How To

Getting Started with Inventory

Getting your inventory into ChannelAdvisor is the first step in the process of achieving the full benefits of the ChannelAdvisor application. There are several components involved to get your inventory into ChannelAdvisor. The steps of this guide will walk you though each of those components.

 

Prerequisites


You should be familiar with the following topics before continuing:

  • ChannelAdvisor Foundations – You should have a general understanding of the foundational tools that you will see often in ChannelAdvisor.

 

Video


 

Determine Inventory Data Requirements


ChannelAdvisor can be used to send your product information across a variety of channels. In order to provide all of the information needed to describe your products on Marketplaces, or to advertise your products on Search and Shopping channels, you should carefully consider what information is needed. In many cases an existing product feed, with some modification, can be used to add product information into ChannelAdvisor inventory. If you take the time to set up a file with accurate titles, descriptions, prices, and other relevant product data, you will have markedly better results across marketplace channels such as Amazon and eBay, which means more revenue for you.

Recommended Inventory File Content

It is recommended that you visit each individual site you plan on listing to or advertising on to get a complete and accurate list of data requirements. These requirements are constantly changing and vary by the types of products you are selling. 

  • Recommended Inventory File Content – This table will give you a broad overview of what data points are typically required across Marketplaces, Comparison Shopping Providers, Paid Search Providers and Webstores.
  • Marketplaces Recommended Inventory File Content – This table will give you a broad overview of what data points are typically required across some of the more popular Marketplaces. Keep in mind that depending on the product categories you are selling in there may be additional data required. To determine these requirements we recommend visiting each site directly.
  • Shopping Providers Recommended Inventory File Content – This table will give you a broad overview of what data points are typically required across some of the more popular Comparison Shopping Providers.

 



Uploading Inventory


When uploading inventory into ChannelAdvisor you will need to decide on an upload format as well as an inventory file transfer method. ChannelAdvisor offers multiple options.

Note: In order to avoid issues with special characters when uploading inventory data into ChannelAdvisor, we recommend the file be encoded in UTF-8 before upload. This is easily accomplished by saving the file and selecting the option to save as UTF-8.


Choose an Upload File Format

Select from one of the upload formats below. 

  • The ChannelAdvisor User Interface
    Individual inventory items can be added through the All Products view. This page enables the user to add new items one at a time into the system. This method is preferred when only needing to add a few items to inventory.  
     
  • The ChannelAdvisor Bulk Upload Spreadsheet     
    ChannelAdvisor provides you a suggested format for managing your inventory data in bulk. The ChannelAdvisor Bulk Upload Spreadsheet is the preferred method for adding, editing and uploading your inventory into ChannelAdvisor.
      
  • Custom Bulk Upload Spreadsheet     
    For those that prefer to keep their inventory data in their own custom format ChannelAdvisor does allow for a custom bulk upload method. Because a custom file can contain different information per user, per account or per file within an account, you must tell ChannelAdvisor how to interpret your data that is in the file. 
      
  • XML Format
    ChannelAdvisor supports the ability to upload your inventory information in an XML file format. An XML file may contain fields that are not recognized by the ChannelAdvisor system. A template can then be used to map these fields and specify what data should be placed in the ChannelAdvisor inventory fields.

 

Choose a File Delivery Method

After you have decided on an upload file format for your inventory data, you will need to choose a method to deliver this data to us.

  • User Interface    
    ChannelAdvisor can accept your inventory uploads via the User Interface. 
     
  • FTP Push or Pull    
    ChannelAdvisor provides the option to send inventory uploads over FTP (File Transfer Protocol). This secure method of data transfer allows you to create a product file and choose to upload it over the Internet without having to log in to the ChannelAdvisor application.  
     
  • Inventory API For advanced users with development resources who are looking to automate their online business directly from their back-end systems.

 

Review Inventory Upload Best Practices

Being familiar with Inventory Upload Best Practices will help save processing time and keep things running smoothly.

Back to Top

 

Organizing Inventory


Before you begin adding products into ChannelAdvisor Complete, it is important to spend some time thinking about how to organize your inventory. The decisions you make can impact areas throughout the Complete system.

Using Inventory Attributes

Attributes are custom fields used to describe your products and are an important part of organizing your inventory.  Your account is preconfigured with a number of attributes already like price and title, but due to the number of ChannelAdvisor clients selling a variety of products through the system, it is almost guaranteed that all of the fields needed to describe your items will not be included in the default fields on an inventory item record. In order for you to best describe your items, we have included the ability to create custom fields that can be used to describe your products. To add a new field, you can choose to have it appear on ALL inventory items in your account, or only those that are in specific groups of items, called Classifications . After you have created custom attribute fields, they will appear on your "Edit" inventory page and can be used in your inventory upload file to configure product data.

