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Importing and Exporting Products

Whether you're adding new products to your store, or updating existing products, you need to consider over a dozen details (e.g. price, description, options, images). It can be intimidating trying to keep track of it all. The export and import tools BigCommerce provides can help reduce the headache. Exporting and importing your products is the fastest way to create or update products in bulk. The only difference between creating and updating products via CSV is that you don’t include a Product ID. The product ID tells BigCommerce that the product doesn’t already exist and should be created.

 
 

Exporting Products

1. Go to ProductsExport.

2. Select your export settings.

Export Products showing Export Templates and File Format Options

  • Template — Select your export template. We recommend Bulk Edit if you are not using a custom template.
  • File Format — You can export your file as a CSV or XML. We recommend CSV as any other file type will not import.
  • Save export to the server for later download? — Select this option to save the file to your exports folder in WebDAV (recommended for exporting 1000+ products).

3. Click Continue, then click Export my products to a CSV file in the pop-up window. The export will begin to process.

Export Products popup

4. When the export is complete, select Download my Products file. The file will be saved to your computer, usually in your Downloads folder.

Download Products pop up

 

Make a backup! After exporting your products, it's a good idea to make a copy of the original export as a backup. This way, if something goes wrong during an import, you can quickly restore your products to their previous state.

 
 

Importing Products

1. Go to ProductImport.

2. Fill out your preferred settings under Import Options. We recommend the following:

Import Options settings

  • File was exported using the 'Bulk Edit' template — Select this if you exported your file using the Bulk Edit template, are using the sample CSV provided above, or are using the same column names listed in the table of importable fields below. This will preselect the rest of the Import Details settings and allow you to bypass the Matching Fields step.
  • Overwrite existing products — If checked, your products will be updated upon import. Since this is generally why you're importing your products, you should select this.
  • Delete existing images and Delete existing downloads (not recommended) — These will delete all of your product images and digital product files. Once they are deleted, there is no way to recover them from BigCommerce.
  • Detect product categories from CSV file — Enable this if you want the import to auto-detect category names. If you neglected to fill in the Category field in your CSV, however, you can opt to have all of your products get added to a category in this list.
  • Ignore blank values during import (recommended) — Unchecking this setting will delete the data associated with any blank field in your import file. For example, if you left a product’s description blank and unchecked Ignore blanks (so that blanks are not ignored), the product’s description would be deleted from your store.
  • Default Option Type — This is used if you’re trying to [create options] and failed to specify the option type correctly. It will allow you to select a single type of option to use, but we recommend specifying the option type in your CSV file.

You can typically leave the following settings alone. They are used if you are uploading a non-spreadsheet CSV and need to specify the import settings.

  • File contains headers — Does the file contain column headings?
  • Field Separator — In non-spreadsheet CSVs, what punctuation is used to separate the fields?
  • Field Enclosure — In non-spreadsheet CSVs, what punctuation is used to tie phrases together (e.g. "Socks and Shoes")?

3. Under the Import Products via CSV section, upload your CSV file directly from your computer by browsing for it.

Import Products via CSV settings

4. Click Next when done.

5. Make sure all of the data you're importing has been matched to its equivalent setting in BigCommerce. If you selected Bulk Edit Re-import, you can skip this step.

Link import field step

Ignore means that the data hasn't been matched.

6. Click Next when done.

7. Click Start Import to begin importing your products. When the import is complete, you will see an import summary.

Import Summary

Click More Information to see any warnings generated during the import.

Import Summary with More Information links

 
 

Creating New Products Via Import

Whether you're creating new products from scratch or importing a CSV file from a distributor, importing is the fastest way to add new products to your store. To import new products, you will need to list their details in a CSV file.

 

Need an example? You can use our sample template to get started. Feel free to leave out any columns that you don't need. As long as you have the required fields listed below, the file will import successfully.

Required Fields

To create a product with a CSV file, you must include the following fields (column headers):

  • Product Name
  • Category
  • Price
  • Weight (physical products only)
  • Track Inventory Value (set to none, by product, or By option, depending on how you intend to track inventory)

The following field must be blank or not included, or else the product will not be created.

  • Product ID

Import File Formatting

If you are creating an import file from scratch, you can use our sample template.

