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Dan Cole

Managing your Products

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Just wondering what everyone is doing to make sure their product information, images, prices etc etc are kept current and up-to-date.  Has anyone developed a systematic method of reviewing and keeping on top of their items, categories etc.  For me it seems to be quite a hit and miss process.  I usually spot something amiss, take a quick look and update an item or two and get back to what I was doing.

With hundreds or thousands of products there must be a better way.  What are you doing?

Dan 

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Hi Dan,

On a great deal of projects we created for our clients, we have product feeds coming from suppliers or catalogues. Suppliers often send not just price and stock figures, but also product information like descriptions and images. Online catalogues (like ICECAT) hold a lot of manufacturer-approved product data. Sometimes we get info direct from manufacturers as well (like HP product feed, for example).

Here I talk about catalogue of several thousand products (or more).

In regards to setting the right price - here it is a bit different. We developed a method called "price spider" where a product is constantly compared against the same or similar product from a number of competitors (we parse page data using regexp) and a report is created to advise the store owner where product price needs to be adjusted to make it competitive and still profitable. 

I hope this helps.

Kind regards,

Vadym


Holbi Group (a trading name of DataLink UK Ltd)

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1 hour ago, Dan Cole said:

What are you doing?

Well like clock work every year each manufacturer pumps out a new price list and catalogue. I’ve got my sales reps trained to mark up any key changes and then I just do the normal price changes and make any amendments at the same time.

Luckily I have a good spread over the year so not too much work at the same time. That’s about it nothing fancy. Oh and add any new products at the same time. Keeping it simple like me.


 

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I am a bit like @Dan Cole and everything is a bit hit and miss.

When replacement stocks arrive, I check all prices and also stock check just to make sure that stock levels are correct. If cost prices have risen dramatically I may even have a look for other suppliers at the time. If I leave it too long it all gets forgotten about until the next order. I also look at the product descriptions to see whether they could be changed or added to in any way just to keep them fresh. The same with the product images. This may sound bad, but if prices have risen lots, then I update prices similar products just so some dont look more expensive than others.

When a new product arrives, I have already done my homework and have an idea of selling prices based on competitors prices and my buying cost, so its just a case of a bit of SEO work on the product names and descriptions, and the new products are added.

I am currently going through the site and altering all the product description layouts. Over the years they got altered slightly and now I am trying to get them all to look the same. Its taking time, but customers seem to like it.

I do have the margin report addon installed on my site so I can at least see how much profit I am making on individual items, and orders if necessary. I also have a report that lets me see how many of each item I have dold in a set period, so that helps with ordering stock.


REMEMBER BACKUP, BACKUP AND BACKUP

Before installing the official version of oscommerce first look at a responsive version here

It's very easy to over complicate what are simple things in life

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On 8/18/2018 at 3:26 PM, datalink said:

In regards to setting the right price - here it is a bit different. We developed a method called "price spider" where a product is constantly compared against the same or similar product from a number of competitors (we parse page data using regexp) and a report is created to advise the store owner where product price needs to be adjusted to make it competitive and still profitable.

Vadym that is very interesting and could be quite helpful. I've tried a module like that, at one point, that was under development but it used some proprietary code that wasn't flexible enough to get the data from several of my competitors sites so I abandoned that idea.  If the "price spider" its an available osC module I'd love to have a look at it. 

Dan

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I'm sure there must be others here besides Steve and I who tend to manage there products in a bit of a hit and miss way.   I'd like to change that, and as I think about this a little more,  the task probably needs to be chunked up a bit.  As they say how to do you eat an elephant?  With that in mind I think I need a way to...

1.  Develop a list by either Category or Manufacturer to give a bit of structure to the process.  It might be useful to add a last checked date so you can focus on the categories or manufacturers in the greatest need of review.

2.  Develop a report so show me any products (by Category or Manufacturer) that don't meet certain criteria.  ie  price is outside of a specified margin, images are too small or don't exist etc.  I currently use Gary's Products Monitor, from a few years back, to do some of this but it can probably to modified to add additional criteria and perhaps just display the exceptions.

3. Source or develop tools to make changes to any exceptions that are identified, in a bulk or managed way.

Is anything else needed?

Dan

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For our business it is also quite complicated to keep content up-to-date. Over 50 suppliers and 35.000 products. Each supplier has its own way of informing us. Some with nice XML files - others with XLS but none of them gives us a simple solution for bullet-proof updating. 

I did several attempts for automating the process - but never really succeeded also becuase lack of time. The key is to create templates for each supplier depending ons his input - then evaluate current data and mark those products that need to be updated. Next give choice to update etc.etc... but now you also have new products. So they need to be checked and probably further finished by hand. 

