Your 9-step guide for keepiong product listings as error-free as possible
Selling on e-commerce marketplaces can seem so simple at the outset. You create an account, upload product data and start selling. Easy, right?
That is, until the errors start to roll in. An outdated quantity here, a too-long word count there; these and other inaccuracies can quickly add up to big problems.
That’s why the e-commerce experts at ChannelAdvisor advise all online sellers to make marketplace errors a top priority. 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.
Of course, we understand that this process can be overwhelming at first — especially if you have a lot of errors to address. To help, we’ve pulled together our top recommendations for lightening the load. Based on ChannelAdvisor’s experiences with more than 2,700 brands and retailers selling on more than 100 marketplaces worldwide, the following step-by-step guide can help make the process of resolving errors more manageable.
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Step 1: Break it down
If you suddenly find yourself staring at a screen filled with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of marketplace errors, don’t panic. Even the most established brands and retailers face this problem at some point.
Instead, look for ways to segment those errors and make them more digestible. For example, try grouping together errors by type. By using this approach, you can see if you have a large quantity of items that are being impacted by the same error — or just a handful that can be addressed quickly.
Depending on the marketplace and the tools you use, you may have different viewing options. Look for ways to segment and divide out errors in ways that will make it easier to decide what needs to be addressed first.
Step 2: Create a priority list
Once you’ve organized your errors based on similarities, look for the biggest issues and put them at the top of your priority list. Then start
by tackling those errors first.
Common issues involve quantity updates that aren’t going through, products that are displayed at the wrong prices and items that are appearing in the wrong categories.
Try to identify which ones will be easiest to fix and address those first. For example, if you can use a template to correct an error that’s impacting multiple SKUs, make that your first priority. Then, as you begin to tackle errors at the SKU level, focus first on your best sellers to minimize the overall impact on sales and revenue. You can then work your way through your less popular items as you have time.
Step 3: Look for ways to streamline
Are you using any third-party tools to manage your marketplace presence? You may be able to find specialized features that allow you to streamline the process of finding and fixing listing errors. If you have access to business rules, for instance, you’ll be able to automate common fixes to errors affecting multiple SKUs — whether that means removing invalid characters or limiting fields to each marketplace’s allowed number of characters.
LOOKING FOR MORE WAYS TO SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS OF FIXING MARKETPLACE ERRORS?
If you’ve walked through steps one through three above and are still overwhelmed by marketplace errors, it may be time to start leveraging additional tools. ChannelAdvisor’s e-commerce platform is filled with features you can use to find and fix marketplace errors quickly. Preview templates, lookup lists, business rules and other features can be used to ensure marketplace listings are error-free and ready to capture as many conversions as possible.Sound like something you could use? Keep reading to see what more you can do with a platform designed to streamline across multiple marketplaces.
Using ChannelAdvisor to Address Marketplace Errors
Step 4: Break your errors into smaller groups
Within the ChannelAdvisor platform, 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.
Step 5: View by error type
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 address these errors first to avoid potentially 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 the potential for additional revenue.
Step 6: Use business rules
ChannelAdvisor’s 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 each 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.
Step 7: Leverage lookup lists
Getting comfortable with ChannelAdvisor 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
Step 8: 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.
Step 9: Use the template preview to see SKU-specific errors
Last but not least, be sure to leverage ChannelAdvisor’s template preview. This is another powerful — and frequently overlooked — tool for error resolution.
The template preview allows you to input a 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.
Still struggling with marketplace errors?
ChannelAdvisor is here to help
If you find yourself spending more time resolving listing errors than you do on growing your business, it may be time to lean on the experts.
ChannelAdvisor’s professional services team can 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.