IMPORTING BASICS

To use the robust import feature in WSM, there are basics that are important for you to understand before you begin. This quick 'Importing Basics' page is a great place to start prior to the additional training materials that are available.

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Minimum Software Requirements

In order to successfully and efficiently import data into WSM, we recommend confirming the availability of the following...

  • Excel or Access
  • A WSM log in with 'Owner' or 'Manager' Access Level
  • Browser with Internet access

Terminology 

  • File - A file is an access or excel spreadsheet that you use to organize your data. 
  • Profile - A profile is the "vehicle" in which your data gets imported or exported to/from WSM. A Global Profile is preset in WSM and is only to be used for exporting or COPYING to create your own unique import profile.  A Unique Profile is only available to your site and can not be viewed or copied by any other users of WSM. 
  • Data - Is the information that you wish to import or export. 
  • CSV - CSV stands for Comma Separated Values. In order for your Access or Excel file to import into WSM, you will need to save it as a CSV (comma delimited) file. Be cautious as there are a few different types of CSV options for saving, but you want a CSV (comma delimited) file. 
  • Import - How to mass add data to your WSM site.
  • Export - How to mass export data from your WSM site. Keep in mind that exporting does NOT remove the data from your site, but simply exports a copy of the data. 
  • Column - The vertical alignment of data represented by alphabetic letters in excel. Column A is typically the Column Name.
  • Row - The horizontal alignment of data represented by numerical numbers in excel. Row 1 is typically the Column Name. 
  • Cell - An individual data point, located at the crossing of a column and a row. For example, A2 or C5.
  • Formulas - Are used to generate desired data within Excel or Access using other data that is available. Examples are addition, percentage of, concatenate multiple cells, and so on.
  • Text - Values that you enter into an open text field. Can be letters, numbers, or select symbols (never use &). 
  • Paste Value - Can be used to convert formulas to values in Excel by using Paste Special > Values. 
  • Source Type - Is defining how your information is going to be processed during the import process. 
    • Column - Exports data to the named column or Imports data from the named column in your file.  
    • Literal - ONLY used for importing. It takes whatever data you type into the source value and imports it to the target field. 
    • Expression - ONLY used for importing. This Source Type allows for a mix of literal and column(s) data with the use of advanced formulas.
  • Fields - Within your import profile, you use fields to map data from your file into a specific 'field' in WSM. 
  • Target Field - Used to identify the WSM database field name, presented as a drop-down when you are in the process of creating an import profile. 
  • Source Value - How you are identifying your data in your spreadsheet. This is simply your column name aka Row 1. 
  • Unique Identifier - Used to locate which Target Field/Source Value contains a unique value that the database uses to update or create an 'item' in WSM.
  • Multi-Value Delimiter - Is the character that you are using to separate values within one cell. The most commonly used multi-value delimiter is a semi-colon (;) and is used for images, attachments or any Target Field that can accept more than one value.
  • Compound-Value Delimiter - Is the character that you are using to separate values within one cell. The most commonly used compound-value delimiter is a greater than symbol (>) and is used for Category Trees, Details or any target field that can create a hierarchy. This field also plays a unique role in importing attributes
 

What do you want to import?

Identifying the data that you want to import is the most crucial step of the process.  WSM import profiles are based on "models", or groups of fields that relate to a specific type of data.  There are many models to choose from.  Each model contains certain fields which can be imported:

Brand

The brand model consists of the brand name, description, image, metadata, and some other fields.  This model is typically used when adding images and descriptions to brands.  Brands may be created through this model, or automatically when using the product model.

Category

The category model works similarly to the brand model.  It's generally used to add supplemental information to categories after they are created through a product import.  Typical fields are the category description and image.

Customers

The customers model is used when transferring customer account data between a CRM and Web Shop Manager.  This model contains fields such as the name of the customer and other account management fields, like specifying whether or not the account is active, balance due, etc. Customer addresses, such as shipping and billing, are imported separately.  See "Customer Addresses" below.
  • Customer Addresses

Customer addresses may be imported using this model.  However, many clients prefer to allow the customer to update their own information when they first logon to the site.

Product Data Models

  • General Product Data ("Product")

Best practices state to limit your import fields to only those that you intend to make changes to.  For instance, if your goal is to update pricing, your import profile should not include fields for product images or other unrelated fields.

For a complete list of importable fields for this model, see Import Model: Products.

  • Product Option Set

If you intend to use options for any of your products (such as "Choose a color"), then you may need to use this model.  Importing with this model will create or update the option set, but not assign the actual option choices (AKA "values") to the option set.  See "Product Option Set Value" below.  

(lightbulb) Are you unfamiliar with importing option sets?  The WSM Client Experience Team is here to help.  Submit a Support Request by clicking this link.

  • Product Option Set Value

If you've imported a large set of option sets, you'll then need to import values into the option sets.  The fields in the Product Option Value model contain the name, description, weight, price, and image of the specific value.  An export of the option set IDs is required so your values are assigned to the correct option.

(lightbulb) Are you unfamiliar with importing option sets?  The WSM Client Experience Team is here to help.  Submit a Support Request by clicking this link

What is an import file and profile, and why do I need them?

An import file is a CSV (Comma-Separated Values) file, usually created with Excel, that is populated with data that you want to import into your WSM website. A file can be obtained from a manufacturer, exported from another website, generated from one of our file templates or created from scratch. However you start, there will be some "massaging" of the data needed in order to get the file ready to import into WSM via an Import Profile. Your file will need to have column headings (A1, B1, C1, etc) to organize the information.

A WSM import profile is set up within the Data section of your WSM back-end in order to "interpret" your data (import file) and place all information in the correct area (AKA "Model") of your WSM store. It is recommended that you create your import profile from scratch.  In order for importing to work flawlessly, there is one golden rule that must be followed...

