One of the most basic tasks where the new and experienced merchants faced, within working in their online shops, is the addition and subsequent updating of the products catalog. Magento as any other platform for e-commerce provides the basic features for adding and editing products. Unfortunately the reality is that our first positive feelings about the presence of these features are broken down at the first attempt to add and subsequently change the data for example of at least 10 products. What can you add more when many Merchant-s operate hundreds, thousands or even millions of goods at the same time. Each time when you want to add new item or modify data in multiple tabs it will takes a huge amount of time from you. The process becomes even slower and causes a lot of panic and stress, if you are working with a large number of suppliers. The question arises – is it possible to speed up the process?
Thanks incorporated in the magento platform capabilities, we can use several approaches that will greatly facilitate this process. The described approaches can accelerate and save weeks or even months of your time.
As you know one of the key aspects of the magneto is that you can install third-party extensions.
Currently there is a great variety of extensions to address those or other problems. To control the goods, there are several basic types of extensions:
- Extensions providing improved user interface
- Extensions downloaded data through CSV / XML files
- Extensions to load data through the connection with ERP systems and accounting programs
Improved User Interface based extensions
These extensions significantly improve the standard magento user interface to speed up the work with a products catalog of items in the administrative interface of the magento store. Typically these extensions improve standard product grid that we see when click “Catalog” — “Manage Products” menu item. Standard user interface allows you to see the basic set of products data in a products grid, and when you click on the Edit link takes you to the edit page of the goods:
In turn, the extensions working on this principle allow enhance product grid additional features and turn products grid works on the principle Microsoft Excel:
Add and hide any information about the product directly in the grid of goods
The ability to show and hide any information about the product in the products grid. That allows you to quickly determine the relevance of the data – such as price, SEO data, inventory level and status, bind to the directory related products and so on.
Change data of many products on one page in the grid and save these changes with a single click
This feature allows you to make changes on the same page for a large number of goods as you do in Microsoft Excel. Typically data is saved via ajax or by pressing the save button. Thus you do not need to open each item individually for editing — that already saves a lot of time.
Apply Mass Products Actions, which allows one to apply the update for the selected list of products
If you need to make homogeneous (identical amendments) for a large number of products, some extensions may provide such a Mass Products Actions. To do this, simply select the desired products from the table and apply the desired Mass Action. Such actions usually include inventory management and the status of stock availability, price changes, binding / delete / move a directory tree, overlapping products, duplication of images, deleting products, and so on.
Today there are a large number of extensions allowing to carry out each of these principles to specific tasks, such as:
- To change stock inventory level and status — Stock Inventory Manager
- Changes in products prices — Mass Prices Updater
- To change assignments to the directory tree — Mass Products Categories Updater
- To link products together related- / up- / cross-sell — Mass Products Relater
There are also more flexible extensions that combine all three principles together, and thus represents a powerful tool that can save a lot of time on the management of goods in magento. One of the most powerful to date extensions is the Advanced Admin Products Manager, which enhance product grid with all listened aspects as: product grid customization, product data editor right in product grid, enhanced products search and filtering, mass products actions – it is all-in-one extension. Basically magento extension vendors provide two extensions which combine two first aspects in one extension and third aspect in separate, but it total it will cost you at least double cost of Advanced Admin Products Manager.
You can also pay attention to Ajax Mass Images Uploader which greatly simplifies product images management by combining the three above-mentioned aspects.
CSV / XML Import extensions
In contrast to the approach described above – these extensions basically use the data stored in a CSV / XML files. These extensions allow you to upload these files and save data in magento by parsing this files.
Some typical situations where this approach is convenient:
- Supplier product provides all the information on the goods you purchased in CSV or XML files
- If you use an accounting system or ERP system that already contains information about products. Typically, such systems allow you to export product data in different data formats including CSV or XML. That, in turn, you can import through such extensions.
- You bought the content of the products from a content provider, which usually provides the data in CSV or XML
- In any other case, when you can get or generate data in these formats.
You can find these extensions are used to solve individual tasks, such as inventory management Stock Inventory Import; management of prices; discount management; image management products and so on. Also you can find extensions allow you to import all the data at once.
Magento API integration
Another good side of Magento is that the platform is implemented in a SOAP API. This tool allows you to connect to third-party software, including custom scripts, which can produce certain operations. You can order the creation of a script that can retrieve data from specified sources, such as from suppliers, and maintain or modify these data via magento API. This tool has great flexibility and allows data to be automatically uploaded and with a relatively high speed. Nevertheless, Magento API is based on magento framework, which has not the biggest indicators of speed, which will significantly while maintaining a few thousands of products and can take several minutes or even hours.
Direct Magento database integration
This approach has the same flexibility as using magento SOAP API, but instead involves the connection and uploading data directly into the magento database. Since the script and some cases extensions do not use in their work magento framework — we get a significant speed boost. The approach is the fastest and allows you to load and update data in seconds or a few minutes to update millions of products. This method is not recommended by magento. But if you are a professional who thoroughly and in detail know the magento database structure — this method is the fastest and allow you to concentrate fully on the business objectives. Such scripts can be ordered from the company or the professional who is deeply versed in the development of magento. This option is probably the most expensive, but it will have a significant effect in the short and long-term run of your online store. There is also a disadvantage of this approach, this kind of scripts, if necessary, changes require the intervention of a programmer, which will require additional financial costs. On the other hand it is more profitable option than hiring a several people on full-time basis to update the content in your magento store.
Also, in rare cases, you may find extensions that use in their work this approach. A number of extensions allows you to save a specific set of data for the goods, but unfortunately not the whole set of product data. For example extensions like Stock Inventory Import and Automated Stock Inventory Import by Iksanika allow you to store data on stocks inventory and level in seconds. These extensions use the data in the format TEXT, CVS, XML as a data source files and load data via SOAP/FTP/sFTP/SSH2/HTTP/HTTPS channels and save them in magento store for a couple of seconds, even for a millions products. At the same time, these extensions do not require large time and financial investment and is used by almost all middle and large size online stores.
As we can see, there are different approaches to solve the problem update and add information about goods. These methods differ in terms of cost and time. Usually a combination of these methods. At different stages of development of your store you are working with a different amount of goods, so your height, you can add or change methods of work. For example, you can start to add and update data using extensions that enhance the ability to manage standart products through user interface. As the volume of goods – you can add a CSV / XML import goods. As a last step if this is not enough – you can order the scripts that automate the process of importing and will maintain and update the data directly into the database.