One of the most arduous task in maintaining and ecommerce web site is the constant task of keeping all of your products up to date. Suppliers like to release new price lists and product ranges on at least a yearly basis. Just when you have managed to get your web site completely up to date, the rug is pulled out from under you and you have to start all over again…
Its a never ending task and if not handled carefully can soak up ridiculous amounts of staff time. Staff time means expense as any business financial director will tell you on wages day.
There are some great gains to be made in automating the task of keeping a product catalogue up to date. The popular ecommerce platform osCommerce has a contribution called easypopulate which is an essential addition. CREloaded and other flavours of enhanced osCommerce tend to ship with easypopulate installed by default.
Its a great script, but for a very large site with a lot of demands the script does need a little extra work to make it the fully fledged backup, restore, update and insert products tool that a serious ecommerce business needs.
Most platforms either come with or have contributions or modules you can install to enable bulk importing and updating of products which definitely makes things faster. However if you are finding that you or your staff are creating these spreadsheets by hand in your spreadsheet programme then there are still amazing efficiences to be achieved.
In fact, once you get really serious, you start hitting the row limits of common spread sheet programmes which means you literally can not open the entire product feed for editing. Once you are at this kind of size (or a lot less) you will find that your computer is very sluggish and editing becomes a slow and tedious task.
A much better way is to use custom written scripts for processing your information into the correct format for your bulk updating system. This is something that Edmonds Commerce specialise in and we have many happy customers who are saving countless hours by having software for the hard work.
The ultimate solution is to recieve product information in a feed from your suppliers. This is generally a very fast and reliable way of grabbing all of the product information for a particular supplier. However not all suppliers supply a feed. Others do supply a feed, but it is missing crucial information.
In this kind of scenario, it is usually possible to actually develop a script which will grab all of the required information and images directly from your suppliers web site. The familiar copying and pasting scenario but done by a script rather than a member of staff. Thousands of products can be grabbed in an hour and all outputed into a file correctly formatted for immediate upload into your bulk updating system such as Easypopulate for oscommerce.
Again this is a real speciality of Edmonds Commerce, though you may find that the average web design company does not have this kind of service to offer as it is a bit unusual and involves a steep learning curve.
For more information on this subject please do get in touch