Not many online sellers know what product feed is.
But here’s a fun, visual way to answer the question ‘What is a product feed?‘
Imagine that one day, you bump into your good friend Google (who knows a lot of people).
You begin telling him about this great new product you’re selling. You’re talking, but Google just stands there smiling back with a dumb look on his face.
That’s because Google is deaf. He doesn’t understand English or any spoken language for that matter.
But he does speak .xml.
So to get your good friend Google to tell all his friends (that he has a lot of) about your new product, you need to talk .xml.
If the .xml is the language you speak to Google, your product feed is the message that you give to Google to share with all his buddies. Essentially, a product feed is a form of marketing automation that your ecommerce company can leverage.
As you may see, this article is all about product feeds and how the related to your online store. Today you will see:
- What is product feed management?
- How to make an XML product feed
- What are Google Shopping and Facebook product feeds?
Every wondered how the internet magically knew you looked at a product and then advertised similar products in front of you on various pages?
That magic is a product feed.
What is a product feed?
A product feed, sometimes known as a data feed or product data feed, is a .txt, .xml or excel file that contains all the data of the products you’re selling.
The information in this file is sent to Google, Facebook, price comparison sites and many other websites.
Many other marketplaces & shopping channels reference a web store’s data feed, typically to communicate which products it will display.
Below is a visual representation of what a product feed is:
Why do I need a product feed?
One word: Multichannel.
Going multichannel, that is, selling in multiple channels, is of the utmost importance to spread your brand name.
Product feeds make it easier for you to present your brand name and your products in multiple sale channels.
Product Comparison Search Engines are an often overlooked sales channel.
And guess what.
They also speak .xml.
Product feeds are the technical document that tells Comparison Search Engines all the details about your product. Therefore your XML feed needs to be accurate and detailed.
If a customer is browsing a Product Comparison Search engine and is looking at your product next to a competitor’s, it pays to have as much information on show as possible.
This in-depth information may be all that’s needed to convince the customer to buy with you over your competitor.
Below you can see a screenshot from NextTag, one of the oldest Product Comparison websites online.
When used correctly, product feeds provide you with increased traffic, brand recognition and sales from customers that are ready to buy your goods or services.
Your product feed provides information from your store to sales channels so buyers can easily find your products.
Advantages of using a product feed
- All important information about your products is conveniently located in one place
- Information about all your products is consistent across all selling channels.
- A well-made product data feed can help increase your visibility over more channels– more people see your products.
- Product feeds are an easy and cheap way of taking part in multi-channel marketing, as well as gaining interaction with new and existing customers.
Further along in this article, you’ll see how to generate a product feed by yourself and upload it to the relevant sales channels.
This can be a time consuming and delicate process. It’s also very simple to make a mistake and skew all your data – and lose half a day’s work in the blink of an eye.
It’s much easier to save your time and avoid mistakes by generating a product feed automatically and having it instantly uploaded to the relevant sales channels.
Where are product feeds used?
Product data feeds are used in a variety of places.
Those sales channels include:
Google Shopping Product Feeds
What is a Google Shopping feed?
Virtually every search for a product goes through Google. Google will use your data feed to see if there are any products it can display as a result of a search in a product listing ad (PLA).
Below is an example of how Google Shopping can use your product feed:
Facebook Product Feed
We recently discussed Facebook and using it to advertise. Facebook will reference your data feed to create Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs). These ads are tailor-made depending on the content that a Facebook user likes or has recently shown interest in.
Price Comparison Product Feeds
Price Comparison Engines will call upon your product data feed when a user wants to compare your products against others.
Behavioural Retargeting and Product Feeds
Google is just one website that will track your behaviour and place ads in appropriate places of appropriate products. Product data feeds are used to do this.
Online Marketplaces also use Product Feeds
Websites like Amazon, NewEgg, eBay and Walmart are marketplaces. They will automatically call upon your XML feed and use it to list your products if they’re relevant to a search.
Below you can see how Amazon searched multiple product feeds and multiple categories:
What goes into a product feed?
Whether you make your own feed using a spreadsheet, or you automatically generate your own product data feeds, it’s worth taking note of what goes into creating one.
Each product should have the following attributes: (* = optional)
|ID||A unique, identifying number. Usually an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)|
|Label||The name of the product that will be displayed|
|URL||A link to the product page|
|*Image URL||A link to the main image that will be displayed (restrictions vary)|
|*Quantity||The amount available (When quantity = 0 a ‘fallback’ will take its place’|
|*Price||Must be a numeric value|
|*Gender||Male, Female, Unisex|
|*Fallback URL||When the quantity of the product is 0, this product will take its place|
Updating product feeds
Nowadays, most feeds are ‘live’. That is, you do not manually have to update them. Feeds are usually refreshed many times a day.
If you sell out of one product early in the morning, that product will immediately be made unavailable in all your sales channels immediately.
A live product feed also updates attributes that you change. If you change an attribute, that change will be applied everywhere your products are placed.
For example, in your ecommerce platform, you might change the label (name) of your ‘Antique Ruby Ring’ to ‘Vintage Ruby Ring’.
With a regularly refreshed feed, that name will be changed everywhere the product is presented.
Product Feed Management
So you have your product data feed set up and ready to go. Here are a few little tweaks to make sure Google shows your products rather than the competitions.
Google reads left to right. Google sees words at the beginning of the title as more important than those later on.
Put the most important words (ie, your SEO keywords) first. Brand, Gender, Product, Color, Size, for example. Max. 70 characters.
While it is cute to start a description with a witty comment or remark, that won’t do you any favours in terms of search results.
Product descriptions are weighted similarly to titles. Most important words first, but not a copy of your title. Google will ‘punish’ you for this.
If you’d like to know more about the finer points of creating Product Descriptions that convert, read the following article:
The internet is constantly growing and changing so product feeds are becoming more and more important to make sure that your products are everywhere they can be.
In this article you saw:
- What is a product feed?
- How do make a product feed or data feed
- How to update and optimise your product feed
The world of eCommerce is only going to grow more and more competitive so a well planned and optimised product feed is essential to get on top and stay there.
Do you use a product data feed in your ecommerce store? What are some of your tips for product feeds?
Let us know in the comments!