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  1. #1
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    Missing UPC in datafeeds
    I just downloaded two datafeeds to test a system that I'm building and I realized that in both of them the UPC field is empty, making it pretty hard if not impossible to build an efficient price comparison function.

    Do you find this to happen with all the datafeeds at CJ? The two I'm talking about are Newegg and Thenerds

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Funny, I just emailed a CJ Merchant this morning telling them that their "MANUFACTURERID" field has been blank for the last week or more. They never used UPC field in their feeds which makes it hard to match products from one update to another.
    Last edited by kse; August 18th, 2010 at 11:27 AM.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

  3. #3
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    I checked another one ( Altrec ) and it has the UPC code.

    I was checking CJ just because it was the handiest one for me at the moment but the website I'm launching first won't start with CJ, anyway it sounds like when I'll launch another website (that will use CJ feeds together with other networks ) I'll have to contact all the merchants that don't add the UPC.

    It sounds very odd, I guess that if a merchant has at least one affiliate using their feed the UPC problem should be one of the first to arise, which leads me to think that those merchants not adding the UPC don't want their store to be linked from shopping comparison sites/pages. But I can find both Newegg and Thenerds on price comparison sites ( just to make an example )

  4. #4
    Newbie pricecom's Avatar
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    Missing UPC
    Although its one of the fields that CJ requests merchants to complete, its very common that data feeds dont include the UPC code. I would say over 50% of the feeds we deal with DONT include the UPC code. We simply rely on a combination of Manufacturer Name and Manufacturer SKU to classify data.

  5. #5
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    In my experience, the vast majority of datafeeds don't include UPC numbers (and some include invalid UPC numbers, by including some other value in that field). Some merchants deliberately exclude UPC data.

    It would be very interesting to hear (from one or more of the affiliate networks) if there is a clear difference in EPC or sales volume from datafeed-links, between merchants who include UPC data and those who don't?

    Very few price-comparison engines (at least, very few of the price-comparison engines that seem to work) rely exclusively on UPC to match products. Finding workable ways to map non-UPC data with UPC data for the same products is a huge challenge.
    Last edited by markwelch; August 18th, 2010 at 08:35 PM.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Yup, what MarkWelch and Pricecom said.

    On an unrelated note... Price.com, now that is an absolutely awesome domain name...
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  7. #7
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    yes, awesome domain!

    honestly I don't see another way to match products if not by UPC, since even the Manufacturer Product ID is different for the same product by different merchants

    you could check if the products are in the same category ( system side, not merchant side - as long as you have some kind of categories binding in place ) but it sounds very rudymentary...but again you don't have something to search by: names are different, upc is not there, matching skus doesn't make sense....

  8. #8
    Member vicjg's Avatar
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    Welcome to hell

    The challenge to "normalize" data from thousands of merchants who all provide the information in different ways is a big obstacle to a price comparison site.

    A ton of work needs to be done to match products & categories. DB automation only goes so far. I struggle with this daily.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
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    An ethical merchant affiliate-program and price-comparison datafeed code of conduct?
    Many price-comparison sites rely on "product title" as a method of matching, and unfortunately this simply doesn't work because many companies list "accessories" using the name of the product being accessorized.

    For example, a company that sells cell-phone cases or chargers may use cell-phone product names as their product titles -- with the result that on many price-comparison sites, you'll find these accessories listed as if they were the cell-phones themselves. And using the UPC code doesn't necessarily help, because some accessory merchants (whose products often don't have any UPCs) will actually use the UPC for the product being accessorized.

    On Amazon, I've ordered products and ended up receiving "something else" because unsophisticated (or unethical) merchants just do a search and plug in the first ISBN that seems to match the title -- so they match a battered 40-year-old paperback book with the ISBN for the audio-CD version of the book, and I end up paying $20 for a paperback that isn't worth a dime. (Thankfully, Amazon provides a very good system to deal with this, for its Marketplace buyers and sellers, and I've always got my money back, but it's a hassle and the delays are inconvenient.)