If you're using a third-party distributor's CSV, the distributor's CSV columns will not match up with BigCommerce's product attributes exactly. You will need to do one of the following to ensure your product data imports successfully.

  • Using the sample template as a guide, change your CSV's column headers to match the BigCommerce's column headers or
  • On Match Fields step, match the column header with the corresponding product attribute

Importing Tips

Here are a few tips on making sure your import runs smoothly.

  • To ensure a smooth import, don't import more than a few hundred products, SKUs, or images at a time. The less data (products, SKUs, rules, images), the quicker the import will run. An import with a lot of data is more likely to stall.
  • If you use the sample template, you can select Bulk Edit Reimport during the import process. This will preselect the recommended import settings and let you skip the Match Fields step.
 
 

Importing Product Options

To create product variants tied to product options, you will need to add sub-product SKUs or Rules with those attributes. The easiest process is to create the base product first, export it, then add the SKUs or Rules. See Importing Product Options for a full guide.

 
 

Importing Product Categories

In addition to creating categories in the control panel, you can create them when importing products. This method makes it easy to add new categories or rearrange existing products in bulk. Below are some guidelines on creating and assigning categories.

 

Creating or updating categories via the API? For information on creating and editing category information via the API, see our Developer Documentation.

Creating Categories

A category is created when it is listed in the Category column when importing a product. If it is listed by itself, it will be created as a top-level category.

CSV showing format for a single category

If your product category contains a / character, use \/ instead to avoid creating subcategories. For example, if you want to create a category labeled Sweaters/Hoodies, it should be formatted as Sweaters\/Hoodies.

CSV example showing how a category should be formated if it has a /

 

Need an example? You may find it useful to reference a sample template. Click the following link to save the file to your computer.

Multiple Categories

If your product belongs to multiple categories, they should be separated with a semi-colon (;) without a space.

  • Example: Graphic Tees;Sale/Graphic Tees

CSV showing format for multiple categories

Subcategories

If your product belongs to a subcategory, list both the parent category and the subcategory, separated by a forward slash (/). Listing the subcategory by itself will create an additional top-level category by that name.

  • Example: Accessories/Watches
  • Example: Accessories/Watches;Accessories/Jewelry (for a product in two subcategories of the same parent)
  • Example: Accessories/Watches;Accessories/Jewelry;Sale/Accessories (for a product in two subcategories of different parents)

CSV showing format for subcategories

 
 

Importing Product Images

Including product images in your product import is the fastest way to attach images to your products. This can be accomplished in one of two ways:

  • If the images are already on the internet and you know the URL, you can import them using the image path in the CSV file.
  • If the photos are on your computer, we recommend uploading them through WebDAV instead.

Image Requirements

Images must meet the following requirements. Attempting to import or upload an image that does not meet these requirements can cause products not to have images.

  • Image file names must be numbers and letters.
  • Image file names cannot contain any spaces or special characters.
  • Image file types must be JPEG/JPG, GIF or PNG. They cannot be TIFF, BMP, or PDF file formats.
  • The optimal size for your product images is 1280 x 1280 pixels. Other product images (like thumbnails) will be created from the original image you upload.

Using the Image Path

If your product images are already online, you can specify the full image path in your CSV file to import them along with your products. See Importing Products for more information on importing products.

Locate the column in your CSV for product images. If you are using the Bulk Edit template, this column will be called Product Image File - (#). If you are importing new products, be sure to leave the Product Image ID column blank.

CSV showing Product Image Columns

 

Be careful! When updating existing products, if your CSV contains product image IDs but no product image file information, the images tied to those products will be removed.

Enter the full path (e.g. http://oldstore.com/images/product-image.png) of the image for each product. Non-http URLs are not supported.

CSV Product Image column containing a full image path

To upload multiple images for a single product, create a new column with a heading of Product Image File - # (increasing the number each time you make a new column). To include any of the other information for that image (e.g. descriptions), make a new column with the appropriate heading and same number as the corresponding image.

For example, if you wanted to import a product with two images, you would create extra columns and label them:

  • Product Image ID - 2
  • Product Image File - 2
  • Product Image Description - 2

CSV showing multiple product image columns

When you are ready, import your products. If you are using a template other than Bulk Edit, match the Product Image field to the correct column on the Link Import Fields step of the import.