See Using Inventory Attributes for more information.

 

Using Labels

Labels have many uses within the ChannelAdvisor software such as segmenting inventory , sending products to various channels and  applying filters to automate processes . Labels can be used dynamically, meaning multiple labels can be applied to the same products. This gives you a great deal of flexibility when deciding how to organize your inventory

See the Using Labels page for more information.

 

Using Classifications

Classifications allow you to group inventory items with similar characteristics together, and can determine which attributes appear on an inventory item. Classifications are not mandatory, and you can only assign one classification per inventory item. A common use of classifications is to specify categories in marketplaces.

See the Grouping Inventory Using Classifications page for more information.

Back to Top

 

 

Creating Variations


The ChannelAdvisor Complete application enables you to create product variations to organize and present your inventory to shoppers in a more traditional e-commerce fashion. Setting up a product variation allows you to offer a product with multiple attributes on one product page through the use of drop-down menus. Variations don't make sense for all types of inventory, typically if you are selling "Soft Goods" like clothing and shoes it will almost always make sense to set your inventory up in a variation style. 

Variation Components

Below are the components involved in configuring your inventory for variations in ChannelAdvisor

  1. Varying Attribute – You must first decide what attributes your products will vary on and make sure those attributes exists in your inventory and are populated with the correct data. If you are selling clothing and you would like to vary by both size and color you must have both of those attributes created and populated with the appropriate information.
  2. Relationship – Once you have decided on the attributes you will need create a relationship in ChannelAdvisor. This is where you will select the varying attributes from the previous step.
  3. Parent Item – A Parent item serves as a place holder for the product variation you have created and the child SKUs which serve as your actual inventory.
  4. Child Item – A Child item is the actual product that is being sold. This item will contain all of the relevant product information including the varying attribute data.

See the Using Variations page for more information.

 

Creating Variations

All of the components listed above, when combined, will create the inventory variation. You will essentially assign each Child Item, containing the Varying Attribute, to the Parent Item using the Relationship as the bond. This action can be completed manually via the User Interface or in Bulk via the ChannelAdvisor Upload Spreadsheet.

See the Using Variations page for more information.

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

Adding Images


Product images are a crucial piece of information to provide to your customers. Via ChannelAdvisor's Image Library you can efficiently manage all of your products' images.

See the Managing Images page for more information. 

Naming Images

To manage your images efficiently, you must first decide on a naming convention and stick to it. If you name your images in an understandable and consistent way, you will be able to manage them much more easily especially once your account contains hundreds of images. 

  • First, each of your image names must be totally unique. 
  • If you use the ChannelAdvisor Complete naming convention, then your images will be associated automatically with your existing inventory items.
  • If you choose not to use the ChannelAdvisor Complete naming convention, you may use your own. Technically, you can use any filename, but using a coherent naming convention will greatly simplify your image management. 

See the Naming Images page for more information.

 

Image Hosting

Images can be hosted from ChannelAdvisor or from your own image locations.

  • Hosting Images in ChannelAdvisor – If you choose to host your images in ChannelAdvisor, you will need to upload them into ChannelAdvisor, either individually via the user interface, or in bulk via FTP.
  • Hosting Images Locally – While ChannelAdvisor offers an image hosting solution, you may occasionally want to host images locally on your own servers. ChannelAdvisor gives you the ability to include these local image URLs in your image library and associate them with your inventory.

See the Hosting Images Locally page for more information.

 

Uploading Images

If using ChannelAdvisor to host your images you will need to upload them into the Image Library. There are two ways to complete this task:Uploading images can be done individually or in bulk to your ChannelAdvisor account. 

  • Uploading Images Individually – If only needing to upload a few images at a time your can do so via the ChannelAdvisor User Interface.
  • Uploading Images in Bulk – If you have a large number of images to upload, you will need to have, and understand how to use, FTP client software. Most likely, you already have an FTP client but if not, there are many inexpensive FTP packages available from many different software vendors. Additional information about choosing an FTP solution can be found in the Tips & Tricks Section .

See the Uploading Images page for more information.

 

Associating Images to Inventory

Once you have uploaded images into your account, you need to associate them with your inventory items. ChannelAdvisor uses Image Placement Tags to complete this task. Each inventory item can have up to 20 images associated with it. There are three methods available to complete this task:

  • Method 1: Associate Images Manually Via the User Interface
  • Method 2: Associate Images in Bulk via the ChannelAdvisor Upload Spreadsheet 
  • Method 3: Associate Images automatically using the ChannelAdvisor image naming convention

See the Associating Images to Inventory page for more information.

