In 2016, Shopify integrated with several new sales channels, including Facebook messenger and Amazon, providing even more growth opportunities for its 377,500 merchants.
The expansion seems to be paying off. Gross merchandise volume (GMV) per merchant grew by 25% over last year.
Wondering why you’re not seeing that kind of growth? The answer may be that you are making a major mistake when taking advantage of these new shopping channel integrations: the data dump.
When you do a “data dump”, you are essentially taking whatever data is in your Shopify product catalog and sending it out to shopping channels without any modifications. And let’s face it, the product copy on most websites isn’t written with search engines in mind.
While merchants might purposely keep the data on their site short for aesthetic reasons — pithy titles, snappy descriptions, cutesy feature lists — product listings on shopping channels have to communicate on a much more sophisticated level in order to 1) answer every question a shopper might have while comparison shopping and 2) capture as much impression share as possible within the confines of the channels’ search algorithms.
The simplicity of copying and pasting your existing data onto as many shopping channels as possible may be tempting, but in the end, this kind of data dump is more likely to hurt your business than help it.
Here are just a few reasons why a data dump can be so damaging.
Your data may not be clean.
When you do a data dump into a shopping channel, you are copying over any mistakes that currently exist in your Shopify data. This is especially important to consider if you do not regularly update your product data to ensure its accuracy.
Few things frustrate customers more than misleading or incorrect product data, which can mean bad reviews (and a bad reputation) on third-party sites.
You could even do something truly egregious like transfer over a product that you don’t sell anymore – an error that can lead to being banned on many shopping channels.
Your data may not be compliant.
Each shopping channel has specific rules about the way products should be listed and even which products can be listed. Some Shopify merchants find that they have to submit their feed and make corrections multiple times before the data is even accepted.
While you may be allowed to sell certain products on your website, these products may be prohibited on some channels. Google does not allow the promotion of products that they consider dangerous such as weapons, ammunition, and fireworks. Sending these products can result in policy violation errors.
There may also be other rules that come out later – even after a feed is technically validated by a shopping channel. For example, you may not be allowed to use certain terms, such as “free shipping” in your product descriptions.
Violate those rules, and you can run into a host of issues, from the products not showing up to having your merchant account suspended.
Your data won’t be optimized.
Every shopping channel has a search feature with filter options. The product data you provide will impact how and if your products show up when shoppers perform a search.
Are you following title best practices with each word in the proper order? What works on Shopify might not work as well on other shopping channels.
Are you including keywords in your product description to bolster search results? For best results, you should be using exact-match keywords, synonyms, slang, and commonly used phrases.
Bottom line: if you are not providing properly optimized data, your products may have very low visibility, costing you sales.
Your data won’t be customized.
Even if your product data feed is technically valid for a particular shopping channel, it may not follow the recommended guidelines. When you don’t customize your data to meet the specific needs of each shopping channel, your products may appear… but they are unlikely to sell very well.
In particular, category selection does not work well if you do a data dump. Every shopping channel has different categories and subcategories. You might not even have products organized into categories on Shopify. And if you do, the categories you currently have may not be the best ones – or may not even exist – on the specific shopping channel.
An Alternative to the Data Dump
You can export your data and make the changes manually for each shopping channel, but this process can be incredibly tedious, time-consuming, and prone to error. It will also make it difficult to track price and inventory changes.
Instead, consider a feed management platform, which can optimize and maintain your data across multiple shopping channels. It can also synchronize price and inventory, create custom and bulk rules to account for varying categories and other data recommendations, scrub out HTML, and more.
This allows you to fully take advantage of additional shopping channels – and reap the rewards of increased visibility on shopping channels while offering thorough product listings that answer all the vetting questions shoppers might have.