Link Import Field

Uploading through WebDAV

With the upload method, you will upload images from your computer to your store using WebDAV, then specify the image by file name in the CSV.

Begin by connecting to your store through WebDAV. Open the product_images folder followed by the import folder. Then drag and drop the images from your computer into the import folder.

Import folder containing sample images

In your product CSV, locate the column for product images. If you are using the Bulk Edit template, this column is called Product Image File - (#). Enter the file name (e.g. image.png) of the image file.

CSV file with a sample image name in the Product Image File column

 

Be careful! WebDAV is case-sensitive, so make sure that your file names (including the extension) match those in the import folder. Characters are restricted to a-z, 0-9, - and _.

To upload multiple images for a single product, create a new column with a heading of Product Image File - # (increasing the number each time you make a new column). To include any of the other information for that image (e.g. descriptions), make a new column with the appropriate heading and same number as the corresponding image.

CSV showing multiple product image columns

When you are ready, import your products. If you are using a template other than Bulk Edit, match the Product Image field to the correct column on the Link Import Fields step of the import.

Link Import Fields step

 
 

Importing Product SKUs

The most efficient way to update your inventory levels or to add SKU dimensions is by importing your product SKUs all at once. A SKU import involves having all of your SKUs in a CSV file, and the best way to generate this file is by exporting your existing SKUs using the SKU Inventory Management template or by using the sample template provided below.

Once they have been exported, you can then edit the CSV as a spreadsheet and import your changes. Alternatively, you can use a third-party CSV, such as one supplied by your vendor, and manually map the column headings during import. Note that the maximum SKUs a product can have is 600.

 

Need an example? You may find it useful to reference a sample template. The CSV template was created by exporting sample products using the SKU Inventory Management export template as noted above.

Before starting, make sure that you have a backup of your SKUs. Since the import will adjust all of your SKU data, you want to have a backup copy in case you need to revert the changes.

Your SKU import file must have the following fields when updating your SKUs.

  • Product SKU — the product's/variant's stock-keeping unit
  • Stock Level — number of units for a particular product or variant

1. Go to ProductsImport Product SKUs.

You will see the following options in the File Details section:

Export SKUs showing Export Template and File Format Options

  • Import File: Upload a file from my computer — Choose this option if the CSV file you wish to upload is located on your computer. Files can be up to 512 MB.
  • Import File: Use a file already on the server — If you have a larger file or a slow internet connection, you can connect to WebDAV and save your file to the import_files folder, then select this option. Files can be up to 512 MB.
  • Contains Headers? — Does the file contain column headings? If so, leave this box checked.
  • Field Separator — In non-spreadsheet CSVs, what punctuation is used to separate the fields?
  • Field Enclosure — In non-spreadsheet CSVs, what punctuation is used to tie phrases together (e.g. "Socks and Shoes")?

You can typically leave the File Details settings at their default values. They are there if you need to specify import settings for non-spreadsheet CSV files.

2. Upload the file you want to import, then click Next.

3. In the Link Import Fields screen, make sure your columns are matched to its similar setting in BigCommerce. For example, your vendor may use Item SKU as a column header instead of Product SKU. This mapping will not be necessary if you are using the SKU Inventory Management template.

Link Import Fields section

4. Click Next after you have mapped your fields.

5. Click Start Import to begin importing your products. When the import is complete, you will see an import summary. Click More Information to see any warnings generated during the import.

Import Summary with More Information links

 
 

Exporting Specific Products

There are three ways to export specific products:

Select individual products

1. Go to ProductsView.

2. Click the checkbox to the left of the product or products you want to export.

Product selected in the View Products screen and the Choose an Action dropdown

3. Under Choose an Action, select Export These Products, then Confirm. You will be taken to the Export page.

Export products based on a search or view

1. Go to ProductsView.

2. If you already have a custom view, open it under Custom Views. If not, create one or click Search to perform an advanced search.

Custom View and Search buttons

3. Once your view or search results are up, go to Choose an Action and select Export These Products, then Confirm. Selecting individual products from this list will only export those products; otherwise, all products that came up in the view or search will be exported.

