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  1. #1
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    ShareASale - New Datafeed Format August 1st
    On August 1st we will be implementing a change to the format of datafeeds hosted on ShareASale. These changes have been engineered so that they should only affect you if you want them to. Merchants will be able to continue sending old formats, and the fields will all be placed at the end of feeds so as to minimize impact to Affiliates.

    Here is some specific information for both parties.

    MERCHANTS:

    ShareASale is releasing a new datafeed specification. This new specification will allow you to make more product data available to your affiliates. This new specification introduces 15 new data columns to the affiliates. To make use of these new columns, you will need to alter the datafeed file that you send to ShareASale. Please note that you can continue to send your datafeed updates in their existing format indefinitely. You only need to make a change if you wish to utilize the new data columns. The new datafeed format will be released to the affiliates on August 1st 2009, but you can begin sending the new format file anytime.

    Highlights on the new feed include:

    Quantity Discounts
    Product Cross Selling
    Additional Category Fields
    Product Options (including the ability to change the base price based on a given option)

    Complete details on the new specification can be found at:

    http://www.shareasale.com/m-productmassupload.cfm

    AFFILIATES:

    The ShareASale datafeed specification will be changing on August 1st, 2009.
    We will be adding 25 columns to the feed. Fifteen will be populated with new data and ten will be reserved for future use. This change may require you to update the procedure that you use to import ShareASale datafeeds.

    Highlights include:

    Merchant defined SKU value (unique)
    Quantity Discounts
    Product Cross Selling
    Additional Category Fields
    Product Options (including the ability to change the base price based on a given option)

    The full and detailed specification can be found inside your Affiliate Interface in the Help Center @ http://www.shareasale.com/a-helpcenter.cfm?ID=39
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Merchant defined SKU value (unique)
    Thanks for this. I had no idea that the current ProductId was NOT a merchant SKU and I had just built it into my Comparison Engine. I would have caught it in testing, but you have saved me some effort. I guess for now I will do an MD5 Hash of various product attributes (or use UPC/ISBN if available)
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  3. #3
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Thanks for this. I had no idea that the current ProductId was NOT a merchant SKU and I had just built it into my Comparison Engine.
    Me too and I have been using it as such in all my scripts. Now I see:
    1 ProductID Integer 8 bytes ShareASale generated ID for use in conjunction with our online tools. Should not be used as a primary key.
    It has caused my trouble in the past when a feed showed up with all of them changed, but in contacting support I got the impression that was an aberration.

    Aug 1st we have possible:
    27 SKU Text 255 characters Merchant SKU for this product. This is a unique value, and can be used to generate a primary key.
    Will it be required. Don't we need some unique product identifier? How do folks get by without one?


  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Powell
    Aug 1st we have possible: Will it be required. Don't we need some unique product identifier? How do folks get by without one?
    Anyone who is trying to track updates to product data needs a unique, non-changing primary key of some sort. My experience with the last ShareASale datafeed update is that it takes a very long time, if ever, for new fields to be populated. Here's how I'm doing mine now, in pseudo-code:

    string primary_key = null;
    if(UPC) {
    primary_key = MerchantID + UPC;
    } else if (ISBN) {
    primary_key = MerchantID + ISBN;
    } else if (Product Name) {
    string glob = Product Name;
    if(MPN) glob += MPN;
    if(Manufacturer) glob += Manufacturer;
    glob = ReplaceNonAlphaNumericCharacters(glob);
    primary_key = MerchantID + MD5Hash(glob.ToLowerCase());
    }
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  5. #5
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    The issue of the ProductID not being unique (for a merchant) has been discussed here before. My experience was that several specific merchants had a value of "1" for all records for this field. (In 2008, I posted a list of ten merchants whom I'd identified as having non-unique Product IDs at that time.)

    One "quick and dirty" solution (recommended to me, but I didn't use it) suggested was to use (MerchantID + ProductID) as the unique identifier for most merchants, and use (DestinationURL) or (UPC) as the unique identifier for those few merchants for which the ProductID was non-unique.

