How To

Creating a Custom Flex Feed

Custom Flex Feeds allow retailers to send a feed of your product data to virtually anywhere. Each feed can be completely customized by transforming the data within to meet the needs and requirements of the destination where the feed will be sent - by use of a Feed Setup guide that walks you through each step of the process, from creating a field template, to mapping data, to setting up a delivery schedule.

Custom flex feeds are commonly used to provide product data to affiliate networks, retargeting vendors, personalization vendors, and product review platforms, but may be used for much more - and customized for every use you can think of.
 

Prerequisites


Video


 
Creating a Custom Flex Feed - In this video you will learn how to create a custom Flex Feed following the six easy steps of the Flex Feed setup guide. View Transcript

 
 

Tasks to Complete


  1. Select your feed destination.
  2. Select inventory to be included in the feed.
  3. Build your feed template.
  4. Use the Merchandiser to map your inventory data.
  5. Determine the frequency of when your feed will be generated.
  6. Preview, activate and download your feed.

Begin the process of creating your custom flex feed in ChannelAdvisor by navigating to Digital Marketing > Marketing Management > Feeds:
  1. Click +Add New Feed .
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find Custom Destinations, and click +Add Site. The Feed Setup guide opens.
     

Select Your Feed Destination

The Destination page of the Feed Setup  guide  allows you to specify the destination site for your feed.

  1. Click +Create New.
  2. In the window that appears, create a Site Name. The Site Name only appears in ChannelAdvisor, but should be something that is easy to remember. Click Save.
  3. Classify the site: select a use for the feed, or choose Other if none apply.
  4. Determine how feeds should be delivered to this site :
    1. FTP: If this option is chosen, you are required to enter FTP credentials at the bottom of this page, including Complete FTP URL, FTP Username and FTP Password.
    2. HTTP Pickup: If this option is chosen, an HTTP link will appear that can later be used to download your feed file after it has been generated.
  5. Do you want to track performance of the feed? By saying yes to this setting, performance data will be visible in the ChannelAdvisor Performance view (Digital Marketing > Dashboards > Performance) as long as tracking pixels are properly installed.
  6. Review your settings, as the options here cannot be changed after this point. If any of these options need to be changed, a new feed must be created.
  7. Click Next
 

Select Inventory for Your Feed

The Inventory Selection page of the Feed Setup guide allows to specify which products in your inventory should be included in the feed. (If your inventory is not in ChannelAdvisor, visit our Getting Started with Inventory page on the SSC to learn more.)

Your products must have specific labels applied in order to select them for your feed.

  1. From the Label drop-down menu, select the label that has been applied to the products you want to include in your feed, or select All Inventory to include all products in your feed.
    1. Alternatively, you may click +Create New Label to create a new label to assign to your products for the purposes of this feed. 
    2. Enter a Label Name in the window that appears.
    3. Select which products to apply this new label to, using the filters at the top of the inventory grid to find the products you want to include.
  2. Choose whether or not you want to Include Child Items , which will allow you to include parent and child inventory products on the same label for your feed.
  3. Click Next.
 

Build Your Feed Template

The  Template  page of the Feed Setup  guide  is where you will build the template for your feed, or how you want your data organized in your feed.

  1. Under the Template Fields section:
    1. Add the Field Name and optional Description for each field you want to build into your template, in order of how they should appear in your feed.
    2. Click +Add Field to add additional fields to the template.
    3. Alternatively, you may click +Paste Fields From Spreadsheet to copy and paste field names from a single row or column of a spreadsheet, or from a comma-separated list. Pasting new fields into this window will replace any existing fields you may have already built into your template.
    4. Common fields to include in your feed are: SKU, Item Title, Description, Quantity and Brand, but make sure you understand the requirements of the vendor or provider who you are creating the feed for and include all fields that are needed.
    5. Field names and descriptions may be modified after the template is created.
    6. Determine whether each field should be required by checking the box to the right of each field's description. When the feed is generated, if a required field's value is empty for a product, that product will not be included in the feed.
    7. Allow HTML in Field Values: if this option is not checked, ChannelAdvisor will strip out any HTML found in the field values. This option cannot be changed once the feed is generated.
  2. Under the  Header and Footer Rows section: Depending on your use of custom flex feeds, you may be required by the vendor or provider you are creating the feed for to include company information in a blank row at the top of the file. By default, your feed will include a standard header row that includes the field names, but you can change this or add a custom header or footer row.
    1. If you would like something other than the default, click Would you like to change this or add custom header or footer rows?
    2. Select whether or not to include the standard header row of field names.
    3. Specify the number of custom header rows to add to the feed file, which will be blank rows added above your header row or first row of data.
    4. Specify the number of custom footer rows to add to the feed file, which will be blank rows added below your last row of data.
  3. File Type:  Choose the file format you would like to be created after the feed is generated, depending on your use of custom flex feeds and the requirements of the vendor or provider you are creating the feed for. Choose between:
    • Text, Tab-delimited
    • Text, Pipe-delimited
    • Text, Comma-delimited (CSV)
    • XML
  4. Click Next.
 

