In a previous series, we accompanied Amplid and Pally'Hi as they updated from Shopware 4 to Shopware 5.2. Now many months later, we are meeting again to discuss a different side of shop maintenance: how to update your complete product assortment.
Tips for uploading products in your Shopware shop
True to the motto "From the community, for the community", Peter Bauer, CEO of Amplid and Pally'Hi, and his colleague Johannes Ritter, Brand Manager at Pally'Hi, report on how their product import went in detail, what challenges they faced what free tips you can take with you when you also have to change your product range.
Founder and CEO of Pally'Hi
Head of Brand and Sales at Pally'Hi
Peter: We have about 70 new items, each available in five sizes. Some products are available in several colours, but each colour version is a separate product in terms of logic. We work with a one-dimensional variant depth, being "size". When we started Pally'Hi four years ago, with a rather small collection, we wanted to appear a bit larger than we actually were. Meanwhile, our collection has become quite extensive - maybe we will change to the variant depth "colour" and "size" at one point.
What was the process to import and export your data? Did you use the Shopware plugin at any point?
Johannes: We worked with the IMPORT/EXPORT ADVANCED function. The most sensitive source of errors is the master data sheet, as a CSV file. Just a small comma error somewhere, and the whole import process doesn't work. The human error factor has to be taken into account, so it's best to let everyone in the team look at it carefully. We also had the eagle eyes of our agency dasistweb thoroughly look over our data sheets before the import, because 16 eyes are more reliable than 8.
Which ERP system do you use?
Peter: For merchandise management and financial accounting we use MENTION. The system is very extensive and complex, but we have adapted the necessary key functions so that it works well for the textile sector. Three years ago, dasistweb built an interface for us that transfers customer data, including orders, from the shop into the ERP, but also uploads the stocks in the shop in the other direction when B2B orders have reduced the stock. Interesting to note: We do not use the ERP as the heart of all product data, but rather Shopware. In our shop, we host and maintain all images, all products with an EAN code and product number, plus the short and long description in three languages. This is simply because it’s more comfortable to work directly in Shopware than in the ERP. However, we do maintain all order and invoice-relevant data in the ERP.
Were you able to import all products from your spring collection in one upload?
Johannes: We uploaded two separate CSV files: First one with all product-specific data such as the product number, EAN codes, colours, prices, etc., and then a second one for the language shops, i.e. short and long descriptions in French and English.
Were you able to keep the shop live during the upload process?
Peter: Yeah, of course. Three people were involved in the process: Michi, our graphic designer, uploaded all photos into the backend and uploaded the new CSS or Less file and activated the Shopping Worlds - i.e. the start pages, lookbook, etc. - at the same time. I created the categories or assigned the new products and copied them to the other language shops. Johannes did the final adjustments and corrections. During this process, errors creep in, especially because it had to go so fast.
How fast were you able to upload the new product data?
Peter: The actual upload only takes one minute per file. Checking the data maybe two hours. In these two hours the other one uploads the product photos. If everything is well prepared, the process will be complete in a little over two hours. During this time, it could happen that a visitor first enters the winter landing page, only to find themselves switched over the summer; but a positive surprise, because they are suddenly presented the new product range.
Did everything work out as you imagined or were there any hurdles?
Johannes: Of course, nothing ever goes as planned! We had some faulty logic at the very beginning – the descriptions for the default shop, in our case "German", were missing in the main data sheet. We wanted to upload them with the language CSV afterwards. But Shopware requires the language for the default shop, otherwise nothing is displayed at all. Our agency immediately recognized our bug and copied the column with the German description into the correct CSV.
Have you fixed an annual date to change your product range or is the change dependent on specific factors?
Johannes: Actually, we plan to change the product range as soon as the collection is in stock. But on the other side, it makes no sense to do so if there is still snow in half of Germany on Easter. In this case we will wait a few days until it smells of spring and people feel like shopping for summer clothes.
Which specifications do you have for your product presentation?
Peter: All styles are now photographed on busts. These images are not only used in our webshop and workbooks, but also by other retailers who offer Pally'Hi online.
Do you have tips for other retailers planning to share their shop assortment?
Johannes: We recommend using separate CSV files, simply because of the troubleshooting. This was the smoothest process for us and saved us a lot of headaches. And you should let as many colleagues as possible look over your files - but make sure beforehand that everyone works with Libre-Calc, and not with Excel. Excel opens a CSV file as an Excel worksheet and saves it differently with some hidden formula automatisms. That cost us a few ulcers two years ago.
Were there any other changes when updating the product range, such as adaptations to the design or usability?
Peter: We actually created a new navigation or category structure and added another menu depth. Up until now, visitors could only select whether T-SHIRTS or LONGSLEEVES were displayed using the attribute filter. Meanwhile, the product range is so extensive that we already offer customers various "product categories" in the menu, which are differentiated by subcategories.
Were there any other changes in your shop?
Peter: The lookbook, which is built on the basis of a Shopping World, will constantly adapt a little bit in the course of the seasons. With drag and drop and the copy function into other languages, this is done in five minutes. We’re also constantly updating the premium products, depending on stock and season. But now we are concentrating on the sale of the current collection - or already with the design of the winter collection 2019/20, which is crazy!