Strategy Centre

IRP Product Data Guide

  
20 May 2015 11:33
  
  
18 January 2016 16:35

High Quality Product Information

This guide describes in detail the fields that are included in the standard product data template file.

If you have more data that is not included in the template file then please contact us — more data is always better than less.

First, we’ll look at the importance of having high quality product information on your website. Then we’ll move on to describe in detail the data fields that you need to provide us with in order to progress your deployment on the IRP.



The importance of high quality product information

It is a real challenge to pick the right products to sell. The IRP stock system can help with selection but understanding your market is also key. Even if you have the right products, it is clear that the foundations of success are laid on quality product data. If the product data is not good, it is impossible to reach any degree of success.

Product data covers a number of areas — images, descriptions, sizing information, good categorisation, attributes, even video. What this information has to do is leave no doubt as to what the product is and what it looks like. The better the information, the higher the conversion rate, and it also impacts on traffic.

Good data increases sales by increasing the conversion rate, but it also helps to increase traffic which is a hidden benefit of a good data set. Good data means that:

  1. The customer is clear about the product they are buying;
  2. Customers will find what they are looking for on your search;
  3. Data will list better on search engines and will not be disallowed in data feeds;
  4. Automated search indexing such as Google will bring up your data more often;
  5. Good data always gets more traffic and increases conversion.

Site owners rarely look at their own sites in the way their customers do. We all know what good data is when we visit other websites, but we do not critique our own. Many of your customers will not be specialists and have much less understanding of the product than you – therefore they rely on good data to make the decision to purchase. You have to give them the full information they need to be able to buy with confidence.


IRP product data guide

The following are the fields that are required in the standard product data template.

Please note: the product upload template extends down to the stock-level detail of items e.g. individual size, colour, partcode, price, stock level, etc. At the same time, you will also notice that the file contains product-level information, e.g. name, description, images and category. Based on these product names, descriptions and categories, the IRP product import tool will automatically detect when stock-level items need to be grouped under one master product. For this reason it is important to copy down this information throughout the file to each row — the IRP will then know that there are two products with exactly the same name and description but with different colours/sizes etc. and that these need to be regrouped into the same master product. This should be clear from the example data in the file.

A note on special characters: .csv files saved in Microsoft Excel do not default to UTF-8 encoding and therefore can sometimes corrupt special characters. If you have special characters (e.g. bullet points, symbols, foreign alphabet letters) in your descriptions or model names, please ensure your file is saved as Windows .xlsx rather than Windows .csv. This will remove any display problems you may encounter on import.

Stock_ExternalStockID

Max. 50 characters

If you have an external master stock system, this ID is crucial for creating the link between the stock system and the IRP. This is probably an ID that your stock control system has generated automatically but, depending on the setup, it may also be a duplicate of your stock level SKU/PartCode.

Brands_Active

True / False

This should be set to TRUE if you want the brand to be searchable on the website frontend.

TRUE is the recommended value when you are uploading new products during the deployment of your website.

However, if your site is already live and you are uploading a new product/brand range, you may want to set this to FALSE for the initial import and then manually set this brand to ‘active’ in the IRP Admin when you are ready to make the brand available to the public.

Brands_Brand

Max. 30 characters

This is the manufacturer/brand name. In a standard IRP setup, this will be appended automatically to the front of the model name on the website frontend. For example, “Adidas Copa Mundial FG Football Boot”.

Models_Active

True / False

This should be set to TRUE if you want the model to be searchable and active on the website frontend.

TRUE is the recommended value when you are uploading new products during the deployment of your website.

However, if your site is already live and you are uploading a new product range, you may want to set this to FALSE for the initial import and then manually set these models to ‘active’ in the IRP Admin when you are ready to make them available to the public.

Models_Model

MAX 250 characters.

This is the name of your product. DO NOT include the brand name in this field, as this will be appended automatically.

Model names should be easily understandable and work best when written in the way that users will search for a product. For example, “Heritage Ultralight Windshield Jacket”. Any incorrect characters make a difference. For example, “Heritage (Ultra-light) Wind-shield Jacket” will not index well on search engines.

As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid including the colour in the model name. Instead, you should specify colours and sizes in the ‘Option’ field. If the colour in the model title is the only difference between one product page and another, search engines will penalise you for duplicate content and your pages will index poorly. This happens because, when multiple pages have the same content but different URLs, links that are intended to go to the same page become split among multiple URLs. This means that the popularity of the pages becomes split. If duplicate content is too widespread on your website, then it will have an on-going detrimental effect on SEO.

