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Guide to Content Planning Part 4: Product Architecture

Guide to Content Planning Part 4: Product Architecture

Guide to Content Planning Part 4: Product Architecture

In Part 3 of our Guide to Content Planning we demonstrated some best practices for performing a Content Inventory. The process of maintaining a Content Inventory helps to ensure that we account for all our non-product content during an e-commerce migration. We generally leave products out of our Content Inventory as they have unique attributes which set them apart from our other content.

In our 4th and final part, we’ll teach you how to create a Product Architecture. A Product Architecture is a document that ensures your product data and metadata migrates successfully when moving between e-commerce platforms.

Product Architecture

A Product Architecture is quite simply a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will detail all the important attributes that define your products, such as product type, title, description, images, and variants. A Product Architecture will help you map attributes used in your old e-commerce platform with those used in your new platform. You can think of a Product Architecture as a bridge between your old shopping cart and your new shopping cart! While a good number of these attributes will have perfect analogs across platforms, the bulk of your work will be mapping the attributes for which there is no direct match.

The Various Approaches to Product Architecture

The number of fields for which there is no direct match will likely determine how you approach the Product Architecture process. We’ll detail our 3 preferred methods below along with the pros and cons of each:

Shopify Product CSV Template

Shopify Product CSV Template

If you’re already using Shopify, or if your products don’t have a lot of custom attributes, then the simplest approach will be using Shopify’s Product CSV Template. You’ll want to start with an export of your old product data as a CSV, download Shopify’s Product CSV Template, and then perform some Excel magic (also known as The Art of Copy and Paste)! Ensuring your attributes are pasted into the appropriate section of Shopify’s CSV Template is the only true challenge presented by this method. But, if your custom attributes would exceed 3 product options or 100 variants then this approach will become problematic and you should look to a different approach.

To recap the steps required to use Shopify’s Product CSV Template:

  1. Export old product data as CSV
  2. Download Shopify’s Product CSV Template
  3. Copy & Paste from the old CSV to the new CSV
  4. Import the new CSV into Shopify
Pros Cons
Guaranteed to work with Shopify An entirely manual process
100% Free Rigid limits to the number of supported product attributes

E-Commerce Cart Migration Platform

Cart2Cart Homepage

If your products have a lot of custom attributes, you might consider using a platform that specializes in e-commerce migration to assist with the import process. As with the previous method, you’ll start by exporting your old product data. You’ll then want to review your attributes to see which will map to Shopify’s default attributes, adding any custom attributes as they are encountered.

These custom attributes often won’t be supported by Shopify natively, so we tend to categorize them into one of two areas: tags or metafields. Tags are suitable for any data that needs to be filtered, searchable, or for any admin purposes. Metafields are used for anything longer than 250 characters or any attributes that aren’t strings.

Once you’ve fully audited your product’s attributes it’s time to create a new CSV template based on these results. The work you just finished should make this process a breeze! Once you feel your template is looking good, it’s time to propagate the fields using an e-commerce migration platform such as nChannel or Cart2Cart.

For the purpose of migration, both platforms offer similar functionality and feature sets, with Cart2Cart supporting more platforms than nChannel. These solutions will save you a tremendous amount of time as you won’t have to go through the hassle of copying and pasting all of your data.

To recap the steps required to use an E-Commerce Cart Migration Platform:

  1. Export old data as a CSV
  2. Review your attributes
  3. Add missing attributes per design/functionality
  4. Map attributes to Shopify’s schema
  5. Create a new import template based on these results
  6. Use nChannel or Cart2Cart to conduct a product import
Pros Cons
Supports custom attributes Requires thoughtful consideration of your attributes
Makes the import process easy Import template must be created manually
Can be costly depending on the size of your store

Shopify API & Scripts

Product Architecture Example

The final, and most flexible option you have for approaching your Product Architecture involves making use of Shopify’s API capabilities. The ways in which you create your import template follows most of the same steps as utilizing an e-commerce cart migration platform, with the difference being how you approach the actual product import. Using Shopify’s API to conduct a product import is not easy, and requires a fair amount of technical expertise. If this route sounds appealing, we recommend hiring an agency such as Growth Spark, to assist in this process. We’re capable of handling e-commerce migrations of any size, no matter how many custom attributes your products may have!

To recap the steps required to use Shopify’s API & Scripts

  1. Export old data as a CSV
  2. Review your attributes
  3. Add missing attributes per design/functionality
  4. Map attributes to Shopify’s schema
  5. Create a new import template based on these results
  6. Use Shopify’s API & Scripts to conduct a product import
Pros Cons
Supports custom attributes Requires thoughtful consideration of your attributes
Offers the most versatility Import template must be created manually
Requires in-depth technical knowhow
Can be costly if you need technical help

This concludes our Guide to Content Planning, hopefully we’ve provided you with the knowledge needed to make preparing for an e-commerce migration less daunting and streamlined!