Use the Merchandiser to Map Your Inventory Data

Now that your template has been created, the fields of your template will appear on the Merchandiser page of the Feed Setup  guide . You can use the tools available in the Merchandiser to transform the data that exists in your inventory to meet the requirements of the vendor or provider you are generating the feed for.

Here are some tips for using the Merchandiser to map inventory data for your custom flex feed:

  • For each field name, you can include mapping options like Inventory Fields, Business Rules, Lookup Lists or even Static Text in the text box next to the field name to transform the data in your inventory as required. Use the tabs at the top of the Merchandiser as needed to apply these tools to your fields. Visit the Using the Merchandiser to Transform Data page on the SSC to learn more on how to use these tools.
  • The fields of your template can be edited from the Merchandiser page. 
    • Hover over the wrech icon for any field name to see options to edit or delete the field. 
    • Click +Add New to add a new field to your template. It will be added at the end of the list of field names.
  • You may preview the data that will be returned for any field by entering a SKU in the preview search box at the top of the Merchandiser. The data will then be returned in the Preview column. If what is returned is not as you intended it to look, make adjustments to the mapping options for the field as needed.
  • At the bottom of the Merchandiser page, you may choose to apply Filters to your feed, which will exclude products from your feed. Filters only use business rules that return a true or false value. For example, Filter Out of Stock returns a value of "true" if a product is out of stock, and then any products with a value of "true" are excluded from the feed when this filter is used - only products with quantities in stock will be included in the feed.
  • You may spend most of your time on the Merchandiser page when you are setting up your feed - and it is important to do so, as you want to make sure the data you include in your feed is exactly what you need.
After you are satisfied with how your data has been mapped, transformed and filtered, click Next .
 
 
 

Determine the Frequency of When Your Feed Will Be Generated

The  Settings page of the Feed Setup  guide  is when you will determine the frequency and dates of when your feed will be generated.

  1. Choose to send the feed every day, week, or month.
  2. Specify the time of day to generate the feed, as well as day of week or month if you chose to generate the feed less frequently.
  3. Specify a start date.
  4. Specify an end date. The feed will send at the frequency you specified until this end date.
  5. Click Next.
 
 

Preview, Activate and Download Your Feed

The Summary page of the Feed Setup  guide  allows you to generate a preview of your feed so that you may make corrections before the feed is sent. Once you are satisfied with the feed, you can activate your feed from this page as well.

  1. In the preview section, enter the email address where the feed preview should be sent, and click Create a Full Feed Preview . Generating the preview may take some time depending on how many products and fields are included in your feed. An email will be sent to the email address provided when the full feed preview has been generated.
  2. We recommend that you review the feed preview for errors. If you need to correct anything, return to the Merchandiser page of the Feed Setup wizard to make adjustments to your fields and mapping options, and then send yourself a preview again. Repeat this process until the preview you receive is exactly as you want it.
  3. When you are satisfied with the feed preview, return to the Summary page and click Activate . This activates the feed, meaning the feed will be generated at the frequency, date and time you specified on the Settings page.

When your feed is generated, it will either be sent by FTP or may be picked up by HTTP link (depending on the selection you made on the  Destination page). You can also find the feed from the Feed History tab on the Feeds page (Digital Marketing > Marketing Management > Feeds). Click on the Feed Name to locate the FTP details or HTTP link. You may also Export an Excel file of the feed: select the feed and click Export .

