In 2020, during the global health crisis, many brick-and-mortar businesses were forced to move online.
Although the worst may now be behind us, retailers aren’t in a hurry to leave the digital space behind.
While there are many benefits to be found in e-commerce, this widespread shift does come with a downside: with so many online sellers, the landscape is more competitive and fiercer than ever.
That’s why many are looking into building omnichannel strategies. By selling not only on your own website but across other platforms, you can reach larger audiences and increase the chance of your products being found by the right shoppers.
For many UK sellers, the natural ‘go to’ sales channel is Amazon. Amazon has become the biggest online marketplace, with Amazon.co.uk seeing 374.2 million monthly visits.
As a sales platform, it also holds huge amounts of first-party data – essential at a time when third-party data is becoming increasingly controversial – enabling sellers to utilise powerful insights to attract and engage quality leads.
If you’re thinking about advertising on Amazon or listing your products through the marketplace, you may be wondering how you can manage an omnichannel approach with confidence. The answer is by creating an Amazon product feed.
What is an Amazon Product Feed?
A product data feed is essentially a spreadsheet that contains information about all the products that you want to advertise or sell through a channel other than your own website.
This includes the product title, product image, product ID, feed product type, specific attributes, country of origin, brand and more.
Usually coming in a CSV, TXT, or XML format, the feed is a way of sharing information between separate channels.
The Amazon product feed is simply Amazon’s own version of a data feed, for advertising or listing in the Amazon marketplace. It’s a way of bulk uploading all your product information to avoid having to add each of your products individually and helping Amazon list your products against the relevant listings in its database.
If you’ve ever used Amazon as a buyer and you’ve seen a listing with multiple buying options, that’s all thanks to the product feed.
Amazon lists a product and then uses product feeds to show all the sellers that currently have this item in stock, along with other details such as pricing and delivery costs. It’s a way of selling through Amazon, without having to create, manage, and optimise your own listings.
How it Works
Product feeds are provided to the relevant sales channel or marketplace. In this case, to Amazon.
Amazon then uses the feed to retrieve product data from your own website, displaying the product for relevant searches on the Amazon platform.
The data feed forms a link between Amazon and your website, allowing for product information to be shared and synchronised between your two sales channels.
It means that you can keep feeding Amazon the necessary information for it to help advertise and sell your products, without needing to export a product file from your website every time a small piece of information such as price or availability changes.
At its core, the Amazon product feed works by moving product data from one place to another.
However, if you’re a savvy seller, you can also use the Amazon data feed to gain a competitive edge, boost conversions, and grow your retail business.
Opening an Amazon Seller Central Account
Want to start selling on Amazon? The first thing you’ll need to do is register as an Amazon seller. To do this, you’ll need to set up a seller account in Seller Central.
Seller Central is Amazon’s seller interface and dashboard, and it’s from here that you can do everything from managing your listings to launching PPC campaigns.
You can either choose to create a brand new account to access Seller Central, or you can use your existing customer account. At ClearAds, we recommend creating a new account with your business email address to maintain professionalism.
To approve your application for a seller account, Amazon will need:
- Your credit card number
- Identification such as a valid passport
- Company registration details, including your VAT number
- Phone number
- Bank account details
The reason why Amazon requires a credit card number is that there are small charges for selling through the Amazon marketplace. There are two seller plans:
- Individual seller plan: This is a great option for very small businesses as there is no upfront fee. You’ll automatically be charged 75p for every item you sell via Amazon.
- Professional seller plan: This is often more cost effective for more active sellers. There’s no per-item fee; instead, you pay £25 per month, regardless of what sells.
Amazon will also charge a referral fee for each sale, which is calculated as a percentage of the transaction. The percentage varies depending on the category that the product is listed in, but in most cases, it will be between 8% and 15%.
Creating a Product Feed for Amazon
There is some work involved in creating a product feed for Amazon, but the good news is that it’s a lot less work than adding and maintaining individual listings for all your items! And it’s actually a very easy process. The main task is simply to fill in a ready-made inventory template with all the relevant product data that’s required.
It’s just a three-step process:
- Download an inventory file
- Complete all relevant fields
- Upload the file back to Amazon
Required product feed data attributes
When you download an inventory file, all the relevant fields will already be there.
All you have to do is complete them to create your own Amazon data feed. There are quite a few fields that need to be completed. The exact number will depend on the template you’ve chosen, we’ll look at that in more detail a little later. Some of these fields are mandatory, while others are optional.
Some mandatory fields include:
- Product title: the name that your product will be listed as
- Product URL: the URL of the product page on your website
- Product type: the category your product will be listed under
- Price: displayed as numbers, followed by GBP
- SKU (stock keeping unit): A unique identifier for the product
- Image URL: the URL of the product image on your website
- Brand: whether this is your own brand, or a brand you’re reselling
- Product identifier: in the UK, this is typically the EAN
- Product descriptions: a brief description of the product
- Shipping costs: displayed as numbers, followed by GBP
- Bullet points: up to 5 bullets to highlight features
- Dimensions: including height, length, width, and weight
- Item package quantity: the number of packages making up the product
- Keywords: search terms you want your product to be ranked for
Once your product feed has been created, you can upload it to Seller Central.
