What is Data Feed? and How to create one for your eCommerce store?

W

What is Data Feed?

A data feed is a way of sending structured, current, and up-to-date information. Usually for use on a website, app, or another online tool. Two common types of data feeds are news feeds and product data feeds. 

We will focus on product data feeds here. With the help of the product data feed, it becomes much simpler to load information about products that are present in an e-commerce store. 

Regardless of your role, a supplier, marketer, merchant, or manufacturer – the data feed can be used to attract potential customers. For example, if you are the publisher, you can use the data feed to secure details about merchants, and various promotions that are present in their store. 

With these details, you can compare and contrast many shopping websites and prices from Amazon, Google Shopping, or even Pricegrabber.

What makes the data feed useful would be its structured nature. In the beginning, it will appear confusing, however, it is easy for programs and algorithms to decode and extract information. 

Easy_Google_Shopping_Feed_Shopify_App_Banner

The data feed is often redirected using the FTP. However, there are many channels and platforms that can be used for distributing the data feed too!

The product data feed is not limited to text. In fact, you will find many images and links to images too. This is what makes the product data feed worthy.

Where can you use your data feed?

a. Shopping and price comparison websites

Data feed plays an important role in understanding which website, e-commerce store enjoys an edge in the industry. The data conveyed from the feed can be used to compare prices and various shopping websites. This way, you will be able to identify websites that offer the finest deals. 

Also, the product feed is updated with the most recent details about the products. Hence, when you receive a feed from various shopping websites, you will be able to judge “which” of the web stores have the content you are looking for. As marketers, this data will help you judge the efficiency and your role in the industry.

b. Marketplaces, like eBay and Amazon

Next in line would be Amazon and eBay. These are two competitive sites for all e-commerce stores. The volume of data processed, and generated by sites like Amazon and eBay are extremely high. 

This is one of the major reasons why newbie stores look for data from these centers. Data feeds can be used to compare your store against the content on Amazon and eBay. 

This plays an important role in building your portfolio and emerging as a potent player in the market. Of course, the data feed can be used to build your Merchant Center as well. This is yet another reason why the “up to date” nature of the data makes a big difference.

c. Affiliate networks

Affiliate networks use data feed for four important reasons. One, you can use the data for running price comparison between various sites. Two, the paid search affiliates use this information to determine bidding and campaign keywords. 

Both primary and secondary keywords can be extracted from the data feed. Content sites use the data feed to ensure that the data is both accurate and up to date. 

Also, the loyalty sites use the data feed to build voucher codes. The information from the data feed aids in building the right vouchers for the right candidates.

Easy_Google_Shopping_Feed_Shopify_App_Banner

d. Some social networks like Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram

Data feeds often crawl loads of information for social media networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. This is mainly because these social media sites are huge repositories of information. They tend to carry information about the most recent preferences of potential users. 

Both business owners and marketers tend to benefit from this kind of information. It helps them build a better store, with the right products, deals, and even descriptions. 

Content from data feeds that have information from social media networking sites can make a big difference in the way a brand targets its audiences. Indeed, it helps in building the marketing strategy.

e. News Sites

Another important use case of the data feed would be the news sites. These are sites that feature a huge amount of information. Data from these sites are often accessed by people around the world. 

It also needs stats about the performance of products. It helps in building comparisons and even understanding the perks of using certain products over the rest. 

Just like the other uses of the data feed, news sites also depend on the readiness and up to date nature of the feed. Many times, news sites rely on content from multiple feeds. All the feeds are aggregated, and key details are extracted.

How to Create Data Feed for your eCommerce store?

You can create a Data feed from your eCommerce store using any one of the following methods.

Technically, you can use two different methods to build an effective product data feed. The first method uses a file, which is generated from the data generated using your shopping cart. This data is then extracted and shared with Google. 

Easy_Google_Shopping_Feed_Shopify_App_Banner

In addition to this automated method, you can build the data feed using a manual strategy too. The manual strategy makes use of Spreadsheets and Excel. These are programs that can be used to build an effective data feed, from a huge volume of data.

Regardless of the method used, the data feed needs to be both accurate and efficient. You need to ensure that the inventory is in a format that can be accepted by the search engine too.

a. Using Google sheets or Excel files

Before you use any method to build the data feed, it is important for you to sign-up with a Google Merchant Account. The Google Account is where all your product details will be uploaded. 

As a seller, it is important for you to maintain high levels of accuracy in this account. Without the Google Merchant Center, the entire data feed becomes futile. 

