What is a merge file?
Merge files – or supplemental data files – are secondary data sources that allow you to add additional products or product data attributes to your catalog without adding or modifying data in your store platform.
What Can Merge Files Be Used For?
- Add or override custom labels for campaign management
- Add or override promotion IDs for retail promotions
- Optimized versions of titles or descriptions
- Adding missing data like item specifics or additional attributes
- Exclude specific products using a column as a flag for filters
- Add missing GTINs
- Combining product data from multiple suppliers
- Add local inventory information for local inventory ads
- Add product data for specific countries and languages
In essence, with a properly-formatted merge file, we can merge two tables of data: your import source data and that of your one or more merge files. With that said, here’s what you need to know about creating a merge file.
Creating a merge file: requirements & best practices
The first step is to prepare your data file.
In the spreadsheet editor of your choice, like Google Sheets or Excel, you’ll need to create a unique identifier column (most likely using your SKUs) – which is used to join this file to your source data – and the additional columns of data that you want merged into the product catalog on import.
Accepted file formats
- XML (Google or GoDataFeed schema)
Unique Identifier (SKU) column
- Our system merges data using the source field name that is mapped to the System field “SKU” which can be found in the app on Products > Mapping.
- Use that source field name for the first column in the merge file.
- This field is case-sensitive.
- The unique identifier values in both the primary source and any merge files must be unique, not a global product identifier.
- Avoid blank unique identifiers.
- This is where you’ll provide additional product data: a column to use as a filter flag, improved product titles, values for campaign custom labels, etc.
- Each column name should be unique from any other column name in your source or other merge files to avoid overriding data
- You can import a maximum of 200 fields. This includes all fields from the primary source and any/all merge files. IF you have more columns than that, then our system will still import data but you will be missing any columns beyond the limit. If needed, you can choose which fields are imported via your import mapping (Products > Mapping).
Next, we’ll discuss how to host and import your merge file into GoDataFeed.
Hosting and importing your merge file
Once you have your data file ready to merge, you will need to host the file so our system may retrieve is either from FTP/SFTP or HTTP. You can also easily use a published Google Sheets CSV and merge using HTTP.
Google Sheets is fastest and easiest method for merge files, but please note that your file will be unprotected - the Google provided URL is publically available to anyone with the URL.
Once you have your merge file ready, simply publish it to a CSV file.
Changes you make to the sheet will be available for import into GoDataFeed immediately. Once you make a change to your merge file in Google Sheets, simply run a new product import in GoDataFeed.
As previously stated, going the Google Sheets route is a variant of the generic HTTP import option. If you’re hosting your merge file on some other medium, you can always use whichever relevant URL you have for your file.
When importing a merge file via FTP/SFTP, you’ll be configuring GoDataFeed to pull the file from your preferred FTP location.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is one method to send files over the web. You can use any FTP location, but if you don’t have one, GoDataFeed provides one for every store.
Once your file is ready to upload, you will need to use an FTP client like Filezilla or WinSCP to upload the file to the FTP location.
After you upload your file to the FTP server, complete the merge file settings in GoDataFeed.
When to use Stack Merge
If we cannot match a SKU from the merge file to a SKU in your source data, then we will append it to the end of your imported catalog and only the merge data will be available in GoDataFeed.
This might happen if a SKU is no longer being imported from your source data or if the merge file is using a different unique identifier than what is mapped to the system field 'SKU' in GoDataFeed.
We do not recommend enabling stack merge unless it is required for what you are trying to do with merge files, like if you are combining multiple product files from suppliers. If left enabled, appended rows of old SKUs may cause you to reach your product allotment max.
Review and verify your merged product data
Remember, you should download and review your product catalog after the import is complete (Products > Catalog, click “Download”) to make sure all of your data has merged as intended. You will also find the merge file fields (column names) are automatically mapped to the next available custom fields in the import mapping table (Products > Mapping)..
Merge files are secondary data sources that allow you to add additional products or product data attributes to your catalog.
They allow you to add/update your primary source data – without altering that source data – in various ways. Refer to the above requirements, best practices, and import directions to effectively tune your data via merge file.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to our support team!