Unfortunately, a lot of sellers do find that, when their data feed has been examined by Amazon, it is returned with an error code.
There are several error codes relating to issues such as invalid image sizes and descriptions that are too long. It’s always worth taking some time to read through the Amazon guidelines as there are a few restrictions that are worth noting.
For example, product titles must not be more than 200 characters, and the main image must have between 500 – 2100 pixels. Getting familiar with these guidelines can help increase the chance of approval.
Submitting product type
One important thing to note is that, in some cases, the product type field will already be completed. This is usually true when using a category-specific inventory file.
For other templates, however, you will need to complete this field manually. You’ll see a drop down menu in the field that allows you to select the category and subcategory that your product will be listed under.
To increase the chance of Amazon approving the product feed, try to select the most relevant category.
Choosing Amazon inventory template
There are several different inventory file templates to choose from on Amazon, which can make creating a product feed seem confusing.
However, there’s no right or wrong answer. Simply consider your needs and the types of products you’re working with and select the most appropriate template for the job.
In most cases, you’ll probably be using the Inventory Loader or the Inventory Template for Product Categories.
Use the first when your products are already listed in the Amazon marketplace, and you simply want to add your own prices and stock levels into the system to provide buyers with more buying options. Use the latter when items aren’t already in Amazon, and you want to add them into the system.
There’s also the Standard Book Loader, for books, and the Music Loader, for products in the music category. Or, if you already have a product feed uploaded in Amazon and want to make changes, you can use the Price & Quantity template to amend your existing feed. You only need to add price, quantity, and SKU.
It’s recommended to divide your products up and use different inventory file templates for each group, depending on what’s most suited to those products.
What is Amazon Inventory Management?
One of the most challenging parts of building an omnichannel sales strategy is managing your inventory. The overall aim is to keep track of products across all your separate channels to ensure you’re able to get them to the right customers quickly.
The product feed plays a huge role in Amazon inventory management, helping you to manage your Amazon product listings in a smarter, more streamlined way.
When inventory is managed with confidence, you’re placing yourself and your business in a strong position to offer exceptional buying experiences for your customers, no matter where they are. It’s key to boosting sales and growing your online reputation.
Amazon Feed Specifications Program
As with all its rich seller features, Amazon is constantly searching for ways to make its product feed even more powerful and easier for sellers to use.
- Amazon uses a dynamic taxonomy which can change often.
- There are potentially hundreds of fields for each product.
- If you are selling internationally you need to be aware of the different taxonomies (product data models) in each country.
As part of this, back in 2018 a new initiative was launched called the Amazon Feed Specifications Program, an Amazon’s data interchange standard.
Under the scheme, selected sellers were invited to test out a new inventory template, called the New Item Setup file, or NIS file.
This would automate more of the product feed process creation and allow vendors to effectively manage product content and sales automatically.
While the template has not yet been rolled out to everyone, it’s possible that big changes are just around the corner.
Tips & Advice
Creating a product feed on Amazon is a piece of cake. But there’s a little more than goes into creating a great product feed that not only helps to engage shoppers, but also supports the Amazon algorithm in its effort to attract the most relevant buyers.
Here are some best practices to follow when creating your product feed:
1. Complete as much as you can
While there are quite a few optional fields in the templates, it’s always best to fill in as many of them as you can. Why? Because the more fields you complete, the more information Amazon has about your product.
The more information Amazon has, the better it understands your product, and the better it can target the right shoppers.
2. Take your time
Filling in all the product data can take time, especially if you want to advertise or sell a large number of different items.
However, try not to rush. The quicker you work, the more likely you are to make mistakes. When there are mistakes in your feed, it can mean that Amazon isn’t able to display your products to the right kind of audiences.
3. Update regularly
Ecommerce is a fast-paced business. Product information can change all the time; it’s rarely static.
This means that you might need to make small changes on a regular basis to ensure all information remains up to date.
Don’t forget that the Amazon Price & Quantity template can be used to make small data changes very quickly.
4. Get to grips with SEO
If you don’t already know about search engine optimisation, now’s the time.
Understanding how the Amazon A9 algorithm works means you’re able to create the most powerful titles, select the most effective images, and write high-quality descriptions that don’t just delight your customers, but also support the technology.
5. Analyse sales results
Different products sell differently on different sales channels. Just because something sells well on your website doesn’t mean it will necessarily appeal to Amazon customers.
Keep analysing sales results, and remove any poor performers from your feed. This means you can focus only on those that really perform on Amazon.
For help with your Amazon marketing campaigns or data feed management get in touch with us.