    I hesitate to point this out, but even UPC and ISBN are not necessarily going to be unique in a merchant's datafeed: for example, a bookseller might offer an autographed book as a separate SKU, but it would have the same ISBN as non-autographed copies. (Consider also "scratch-and-dent" or "refurbished" items.)

    It seems very, very clear from Brian's initial post in this thread that merchants will NOT be required to populate the SKU field, so work-arounds will still be required for this.

  6. #6
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    On August 1st we will be implementing a change to the format of datafeeds hosted on ShareASale. These changes have been engineered so that they should only affect you if you want them to. Merchants will be able to continue sending old formats, and the fields will all be placed at the end of feeds so as to minimize impact to Affiliates.
    So that means that after August 1st, 2009, there will be a total of 51 columns (Fields) available on some merchants datafeed, but not on all of them?
    AFFILIATES:

    The ShareASale datafeed specification will be changing on August 1st, 2009.
    We will be adding 25 columns to the feed. Fifteen will be populated with new data and ten will be reserved for future use. This change may require you to update the procedure that you use to import ShareASale datafeeds.
    From 25 columns to 51 columns, in 25 days!

    I like some of the new Fields that would be added, because that way some of us can make our datafeed pages more unique...

    But, the the idea that some merchants can keep using old formats make me think that there may be some datafeed-script conflicts, later...

    I say that, because when we got the last datafeed format with 25 Fields, some merchants made a mess with the old (1-5) Customs Fields and the new (now old) MerchantCategory and MerchantSubcategory Fields, by switching around the Categories and Subcategories that some of us were using from the old (1-5) Customs Fields...

    I see this new 51 columns datafeed specification like a good idea in order to have more options on the way we can make our pages more unique, but if that new format is not stardand for every merchant datafeed, then it won't be long before new issues arise, with this new 51 columns idea...
    This change may require you to update the procedure that you use to import ShareASale datafeeds.
    Maybe it would be a good idea to start updating the scripts we use to import the ShareASale datafeeds soon, but to also wait until we see what merchants do to their feeds before we use the new format live on our sites...

  7. #7
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    Hey guys, I just wanted to pop in real quick and clear up a few points regarding the new feed format.

    1. The SKU column will be unique within an individual datafeed and will be populated for all merchants.
    2. For the affiliates, all of the datafeeds downloaded after August 1 will be in the new format.

  8. #8
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah - ShareASale
    Hey guys, I just wanted to pop in real quick and clear up a few points regarding the new feed format.

    1. The SKU column will be unique within an individual datafeed and will be populated for all merchants.
    2. For the affiliates, all of the datafeeds downloaded after August 1 will be in the new format.
    All 4 All!

    Now, that's good news!

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah - ShareASale
    1. The SKU column will be unique within an individual datafeed and will be populated for all merchants.
    could you plz elaborate on HOW this is going to happen? i am not ironic... i just want to see the process ...

    are you going to fill in the missing ones -that dont contain an SKU- and if yes based on which database of products... as many products might not have an SKU -they might have EAN-

    and what happens with EAN are you going to use it?

  10. #10
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    > "The SKU column will be unique within an individual datafeed and will be populated for all merchants." <

    This is good news. I'm glad I was wrong about this.

    Will the SKU be persistent so that when a merchant updates the datafeed, the SKU remains the same for products which are unchanged (or where only the price changes)? Or will new SKUs be generated each time the datafeed is updated? Or will they sometimes be changed, and sometimes unchanged (which I believe is how it works now with the ProductID value)?

  11. #11
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    SkU is a product identifier and is associated with a "unique" product and its name (depending on the markets where its been placed e.g. US, EU etc) cannot change dont confuze it with price or anything else.

    try to see at wikipedia if they have an article or something from what i know there is a move towards EAN (well at least here in europe) which is as well another one product identifier.

  12. #12
    http and a telephoto
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    Mark, I've explained about the all 1's, that is on Shareasale's end and not the merchant. It is for feeds that are larger than what they allow for Make A Page. I'd like to see that limit increased, one of my merchants is at 16,000 products and we can't make widgets and affiliates can't use Make A Page for that merchant. Other merchants of mine *will* be at or very near those upper limits soon also.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    > Product Cross Selling / # 27 CrossSell = Comma separated list of SKU values that cross sell with the product.

