Hi I am Mark Mandel and independent retail consultant. I have worked in Retail in the UK and Europe for 30 years, for companies such as Tesco, and Superdry. These blogs represent my own personal views and not the views or systems of any particular company. If you want any help with getting product data together then please get in touch @Mark_A_Mandel on Twitter.

As you start to move from retail bricks and mortar store to the online world. One of the first data challenges you are going to meet is creating a product data feed into your website, eBay, Amazon or other online sales channels.

This data feed must meet these quality criteria:
  • Complete - it must contain a description for every product you want to sell and for example it shouldn't contain products that are no longer on sale so you need to have deletion policy in place as well as a process for adding new products in time.
  • Accurate - all the details given to consumers must be correct. 
  • Linked - it should contain links to other feeds such promotions, coupons etc.

This will be typically created daily. Although it sounds simple when you start to look at the elements involved, you can see that quickly this becomes quite a lot of work even for a small merchant with a few hundred items. 

Here are the main items of a Products Feed Specification, this is based on Googles merchant feed. For different categories such as fashion, grocery or health & beauty additional attributes may be required.

Data Feed Attributes

country [country] - country item for sale in 

title [title] - Title of the item

description [description] - Description of the item
product category [product category] - category of the item
product type [product_type] - sub category of the item
link [link] - URL directly linking to your item's page on your website
mobile link [mobile_link] - Mobile Landing Page URLs
image link [image_link] - URL of an image of the item
additional image link [additional_image_link] - Additional URLs of images of the item
condition [condition] - Condition or state of the item
availability [availability] - Availability status of the item
availability date [availability_date] - The day a pre-ordered product becomes available for delivery
price [price] - Price of the item
sale price [sale_price] - Advertised sale price of the item
sale price effective date [sale_price_effective_date] - Date range during which the item is on sale
Unique Product Identifier EAN[EAN] - barcode or EAN
mpn [mpn] - Manufacturer Part Number (MPN) of the item
brand [brand] - Brand of the item
item group id [item_group_id] - Shared identifier for all variants of the same product
colour [colour] - Colour of the item
gender [gender] - Gender of the item
age group [age_group] - Target age group of the item
material [material] - Material of the item
pattern [pattern] - Pattern/Graphic of the item
size [size] - Size of the item
size type [size_type] - Size type of the item
size system [size_system] - Size system of the item
shipping [shipping]
price [price]
shipping weight [shipping_weight] - Weight of the item for shipping
shipping label [shipping_label]
multipack [multipack] - Submit merchant-defined multipacks
is bundle [is_bundle] - Submit merchant-defined bundles
promotion id [promotion_id]

Even if this is created automatically, I would recommend that you have a person sense-check this before publication. Do you have for example checks that the price is > 1p? Sounds obvious but many sellers on Amazon were caught out when orders were sent out at 1p. So publishing a product feed that doesn't meet those quality criteria can be very expensive in time, money and loss of customers. 


As with anything you should think about is there an opportunity for fraud to occur. There is here as for example if an item is in short-supply and your staff want to buy it, they could deliberately misname it so that it is hard for genuine customers to find, then they could buy it for themselves. Not so much fraud, but not getting that hot product into your best customers hands will impact your business.

Of course, if they can send in multiple product feeds, they could also reduce the item price for a limited time, purchase the item, or get a friend to do so and the increase the price. Ask yourself this do you have checks and balances around price changes? As prices change so often, sometimes automatically, this may be something that is hard to do, but still something that needs a risk assessment and relevant controls.

Get in touch if you need help @Mark_A_Mandel

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