One of the biggest recommendations we have for ChannelAdvisor users is to find and fix marketplace listing errors. Spending time on this one critical step can lead to significantly better results, and is one of the most effective ways to see a lift in sales.
However, our e-commerce experts are the first to admit…
Approaching marketplace errors can be overwhelming at first, especially if you have a lot of them.
We’re here to help.
While no guide could possibly cover every possible error on all e-commerce marketplaces, today we’ll review some strategies you can use to make the process easier. We recommend the following eight-step process to prioritize errors and address them in a timely fashion, while keeping your company profitable.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive right in.
1. Break your errors into smaller groups
Marketplace errors generally live under Sell > Marketplace Name > Listings. But this view can be a lot to take in all at once. If you have thousands of errors, the sheer volume can be paralyzing.
So instead, head up to the top of your screen. Here, you can choose from two different views: “By Product” or “Errors & Messages.” Choose the latter to see items grouped by error type. This will tell you if you have hundreds of items with a given error — or just a handful.
This sorting can help you determine which errors you should address first.
2. Prioritize error types
SKUs generally have two statuses in the error view: the Item or Sync status, and the Listing status on the marketplace. While many sellers begin by reviewing the items in that first category, the most critical items to address are the ones that are listed.
If your item is listed to the marketplace but has an error, this can mean the item isn’t having updates sent. You’ll want to prioritize these errors first. Left unaddressed, they can lead to some fairly significant issues: If quantity updates aren’t going through, for example, you might oversell. If items are being displayed at the wrong price, you could be losing sales to competitors or missing out on additional revenue potential. Even something as seemingly harmless as a miscategorized listing can cause you to miss out on all kinds of product search results.
3. Tackle easier errors first
When going through your errors, try to identify which ones are easy fixes and address those first. For example, you might have some that can be solved by mapping a field on your template or including a default value. Try to solve these first, then circle back to others that require looking at individual SKUs.
When you do start to address errors at the individual SKU level, start with your top-selling items and get those listed first. You can then work your way through your less popular items as you have time.
4. Use business rules
Business rules can be a great way to map your inventory. This helpful tool can be used to take the data you have on hand and transform it into the data a marketplace needs.
Business rules can be used to remove invalid characters and HTML, or to limit fields to each marketplace’s allowed number of characters. Keep in mind that the solution doesn’t have to be perfect for all of your items, and you can go back and fine-tune them later.
For example, let’s say you have descriptions that exceed a particular marketplace’s character limit. In this scenario, you would use a business rule to limit your character count and ensure your listings show up. Then, as time permits, you can go back and make adjustments. If the shortened character count cuts off a description mid-sentence, start by using a business rule to create a custom attribute for the shorter description. You can then add descriptions to the custom attribute as you have time, starting with your best sellers — instead of having to fix all of those errors at once.
5. Leverage lookup lists
Getting comfortable with lookup lists can make things noticeably easier when mapping your fields to meet marketplace requirements. These can be used to create a list of values for a given field that you can then map to the values allowed by each marketplace.
Lookup lists are especially handy when it comes to granular details like sizes and colors. Each marketplace has its own unique requirements for these, and you don’t want to waste time creating a new attribute for each one.
There are many other uses for lookup lists, too. For instance, we’ve seen ChannelAdvisor users rely on lookup lists to:
- Convert a company’s category data to the valid value required by a specific marketplace or digital marketing platform
- Create consistency in brand names that are spelled differently throughout data
- Have the correct markup rates automatically applied according to various brand requirements
6. Use default values sparingly
Within our template mappings, you have the option to send a default value if the field you have mapped is blank. While there are times when this may be a necessity, keep in mind that this default setting can be a blessing as well as a curse.
On the one hand, default values can be very useful for fields that are likely to have highly consistent values, such as item conditions and package quantities. If most of your items have the same value for these kinds of factors, you can use the default option to map the attribute on occasions when the value is different.
However, relying on this setting too liberally can result in more errors. In the case of package quantities, it can even cause the wrong number of items to be matched to a listing. There are also instances where default values could potentially be applied to all of your items, instead of a select few.
For this reason, our recommendation is to be selective when applying default values and use them only as needed.
7. Know where each error is coming from
When reviewing errors, it helps to understand what causes them. You’ll notice that some errors come directly from ChannelAdvisor, while others are from the marketplace.
Errors from ChannelAdvisor are referred to as “validation errors,” and generally deal with missing required fields or invalid values — issues we know will cause errors within a specific marketplace.
Marketplace errors are the ones we receive back from the marketplace itself. These are prefaced with “error from,” followed by the name of the marketplace they come from.
Knowing where the error is coming from is important because marketplaces won’t be aware of validation errors from the ChannelAdvisor platform. If you’re unsure of how to resolve these, we recommend working with ChannelAdvisor Support directly.
8. Use the template preview to see SKU-specific errors
Last but not least, don’t forget about the template preview. This is another powerful — and frequently overlooked — tool for error resolution. The template preview allows you to input an SKU and see which values will be sent to the marketplace. You’ll see not only validation errors, but also the fields that will be mapped based on the marketplace category you’ve selected.
As a best practice, get into the habit of selecting Product Preview in the upper right corner when working within a template. You can also jump directly into the template preview for a SKU by using the eye icon in the Actions column when viewing a listing.
Once you get comfortable with the steps above, there are plenty of other methods you can use to identify and resolve errors. Our e-commerce marketplace experts have detailed various options in the ChannelAdvisor community.
Need one-on-one help with error resolution? If you find yourself spending more time resolving listing errors than you do on growing your business, it may be time to leverage ChannelAdvisor’s Listing Error Resolution Service. Our professional services team will clean up your errors, get more products listed and provide you with a custom data improvement plan you can use to streamline your listings in the future. Learn more here.