In this podcast episode, we share tips for managing product data on Shopify. Our featured guest on the show is Daniel Beck is the CEO at ablestar.com
On the Show Today You'll Learn:
- How to effectively manage product data on Shopify.
- The challenges of handling product data from various sources.
- How metadata and google shopping data impacts Shopify stores.
- What role good product data plays in customer satisfaction and sales.
- How to automate product data updates and keep them in sync.
- What role code snippets play in managing product data.
- How cleaning data early can improve the quality of e-commerce operations.
Links & Resources
Shopify App Store: https://apps.shopify.com/partners/ablestar
About Our Podcast Guest: Daniel Beck
Daniel Beck is the CEO of Ablestar, a company serving over 10,000 Shopify merchants. Working with both large multinational enterprises and smaller family-owned businesses, Ablestar assists merchants in keeping their product data synchronized and under control. Before joining Ablestar, Daniel was a data scientist at Sequoia Capital. He resides with his family in Seville, Spain.
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Claus Lauter: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the e commerce coffee break podcast. Today, we want to talk about how to manage your product data on Shopify. Now product data for a lot of people is only a title and a description, but it's far, far more, you can do that specifically if you have a bigger store with hundreds or thousands of products in there, it can become a bit of a hassle and you need to do it the right way to save you time there.
With me on the show today, I have Daniel Beck. He's the CEO of Ablestar. com, a company serving over 10, 000 Shopify merchants. Before joining Ablestar, Daniel was a data scientist at SAQR Capital. And now today he resides with his family in Seville in Spain, which I found very interesting. So let's welcome Daniel to the show.
Hi, Daniel. How are you today?
Daniel Beck: Hi, thank you Kost very much for having me on the show. Excited to be here. Then are
Claus Lauter: you working with Shopify for quite some time, seven, eight years already. And so obviously product data is a daily business for you. Now tell me what makes product data specifically by talking about a lot of product data.
So difficult to
Daniel Beck: manage. Yeah. There's a couple of problems that can arise with product data. And one of the first issues is where it comes from, especially if you have more than five or 10 products on your store, you're probably working with some suppliers. So you might have. Product data coming from different places and the formats of that data can definitely be, different or messy, not incomplete.
Claus Lauter: product, different formats, different parts. Let's run through a typical product detail page on Shopify and touch on the different areas with actually product data. Includes or entails what we need to look at.
Daniel Beck: When you look at a product detail page, you'll see the product title and the description there, and we can maybe talk about the description a little bit more later, but there's a wide variety of what that can entail.
The images are also, one of the first things that's. No, but then what we also find is lots of merchants will have a whole nother set of data that they need about the product. And this can be things like when the product's in stock, maybe it's a pre order or like a pre sale, so there's, a due date where it might actually come on sale.
There can be, other product data that needs to be put in to help with other applications on your Shopify store. So if you have a. Search page with a cider is where you can like select colors, ranges of sizes and things like that. The way those filters work is also with the product data. So there's the few visible parts that you see, but then also beneath the surface.
There's a lot of other data that you need to keep in sync.
Claus Lauter: Let's talk about the things that you don't see on the first look on a product detail page that might be a data for Google shopping, for instance, meta data, tell me a little bit about these data fields. Yeah, there
Daniel Beck: is different ways to store them within Shopify.
Traditionally, I would say a large part of that data has been stored just as product tags. you might use something called what we call a prefix tag, where, say, if you're selling a t shirt and it has size extra large, you might add a tag to the product size equals Extra large, and if it has a tag or if it has a size medium, it might have size equals M, and so forth a couple of years ago, Shopify really doubled down on these metafields, which are more arbitrary types of data that you can associate with products.
And what we've seen is slowly apps and merchants are using that metafields more to handle this semi arbitrary, but still structured data. And that's really what we encourage merchants. To do as well, just briefly touching on Google shopping data. That's something else we deal with. A lot of the data is also stored in metafields within Shopify, but there's a whole lot of work around that, making sure that you have the data in the right format so that Google accepts those products and listed on Google shopping.
Claus Lauter: Now, the problem comes up when you have to do changes, bulk changes, if you have hundreds of products and you want to set up the price increase or decrease the price or just have general changes on your products, a lot of merchants that are spending hours on doing this manually, and there's a better way to do that.
Tell me a bit about tricks and tips on how to improve this process.
Daniel Beck: Yeah, there's a few ways, native to the Shopify admin that you can do this. And then also our primary app on the Shopify app store is this bulk product editor that was really designed to do this. From the beginning within the Shopify admin, you have the option of uploading a spreadsheet with some of the modified data.
