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Product Manager

Documentation & How-To Guide
Last updated on March 13, 2019

Details

The Vextras Product Manager is designed to help online retailers manage their products and suppliers from one central location. With this service, users may fetch and process any number of data sources that are connected to the store.

Currently, connections are made through FTP/SFTP to an external data source. From there, the Product Manager can update inventory and pricing based on rules that are set up. Other usage scenarios include excluding, deleting, staging and detecting orphaned products in your store. Please refer to the topics about suppliers, products and pricing rules for more information.

Setup

To get started with the Product Manager, you’ll want to add a data source or two. You can connect an unlimited number of feeds, which could be a supplier, warehouse or drop-shipping agent. Currently, we support FTP or SFTP connections.

Step 1 – Add a Supplier
  • Give the supplier name that’s recognizable to you.
  • Define the update interval for the data feed you’ll be accessing. You may fetch these data sources as often as every hour if you’d like. Please keep in mind that this could impact your monthly billing amounts.
  • Next, assign a unique identifier for the supplier. The unique supplier identifier should contain between two and five letters. This identifier will be prepended to any variable that is created for the supplier.
Step 2 – Connect to FTP/SFTP
  • Host – Define a host IP address or domain
  • Protocol – FTP or SFTP
  • Port – typically 21 or 22, but some hosts use unique values
  • Password
  • File Path – this is the file location on your server e.g. /var/www/folder/supplier-file.csv

File types accepted
We can digest .xls, .csv, .txt and even .zip files that contain multiple file formats. For mapping purposes, files with headers is preferred, but we can also process data sources without them.

Processing .zip files
If you have a .zip file, you’ll need to add a unique query string to the end of the file location(s). By doing so, it tells the Product Manager which files to parse through when adding your data feed. For example, if you wanted to use three different files in one .zip, here’s an example of the formatting you would add to the file path URI:

/var/www/supplierpath/zipname.zip?delimiter=%09#filename.txt,/var/www/supplierpath/zipname.zip?delimiter=%09#filename2.txt,/var/www/supplierpath/zipname.zip?delimiter=%09#filename3.txt

Step 3 – Set up a supplier mapping

After you make the connection to your data source, it’s time to set up your map. When a map is created for an individual supplier, this will sync information with your product database. A simple example of this would be with inventory and pricing being updated as data changes in your supplier feed(s).

Variables

Variables are reusable values that can populate any supplier data point that is mapped. For example, if a supplier data feed has a column for Manufacturer, we can render the specific manufacturer for an SKU in product content like descriptions, titles, URLs, etc. Variables can be very powerful and easy to use across your product catalog, and there’s no limit to how many you can create.

Variables that must be defined for a data feed to work properly

  • Quantity
  • Code/SKU
  • COGS
Step 4 – Set up data filters

If you have a supplier that contains information about specific products you want to leave out (or include), you’ll want to add rules for them in this step. After defining the rule logic, you will see these products in the Excluded or Needs Review area of the products menu. Please note, this is supplier specific, so you may need to add the same exclusions on multiple feeds.

Step 5 – Confirm

After steps 1-4 are in place, the system will be ready to fetch your data feeds. When you are ready, click the Finish button, and we’ll start processing the supplier information.

Suppliers

We use the term “suppliers” throughout the marketing and documentation of Product Manager. In reality, it could be anyone that you depend on for product information – warehouses, drop-shippers, etc.

Overview
The supplier overview screen shows the events of the data feeds from a high level:

  • Number of suppliers connected
  • Product update count. This is a running total of updates in the Product manager i.e. inventory, pricing changes
  • The last time data feeds were updated

Feeds
The feeds screen presents a grid view of the supplier(s) that are connected. From this view, you will see various metrics and be able to take action with individual feeds.

  • Supplier name
  • Created at timestamp
  • Last fetched at timestamp
  • Last completed at timestamp
  • Product count for a given supplier
  • Number of mapped variables for a supplier
  • Status of a feed
  • Actions menu – pause, edit, delete or fetch a feed (manually)

Variables
The variables screen displays the custom and system variables that have been created from each supplier map. This view is more of a high-level overview for the user. Variables are also displayed at the product level for handy usage in product content.

Settings
Advanced supplier settings establish fundamental rules for all the feeds in production.

  • Base Product Cost – If an SKU is found in multiple inbound feeds, what price should be used?
  • Out of Stock Inventory – If a product is out of stock on a supplier’s data feed and it is not a current product in your store, do you want to ignore these from displaying in the “Needs Review” product list?
  • Low Stock Indicator – Flag low stock items when inventory available dips below this number.

Logs
The logs page shows activity and events for each supplier feed that is actived.

  • Feed name
  • Date feed was executed
  • Number of products that were successfully added to the Product Manager. These would show up in the Needs Review or Excluded product areas.
  • Number of products updated with new pricing or inventory numbers.
  • Number of products where no action was taken because no new pricing or inventory were detected on the latest fetch.

Products

The products area automatically creates specific “buckets” for each product found in the supplier feeds.

  • In Store – these products are currently published on your website and found in a data feed.
  • Pending – these products have been saved from the Needs Review area. A typical use-case for these would be to stage or edit prior to being published in your store.
  • Needs Review – products that need review are not in your store but found on the supplier feeds. They are automatically populated by the filtering rules that were defined in the initial set up process.
  • Excluded – excluded products have been determined to be left out from the store either manually or by filtering logic in the initial supplier set up steps.
  • Orphaned – orphaned products are those that are no longer found in any supplier feed, but are in the store. Typically these products should be removed since there is no inventory to ship.

Pricing Rules

Pricing rules allow store owners to have full control over how products can be priced based on supplier metadata. Rules are constructed using our conditional logic builder with the ability to add as many And or OR statements as needed.

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