A Guide to Product Import Files & Data Integrity

Data Integrity

  • Before going into the process of how we (ipso) deal with product import files, it is important to talk about data integrity.
  • Every CMS has a certain way of accepting data.
  • Different platforms want the data formatted differently, and even different web agencies have different import tools that call for specific formats.
  • It is very important to have one central location for all of the data where updates can be managed by one team.
  • Google Sheets is a prime place to keep the data stored since multiple people can access it and manage it at once.
  • Ipso trains the client on how to format the data--it will be a collaborative process between the client and an expert in order to ensure that the format is correct and that the data is accurate.

The Process

(1) The first step is for us to get acquainted with the client’s product catalog.

  • We will have the client walk us through the product catalog so we understand the information connected to each and every product.
  • This will allow us to know the different fields that need to be represented on the product page.
  • We need to know important information about every product, even if something just applies to one.

(2) Once we have a complete understanding of all the information connected to the products, we will build a product template spreadsheet with columns important to the client’s specific catalog.

(3) Next, we will get to know information for the required columns in the spreadsheet which will represent the different fields of the webpage.

(4) Once the spreadsheet is built, we will train the client on how to fill it in correctly and describe what each column means.

  • This will be a step-by-step process.
  • We will describe what fields are required and what fields are optional.
  • We will also explain the specific format for each column.

(5) After training, we will give the spreadsheet to the client for them to fill out. This will happen in steps also.

  • We will tell the client to fill out the data for one product, and we will check to make sure it is done correctly.
  • Once we have made sure that the single product is correct, we will have the client fill out the information for an entire category. Once again, we will also check if this was done correctly.
  • After correctly filling out information for a category, we will have the client fill in the information for the entire catalog, where we will check it yet again.
  • Even if we give a thumbs up, that doesn’t mean everything is exact. It means everything looks good and the format was followed. Any holes will be found in QA testing.

(6) The next step is for us to take the spreadsheet and do the very first import into the dev site.

  • Sometimes there may not be any design yet.
  • The design of the product page is usually worked on concurrently with creating the catalog. If it is complete, then the design on the front end will be visible. If not, then it may just be the product info in the back end and the design will come later.
  • Once the first import is done, we will confirm that it works correctly. If it does not, we will make revisions and import it again until it does.

(7) Internal QA testing is the next step.

  • We make sure the import works.
  • We will also compare the fields that show up to the spreadsheet to make sure they show up like we expect them to.

(8) Next is QA testing with the client.

  • Not only will the client see if everything looks and functions correctly, the client will also be making sure that the information is accurate, that the products are in the correct categories, and that the descriptions are correct.
  • If the client finds a problem, we will have them identify it. We will go and look at the spreadsheet and then instruct the client on how to fix it.
  • We usually have the client manage the spreadsheet and make the changes since we want one team to have that control.
  • We will continue testing until the client says everything is accurate.

(9) Once the first part of QA testing is done, we will move into the general QA testing we do.

  • We test the product page and other applicable pages on all devices and all browsers.
  • We will revise and adjust problems as necessary.

(10) Once it is ready for final approval, and is approved and accepted by everyone, we are done!

  • We also want to train the client on how to manage the product import themselves. This can happen concurrently with all of these steps or at the very end.