketing automation that enables you to monitor your data and fine tune it yourself. You minimise the risk of error messages and low-quality exports, and there is no need to rely on data specialists or an IT department.
  • Feed management is extendable. Data optimization is only one puzzle piece of the perfect online marketing experience. All-in-one feed management tools, like Channable, offer additional features such as PPC automation, order syncs with marketplaces or an integration with Google Analytics to manage and evaluate your total online performance.

Conclusion

Channable is a product feed management tool that can help you optimize your product feeds for your targeted channels – the key to improving your conversion rates. We take all the vexing issues off your hands so you can focus on doing what you do best – creating fantastic products and services for your customers. Do you want to get started with feed management or need more information about the benefits of feed management for your eCommerce business? We’re here to help. Just reach out to us to find out more or schedule a demo of our tool.

TIP: For more information about choosing the ideal feed management tool, feel free to also read our guide on: How to find the perfect feed management tool.

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Jacob JørgensenMarketing Nordics

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