So you have different stages for a product hence need a lot of extra data columns in the database. Only workable if you  use a Entity - Attribute - Value model .... all possible but time consuming to develop. With lots of changes to database both frontend en backend.

Would really like to see others opinoin on this complex matter!

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I find it easier to allocate products to manufacturers grouped to suppliers.

Also created for products a part number code that i can use for reference to the suppliers items price list instead of model only.

For mass update csv by manufacturer then.

For smaller updates as we purchase we also now and then update individual products.
What will work for me is to create excel sheet that automatically matches the part numbers to the suppliers part number and hopefully just copy and paste pricing

Updating attributes is more of a nightmare, one by one, although most of my attributes is an actual product.
So here updating something that could have been easier - attributes you have downloads, sizes and so but how about selecting a product from the catalog?

Pierre


Thanks to all source contributors, 2.3.4 Edge just works fine

https://github.com/gburton/Responsive-osCommerce/archive/master.zip

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For those with large product numbers your probably better of using a PIM . There are a number of open source PIM's available.

https://www.akeneo.com/community-edition/

Try the demo

https://www.akeneo.com/demo/

image.png.3cdd056be1d8c92ffffb07869ab31636.png

PimCore is another big open source PIM option.

https://pimcore.com/en/products/data-manager/product-information-management/introduction


 

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8 hours ago, Peper said:

I find it easier to allocate products to manufacturers grouped to suppliers.

I've done something similar too.  I added a "Vendors' field to my product table and modified some of the reports so I could easily see stock levels, out of stocks etc.   It has been very helpful.

8 hours ago, Peper said:

Also created for products a part number code that i can use for reference to the suppliers items price list instead of model only.

Did this too....it's either set to the UPC or the suppliers part number.   I use it for matching against their data files if they have one or for bar code reading when entering in-store purchases.  The vendors part number is also included in a PO system that I use so if there is a UPC I tend to use that in the products table.  Again it has proved to be very helpful.

8 hours ago, Peper said:

What will work for me is to create excel sheet that automatically matches the part numbers to the suppliers part number and hopefully just copy and paste pricing

I update my prices as POs are received and entered.  So stock, currency and prices get updated fairly often.  I could have it update my selling price automatically but I've stopped short of doing that, at this point, and its one of the reasons I want to get some sort of product review system in place.

8 hours ago, Peper said:

For mass update csv by manufacturer then.

I've done a little bit of this over the years too but have never found it particularly helpful.  I'm in a niche market and tend to deal though distributors so the data is often limited and suspect.  I find I'm better off just cutting and pasting from the manufacturers website, for the most part.  A "PIM" is out of the question for my market.

9 hours ago, Peper said:

most of my attributes is an actual product.

I do this too.  Never found much valve in using attributes.  

Interesting how we have moved in similar directions in dealing with these issues.    I hope that is a case of great minds think alike.😂

Dan

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On 8/21/2018 at 5:06 PM, Dan Cole said:

1.  Develop a list by either Category or Manufacturer to give a bit of structure to the process.  It might be useful to add a last checked date so you can focus on the categories or manufacturers in the greatest need of review.

2.  Develop a report so show me any products (by Category or Manufacturer) that don't meet certain criteria.  ie  price is outside of a specified margin, images are too small or don't exist etc.  I currently use Gary's Products Monitor, from a few years back, to do some of this but it can probably to modified to add additional criteria and perhaps just display the exceptions.

3. Source or develop tools to make changes to any exceptions that are identified, in a bulk or managed way. 

I've been chewing on this a bit more and have decided that this approach is probably the most appropriate one for me given the information I can access and the way I like to work.  It'll probably be awhile before I get much of a pay back, if I get one at all, but if I don't get started on something I know it'll never happen.  

At this point I think I'll need a module to control or monitor the process with the ability to add and update a last reviewed date for products, categories and manufacturers.  Obviously I'll need a table to hold that information too.

The routine should allow me to display the manufacturers and then drill down to the categories associated with each manufacturer and then to the products associated with each those categories.  With the ability to add and sort on the last reviewed date it should give simple way to manually manage the process.

From there I can start to add checks to see products that don't meet my review criteria....ie prices are outside of a particular margin, images are too small, descriptions are short or missing etc, etc.

That's the basic plan.  As I make progress I'll come back and update this thread from time to time.   Wish me luck...I'm not a coder but I can usually find my way along by cutting, pasting and hacking up existing code.  I'm just very slow at it.

Dan 

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