Return to Top

Custom Flex Feeds allow retailers to send a feed of your product data to virtually anywhere. Each feed can be completely customized by transforming the data within to meet the needs and requirements of the destination where the feed will be sent - by use of a Feed Setup guide that walks you through each step of the process, from creating a field template, to mapping data, to setting up a delivery schedule.

Custom flex feeds are commonly used to provide product data to affiliate networks, retargeting vendors, personalization vendors, and product review platforms, but may be used for much more - and customized for every use you can think of.
 

Prerequisites


Video


 
Creating a Custom Flex Feed - In this video you will learn how to create a custom Flex Feed following the six easy steps of the Flex Feed setup guide. View Transcript

 
 

Tasks to Complete


  1. Select your feed destination.
  2. Select inventory to be included in the feed.
  3. Build your feed template.
  4. Use the Merchandiser to map your inventory data.
  5. Determine the frequency of when your feed will be generated.
  6. Preview, activate and download your feed.

Begin the process of creating your custom flex feed in ChannelAdvisor by navigating to Digital Marketing > Marketing Management > Feeds:
  1. Click +Add New Feed .
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find Custom Destinations, and click +Add Site. The Feed Setup guide opens.
     

Select Your Feed Destination

The Destination page of the Feed Setup  guide  allows you to specify the destination site for your feed.

  1. Click +Create New.
  2. In the window that appears, create a Site Name. The Site Name only appears in ChannelAdvisor, but should be something that is easy to remember. Click Save.
  3. Classify the site: select a use for the feed, or choose Other if none apply.
  4. Determine how feeds should be delivered to this site :
    1. FTP: If this option is chosen, you are required to enter FTP credentials at the bottom of this page, including Complete FTP URL, FTP Username and FTP Password.
    2. HTTP Pickup: If this option is chosen, an HTTP link will appear that can later be used to download your feed file after it has been generated.
  5. Do you want to track performance of the feed? By saying yes to this setting, performance data will be visible in the ChannelAdvisor Performance view (Digital Marketing > Dashboards > Performance) as long as tracking pixels are properly installed.
  6. Review your settings, as the options here cannot be changed after this point. If any of these options need to be changed, a new feed must be created.
  7. Click Next
 

Select Inventory for Your Feed

The Inventory Selection page of the Feed Setup guide allows to specify which products in your inventory should be included in the feed. (If your inventory is not in ChannelAdvisor, visit our Getting Started with Inventory page on the SSC to learn more.)

Your products must have specific labels applied in order to select them for your feed.

  1. From the Label drop-down menu, select the label that has been applied to the products you want to include in your feed, or select All Inventory to include all products in your feed.
    1. Alternatively, you may click +Create New Label to create a new label to assign to your products for the purposes of this feed. 
    2. Enter a Label Name in the window that appears.
    3. Select which products to apply this new label to, using the filters at the top of the inventory grid to find the products you want to include.
  2. Choose whether or not you want to Include Child Items , which will allow you to include parent and child inventory products on the same label for your feed.
  3. Click Next.
 

Build Your Feed Template

The  Template  page of the Feed Setup  guide  is where you will build the template for your feed, or how you want your data organized in your feed.

  1. Under the Template Fields section:
    1. Add the Field Name and optional Description for each field you want to build into your template, in order of how they should appear in your feed.
    2. Click +Add Field to add additional fields to the template.
    3. Alternatively, you may click +Paste Fields From Spreadsheet to copy and paste field names from a single row or column of a spreadsheet, or from a comma-separated list. Pasting new fields into this window will replace any existing fields you may have already built into your template.
    4. Common fields to include in your feed are: SKU, Item Title, Description, Quantity and Brand, but make sure you understand the requirements of the vendor or provider who you are creating the feed for and include all fields that are needed.
    5. Field names and descriptions may be modified after the template is created.
    6. Determine whether each field should be required by checking the box to the right of each field's description. When the feed is generated, if a required field's value is empty for a product, that product will not be included in the feed.
    7. Allow HTML in Field Values: if this option is not checked, ChannelAdvisor will strip out any HTML found in the field values. This option cannot be changed once the feed is generated.
  2. Under the  Header and Footer Rows section: Depending on your use of custom flex feeds, you may be required by the vendor or provider you are creating the feed for to include company information in a blank row at the top of the file. By default, your feed will include a standard header row that includes the field names, but you can change this or add a custom header or footer row.
    1. If you would like something other than the default, click Would you like to change this or add custom header or footer rows?
    2. Select whether or not to include the standard header row of field names.
    3. Specify the number of custom header rows to add to the feed file, which will be blank rows added above your header row or first row of data.
    4. Specify the number of custom footer rows to add to the feed file, which will be blank rows added below your last row of data.
  3. File Type:  Choose the file format you would like to be created after the feed is generated, depending on your use of custom flex feeds and the requirements of the vendor or provider you are creating the feed for. Choose between:
    • Text, Tab-delimited
    • Text, Pipe-delimited
    • Text, Comma-delimited (CSV)
    • XML
  4. Click Next.
 

