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How do you populate product database for products with options?

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  • How do you populate product database for products with options?

    Fello 3dcart users,

    I am struggling with the product management of the platform, primarily for adding products with options. Most of my vendors feed products and their options in csv or xml on a line by line basis, whereas 3d has one function for parent, then another for options (and a third for images, if you use the gallery workaround, etc). All the connector add-ons I have looked at do not populate at the child level, and / or they just move the bottleneck farther down the process.

    Some other platforms import placing options on a line by line basis (ex, parent product row 1, child variant 1 row 2, child variant 2 row 3, etc). For something like that I could build an xml workbook to convert from vendor format to 3d format. However, the way this thing is created is not conducive to products with options.

    I know there are some merchants with larger catalogs, that use the API. Do you add products automatically? SAAS or contractors? Any guidance for getting a process set up?

    Any help is appreciated.

    BP

  • #2
    Anyone?

    BP

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    • #3
      There is a famous line from an Isaac Asimov short story:
      INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER

      The questions you have asked are "How should I perform product management?" and "Should I use that use the API, automated product management, SAAS or contractors?"

      Product management is the most critical aspect of e-commerce. Setting up product management processes depends on numerous factors (i.e. product types, complexity, rate of changes, number of vendors, maturity of industry, etc.)

      There isn't one answer. There are 4 major directions and you hit on each one in your questions.
      1. Brute Force: Hire people to manually do the work. (i.e. file2cart)
      2. SAAS: Platforms that provide the tools (i.e. e-productplug)
      3. Product aggregators: companies with pre-defined products (i.e. inventorysource)
      4. API: Custom build a tool


      It is hard to provide guidance or assistance as the options are so diverse and many variables that will fundamentally change the direction.

      On a side note......

      I personally ended up building a custom toolset for my product management. This was based on a series of factors. Here is what my toolset does:
      • I have an ETL tool that takes vendor files and imports them to a product pre-stage database.
      • I then have a series of programs that massages the data and loads the data into a master product database. I now have normalized data across all my manufactures.
      • I then have a series of programs that process the data and creates 3dcart upload sheets/API commands that control the database.
      • I also have UI built out that allows the team to quickly review and edit all content related for new products.


      Thoughts?
      Last edited by jcocking; 03-20-2014, 07:30 AM.
      Jeff

      The Wedding Printer

      Comment


      • #4
        First of all I do not use options, but I do have a large catalog fed by supplier XML.

        If you work with 3DCart management and have a higher-tier plan, you can run server-side scripts that use VBScript, which lets you do some powerful stuff. I have a script that runs daily that downloads my supplier XML, reformats it into a 3DCart-formatted CSV, and imports it into the database automatically. Feel free to PM me for details along these lines.

        Comment


        • #5
          We use an approach that is similar to jcocking's, although I suspect that ours is not as fully automated from beginning to end as theirs.

          We hired a DB person to construct a master database along with a series of parsers. The parsers are unique to each supplier that we use and each one is custom-tailored to their data feed format. The custom application runs each feed through the correct parser and then aggregates the information into the access database. The output is a single spreadsheet with pricing and stock information for each item in our catalog. We also use product options on most of the items.

          One quick note about product options - If you choose to bulk upload them via csv, there is no way within 3DCart to bulk delete them.

          So if you make an option template that you upload to 10,000 different products and then say "Oops! I didn't mean to do that!" you will either need to open each product one by one, removing each option within the product one by one OR have a custom tool made that utilizes the API for bulk options management. Since we have thousands of products, we opted for the latter approach.
          Last edited by onering; 03-20-2014, 09:50 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jcocking View Post

            Product management is the most critical aspect of e-commerce. Setting up product management processes depends on numerous factors (i.e. product types, complexity, rate of changes, number of vendors, maturity of industry, etc.)

            There isn't one answer. There are 4 major directions and you hit on each one in your questions.
            Agreed. FWIW I understand product management well, coding and software not so well. It was intentionally posed it as a vague question, because I do not really know how to ask correctly.

            Originally posted by jcocking View Post
            1. Brute Force: Hire people to manually do the work. (i.e. file2cart)
            2. SAAS: Platforms that provide the tools (i.e. e-productplug)
            3. Product aggregators: companies with pre-defined products (i.e. inventorysource)
            4. API: Custom build a tool
            #3 is out, I have specific vendors that I need to use. #s 1 and 2 were looked at, the productplug folks were extremely helpful. That said, the way the database handles options prevents those from being a streamlined solution. I can add products, but then I have to add or assign options separately, and then I have to assign images, because 3dcart limits the regular images DB to 4 (this is a glaring inadequacy IMO). I am trialing some other solutions, because streamlining of processes does not seem to be coming and I am annoyed. But that brings its own problems too.

            Originally posted by jcocking View Post
            I personally ended up building a custom toolset for my product management. This was based on a series of factors. Here is what my toolset does:
            • I have an ETL tool that takes vendor files and imports them to a product pre-stage database.
            • I then have a series of programs that massages the data and loads the data into a master product database. I now have normalized data across all my manufactures.
            • I then have a series of programs that process the data and creates 3dcart upload sheets/API commands that control the database.
            • I also have UI built out that allows the team to quickly review and edit all content related for new products.


            Thoughts?
            I think you have laid out the basics of a good solution. Not a DB guy, but I get the basic idea. I am assuming you use options, and have more than 4 images at times, because that is where it gets 3 dimensional and I get lost. Using a pre-stage DB makes sense, and the UI is really clever.

            Originally posted by onering View Post
            We use an approach that is similar to jcocking's, although ours is not as fully automated...

            We hired a DB person to construct a master database along with a series of parsers. The parsers are unique to each supplier that we use and each one is custom-tailored to their data feed format. The custom application runs each feed through the correct parser and then aggregates the information into the access database. The output is a single spreadsheet with pricing and stock information for each item in our catalog. We also use product options on most of the items.

            One quick note about product options - If you choose to bulk upload them via csv, there is no way within 3DCart to bulk delete them.

            So if you make an option template that you upload to 10,000 different products and then say "Oops! I didn't mean to do that!" you will either need to open each product one by one, removing each option within the product one by one OR have a custom tool made that utilizes the API for bulk options management. Since we have thousands of products, we opted for the latter approach.
            Thanks also. Can you pass along your DB person's contact? I have a very good, helpful local one, but his lack of familiarity with 3DC prompted him to do a fair bit of complaining.

            BP

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