    Another common problem with affiliate datafeeds is the repetition of the same product many times (for example, once for each size, for clothing and shoes) (or perhaps some will respond that the problem is really caused by the merchants who don't do this?)

    A related issue is the proper handling and presentation of of many SKUs for a single core "imprint message" (zazzle, cafe press) on different imprinted products.

    Welcome to hell, indeed. Weren't you wondering why even the Mighty Google hasn't managed to create an effective price-comparison system?

    Maybe we should start compiling suggestions for an "ethical merchant affiliate-program and price-comparison datafeed code of conduct," which could include recommended prohibitions of the use of misleading or incomplete product titles, and of UPCs or ISBNs that don't actually match the product being sold.

    (I was editing this post while Trust posted his response, below; I think he's referring to Google's purchase of Like.com.)
    Last edited by markwelch; August 26th, 2010 at 04:24 PM.

  10. #10
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    They did just buy Like.com - http://www.like.com/

  11. #11
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    well, despite normalizing data can be a real hassle, I can deal with it.

    I am actually able to apply different corrections per affiliate network and per merchant ( remove skus from product name, replace stuff, etc ), but what worries me is dealing with products with missing upcs, missing manufacturer product IDs etc.

    The lack of such details makes price comparison almost impossible.
    pricecom point is not bad at all, a manufacturer + manufacturer prod ID combination can work in most cases, but how to proceed when you don't have a manufacturer prod ID?

    I'd like to build this system focusing on both delivering a very good user experience and achieving a good conversion ratio: leaving potentially cheaper products out of the search results is not the way to go...

    I realize it's not easy to build this kind of websites, but I don't even believe it's as impossible as I've read multiple times on several discussion forums.

    Moreover, you don't need to run the absolute-best shopping comparison website to profit.

    Any other ideas on how to find other records for the same product?

  12. #12
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    Anychance emailing CJ if they could update their feeds to include UPC? Or is that way out of the question?

  13. #13
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    As mentioned before in this thread... welcome to hell, indeed. Close to half of the work required to build my price comparison website was directed to this aspect -- matching products. Match products based on... what? While some files are completely missing UPC others have a wrong one. Some files will only have UPC for some of the products so, completely eliminating some datafiles is not an option.

    The only acceptable way for me to do this was to not include products without UPC in my database. I do believe quality is more important than quantity. Instead of comparing 30 products out of which only 7 are actually the same, I'd rather present my visitor the 7 products only.

    I'd be really surprised if someone would ever come up with a decent solution to this problem other than have the proper datafeeds which I doubt merchants are going to provide soon.

  14. #14
    Full Member iolaire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRealPrices View Post
    The only acceptable way for me to do this was to not include products without UPC in my database.
    This is probably a fair choice when you are starting out. But if your able to build popularity it will probably be something you have to address at some point.

  15. #15
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    iolaire, 100% agreed! Once a website has become popular, a better solution is needed. However, I really doubt that based on the datafeeds -- as they are being provided now -- a much better solution can be found.

    Increased popularity also means increased number of customers for the merchants and probably at this point they'll be interested in providing appropriate datafeeds to the popular website.

  16. #16
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    my system is almost ready for launch, doing online tests, and I'm still trying to figure out a system that actually makes sense to match products.

    Dropping merchants/feeds doesn't make sense as it's going against our interests. A savvy customer that browse a shopping comparison site will find a cheaper store on some other shopping comparison site, generating a commission for someone else.

    At this point I'm not talking exclusively about CJ datafeeds.

    Merchant product id is not always provided, product names are differently typed ( dashes and stuff of any kind in there ).

    Removing dashes, commas, underscores etc, the brand from the name, common words/colors and seeking for a core seed in it ( say something like "VH222D" for Asus VH222D Monitor ) and then going with LIKE '%$seed%' might sound reasonable, but I'm not that sure about it.

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