However there can be some exceptions to this rule. When these arise it is important to deal with them correctly. If, for example, you are selling car parts that are identical bar the fact that they are designed to fit a specific model of vehicle, it may be too difficult for you to contain them within one model. In this case, you could update your product title to contain the part number and the matching vehicle, e.g. {part x} for {product y}. Similarly, for fashion/clothing websites, you might come across the situation where you have a large range of different coloured trousers, all with multiple waist and leg sizes, and you believe consumers will be searching for a particular colour of the item. In this case it may be worth creating a separate model for each. This reduces the number of options on the product page, makes user navigation easier and makes the product easier to search on the site. Please note, however, that this is only a viable option for SEO if you are able to put in the time and effort to make a clear differentiation between these models via their descriptions and imagery.

Models_DescriptionFormat

0 = Text (default if this column is removed), 1 =HTML

This tells the system whether you are inserting your description in HTML or Text. By default we assume you will be importing in Text (i.e. you have just typed the description and added bullet points directly in Excel/Word) and if this is the case you do not require this column. The IRP will always convert plain text into HTML for you automatically, but if you are directly uploading HTML descriptions, this column is required to let the IRP know not to modify and convert to HTML (otherwise it will add extra line breaks and change the format of your HTML).

Models_HasManufacturerUPI

True / False

This field tells the system whether to expect a Manufacturer PartCode or EAN Number or not. By default this field is set to TRUE and it is not included in the product template file as we assume that all your products will have manufacturer product identifiers. However, if it is the case where you have some own brand items or un-barcoded goods, you can add in this column to your product template file and mark such models as FALSE. This will in turn let us mark these items as not having identifiers in your Google/Bing shopping feed and should allow them to be validated and added to your shopping feed. Do not use this field if you simply can't find the barcodes as it will result in your feed being rejected.

These products won't have unique product identifiers:

  • custom goods or one-of-a-kind items, like custom t-shirts, art and perishables.
  • goods produced before unique product identifiers were introduced, like vintage goods, antiques, books published before 1970 and other special items.

More information from Google is available here about Unique Product Identifiers.

Models_Description

This is your product description. This is vital for your organic search listings. Think about what your customers will be searching for and try to summarise it in the first two lines. You should then go into more detail. Avoid large chunks of text by using new lines, paragraphs and bullet points for product specifications and make sure your formatting remains consistent across your product range.

It is imperative that these descriptions are different from the manufacturer’s default descriptions that will invariably not be unique and not be optimised for online search trends. Creating unique descriptions will make you stand out from the crowd in organic search. This description field can contain HTML and imagery as well as video embeds. These are encouraged where possible to enhance the product information.

If you are in the situation described above where you need to split your models by colour or specific part fittings, it is all the more important to make these descriptions unique. This will require an investment of time and effort. A useful technique can be to start by reading through the existing product copy, clear it out and then rewrite it from memory. If model/engine/year specific, use the name of the specific product that this part fits and include the part number in the actual copy.

Stock_DisplayOrder

Used to set the display order of stock items. If nothing is set in this column, the default will be alphabetical ascending.

It is recommended to set this to ensure stock items display in the desired order.

Also, whenever using ordering in the IRP, it is always recommended to add a 0 to the end of the order number. E.g. instead of 1,2,3,4,5 use 10, 20, 30, 40, 50. This allows you to quickly insert new items in between existing items in the future. So if you add an x-large in between the large (40) and xx-large (50) you only have to have to add a 45 and do not have to update all the order values of all stock items in that model.

Stock_Option

MAX 36 characters.

A short text that differentiates between the colour/size options of a particular product.

Think of your customers. If there is a size and a colour, always start with the size. The consumer may buy a different colour but will never buy the wrong size. Always be consistent in how you enter these. We see data that starts with XL, L, Medium, Small. Stick to one naming convention across your website. e.g., “Large – Sea Blue”, “Medium – Sunset Red”. Always use the manufacturer’s colours. Never add extra characters or poor spacing to the information e.g., “Large–Sea/Blue(2010)”.

Stock_Price

This is the price (including VAT) to be displayed on the website. If your base currency is GBP, enter this in GBP, if it is Euro enter this in Euro. Make sure to keep the currency consistent across all price/cost entries.

