To get the most out of the Bazaarvoice platform, you must provide data about your product catalog to Bazaarvoice. This includes data about the brands, product categories, and products that you offer. Providing a complete view of your product catalog is critical for success.

Why is the product catalog important?

Why is the product catalog so important? Consider the following features that are powered by the product catalog:

  • Syndication. Because retailers and brands often use different identifiers and metadata to describe the same product, a complete and accurate product catalog enables Bazaarvoice to match products offered by brands and retailers, and then share (syndicate) user-generated content (UGC) based on product matches. In particular, brand names, UPCs, EANs, and MPNs are key to enabling syndication.
  • Content in review requests (formerly post-interaction email or PIE), in social media alerts and notifications, and on Bazaarvoice-hosted elements on your website, such as review submission pages. Data elements such as the IDs, names, and URLs of brands, categories, and products help power this content.
  • Workbench reports. Product catalog data appears in the Bazaarvoice Workbench and as filter options when you view reporting dashboards.
  • Reports and Insights. The quality of data available from your product catalog directly impacts generated reports and insights. Make sure your product catalog is up-to-date. Refer to Integration health for more information.
  • Integration with other Bazaarvoice products. Key elements must be defined in your product catalog to support integration with Conversations , Connections, Advertising, and Sampling. For example, suppliers who subscribe to Connections rely on brand names and vendor IDs in product catalogs.
  • Moderation accuracy. Keep the product catalog updated to ensure moderators have complete visibility and context so they are able to fully understand if the submitted consumer feedback is relevant and appropriate to the product under review.

Provide your product catalog data

Bazaarvoice supports the following ways to provide your product catalog data:

  • Single XML feed file—Provide a single feed file that includes all of your catalog data. We accept both XML and flat (CSV or TXT) formats. Using an XML feed however has advantages over flat files, such as support for localization, rich category hierarchy configuration, and other additional benefits.
    Note: A single XML feed should be uploaded daily. Sending XML feeds multiple times a day will result in poor performance. If necessary, you can upload a supplemental feed (with missing or updated product data) using a flat text file.
  • Multiple sources—Provide multiple catalog feeds when your catalog data is sourced in different systems or if combining multiple feeds into a single feed is too difficult. Contact Bazaarvoice Client Care before attempting to provide product catalog data using multiple files. Refer to Use multiple catalog sources for more information.

    If you're using Dynamic Catalog Collection (DCC), you can also provide additional data elements using a traditional feed (XML or CSV) file. Bazaarvoice will combine data from both sources.

  • Product Catalog application—Allows you to view and manage your product catalog. This Portal app shows all the information in your Bazaarvoice product catalog, including data provided by feeds, DCC, and the app itself.
    Note: Importing or updating data using the Product Catalog application will always take precedence and override data updates coming from your XML feed or from Dynamic Catalog Collection (DCC).
    Refer to Data source priority to learn more.
  • Dynamic Catalog Collection (DCC)—Enables Bazaarvoice to collect and consume product catalog data using JavaScript on your product display pages. When shoppers visit a product display page, the JavaScript event passes catalog data to Bazaarvoice for consumption. DCC supports the collection of both new product catalog data as well as updates to previously provided catalog data.

Required feed elements for Bazaarvoice product and feature support

High-quality feed content is required for successful syndication, notifications, reporting, insights, and integration with other Bazaarvoice solutions or features. Bazaarvoice relies primarily on an automated matching technique that depends on globally unique product identifiers. The completeness and accuracy of your product feed determine how well products can be matched.

The following Bazaarvoice features and solutions rely on accurate identifiers in your product feed to ensure maximum value:

The following sections provide information about key feed components that are required for product and feature support (some exceptions are noted below). For XML feeds, they are elements. For text feeds, they are column names.

Name should consist of attributes and descriptors that most uniquely identify the product. Examples of useful product name attributes include brand names, model numbers, sizes, and colors.

Brand represents the most important data item to provide for each product in the feed. Brands are used for more than product matching; in Bazaarvoice reporting systems, they also help you get the most benefit from your syndication and Connections programs.

In an XML feed, use the household brand name for the product for the brand's <Name> element, rather than the supplier’s or manufacturer’s brand name. This is particularly true for retailers that may carry multiple brands from a single supplier. Products without brands often appear “invisible” with respect to these reporting systems.

Example:
Supplier BrandOne markets the identically-named BrandOne brand bleach. The supplier BrandOne also markets BrandTwo brand charcoal and BrandThree brand salad dressing. In this case, we recommend that both supplier BrandOne and the retailers that carry these products use BrandThree, BrandTwo, and BrandOne as brands for the respective salad dressing, charcoal and cleaning products. It is not recommended that all products use BrandOne in the brand field, even though the company supplies all of the products.

Category defines a category that is represented by products in your feed using the following child elements. You can also use this element to define a category hierarchy.

UPC, EAN, and ISBN are globally unique identifiers (GTINs). The product category you manufacture or sell and your region determine which identifiers are relevant. If more than one value applies to a product item, we recommend providing all relevant values. For example, electronics or consumer packaged goods (CPG) products might be assigned a UPC and an EAN.