Back to Top

 

Getting your inventory into ChannelAdvisor is the first step in the process of achieving the full benefits of the ChannelAdvisor application. There are several components involved to get your inventory into ChannelAdvisor. The steps of this guide will walk you though each of those components.

 

Prerequisites


You should be familiar with the following topics before continuing:

  • ChannelAdvisor Foundations – You should have a general understanding of the foundational tools that you will see often in ChannelAdvisor.

 

Video


 

Determine Inventory Data Requirements


ChannelAdvisor can be used to send your product information across a variety of channels. In order to provide all of the information needed to describe your products on Marketplaces, or to advertise your products on Search and Shopping channels, you should carefully consider what information is needed. In many cases an existing product feed, with some modification, can be used to add product information into ChannelAdvisor inventory. If you take the time to set up a file with accurate titles, descriptions, prices, and other relevant product data, you will have markedly better results across marketplace channels such as Amazon and eBay, which means more revenue for you.

Recommended Inventory File Content

It is recommended that you visit each individual site you plan on listing to or advertising on to get a complete and accurate list of data requirements. These requirements are constantly changing and vary by the types of products you are selling. 

  • Recommended Inventory File Content – This table will give you a broad overview of what data points are typically required across Marketplaces, Comparison Shopping Providers, Paid Search Providers and Webstores.
  • Marketplaces Recommended Inventory File Content – This table will give you a broad overview of what data points are typically required across some of the more popular Marketplaces. Keep in mind that depending on the product categories you are selling in there may be additional data required. To determine these requirements we recommend visiting each site directly.
  • Shopping Providers Recommended Inventory File Content – This table will give you a broad overview of what data points are typically required across some of the more popular Comparison Shopping Providers.

 



Uploading Inventory


When uploading inventory into ChannelAdvisor you will need to decide on an upload format as well as an inventory file transfer method. ChannelAdvisor offers multiple options.

Note: In order to avoid issues with special characters when uploading inventory data into ChannelAdvisor, we recommend the file be encoded in UTF-8 before upload. This is easily accomplished by saving the file and selecting the option to save as UTF-8.


Choose an Upload File Format

Select from one of the upload formats below. 

  • The ChannelAdvisor User Interface
    Individual inventory items can be added through the All Products view. This page enables the user to add new items one at a time into the system. This method is preferred when only needing to add a few items to inventory.  
     
  • The ChannelAdvisor Bulk Upload Spreadsheet     
    ChannelAdvisor provides you a suggested format for managing your inventory data in bulk. The ChannelAdvisor Bulk Upload Spreadsheet is the preferred method for adding, editing and uploading your inventory into ChannelAdvisor.
      
  • Custom Bulk Upload Spreadsheet     
    For those that prefer to keep their inventory data in their own custom format ChannelAdvisor does allow for a custom bulk upload method. Because a custom file can contain different information per user, per account or per file within an account, you must tell ChannelAdvisor how to interpret your data that is in the file. 
      
  • XML Format
    ChannelAdvisor supports the ability to upload your inventory information in an XML file format. An XML file may contain fields that are not recognized by the ChannelAdvisor system. A template can then be used to map these fields and specify what data should be placed in the ChannelAdvisor inventory fields.

 

Choose a File Delivery Method

After you have decided on an upload file format for your inventory data, you will need to choose a method to deliver this data to us.

  • User Interface    
    ChannelAdvisor can accept your inventory uploads via the User Interface. 
     
  • FTP Push or Pull    
    ChannelAdvisor provides the option to send inventory uploads over FTP (File Transfer Protocol). This secure method of data transfer allows you to create a product file and choose to upload it over the Internet without having to log in to the ChannelAdvisor application.  
     
  • Inventory API For advanced users with development resources who are looking to automate their online business directly from their back-end systems.

 

Review Inventory Upload Best Practices

Being familiar with Inventory Upload Best Practices will help save processing time and keep things running smoothly.

Back to Top

 

Organizing Inventory


Before you begin adding products into ChannelAdvisor Complete, it is important to spend some time thinking about how to organize your inventory. The decisions you make can impact areas throughout the Complete system.

Using Inventory Attributes

Attributes are custom fields used to describe your products and are an important part of organizing your inventory.  Your account is preconfigured with a number of attributes already like price and title, but due to the number of ChannelAdvisor clients selling a variety of products through the system, it is almost guaranteed that all of the fields needed to describe your items will not be included in the default fields on an inventory item record. In order for you to best describe your items, we have included the ability to create custom fields that can be used to describe your products. To add a new field, you can choose to have it appear on ALL inventory items in your account, or only those that are in specific groups of items, called Classifications . After you have created custom attribute fields, they will appear on your "Edit" inventory page and can be used in your inventory upload file to configure product data.