So you can update your prices locally in Excel or Google sheets and then upload that to the Shopify admin, issues we've seen with that is it's easy to make a mistake and you can't really tell what's happening. And if you make a mistake, there's no undo button or way to revert those changes.
Shopify also has a bulk product editor within the admin, which kind of gives you a spreadsheet view of multiple products at once, and you can go through there and update the values, as you see fit, but again, this can take a little bit longer because you're going through. Row by row, and there's no way to revert changes in case you've made a mistake,, leading to our app, the able to start bulk product editor.
It was really designed from the beginning to make, managing your product data is. Easy as possible for humans to do. I find the Shopify admin. It's very, it feels very like machine focused. Like you give us a perfect spreadsheet and we'll get exactly what you want. But I'm not like that. And most merchants are.
If you were to increase prices by 10%, in our application, before you do that, you would see a sample of the products and what the new prices would be, with things like grounding and all, when the process is running to update those products, you can see the process. And then if you found you made a mistake, or if the sale is just simply over, we have a big undo button that you can click to get you back to where you were before.
Claus Lauter: I like the idea of undo button. That would be the perfect solution for me because that quite happens. And I've spent tons of time and doing these things manually. Now you're working obviously with a ton of Shopify merchants out there. What kind of process do they use, to make it quicker? Or how often do they use your system to update their products?
Daniel Beck: There's a whole variety of use cases. And we see a lot of people initially when you're setting up a new store, there's. A lot of initial classification that you need to do with your products, making sure they're in the right collections. Also, if you're adding a new product line or adding a new supplier to your store, there is more of this one off, updates that you have :to do.
But then what we also see, and this is something we're working with. More now is once you get set up, then there might be ongoing updates that you have to deal with. If you have different suppliers, their prices might change. The availability of products might change. And we have features to, for example, automatically update.
Different fields on your product store from a remote spreadsheet. We see this where a supplier might have a file on Google sheets or Dropbox, and we can pull that into the application on a reoccurring basis and use that to update perhaps the availability of products on the store.
Claus Lauter: That's a very interesting feature.
A spreadsheet was one of my suppliers and we have to do this manually. So if you can sync this automatically, does that need to be a Google spreadsheet or what kind of format, do you accept there?
Daniel Beck: No, right now we, accept FTP servers, Google documents, spreadsheets, files stored on Google drive.
Dropbox folders, and then any URL that might have a password or something in the URL, but we can, our system can go out, download that file, process it for you and update the products. As needed. Okay.
Claus Lauter: A lot of stores nowadays, are working internationally there might support different languages, different currencies.
Does your app support that? How does that work? How is the, maintenance and managing working on that side?
Daniel Beck: Up until relatively recently, if you wanted to have different currencies or different translations, you really had to have. Either a series of different applications that would try and do that on your Shopify store, or you would need to have separate Shopify domain.
So you would have, for example, able to start store. myshopify. com and then able to start store eu. myshopify. com for the European based. Pricing, more recently though, Shopify has introduced this idea of markets that can have different price lists. So within the same Shopify store, you can have a separate prices for euros for, Brazil or other markets.
We support the ability to, a spreadsheet of those price lists for your different markets. Just by default, Shopify will allow you to do things like. Say the prices in the EU are 15% higher because of shipping or some extra handling costs, but there's other situations where the merchants themselves have specific prices that they wanna sell the products at that don't match a general rule like that.
With our app, you can just upload ACSV that can contain the SKU, variant ID product handle, and the price and those. We'll get updated for the different markets
Claus Lauter: on use case that I can think of. I'm not sure if you support that if I'm coming from a different system, for instance, I was using WooCommerce in the past and I'm going then into Shopify, is there a way to import data from external systems?
Daniel Beck: it's funny you mentioned WooCommerce because the first application that we built was actually a. Importer from WooCommerce into Shopify. it was several years ago now, but I originally thought it would be a simple process of connecting two APIs. And because of how much you can customize WooCommerce, it turned out to be a little more difficult than originally envisioned, but we don't have a ongoing sync directly with a WooCommerce API.
But there's different ways that you could create a dump of the WooCommerce data that you need, like a CSV file that could be automatically ingested by the app.
Claus Lauter: Tell me a little bit. Who's your perfect customer? Which kind of customers do you have?
Daniel Beck: One that's looking to make their product data run smoother. It's not something you might get up in the morning and think, this is what I want to do today. It's more sales and all, but we found that really having the good product data allows you to sync it.