Creating an Import Profile

Once you determine which model contains the data you want to add or update, you'll need to create the profile to import the data with.

Importing Examples - Step-by-Step

(lightbulb) Click on an import model from the list below to see examples of commonly used profiles.

  • Product
  • Product Options
  • Brand
  • Category
  • Customer

(info) CSV profiles for your site can be located under the Data>CSV Profiles menu.

  1. To create a new profile, click the "Add Profile" button.  The following screen appears:

* Denotes a required field

Title*: Give your profile a meaningful name.  It should be generic enough that others who use your site are not intimidated by the name, such as one that is brand-specific (unless it's truly required) but also give it enough detail so that everyone who sees it would have a good idea of what it's for without guessing. (lightbulb) If you start the name with a symbol, it helps group related profiles because of how the system sorts them (alphabetically).

Type*: By default, this is set to CSV for "Comma-Separated Values" file.  Other options include tab-delimited (TSV) and pipe-separated values (PSV).

Update Only: (warning) Use caution here.  Profiles that are set to "No" have the capability of adding and removing products!  If you do not intend to do either with this profile, set "Update Only" to Yes.

Model*: This selection would be based on your determination of the data you want to change as explained in the first section of this document.

Strip HTML: This feature is not often used.  One use case for setting this to "Yes" would be if your profile is importing metadata.

2.  Once you have filled in the fields above and double-checked everything, click "Save".

3.  You will be returned to the CSV profiles list.  Locate the profile you just created and click the blue folder (Fields) icon 

4.  You will see a red warning that says "WARNING: no unique key field has been set, so repeat imports will create duplicate items".  You may also see other warnings about required fields.  Click "ADD FIELD".  The following screen appears.

5.  Start by adding the unique key field.  The unique field will be the identifying number for the row you're importing.  For example, if your importing product data, the unique key could be the WSMID, or more likely, the StockID.  Choose the target field that corresponds to your desired unique identifier.

6.  Source Type: Most people choose to import data directly from a spreadsheet without modifying it in the import profile.  If the values in your file are exactly what you want to import, leave this choice set to "column", meaning "spreadsheet column".

7.  Source Value: If your Source Type is "column", the Source Value is simply the name of the spreadsheet column that corresponds to the value you want to import for the Target Field.  So, if your StockID is labeled "Inventory Number" in your file, then your Source Value would be "Inventory Number".

8.  Compound/Multi-Value Delimiters:  Some fields will prompt for the use of delimiters while others will not allow them at all.  Delimiters offer you a way to combine multiple values into one cell in your spreadsheet.  Product images are a good example.  If you have multiple images to import, you can combine them together using a multi-value delimiter.  A common delimiter is a semicolon.  It's a good idea to enter delimiters in these boxes even if you do not intend to use them.  (warning) Compound and Multi-Value Delimiters cannot be set to the same character.

(info) You can find a detailed dictionary of target fields and their specifications, including delimiter usage in the Import Model: Products document.

Your Import File & Profile Have to Match!

The import system is very powerful and can automate a lot of manual work that would normally need to be done. But with that automation, comes some limitations that cannot be "interpreted" by the system.

  • The field names in your import profile are spelling & space sensitive. This means that if your import file has a column named "MSRP", then your profile will need to call for "MSRP", instead of "Price" or other variations.
  • Every field in your profile has to be represented in your file. So if your profile has 10 fields, then your file will need to have at least 10 columns (that match!).
  • The profile will import the data exactly as outlined in your file. So if you would like paragraphs, bullet points, bold words, or any other styling to your data this will have to be represented in the file with HTML.
  • Some field values are case-sensitive, like "Availability".

(info) It's perfectly fine if you have more fields in your import file than you have in your import profile, as long as the extra fields do not make the file so large that it cannot be uploaded to the site.

Always TEST!

Even the most experienced WSM importers TEST! They test because they know in the long run they will save time and money by taking that extra 1-2 minutes upfront. Importing does not have an "un-do" or "ctrl-z" button, so testing is the best way to make sure that you do not spend the remainder of your day manually deleting a mistake import. Testing involves taking a small sample of your file (typically 3-5 data lines) and running a test import to ensure that the file is set up correctly and that the data is being imported into the expected fields. It is best to view the results of your import both on the back-end of your site and the front-end to confirm everything is resulting as expected. 

(warning) WARNING: Check your import file for EMPTY rows.  There is a difference between EMPTY and BLANK rows in Excel.  Using Ctrl-End on your keyboard, check to make sure that your cell indicator stops on the last used cell of your spreadsheet.  Highlight any unused rows (the entire row, by clicking on the row header), right-clicking, and choosing "Delete Rows".  Pressing the Delete key on your keyboard is not sufficient.  Failure to follow these steps may cause the system to create blank products on your site.

Images & Files

Images are very valuable to websites. When importing images it is required that a URL is supplied. This means that your images must be hosted on a web server. There are functions within excel that can help you create your URLs for large files. Typically there are three ways that site users obtain image URLs. 

(error) Note: NEVER export and re-import WSM image links to itself (the same product, category, brand, or other items on your site).  Doing so may cause the image to appear blank or become duplicated.  You may use an existing image for another product, category, brand, etc.

  1. You already have a website and are improving it by moving to WSM, so your image URLs can be copied from your live site.
  2. You can create a folder in your Files & Images section of WSM and use the multi-file up-loader to host all of the images from a local computer.
  3. Your product manufacturers have websites with web quality images that an URL can be copied from. Keep in mind it is illegal to steal images from competitors websites, so we only recommend copying URL from manufacturers who approve the use of their images.