Other currency values on the IRP are derived from the base currency on a floating or fixed exchange rate. VAT-free products or products viewed from VAT-free international locations will have the base tax rate automatically deducted on the website and will be displayed without VAT.

Stock_RRP

The RRP displayed on website. Always add RRPs to products as this will show up any discounts if you are selling at less than RRP.

Stock_SupplierCost

This is the cost price (EX VAT) of your items in your base currency. It is essential for keeping track of profits in your IRP admin and auto-calculating your paid search bidding.

Categories_Active

True / False

This should be set to TRUE if you want the category to be searchable on the website frontend.

TRUE is the recommended value when you are uploading new products during the deployment of your website.

However, if your site is already live and you are uploading a new product/category range, you may want to set this to FALSE for the initial import and then manually set this category to ‘active’ in the IRP Admin when you are ready to make the category available to the public.

Categories_Name

Max. 50 characters

This is the name of the direct parent category of the product. As a general rule for simple, well-structured product data, products should be allocated to one single category. This category can then be placed into multiple sub-departments. For example, the ‘Specialized Propero II Bike Helmet’ product might go into the ‘Men’s Road Helmets’ category. This category could then be placed in the ‘Helmets’ sub-department, as well as the ‘Road Race’ sub-department.

If you do not wish to decide your category structure at this time you may leave this as ‘Uncategorised’ and allocate it to the correct category at a later date.

For more information on IRP category structure please see this IRP Knowledge Base help topic

Stock_PostageWeight

An integer input in Grams (do not include the g)

This is important for calculating postage rates. You should add it if it is available.

You can also bulk-update this on a category level at a later date.

Stock_PartCode

Max. 50 characters

This is the manufacturer’s Part Number or the SKU of this stock item.

This is vital for shopping comparison engines and is required by Google for shopping feeds if it exists (i.e. if it is not a custom-made product).

Stock_ISBNNumber

Max. 20 characters

This is the International Standard Book Number (ISBN), a unique numeric commercial book identifier.

This will apply only to books. You can use this field to store other information if necessary.

Stock_UPCAPartCode

Max. 20 characters

This is the Universal Part Code (UPC-A) of this stock item. You will probably have access either to this barcode or the EAN13 barcode depending on the product.

This is vital for shopping comparison engines and is required by Google for shopping feeds if it exists (i.e. if it is not a custom-made product or has an EAN13 code instead).

Stock_EAN13PartCode

Max. 20 characters

This is the International [previously the ‘European’] Article Number (EAN13) of this stock item. You will probably have access either to this or the UPC-A.

This is vital for shopping comparison engines and is required by Google for shopping feeds if it exists (i.e. if it is not a custom made product or already has a UPC-A code).


A note on Global Trade Numbers (Wikipedia):

The Universal Product Code, UPC, has been a dominant barcode standard in North America since it was established in the 1970s. It encodes a 12 digit number (GTIN-12), unique to a product, which allows it to be scanned and read in virtually any major retail establishment. A 6 “zero-suppressed” version (UPC-E) is available for items that are too small to allow the larger UPC-A version to be printed.

The EAN Barcode was developed as a superset of UPC. The EAN-13 and EAN-8 are other point of sale barcodes that are widely used outside of North America. A UPC formed in the United States can be transformed into an EAN by prefixing it with a zero.

The Global Trade Item Number, GTIN, is an identification number that may be encoded in UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN-8 & EAN-13 barcodes as well as other barcodes in the GS1 System.


Models_ImageURLs

If your product images exist on a publically-accessible URL (e.g. your current website, or a supplier website), you can add these URLs here and the IRP will be able to fetch and download the images automatically. You need to enter these as absolute URLs (including http://) and delimit each one with a comma. Make sure that the main image is the first in the list. If you do not have your product images on a public URL but on a hard disk, please contact us for help with naming conventions for bulk import.

Image quality is critical for conversion rates. Images should be of a consistent size and have a white background. Large images should be used, ideally at least 1200px wide by 1200px tall. You should add multiple images, showing the product from different angles, on a model if necessary and ideally one for each colour if applicable. The IRP will automatically optimise these images for the web and create the required image thumbnails for your website. As such, it is always best to start with the highest quality images available.


A note on attributes

All attributes values are Max. 36 characters

The next part of the product template file provides an easy way for you to add attributes to your products.