Easier to other systems like Google shopping it makes your whole process internally easier. You get less customer complaints about, I ordered this product and now you're saying it's not available. That's a big one we deal with. And then also just. Making sure your product detail pages look good and there's no broken HTML or incorrect data on those.
Daniel Beck: We don't have filters in line with the thing, so we do depend some on the data that's coming from the remote CSD and all, we are working on this idea of kind of code snippets, which is arbitrary code that you can apply to your product written in liquid.
So you could say. For example, if the vendor is Apple star, make sure it has this metafield set and things like that to apply some rules. But also since all the modifications you make can be undone, if your supplier does have an issue with their feed, you can just go in the app, pause the reoccurring job and click undo.
And it will revert the product that to how it was before the last import.
Claus Lauter: Okay. No, that sounds good. How does the onboarding process
Daniel Beck: look like? With our application, one of the things that's a little bit unique compared to other Shopify apps is that we store the entire product catalog in our own database.
And there's a couple reasons we do this. One is it makes it allows us to support this idea of an undo a lot faster. Before you, when you edit the product, we know what the value is. Before, so we can revert it easier also supports the preview. And then there's a lot of product searching that you can just do through the Shopify API.
So, for example, if you want to see all the products on your store that don't have an image or where the price is greater than the cost or things like this, we can pull those products up for you quickly. Whereas. Other apps would need to really go back to the Shopify API, look through all your products and filter out those products.
The one downside to this, though, is that when you first install the app, you have to. You might have to wait a while while we gather all this information from the Shopify API. So that process depends a lot on the number of products you have. If you have a couple hundred products, by the time you get a coffee, it should be back, but, we've had stores with over 2 million products on the Shopify API or on the Shopify store.
And, in those cases, it does take a little bit longer. But then once that initial imports complete, you're free to use the app and go about and make the modifications you need.
Claus Lauter: The benefits and advantages of your app are obviously very clear. Are there any other key features or functionalities that we haven't spoken about?
Daniel Beck: I split the app into two parts. There's the in app editing, which is, going through and saying, I want to increase my prices by this percent. I want to add tags, set my Google shopping fields, and then we also have a way to do that with spreadsheets. So if you have. Spreadsheet and just any format you can upload that without having to convert it to the Shopify format.
But then what we've been focusing more on the last year or two has been these like automations to keep this product data in sync. And it's like we were talking about, we can automatically pull in feeds from. URL or Dropbox to update your product data. And then more recently we're working on these code snippets where you can apply rules to your products anytime they're updated.
So for example, if the price on the product gets set to zero, we could have a rule that says, put this product to draft because there was a mistake that happened. And we don't want. Customers to order this product. Okay.
Claus Lauter: Yeah. like the app. I should have used me or saved me tons time back in a time when I was doing it manually by myself.
Tell me a little bit about the pricing structure. How does that work?
Daniel Beck: We have free plan that I think is pretty generous. A lot of applications will limit you to, you can edit 10 products on a free plan and we give, five free edits every on a rolling 30 day basis. And there's no limitation to number of products you can modify, with those edits.
So there's people that might need to set a few Google shopping fields, once, and they can do that with one or two edits and that's all they need Then for a reoccurring edits, or I'm sorry, for if you need to do more as we started 20 a month, and then for more of the automations plans are a little bit higher than that.
Claus Lauter: That's very affordable. I'm just considering how much time you save while using your app and doing the bulk edits. Before we come to the end of the coffee break today, is there one final thought that you want to leave our listeners with?
Daniel Beck: As much as you can, like try and clean the data that's coming into your Shopify store as soon as possible.
And this is going back to some data engineering, but if you think of your product as. Going through different steps, maybe coming from a supplier, going into Shopify, then going to Google shopping and other places. The earlier on that you can clean your data, really, the better it is. It makes everything downstream from that a lot cleaner.
For example, with, product descriptions, if you can keep the product description to just be the text about the product and take all the things like shipping policies and store those in other places. That just makes everything downstream from that a lot easier, like getting it to Google shopping or other things.
No, it makes perfect
Claus Lauter: sense. Where can people find out more about you guys?
Daniel Beck: Yeah. Ablestar. com is probably the best place. That's our website.
Claus Lauter: Okay. I will put the link in the show notes and then you just want to take it away. Daniel, thanks so much for giving us an overview about your app and what you provide to our listeners.
I have a lot of people will try it out. I think it's a very good solution. At least I would save a ton of time. I can vouch for that. Thanks so much for your time
Daniel Beck: today. All right. Thanks so much for me.
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