The Google Merchant Center has to be associated with the Google AdWords, and Google Campaigns account too. Once your Merchant Center is up, you can focus on the data feed.

As a part of uploading the data feed, you need to sign in to your Google Merchant Account, and click on “Data Feed”. This is where data feeds can be uploaded individually, or in bulks. The “New Data Feed” option needs to be chosen for uploading content. Every data feed needs a unique name as well.

You will make updates to your product data in a google sheet or excel sheet, and they will automatically be applied to your account.

Once the data feed is created, you need to add them to Google. The columns used in your data feed needs to be carefully chosen. The search engine has many basic requirements for the feed you build. 

For example, you need to be specific about the title, product type, description, link, price, ID, image link, Condition, and Made In. These are basic fields that Google Merchant Center looks for in your data feed.

When you populate data in the feed, you must ensure that the details are accurate. Also, the description has to be loaded with primary and secondary keywords. The keywords will be matched against the queries made by the users. This is why the description and title need to carry the keywords.

b. Scheduled fetch

It is possible for you to fetch the data feed at a scheduled pace as well. In order to schedule the fetch, you need to log into the Manufacturer Center Account. Then, navigate to your “Products” and select “Feeds”. 

This will redirect you to the “Feeds Page”. As mentioned previously, every feed needs to have a unique name. Select the name of the feed from your “Feeds Page”. This will redirect you to a page, where the schedule can be defined.

As a part of the scheduling, you need to decide on the frequency, location, and timing of the chosen feed. The URL of the file plays an important role. The file should always be present in a location that begins with sftp, ftp, https, or http. Other locations are not allowed into the feed. 

Next, the feed you choose has to be protected with a username, and a password. If you don’t have a username or password, you can use the appropriate login information to open (access) the file.

Once the credentials are given, you can update the schedule.

i. You will host a file on your website that contains data and schedule a regular time for google to fetch updates.

Google Merchant Center can fetch data feeds from your e-commerce store. The update schedule needs to point to your URL, for the data to be fetched. As mentioned previously, the URL plays an important role in the ability of the feed to be accessed. 

The URL of your store has to be either https or http. Other formats are not accepted. Also, the size of your data feed needs to be within 4 GB. Anything more will be blocked by the bots that are responsible for accessing the data feed.

ii. Updates are only applied to your account when the fetch occurs.

Once the fetch is completed from an eligible account, you will be able to see updates. If you are submitting the request using an https, or http protocol – you don’t need the password or username. Both these fields can be left empty.

d. Upload

You will keep a file on your computer that contains data and regularly upload it to your account through SFTP, FTP, Google Cloud Storage, or a Manual upload.

Another method that can be used to upload your data feed, would be via manual methods. This is where the file transfer protocols are used to send data into the data feed. Technically, there are multiple places from which the data can be transferred. 

As quoted, the maximum size of data can be only 4 GB or less. Also, if you are using a file transfer method to send and receive data, you need to mention the username and password. These are two mandatory fields for uploading data using the FTP, and SFTP methods.

Many times, you can redirect to the Google Merchant Center to upload the feed from Google Cloud Storage. This is definitely a convenient way of accessing your data.

Finally, you can choose to manually upload the content into your Google Merchant Center.

e. Content API provided by Google

The Content API is a useful tool that can be used to interact with the Google Merchant Center Platform. The interaction happens directly and helps in managing Merchant Centers that are extremely complex. The overall efficiency of accessing data feeds increases with the Content API. With the API, you can deliver data and upload the feed directly into your e-commerce store.

If your store carries huge volumes of data, and if you need to update the content in a periodic fashion – you will find the Content API extremely useful. The Content API can also be used to manage your data feed with customized rules.

Even our Easy Google Shopping feed App makes use of the Google content API tool. It can be integrated easily with your Google Shopping Feed as well. The moment you make changes to your Shopify store, the alterations are automatically loaded into your data feed. This can be achieved only with the help of the Content API.

Easy_Google_Shopping_Feed_Shopify_App_Banner

When your product is ought to be used in multiple locations, the data will not be replicated. The Content API is designed in such a way, where items cannot be duplicated within a data feed.

Data Feed FAQ

1. How do you create a data feed?

Creating a data feed in Google is rather simple. In order to create a feed, you have to navigate to the “navigation menu” and select “products”. Here, you have to select “Feeds”. 

There are two different types of feeds: Supplemental and Primary feeds”. These are two different programs, which can be redirected to a separate destination. 

