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

May 25, 2020

Feed management

The management of selling and advertising on multiple online platforms can easily become too complicated and time-consuming to handle manually. Is that a struggle that sounds familiar to you? Try adding feed management into your marketing repertoire and make it your superpower! Within this article we try to give you an easy introduction to feed management an a simple explanation to why feed management has become an essential asset for the future of eCommerce.

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

The goals in eCommerce sound so simple, but are quite hard to tackle in such a highly competitive field: reach your target audience, drive traffic to your online shop, and make your products or services visible are just some challenges every online marketer is facing. Feed management can support you in facing these challenges and equips you for a future where advertising and selling online can be done more effectively.

Kick off with your own product data

A product feed or data feed is the digital file that contains an overview of the products or items that you want to advertise online, including a variety of product characteristics, such as title, color, size, EAN/GTIN number, and much more. It is important to note that data feeds are diverse and used in all kinds of industries and sectors.

Information on physical products can be collected in a data feed just as easily as information on items like travel offers or job vacancies. A data feed usually comes in formats 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 will be fairly easy to extract this data file from you shop system. In other cases, a custom data file is your source for feed management.

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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 will notice that they require product information in a specific format, which is likely to not matching to the format of your original data file. Exporting your product catalog to various channels and for diverse purposes means that you will need your product feed in various formats. Different channel requirements can become overwhelming and hard to manage. Especially if would like to advertise on mulitple channels at same time. This is where a feed management tool suddenly becomes very handy.

As a SaaS solution, a feed management tool enables you to upload your original data file and reproduce it multiple times in different ways. Modifying the product information each time with regards to the requirements of your desired export channels.

The underlying process here is called feed optimization. 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. To prevent some confusion: synonyms describing the same functionalities are product feed management, shopping feed management, or data feed management.

Feed management in a nutshell

If you manage to do feed management the correct way you will increase the quality of you data feed as well as experience a greater ease to meet the exact needs of your relevant export platforms. Moreover, with feed management you will be able to keep your product information automatically updated, which in the end helps to facilitate accurate advertising as well as it optimizes your customers experience and expectations. With a feed management tool like Channable, you can for instance increase your feed health and save loads of time by taking advantage of the following 4 key functionalities:

  1. Easy product categorization

    A feed management tool allows you to organize your products in order to match the categories of the many different export channels. With Channable, you can even generate these categories instantly by utilizing the built-in smart categorization functionality. Using ’smart categorization’ can significantly speed up the set-up of a new feed, maximize your visibility on a channel, and increase your reach. NOTE: right now the ’smart Categorization’ functionality is limited to only the most popular advertising platforms. For minor channels you will still need to use the ’standard categorization’ functionality.

  2. Powerful "if-then" rules

    Usually, you would 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 setting up these rules, they will also automatically be applied to new products that are added to your online shop at later stage. 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 catalog.

  3. Top-quality data feeds

    Exporting a high quality, perfectly healthy 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 the stock, stays accurate can take a lot of your time. Therefore, some marketplaces offers API connections for your online shop. Using API´s will enable an automatic and continuous exchange of information, between the marketplace and your online shop. If you are using a ’feed’ you can schedule when you want you data to be updated. With API´s you dont need to schedule anything. With API´s your product data will be synchronized in real-time. This will for instance help you ensure that specifically your stock information is always up to date. NOTE: API´s are mainly available for the marketplaces, as you suddenly end up selling elsewhere than your own online shop.

An essential asset in the future of eCommerce

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

When you ask feed management experts and online marketers about the advantages of feed management and why feed management can help you to save both time and money, the most common answers will include the following:

  • "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 adjust the screws yourself. You minimize 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."

Do you want to get started with feed management or need more information about the benefits of feed management for your eCommerce business? No problem! Just reach out to us 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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Ilse GoedmanCustomer Journey Manager

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