A guide to inventory file templates (flat files)
When exporting your items to Amazon, inventory file templates (flat files) are your go-to reference for what item data Amazon requires.
Every seasoned traveller knows that a good packing checklist is gold. Your 'inventory file template', or 'flat file' as some folks call it, is kind of like a pro packing checklist for the items you want to list on Amazon.
But just what does this analogy mean? Well, the templates on Seller Central come in pretty handy when you’re preparing your items to be exported to Amazon because they let you know what information is necessary for products of a specific category.
So what happens during an item export? Well your plentymarkets system creates these files behind the scenes with all the relevant product information. These files can then be transferred to Amazon either manually or automatically allowing you to both upload or update your listings.
And if something does go wrong, they’re a great reference guide for troubleshooting.
In this video, we’ll take a look at how flat files are structured and how you can use them when your item export DOESN’T go according to plan.
Now where do you find these so-called inventory file templates…
Well, you can either google them. Or simply log into Amazon Seller Central and use the handy dandy search field.
Then scroll down to 'Category-specific inventory templates' and select the category in which you want your item to be listed.
The file that you’ve downloaded can now be opened with a spreadsheet program such as Excel.
So what’s behind all of these tabs?
Well, the 'Instructions' tab provides you with solid tips on using the file.
If you want to check how your item IMAGES must be displayed, you’ll find the technical details here as well as some example images so you can see what Amazon is looking for at a glance.
The file also includes an EXAMPLE that can later come in handy as a comparison for your own flat file.
And now we’re approaching the nitty gritty. 'Data definitions' give you an idea of what information is pertinent in your product category.
The first column includes Amazon’s field name and the last column lets you know whether that info is required or optional.
The thing that simplifies matters is that this information should be included in your item data from the get-go which means that most of the required info will automatically be sent to Amazon anyway.
And if you don’t really know what is meant by a certain field name or how you should enter that information, "Valid Values" and "Example" can lend a helping hand.
In the event that you want to fill out the flat file manually, Amazon provides you with a template including an overview of what goes where.
Alrighty, that was it for theory! And now for our troubleshooting example!
Your items have been sent to Amazon!
But whoopsie! One of your items didn’t make it!
Time to do some troubleshooting and consult your packing checklist.
Right, so as I mentioned earlier, plenty creates a flat file when it exports items to Amazon. If one of your items gets lost in the process, it’s often because one of the "required" fields is empty. Seller Central can help you find out what information is missing. Simply go to Inventory, Add Products via Upload, and open the Monitor Upload Status tab, which is where you’ll find the processing report.
In the Feed Processing Summary tab, you’ll instantly see what fields have not been included in your flat file - information like "batteries required".
All you have to do now is add that information to your item data in plentymarkets and your data export should work like a well greased wheel.
And if the field you need doesn’t exist yet, just create it yourself using item and variation property links.
Now that we’ve shone a light on how to use inventory file templates, you’re equipped to get your items to Amazon successfully!