Choose an Action dropdown

Export products from a particular category

1. Go to ProductsProduct Categories.

2. Locate the category you want to export, and click ActionProducts.

Action menu with Products highlighted

3. Under Choose an Action, select Export These Products, then Confirm. Selecting individual products from this list will only export those products; otherwise, all products in that category will be exported.

Choose an Action dropdown

 
 

Exporting Product SKUs

Exporting product SKUs is a quick way to back up your SKUs or get them ready for an update. The export file contains only basic product information so that you can make updates without needing to worry about extraneous details.

When exporting, you will be asked to select an export template. This template determines which fields get exported. Although BigCommerce comes with the SKU Inventory Management built-in export template, you may find it preferable to use a custom export template. A custom template will let you change formatting options, rename the headers, and include or exclude what fields get exported. For a full list of exportable information, see the table of Exportable Fields.

To get started, go to ProductsExport Product SKUs. Select your SKU export settings, then click Continue

Export SKUs showing Export Template and File Format Options

  • Template — Select the SKU Inventory Management template, unless you have created a custom export template.
  • File Format — You can export your file as a CSV or XML. We recommend CSV as any other file type will not import.
  • Save export to the server for later download? — Selecting this option will save the file to your exports folder in WebDAV. Recommended if you are exporting more than 1000 SKUs.

In the pop-up that appears, click Export my product SKUs to a CSV file.

Export SKUs pop up

When the file is ready for download, click Download my SKUs file.

Download SKUs popup

 
 

Choosing an Export Template

An export template determines what product information you are exporting. All export templates will include details like the product name, but you can get more granular about other details like price, dimensions, Google Shopping details, and so forth.

BigCommerce comes with a few product export templates built in:

  • Bulk Edit (recommended) — the bulk edit template was made for updating your product information. It includes the majority of exportable fields and has specifically named columns that let you skip steps in the importing process.
  • Default — the default template includes only basic product details such as name, weight, description, and price.
  • MYOB — this template is specifically for exporting to MYOB accounting software.
  • Peachtree — this template is specifically for exporting to Peachtree Accounting software.

You can also create custom export templates, and select which of the exportable fields you want it to include.

 
 

Creating a Custom Export Template

Customizing your template is the best way to ensure your product export has exactly what you want. You can build an export template from scratch or customize a copy of one to suit your needs.

We recommend using a copy of the Bulk Edit template and modifying it for your needs. This will let you bypass the settings and field mapping when you go to re-import it later.

To start, go to Advanced SettingsExport Templates. Use the Action menu to Create a Copy of the Bulk Edit template.

View Export Templates

Type a name for your template in the Template Details section and since this template will be for products, ensure Enable Products Exporting? is the only option selected under Export Options. Notice that the tabs listed along the top update with your selections.

Product export option

Customize the rest of the template settings to fit your needs. See Customizing Export Templates for a full breakdown of each section. When you're ready, click the Products tab at the top to view the available export fields.

Products export fields

Go through and check or uncheck each field as needed. Click Save & Exit when you have made your changes. You can now export your data using your new template.

Custom Export Template

 
 

Table of Exportable/Importable Fields

Below is a table of all fields that are exportable and importable via a CSV using the Bulk Edit Template. If a field is not in the list below (e.g. bulk pricing), it can not be imported, exported, or created manually. Fields in bold are required or recommended.

See Manually Entered Fields for a list of fields that are not included in the Bulk Edit template but can still be added manually and re-imported.

