10 Steps to a Better Data Feed

Here at StyleFeeder we work with a staggering number of merchant data feeds from affiliate networks and other partners.  The data quality of these feeds varies quite a bit, sometimes by sins of commission (data where it doesn’t belong), sometimes by sins of omission (leaving out important information).  In an effort to get the word out, we’ve produced a top 10 list for retail merchants creating product data feeds.  This is not a comprehensive list but a quick overview.

It’s easy for us to capitalize your product names and categories for emphasis on the page, but very hard to do the opposite and get the original data back.

2.  Item names should say what they are
If they’re pants, put that in the name.  If they’re wedge sandals, put that in the name.  If it’s a notebook computer, put that in the name.  Especially if there are multiple items in the shot, like a belt displayed with the top and the pants.

3.  Keywords should be descriptive and product-specific
Not a repeat of the item name, not all the words from the long description with delimiters between, not keywords about the store that don’t apply to the product.

4.  The longer the description, the better
People browsing your affiliates’ sites want information, and the more you give them the more will click through and the more will buy.

5.  Categories should be set, and contain the relevant information
If things have gender relevance, include that in the category names.  If you sell different types of items, the category should reflect what type each one is.

6. Brand fields should be filled, and consumer friendly
Customers like to search and browse by brand, and we can’t do this if the field is blank.  Also, customers don’t know your brand with corp or inc or things like that tacked on the end, so fill your feed with the name they know.

7.  Use pricing fields in a standard way
If all of your items have a sale price filled in, it’s probably not a sale and it should probably be in the regular price column.  Save the sale price column for specials.

8.  If an item doesn’t have a working image, leave the image URL blank
404 errors, “image not available” images, store logo images.  If you can’t leave them blank, use the same “noimage.gif” type URL for all the broken ones so we can code around it.

9.  Use identifier columns
UPC when available, ISBN for books, Manufacturer Part Numbers that you’d use to order the item from the manufacturer.  And consistent SKUs for your own store that stay the same over time for the same item.

10.  Talk with your affiliates!

This goes without saying, but just like shoppers are the customers of your products, your affiliates are the customers of your feed.   We may have good ideas, we may have terrible ideas, but either way we may tell you something you haven’t thought of.