The destination identifies the feed that has to be used. Every program within the Google Data Feed has a name. The feed can be associated with the chosen program. 

Another way of building your product feed is by choosing “Add Products”. This is an advanced way of building your feed from multiple sources. The advanced data feed comes with features and a range of tools that will allow you to build within the Merchant Center. 

Here, you will be able to choose information from multiple sources. For example, you can build using spreadsheets or even an existing Shopify website. 

The various sources are blended together into your Google Merchant Center platform. Of course, you can modify the data to suit your requirement.

Finally, you can use the Google Content API for advanced shopping. These APIs can be used to manage structured data, programmatically. The Content API can be used to upload properties, from a free listing.

2. What is the data feed file?

The data feed file is a text file. This is a simple file that comprises product data. The data is present in a format that is apt for uploading into your shopping store, or engine. 

The data feed is often referred to as bulk upload, product feed, or even a data file. Many times, this file is in the format of a spreadsheet file. It can be uploaded into your catalog, in one go, or in smaller pieces. 

The file should comprise certain mandatory fields. Regardless of the platform, your data feed should comprise the price, description, and a few other item-specific details. The fields can be customized, to suit the type of your inventory. 

There are two different ways of creating your data feed. One, you can use the data feed file template. Or, you can customize and build your very own file using a spreadsheet tool.

3. What is a product data feed?

The product data feed is used by sellers, with e-commerce stores. The product data feed is useful in building your store, and connecting with Google Merchant Center. 

The product data feed is used to describe all the products in your store. It features important product attributes. The attributes are considered as data points. 

These data points can be used to describe all the products that are present in your store. This means every product in your store has an entry in the product data feed. 

Some of the most important data points in your product data feed are, availability and condition. These attributes can have both accepted, and standardized values. Few other parameters in the product data feed are title and id. Of course, you can leave these fields empty too.

4. How do product feeds work?

The product feed works by syncing the Merchant Center with product specifications. The product details can also be synchronized with paid online listings like Facebook, Amazon, and Google Shopping. 

In addition to paid advertisements, the product feeds are used by merchants. These feeds can be used to export various product information to sale sites and marketplaces. This helps sellers boost the overall performance of their site, and even take care of software functionality. 

Here is a simple example: When a wholesaler decides to use product data feeds, they can use the information to send up to date information to retailers. 

This streamlines the entire process of building a retailer database. With new products coming into their inventory, the databases can be built faster, and more efficiently with product data feeds.

Likewise, the feeds can be used to make the process of recognizing the latest improvement in the store at a faster pace. Throughout the journey, the product data feeds to ensure that the site’s information is both accurate and never obsolete.

Another place where product data feeds prove to be useful would be in the exploitation of product content. It is important for stores to be rich in information. 

Moreover, there are special data feed management requirements in stores. Each of these feeds requires rich content, like images of products. With the help of a product data feed, it becomes simpler to manage such content.

5. What is product feed management?

Product feed management is the process of optimizing and administering all the product feeds built for your store. The ultimate aim of this effort is to boost your online sales. With the help of product feed management, you will be able to boost the overall quality and efficiency of your product feeds. 

During the operation, the source of every piece of information is evaluated. Likewise, the requirements for every marketing and sales channel are administered. As a result, it becomes simpler for brands to ensure that the feed is updated regularly.

Three important issues that are fixed by the feed management services are:

  1. You will have a single platform, which updates, enriches, and monitors product information.
  2. You will be able to customize all your product feeds, especially with unique requirements and strategies.
  3. You will have a centralized location, where the promotions, sales, performance, and campaigns can be monitored individually.
Easy_Google_Shopping_Feed_Shopify_App_Banner

6. How do I set up a Google Shopping feed?

  1. To begin with, you need to click on the “Tools” icon that is found on the top right corner of your Google Merchant Account.
  2. Then, navigate to “Business Data” and select “Setup”. Following on, you need to navigate to “Data Feeds”. 
  3. This is where you will find a “+” button. Clicking on this button will open “Dynamic Ads Feed”. 
  4. where the business type has to be chosen. Finally, choose, attach, and apply the file.

Conclusion

On the whole, data feed is an important part of the Google Merchant Center and any e-commerce store. To increase your virtual presence, and to ensure that more traffic is directed towards your store – the product feed has to be built with the utmost care. 

Also, the product feeds need to be managed with the help of a “Product Feed Management” solution. This helps in optimizing, managing, and even generating “reports”.

About the author

Karthik Ramachandiran

Google Ads Expert From Bengaluru. Share his Expertise Here