FieldDescriptionFormat
Item TypeDefines the item as a Product, SKU, or RuleProduct = product; SKU = SKU, Rule = rule
Product IDThe system-generated product identifier; cannot be created manuallyRequired for updates; must be blank for creating new products
Product NameThe name of your product; no two can be the same 
Product Type Defines whether the item is physical or digital (downloadable)P = physical; D = downloadable
Product Code/SKUStock-keeping unit number you use for inventoryAlphanumeric
Bin Picking NumberIdentifies where in a warehouse the item is located 
Brand NameThe brand or manufacturer of a product 
Option SetThe option set if you are using product options 
Option Set AlignDetermine whether the options are to the right or below the product imageRight = to the right; Below = below
Product DescriptionA description of your productCan contain text or HTML
PriceYour product's base priceNumbers only; no units (e.g. 24.99)
Cost PriceThe cost of the product for you (accounting purposes only)Numbers only; no units
Retail PriceThe retail price; if entered, it will appear next to your base or sale priceNumbers only; no units
Sale PriceThe sale price; if entered, it will replace the base priceNumbers only; no units
Fixed Shipping CostThe price to ship one unit of your product; if entered, this applies internationally overrides any other shipping settingsNumbers only; no units
Free ShippingIf applied, your product will ship internationally for free; if selected, overrides any other shipping settingsY = free shipping enabled; N = not enabled
Product WarrantyProduct warranty informationText or HTML
Product WeightProduct weight (physical only)Numbers only; no units
Product WidthYour product's width for calculating shippingNumbers only; no units
Product HeightYour product's height for calculating shippingNumbers only; no units
Product DepthYour product's depth for calculating shippingNumbers only; no units
Allow Purchases?Can the product be purchased from your store?Y = the product can be purchased or pre-ordered; N = the product cannot be purchased or pre-ordered
Product Visible?Should the product be visible in your store?Y = yes; N = no
Product AvailabilityA brief description of how long it takes your product to shipText only
Track InventoryShould inventory be tracked? If so, by option or by product?None = do not track; by product = track by product; by option = track by SKU
Current Stock LevelNumber of units in stock (only applies if tracking inventory)Numbers only
Low Stock LevelInventory level at which you are sent a notification to restock (only applies if tracking inventory)Numbers only
CategoryCategories and sub categories applied to productCategory1; Category2/Subcategory1;Category2/Subcategory2
If your category name has a /, denote it with \/ (e.g. Mittens\/Gloves)
Product File - 1The file name of your downloadable product (downloadable products only)filename.pdf
Product File Description - 1A description of your file 
Product File Max Downloads - 1The maximum number of times a single customer can download their purchaseNumbers only
Product File Expires After - 1The period after which the download link will not work for your customer# Days, # Weeks, # Months, # Years or Never
Product Image ID - 1The system-generated product image ID 
Product Image File - 1Image file name (if stored in WebDAV) or full URLimagename.jpg or http://fullurl.com/imagename.jpg
Product Image Description - 1A description of the image 
Product Image Is Thumbnail - 1If there is more than one image for the product, specify one to be the thumbnailY = is thumbnail (one only); N = not thumbnail
Product Image Sort - 1If there is more than one image for the product, specify which order they should appear in (lower numbers appear earlier)Whole numbers only
Search KeywordsKeywords for your store's searchKeywords separated by commas
Page TitleYour product's page title; will default to the product name if left blank 
Meta KeywordsMeta keywords; if left blank will default to those entered in the Website SettingsKeywords separated by commas
Meta DescriptionMeta description; if left blank will default to what's entered in the Website Settings 
MYOB Asset AcctSettings if using MYOB 
MYOB Income AcctSettings if using MYOB 
MYOB Expense AcctSettings if using MYOB 
Product ConditionProduct condition for Google ShoppingNew; Used; Refurbished
Show Product Condition?Show the product condition on your product page?Y = show on product page; N = don't show on product page
Event Date Required?Is a date required for purchase?N = no event date; Start Date = limit start date; End Date = limit end date; Date Range = limit start and end dates
Event Date NameName of event date 
Event Date Is Limited?Limit the event date? (Limits are inclusive)Y = yes; N = no
Event Date Start DateEarliest date available (inclusive)MON DD, YYYY
Event Date End DateLatest date available (inclusive)MON DD, YYYY
Sort OrderThe order in which a product appears on a category page relative to other products; default is 0Whole numbers only; can use negatives
Product Tax ClassThe tax class applied to a product
Product UPC/EANProduct's Universal Product Code (UPC) or European Article Number (EAN) 
Stop Processing RulesFor Rules, stop processing all rules placed below that ruleY = stop processing rules; N = don't stop processing rules
Product URLThe relative path of your product's URL on your store; if left blank it will default to the product name/new-relative-url/
Redirect Old URL?If you change the product URL, you can select whether or not to create a 301 RedirectY = create a 301; N = don't create a 301
GPS Global Trade Item NumberThe GTIN for the product; required for Google Shopping if not a custom product 
GPS Manufacturer Part NumberThe Manufacturer Part Number; required for Google Shopping if not a custom product 
GPS GenderThe intended gender for the product; required for some Google Shopping categories 
GPS Age GroupThe intended age group for the product; required for some Google Shopping categories 
GPS ColorThe color of the product; required for some Google Shopping categories 
GPS SizeThe size of the product; required for some Google Shopping categories 
GPS MaterialThe material of the product; required for some Google Shopping categories 
GPS PatternThe pattern of the product; required for some Google Shopping categories 
GPS Item Group IDA system-generated value for Google Shopping; leave blank if creating products 
GPS CategoryThe BigCommerce category (which is mapped to the Google Shopping category you want to list to)Category1/Subcategory
GPS EnabledShould the product be exported to Google Shopping?Y = enabled; N = not enabled
Avalara Product Tax CodeProduct's unique Avalara tax ID; use only if you have linked your paid Avalara accountNumeric only
ProductCustom FieldsName of custom field=Name of value;Name of custom field #2=Name of value #2
Color=Blue;Material=Cotton