Use the Merchandiser to Map Your Inventory Data

Now that your template has been created, the fields of your template will appear on the Merchandiser page of the Feed Setup  guide . You can use the tools available in the Merchandiser to transform the data that exists in your inventory to meet the requirements of the vendor or provider you are generating the feed for.

Here are some tips for using the Merchandiser to map inventory data for your custom flex feed:

  • For each field name, you can include mapping options like Inventory Fields, Business Rules, Lookup Lists or even Static Text in the text box next to the field name to transform the data in your inventory as required. Use the tabs at the top of the Merchandiser as needed to apply these tools to your fields. Visit the Using the Merchandiser to Transform Data page on the SSC to learn more on how to use these tools.
  • The fields of your template can be edited from the Merchandiser page. 
    • Hover over the wrech icon for any field name to see options to edit or delete the field. 
    • Click +Add New to add a new field to your template. It will be added at the end of the list of field names.
  • You may preview the data that will be returned for any field by entering a SKU in the preview search box at the top of the Merchandiser. The data will then be returned in the Preview column. If what is returned is not as you intended it to look, make adjustments to the mapping options for the field as needed.
  • At the bottom of the Merchandiser page, you may choose to apply Filters to your feed, which will exclude products from your feed. Filters only use business rules that return a true or false value. For example, Filter Out of Stock returns a value of "true" if a product is out of stock, and then any products with a value of "true" are excluded from the feed when this filter is used - only products with quantities in stock will be included in the feed.
  • You may spend most of your time on the Merchandiser page when you are setting up your feed - and it is important to do so, as you want to make sure the data you include in your feed is exactly what you need.
After you are satisfied with how your data has been mapped, transformed and filtered, click Next .
 
 
 

Determine the Frequency of When Your Feed Will Be Generated

The  Settings page of the Feed Setup  guide  is when you will determine the frequency and dates of when your feed will be generated.

  1. Choose to send the feed every day, week, or month.
  2. Specify the time of day to generate the feed, as well as day of week or month if you chose to generate the feed less frequently.
  3. Specify a start date.
  4. Specify an end date. The feed will send at the frequency you specified until this end date.
  5. Click Next.
 
 

Preview, Activate and Download Your Feed

The Summary page of the Feed Setup  guide  allows you to generate a preview of your feed so that you may make corrections before the feed is sent. Once you are satisfied with the feed, you can activate your feed from this page as well.

  1. In the preview section, enter the email address where the feed preview should be sent, and click Create a Full Feed Preview . Generating the preview may take some time depending on how many products and fields are included in your feed. An email will be sent to the email address provided when the full feed preview has been generated.
  2. We recommend that you review the feed preview for errors. If you need to correct anything, return to the Merchandiser page of the Feed Setup wizard to make adjustments to your fields and mapping options, and then send yourself a preview again. Repeat this process until the preview you receive is exactly as you want it.
  3. When you are satisfied with the feed preview, return to the Summary page and click Activate . This activates the feed, meaning the feed will be generated at the frequency, date and time you specified on the Settings page.

When your feed is generated, it will either be sent by FTP or may be picked up by HTTP link (depending on the selection you made on the  Destination page). You can also find the feed from the Feed History tab on the Feeds page (Digital Marketing > Marketing Management > Feeds). Click on the Feed Name to locate the FTP details or HTTP link. You may also Export an Excel file of the feed: select the feed and click Export .

Return to Top

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