Attribute values allow customers to filter their searches and selections to find suitable products based on specific criteria.

Where an attribute applies to your product, it is essential that you fill in this information. This allows for ease of navigation for your users, combined with greater paid search marketing potential.

Note that not all attributes require a value and in some cases there will not be a suitable value for an attribute. In such cases, you should not apply a value.

Below is an example of attributes and their values.

AttributeAttribute Value
Age Group Adult
Colour Red
Gender Female
Material Cotton
Size Medium

If you want to add extra filters to your website to simplify user navigation to products, you can use the Attributes_Other1, Attributes_Other2 (add more columns as necessary) columns provided in the template file. Simply change the name of Attributes_Other1 to the name of your attribute, e.g. ‘Attributes_Team’ and then add in the values against the stock items – e.g. Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona.

A note on attributes and Google Shopping

Attribute values are also used to send stock-specific information to shopping comparison engines such as Google Shopping.

Some attributes are required for all items, some are required for certain types of items (such as clothing) and others are recommended. Failure to provide a required attribute may prevent that particular item from showing up in Google Shopping results, whereas failure to provide recommended attributes may result in items showing up less frequently.

As a general rule, for your item to be listed on Google Shopping, your product will require at least 2 out of 3 of: ‘Brand’, ‘PartCode’ and ‘UPC/EAN’.

Exception: If you have the case where no such identifier exists for an item (e.g. custom goods), please contact us before you compile your data so that we can modify the file to submit these feeds to Google with the ‘identifier exists’ value set to of FALSE.

Please see the following article for more information on Google Shopping requirements for attributes and partcodes:

https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/188494?hl=en-GB


Attributes_AgeGroup

When to include: Required for all clothing items but recommended for all items where possible.

There are only five accepted values:

  • ‘newborn’
  • ‘infant’
  • ‘toddler’
  • ‘kids’
  • ‘adult’

Attributes_Gender

When to include: Required for all clothing items but recommended for all items where possible.

There are only three accepted values:

  • ‘male’
  • ‘female’
  • ‘unisex’

Attributes_Size

When to include: Required for all clothing items in the 'clothing' and 'shoes' product categories but recommended for all items where possible.

If sizes contain multiple dimensions, condense them into one value (e.g. “16/34 Tall” for neck size 16 inches, sleeve length 34 inches and “Tall” fit).

Use consistent size values across variants of the same product, as well as across multiple products in the same category. For example, within a group of T-shirts, use “S”, “M” and “L” as sizes, not “S”, “Medium” and “Lrg”.

Attributes_Colour

When to include: Required for all clothing items but recommended for all items where possible.

If the item is made up of more than one colour, combine the colours with a forward slash (“/”) in order of prominence (dominant colour first, then at most two accent colours). For example, a black shoe with green accents should have a colour value of “Black/Green”. In the case of non-deformable goods in clothing such as jewellery, or wooden accessories where finishes or materials are equivalent to colour, the finish or material name can be submitted in the colour attribute (e.g. “Mahogany” vs “Stainless Steel” vs “Rose Gold”).

Limit the number of colours submitted to three values.

Attributes_Pattern

When to include: Required for all clothing variants that differ by pattern.

The pattern or graphic print featured on a product. For example, a T-shirt might have a logo of a sports team and have pattern values of “Bears”, “Tigers”, etc. A dress might come in two prints and have pattern values of “Polka Dot”, “Striped”, “Paisley”, etc.

Attributes_Material

When to include: Required for all clothing variants that differ by material.

The material or fabric that a product is made out of. For example, a high-heeled shoe might have values of “Leather”, “Denim”, “Suede”, etc.

For example: Primary Material/Secondary Material/ Tertiary Material (Cotton/Polyester/Lycra).

Attributes_Other1

Extra attributes that you would like to add to give users the ability to filter products in search/category/brand menus. For example, ‘Team’, ‘Engine’, ‘Car Manufacturer’, ‘Wheel Size’, ‘Year’, etc.

Rename this column to read 'Attributes_Team', 'Attributes_Engine' etc.

Attributes_Other2

Same as above. You can add and rename as many of these extra columns as required.


Summary

While organising data can be time consuming, your success rests on your product information. You must ensure that the data is well managed and that it is as good as it can be. For a successful multichannel business, it is key that product data is given the priority it deserves.

Please contact us if you have any queries about the above, the template file or if you require assistance exporting your data from your current platform.

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