    Cool, this is a great added value and feature for both affiliates and merchants. I see lot more posible sales here with that one.


  14. #14
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Will the SKU be persistent so that when a merchant updates the datafeed, the SKU remains the same for products which are unchanged (or where only the price changes)?
    I'm hoping the answer to this one is a big YES.

    I have been using the ProductID in my product page URLs and that's whats indexed. Here comes a world of 404's. I must have been out sick on the day this was discussed at SAS datafeed school. I luckily haven't had this problem with the other networks feeds.


  15. #15
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Powell
    I have been using the ProductID in my product page URLs and that's whats indexed. Here comes a world of 404's.
    I think you're going to get first, and then later...

    .

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    Relax, John!

    I too, use the ProductID in my product pages URLs, and that's whats indexed somewhere, now. (because they are not on the top search results anymore...)

    But look at the bright side, if too many affiliates are using the ProductID as the primary key on their database table, then many of us should be more than ok with with this new change...

    I believe that ProductID on the SAS datafeeds will still be there as they are now, so I don't think there is any reason to panic about any of the new datafeed fields coming up, next month...

  16. #16
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sal
    I believe that ProductID on the SAS datafeeds will still be there as they are now, so I don't think there is any reason to panic about any of the new datafeed fields coming up, next month...
    I love your cheerful perspective.

    I plan on tweaking my code to keep using the ProductID with old feeds and gradually let them roll to SKUs over time. For new merchants I'll do it right when I start with them.

    Gives me an idea for a new sig.


  17. #17
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    I plan on tweaking my code to keep using the ProductID with old feeds and gradually let them roll to SKUs over time.
    That is exactly was I was planning to do last weekend but, I didn't do anything to my scripts yet. (I'm glad this new 51 fields thing was posted, today)

    But, once bitten, I still remember the last 25 fields update format, so I will wait until at least mid August, before I mess with the way I have my current SAS datafeed scripts, just in case.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Stephanie Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Thanks to ShareASale for this great update. I am sharing it with our merchants and affiliates.
    @MicroSteph | Stephanie Lichtenstein
    President of Micro Media Marketing
    Outsourced Social Media Management
    Get Connected: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | AIM: AffiliateLady | Skype: StephanieLichtenstein

  19. #19
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Question
    The new datafeed format will be released to the affiliates on August 1st 2009, but you can begin sending the new format file anytime.
    Are any SAS merchants sending the new format file, by now?

    The reason I ask, is because yesterday I started to play around with xampp on my HD for the first time, and so far I like what I can do with datafeeds locally, but I would like to test some feeds with the new fields on my HD, before I do any new feed, live update.

  20. #20
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    It looks like all the new fields are added toward the end so that even if a merchant starts using them it won't break my scripts until I have a chance to adjust.


  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    I don't use your datafeeds so I apologize if it would've been covered with what's been already said.

    I use the "Make a page" and "Get a specific product code", which I think that info comes from the datafeeds?

    For all of those links that I currently have on my sites now.....on Aug 1 am I gonna have to change any or all of those links? Please, pretty, pretty please say no.

  22. #22
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplebear
    I don't use your datafeeds so I apologize if it would've been covered with what's been already said.

    I use the "Make a page" and "Get a specific product code", which I think that info comes from the datafeeds?

    For all of those links that I currently have on my sites now.....on Aug 1 am I gonna have to change any or all of those links? Please, pretty, pretty please say no.
    No!



  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    oooohhh go)
    Thank you Mr. Sal for answering my question That's a very big relief

  24. #24
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah
    1. The SKU column will be unique within an individual datafeed and will be populated for all merchants.
    Checked a feed today and it looks like it will work fine with my existing scripts and crons until I get to incorporate any of the new fields.

    I looked at Jensons feed and the new fields are there, and the only one used now is for SKU. Nice smooth transition.


  25. #25
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    Ran my full update just now and no SAS errors - good job!!!

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