6 minute read
How to Import a Data Feed from Your Supplier

You found a supplier who’s products you want to sell, and they told you they have a data feed. They may have thrown around acronyms like API, FTP, XML, JSON, or some other confusing set of letters. What does it mean? How do you use this information?

oberlo logo

Never worry about shipping, packaging, or holding inventory. You’ll have more time to focus on marketing and building your business because you won’t be shipping or packaging orders.

inventory source logo

Automatically upload products, sync inventory & route orders with dropship suppliers to virtually any online store, marketplace or ecommerce platform.

What is a data feed?

A data feed is an amazing tool that can automatically update your product listings! That means:

  • Ability to easily and quickly sync inventory to multiple sales channels, such as Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Big Commerce, etc.
  • No more cancelling orders across platforms due to incorrect quantity amounts.
  • No more incorrect prices, descriptions, ingredients, or images when your supplier updates their data.
  • Supplier data feeds often contain rich data and high-quality images; nothing drives sales like great images.
  • No more manually updating inventory data! This can save you hours, days, weeks, or even months of time.

Now then… in this article, I’m going to run you through all the scary acronyms out there, and break them down step-by-step so you understand what they mean, and (more importantly) how you can use them.

Note: Shopify does not have any sort of data feed integration method. In order to use this method, you must download an app, such as ChannelApe, and run the feed through that.

Types of Data Feed Methods

Your supplier may have given you one of the following “methods” through which they can sync their inventory data with your store (aka a “data feed”):

FTP Method (File-Transfer Protocol)

An FTP is just how it sounds – it’s a way to transfer files from one server, or computer, to another. It’s one of the most common methods for a data feed.

Normally, with an FTP, you will have a username and password to log in to the feed and start receiving their files, or in our case inventory data. The types of files you may encounter are covered in the next section.

HTTP Method (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

You may be familiar with HTTP since you see it in front of most web URLs. It’s just another way of transferring data through data feeds.

You may or may not need a username and password to access this type of feed.

API Method (Application Programming Interface)

API is another possible method to establish a data feed between your store and your supplier. Essentially, it serves as an interface for two programs to communicate with one another.

In order to use an API you normally need some form of login credentials from your supplier.

EDI Method (Electronic Data Interchange)

EDI is just another fancy way of getting data from point A to point B.

Again, in order to use your supplier’s EDI data feed, you’ll probably need some form of login credentials.

Types of Files That Can Be Transferred

Just as there are multiple methods to transfer files, there are multiple file types which can contain inventory data and be transferred.

These include (but are not limited to):

.XML Files (Extensible Markup Language)

XML files are the most common of all the data feed file types because they are basically universally read.

.JSON Files (JavaScript Object Notation)

Using JSON Files to Import Your Supplier's Data Feed

JSON files are another commonly used data feed file type you may come across.

Excel Files

You can use regular excel files to transfer data, however usually they will be saved as one of the following two excel file types.

CSV Files (Comma-Separated Values)

Using CSV Files to Import Your Supplier's Data Feed

If you’ve ever tried to import data to Shopify via a CSV file, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with them. They are simply a handy way of containing large amounts of information in a table for easy transfer. CSV is about as common as XML.

TSV Files (Tab-Separated Values)

TSV files are the last common file type we’ll talk about, for the sake of saving space.

How to Use a Data Feed

Now you understand all the scary acronyms, and what context they may be used it. But again, how do you actually use those file types and transfer methods to sync inventory with eBay, Amazon, Shopify, etc.? How do you use them to instantly automate inventory updates, such as quantity or pricing?

Integrating Your Suppliers Data Feed Using ChannelApe

Our platform was designed to help people like you get your suppliers data feed hooked up to your website. More than that, we give you a central location to access the data, and set rules, or “recipes”, before pushing it out to your Shopify, Amazon, eBay, or any other store front.

For example: Let’s say you want to run a 25% off sale, but only on items in a certain category, or on a certain marketplace (such as eBay or Jet.com). ChannelApe will pull the inventory data from your supplier’s data feed and allow you to view it through our dashboard. From there, you can set those parameters. Then just press one button, and the data will be pushed to all of your marketplaces within mere hours.

Essentially, whenever your supplier updates anything – quantity, descriptions, prices, images – your product listings will be updated automatically.

Not convinced yet? Check out how Roll Call 911 increased their online sales by 9000% using ChannelApe.

Wondering how to find a supplier who can give you a data feed? Check out our 6-step process to selling online.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful! Please share it with anyone who may benefit from importing a data feed to their website. Leave a reply to let me know if you have any comments or questions!

Import a Data Feed from Your Supplier Using ChannelApe


Bill Widmer
Bill is a content marketer and eCommerce lover. From video games, to vitamins, to imported products, he's sold them all. Find out more at www.billwidmer.com!