What are Inventory Feeds and Why Use Them?


What are Inventory Feeds?

Inventory feeds, also known as product data feeds, quantity on hand reports, and inventory data feeds, are any supplier or warehouse-provided data that contains inventory information. Vendor feeds are often hosted on a web or FTP server, or they are periodically emailed by vendors. In order words, the data is stored in one system and fed into another. 

Check out our support article and Youtube video to learn more about inventory feeds. 


 Why Should I Use Inventory Feeds?

Ultimately, inventory feeds provide a better experience for end customers and retailers. Here are a few reasons why:
1) Inventory feeds give you retailer visibility into what is in stock
By providing your retailer with up-to-date inventory information, you prevent them from listing out-of-stock items on their site as in-stock. Selling out-of-stock orders becomes very costly, as cancelling orders is expensive and tarnishes your reputation. 
2) Inventory feeds set customer expectations
When your retailers have up-to-date site listings, your customers are able to properly gauge their expectations and only order items that are currently available.
3) Inventory feeds increase efficiency 
Inventory feeds prevent redundant questions from your retail partners about in-stock items and backorder dates, as inventory information is directly provided to them. This allows both you and your retailers to use your time more efficiently and get orders out quickly.  
4) Inventory feeds prevent invoice disputes 
Inventory feeds provide your retailers with a more complete financial understanding of current wholesale costs. This, in turn, reduces the occurrence of invoice disputes and allows them to price their products appropriately. 

What are the Types of Inventory Feeds?

1) Manual Feeds
Manual feeds operate exactly as you would expect. You update these feeds manually on an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets document on a regular basis. Each time you mske a change, re-upload the file to each channel. 
Unsurprisingly, this option is not scalable and should only be used by vendors with very limited catalogues and ample time to spare. 
2) Automated Feeds
If you’re looking for a scalable solution that can handle your growing business and catalogue, we suggest turning to automated product feeds to optimize your dropship operations. 
Product feed optimization enriches product attributes in inventory feeds to increase overall efficiency. Sophisticated systems like Duoplane allow you to automate every part of the process from uploading your files to converting them into your preferred format to send to your retailers. A few simple examples of common product feed optimization tactics:
Product feed automation tools make it easy to optimize product feeds. Here are some reasons why:
1) Automate or manually map fields
2) You can create custom rules that automatically set feed values based on conditions
3) Maintain data accuracy with feed scheduling
4) Error alerts to inform you when SKUs need attention
Duoplane's dropship automation software

How do I Create an Inventory Feed?


There are a few important things to note when creating your first inventory feed. Let’s start with the basics. 


1) What Goes Into an Inventory Feed?


Your inventory feed should include things like the quantity available and various product identifiers like the SKU, MPN, and UPC. 


Sometimes information like wholesale costs, when items are projected to be back in stock, MSRP, MAP, and product images are included. 


2) What format should be used?


We suggest using easy, universally acceptable formats like CSV and Excel files for your inventory feeds. While you can get more complicated with it, the lowest common denominator format is the most recognized and easy-to-use across all retailers.


Alternatively, some vendors choose XML or JSON formats to provide richer data. These formats, along with EDI, are harder for your retailers to consume. 


3) How do I Provide Inventory Feeds to my Retailers?


To keep things simple, many vendors opt to email vendor feeds on a regular basis. Alternatively, vendors can host the data on a web page or FTP or SFTP server. 


A less common option is to provide your retailers with an API. This, however, does require the retailer to write an API integration, so we do not recommend the extra hassle. 

Is Inventory Feed Automation Right For You?


Overall, inventory feeds are essential, so we suggest finding the most efficient way possible to manage them. 


Automating your inventory feeds allows you to spend more time focusing on the more complex parts of your business. With a dropship automation system like Duoplane, you can simply import your feeds and the system will automatically provide them to your retailers in your preferred format. In other words, Duoplane is able to take most inventory feeds as-is, map the data properly, and update your product catalogue with new information.


A system like Duoplane is the most efficient way to manage your inventory feeds because Duoplane can consume data in almost any format and can sync this data to your retailer’s shopping cart in real-time. 


If you’re interested in optimizing your dropship operations and inventory feeds, learn more on duoplane.com or contact us at support@duoplane.com. 

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