The following data is exportable and included in the default SKU Inventory Management template. Fields in bold are required or recommended. See Manually Added Fields for a list of fields that can be added through customizing the SKU Inventory Management template.

FieldDescriptionFormat
Product SKUStock-keeping unit number used for inventory trackingAlphanumeric
Product UPC/EANProduct's UPC or GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)Alphanumeric
Stock LevelNumber of units in stock (only applies if tracking inventory)Numbers only
Product WidthYour product's/variant's width for calculating shippingNumbers only; no units
Product HeightYour product's/variant's height for calculating shippingNumbers only; no units
Product DepthYour product's/variant's depth for calculating shippingNumbers only; no units
Free ShippingIf applied, your product or variant will ship internationally for free (overrides any other shipping settings)Y = free shipping enabled; N = not enabled
Fixed Shipping CostThe price to internationally ship one unit of your product or variant (overrides any other shipping settings)Numbers only; no units

Manually Added Fields

The following fields are not included in the Bulk Edit template by default, but can be added manually and re-imported using Bulk Edit Re-Import. They will also be matched automatically in the Match Fields section.

GPS Custom ItemIs the item custom-made (i.e. no UPC, MPN, or GTIN)?1 = custom item; 0 = non-custom
Minimum Purchase QuantitySetting this value will enforce a minimum quantity limit, on a per-order basis, when customers are ordering this product from your store.Numeric only
Maximum Purchase QuantitySetting this value will enforce a maximum quantity limit, on a per-order basis, when customers are ordering this product from your store.Numeric only
Shipping GroupsProduct's unique ShipperHQ shipping group; only available if ShipperHQ is enabled. 
Origin LocationsProduct's unique ShipperHQ origin group; only available if ShipperHQ is enabled. 
Dimensional RulesProduct's unique ShipperHQ dimensional rule group; only available if ShipperHQ is enabled. 

The following fields are not included in the SKU Inventory Management template by default but can be added by customizing the template. They will also be matched automatically in the Link Import Fields screen.

FieldDescriptionFormat
Product WeightProduct or Variant weight (physical only)Numbers only; no units
 
 

FAQ

Why do my imports keep getting stuck?

A stuck import can be caused by the following:

  • The CSV being used is larger than 512 MB and/or you have a slow internet connection. In this situation, it's best to break up the CSV into smaller files and save those files to the import_files folder through WebDAV. Then, use the Use a file already on the server option during import.
  • The CSV being used has an unusually high number of blank image columns. In this situation, edit the CSV file and delete the duplicate columns.
  • The CSV contains base64 encoded images in the Product Description column. In this situation, it's best to use html markup to reference your images in the product description.

Why do I keep getting warnings after a successful import?

Some products may have been imported, however not all information may have imported successfully. This often occurs when the Track Inventory Value column has been left blank.

Be sure to set the value to none if you do not plan on tracking inventory for your products. Import warnings can also be caused by a change in the product. For example, a product's image may have been changed since it was last exported.

What is the best way to import SKUs?

The most efficient way to update your inventory levels or to add SKU dimensions is by exporting and importing your product SKUs using the SKU Inventory Management template. See, Importing Product SKUs for more information.

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