How to Master Shopify Product Imports and Exports

Last updated on May 17th, 2022 at 04:28 pm

Today, most ecommerce platforms offer built-in product import and export tools. However, these solutions are far from being omnipotent and may not jive with your current business processes. Third-party platforms exist to close the gaps between the platform’s functionality and the retailer’s needs.

Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, but it is not exempt here. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss Shopify product import and data transfer functionality and how you can enhance it with a user-friendly, reliable, and powerful tool.

Keep reading to learn more about Shopify’s basic product import capabilities. We’ll teach you how to transfer your products to your website using Shopify’s built-in functionality. Then, we’ll discuss the benefits of investing in a solution to automate the process and increase the speed of importing products.

How Does Shopify Product Import Work?

By default, Shopify allows you to import several items. Yet, there isn’t a single interface where you can view and control all data transfers. While there are several data transfer features available, you must upgrade to Shopify Plus to access them. Within Shopify, it’s impossible to automate import processes because you’re bound by CSV files.

Migrating Products From One Store to Another

You may need to import products to Shopify because you’re migrating your store from another ecommerce platform. Importing your products is the easiest way to recreate an existing product catalog on a new ecommerce storefront.

You may also use product imports to update your product data or inventory. However, you must export your catalog to obtain a CSV file that reflects the corresponding data under the correct columns. Then, you can edit the data and import the updated CSV back into Shopify’s system.

If you’re updating product data or inventory in this way, it’s imperative that you back up your product data each time, or you could lose valuable data. For example, opening a CSV file in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel often leads to missing product images or other issues. You must create a current and correct copy of your catalog before importing another.

When you’re ready to import, follow these steps:

1. Go to Shopify admin, then Products > All products, and click Import

Shopify product import

2. An “Import products by CSV” window will display. Click Add File to upload your CSV.

Shopify product import add file

3. Click Upload and continue.

Once the product import is complete, Shopify will send a confirmation email. 

Apply Changes to Your Catalog Via CSV

Shopify also enables you to reimport products from Shopify to apply changes to your product catalog using CSV. To do this, export your product catalog, make the desired edits to the CSV file, and reimport the new file into your store. 

Remember that this method will not work if you rely on a third-party app to add products to your website.

This process is very similar to importing products discussed above. To reimport products and overwrite existing product data:

1. Go to Shopify admin, then Products > All products and click Import

2. An “Import products by CSV” window will display. Click Add File to upload your CSV. 

3. Enable the setting that says, “Overwrite any current products that have the same handle. Existing values will be used for any missing columns.”

Shopify product import overwrite

4. Click Upload and continue.

Importing Product Images Into Shopify

If you’re adding images to your product listings (as you should be), it’s easiest to do it at the time you’re uploading your products. Sometimes that isn’t possible. Here are the ways you can import product images into Shopify.

Upload Images Through Shopify Admin

You can upload images directly through Shopify admin to achieve a bulk image upload more quickly. To do this:

1. Go to your Shopify admin

2. Click Settings > Files

3. Click Upload files 

This process allows you to upload image files directly from your computer or another device to your admin. Once uploaded, you can use these images to set up new products manually.

This will allow you to upload the image files directly from your device to your Shopify admin. You can now use the images you’ve already uploaded to set up new products in your Shopify store.

Uploading Images Via CSV File

Another way to upload images in bulk is through a CSV file. However, as we talked about earlier, you must follow Shopify’s particular format.

First, make sure that your images are uploaded and publicly accessible via URL. You can create individual URLs for your photos using cloud services such as DropBox or GoogleDrive. When you add the URL to the appropriate column in the CSV you import, your product listings will show the images.

If you wish to provide multiple images per product, you have to add additional lines to the CSV with the handle for each image. To save time, you can create a product with multiple images in Shopify admin, then export your catalog. You’ll then have a CSV template generated by Shopify that you can use for this purpose.

Simplify the Process With Automated Shopify Product Import

Is your head hurting from reading about product imports, exports, file formats, backups, and overwritten data?

While Shopify provides the functionality to import several entities, you can’t automate this process. Why? Because you’re bound to CSV files. Each time you want to upload a product or make a simple change, you must export your existing catalog and import an entirely new file.

Let’s discuss a scenario where you’ve exported a CSV file from one ecommerce platform and wish to transfer the data to Shopify. It’s not as simple as exporting one CSV and importing it into Shopify. The export will be formatted to your previous platform’s requirements. You have to go through each column and edit the headers to match Shopify’s CSV file format. It requires patience and a ton of time, as something as simple as missing one header can lead to import failure. If you have an extensive product catalog, another limitation to consider is the file size. Shopify doesn’t allow imports that are greater than 15MB of product data.

You can reduce errors, save time, and take a break by automating the process with the help of e-commerce product solutions like Flxpoint. Managing products within Flxpoint will ease your concerns about file structure and allow you to edit product data within a single dashboard to then push to multiple stores all at once. No more manual work will enable you to grow your catalog quickly and further accommodate your customer base.

Read more about Flxpoint’s product catalog management features.

Save Time With a Modern PIM Like Flxpoint

As your business thrives, augmenting and updating product data becomes more difficult as your catalog continues to grow. Flxpoint applies an automated approach to product information management and enables you to manage catalogs of thousands of products across multiple data sources and platforms. Stop wasting time with Shopify product import and use our virtual catalog management features to make it easier for you and your team to manage your growing product catalog.

When you’re ready to focus on business development instead of wrestling with multiple file formats, talk with an expert today.

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