See Using Inventory Attributes for more information.

 

Using Labels

Labels have many uses within the ChannelAdvisor software such as segmenting inventory , sending products to various channels and  applying filters to automate processes . Labels can be used dynamically, meaning multiple labels can be applied to the same products. This gives you a great deal of flexibility when deciding how to organize your inventory

See the Using Labels page for more information.

 

Using Classifications

Classifications allow you to group inventory items with similar characteristics together, and can determine which attributes appear on an inventory item. Classifications are not mandatory, and you can only assign one classification per inventory item. A common use of classifications is to specify categories in marketplaces.

See the Grouping Inventory Using Classifications page for more information.

Back to Top

 

 

Creating Variations


The ChannelAdvisor Complete application enables you to create product variations to organize and present your inventory to shoppers in a more traditional e-commerce fashion. Setting up a product variation allows you to offer a product with multiple attributes on one product page through the use of drop-down menus. Variations don't make sense for all types of inventory, typically if you are selling "Soft Goods" like clothing and shoes it will almost always make sense to set your inventory up in a variation style. 

Variation Components

Below are the components involved in configuring your inventory for variations in ChannelAdvisor

  1. Varying Attribute – You must first decide what attributes your products will vary on and make sure those attributes exists in your inventory and are populated with the correct data. If you are selling clothing and you would like to vary by both size and color you must have both of those attributes created and populated with the appropriate information.
  2. Relationship – Once you have decided on the attributes you will need create a relationship in ChannelAdvisor. This is where you will select the varying attributes from the previous step.
  3. Parent Item – A Parent item serves as a place holder for the product variation you have created and the child SKUs which serve as your actual inventory.
  4. Child Item – A Child item is the actual product that is being sold. This item will contain all of the relevant product information including the varying attribute data.

See the Using Variations page for more information.

 

Creating Variations

All of the components listed above, when combined, will create the inventory variation. You will essentially assign each Child Item, containing the Varying Attribute, to the Parent Item using the Relationship as the bond. This action can be completed manually via the User Interface or in Bulk via the ChannelAdvisor Upload Spreadsheet.

See the Using Variations page for more information.

 

Back to Top

 

 

 

Adding Images


Product images are a crucial piece of information to provide to your customers. Via ChannelAdvisor's Image Library you can efficiently manage all of your products' images.

See the Managing Images page for more information. 

Naming Images

To manage your images efficiently, you must first decide on a naming convention and stick to it. If you name your images in an understandable and consistent way, you will be able to manage them much more easily especially once your account contains hundreds of images. 

  • First, each of your image names must be totally unique. 
  • If you use the ChannelAdvisor Complete naming convention, then your images will be associated automatically with your existing inventory items.
  • If you choose not to use the ChannelAdvisor Complete naming convention, you may use your own. Technically, you can use any filename, but using a coherent naming convention will greatly simplify your image management. 

See the Naming Images page for more information.

 

Image Hosting

Images can be hosted from ChannelAdvisor or from your own image locations.

  • Hosting Images in ChannelAdvisor – If you choose to host your images in ChannelAdvisor, you will need to upload them into ChannelAdvisor, either individually via the user interface, or in bulk via FTP.
  • Hosting Images Locally – While ChannelAdvisor offers an image hosting solution, you may occasionally want to host images locally on your own servers. ChannelAdvisor gives you the ability to include these local image URLs in your image library and associate them with your inventory.

See the Hosting Images Locally page for more information.

 

Uploading Images

If using ChannelAdvisor to host your images you will need to upload them into the Image Library. There are two ways to complete this task:Uploading images can be done individually or in bulk to your ChannelAdvisor account. 

  • Uploading Images Individually – If only needing to upload a few images at a time your can do so via the ChannelAdvisor User Interface.
  • Uploading Images in Bulk – If you have a large number of images to upload, you will need to have, and understand how to use, FTP client software. Most likely, you already have an FTP client but if not, there are many inexpensive FTP packages available from many different software vendors. Additional information about choosing an FTP solution can be found in the Tips & Tricks Section .

See the Uploading Images page for more information.

 

Associating Images to Inventory

Once you have uploaded images into your account, you need to associate them with your inventory items. ChannelAdvisor uses Image Placement Tags to complete this task. Each inventory item can have up to 20 images associated with it. There are three methods available to complete this task:

  • Method 1: Associate Images Manually Via the User Interface
  • Method 2: Associate Images in Bulk via the ChannelAdvisor Upload Spreadsheet 
  • Method 3: Associate Images automatically using the ChannelAdvisor image naming convention

See the Associating Images to Inventory page for more information.

Back to Top

 

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