Without globally unique identifiers, Bazaarvoice cannot match products to vendors or catalogs as quickly, making the likelihood of mismatches higher. Because of poorer product data quality, the confidence level of the matches declines. This lack of confidence forces more manual reviews of the matches, slowing down the process. Due to delays caused by the lack of automated matching tools, newly introduced products will not syndicate immediately.

Note: Version 14.3+ of the schema does not enforce length or numerical constraints on UPCs, EANs, and ISBNs. Any string in one of these fields is treated as valid by the product schema. Values in the UPC, EAN and ISBN fields are validated during the catalog import process, however, and only valid values are stored. You can find the complete syntax for all globally unique identifiers in this example product feed file.

Do not use placeholder (“dummy”) values in place of valid UPC, EAN, or ISBN values. Placeholder values could cause the feed to fail validation. Specifically, you should not:

  • Use letters.

  • Include values with character lengths that deviate from the defined global standards for UPC, EAN, or ISBN.

However, depending on your system's capabilities, you may be required to include a placeholder value when adding products to your catalog. In this situation, enter a string of zeros (0) that matches the identifier’s standard character length. Bazaarvoice does not store the null values, but their inclusion will not produce errors during validation.

Data type and format:

  • UPC: 6- or 12-digit value whose last digit provides a verifiable checksum of the number. Some systems internally store only the leading 11-digit product code, so make sure to include the checksum digit in the feed. Products sold in the US and Canada primarily use UPCs.
  • EAN: 13-digit value whose last digit provides a verifiable checksum of the number. Products sold outside the US and Canada primarily use EANs.
  • ISBN: 10- or 13-character value used predominantly for media products such as books, music, and videos. The last character provides a checksum that helps validate the product identifier. Most ISBNs are composed only of digits, except for some 10-character ISBN values that use an X for the checksum.

Required elements:

  • UPC and EAN: At least one for all relevant categories. We recommend that global companies supply both.
  • ISBN: For books, movies, music, and media.

The second most useful product identifier for syndication is the manufacturer part number (MPN). Use the MPN in conjunction with the manufacturer’s name to match products accurately and automatically. In your feed, provide MPNs using ManufacturerPartNumber, and make sure each product's Brand uses the name of the manufacturer responsible for the MPN. Your feed can have multiple MPN values for a single product, so provide all MPNs applicable to a product.

Note: The distinction between “brand” and “manufacturer” is not always clear. When providing MPN values, include the name of the brand or manufacturer that assigned the product’s specific MPN value.

Description provides a description of the product.

ImageUrl acts as a very important differentiator in the manual matching process. Provide an image that is accurate and meaningful for identifying the product.

Note: If Conversations is deployed on an HTTPS site, you must provide image URLs at an HTTPS location in your product catalog. If you do not, your customers will see a mixed content warning.

The link to the product page on your website, which is specified by ProductPageUrl, enables manual matchers to access the full context of your product. This method represents the least preferred way to match products manually because it is so time consuming.

Bazaarvoice uses a supplier or vendor ID to determine which questions and product reviews to send to the supplier. This data is required by all feature and product integration, though it is required for retailers only for Brand Edge and Connections integration.

Use a custom attribute to provide a supplier or vendor ID in the feed by specifying an id="VendorID" attribute for the <Attribute> element. Example:

<Attributes>
    <Attribute id="VendorID"> 
        <Value>2598</Value>
    </Attribute>
    <Attribute id="VendorName">
        <Value>RAWLINGS CANADA INC.</Value>
    </Attribute>
</Attributes>

If you are a retailer using Connections, Bazaarvoice provides two options for suppliers (also referred to as "brands" or "vendors") to use when signing up for Connections Basic and Connections Premium:

  • Supplier or vendor ID—Provides a guaranteed mapping to the supplier and avoids confusion for large suppliers, which may supply products in different categories. To provide a supplier or vendor ID, add the VendorID attribute to existing <Attribute> elements of a product feed. This option also proves very useful for private labels that may be supplied by different manufacturers. This is the recommended option.
  • Brand name—Provides the brand or vendor name using the <Brand> element. The drawback to using this option is that all vendors that supply products for the specified brand will receive questions about all of the products, including those they do not supply.

After sign-up, Bazaarvoice uses this value to determine which questions and product reviews to send to the supplier.

Multi-category supplier example

Retailer A carries products from Vendor V in three categories: small appliances, televisions, and mobile phones. A different division of the vendor manufactures and markets each product. Retailer A provides Bazaarvoice the vendor ID for each product and then uses the ID for Connections sign-up. Bazaarvoice can now send questions for the small appliances products to only that division of Vendor V. This process makes it easier and faster for Vendor V to respond. Without the supplier or vendor ID, the television and mobile phone divisions would also receive the small appliances questions.

Private label example

Retailer A has a private label called Brand XYZ. This retailer sells packaged food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies under the Brand XYZ name, but each product type has its own vendors. If Retailer A’s product feed contains vendor IDs, Bazaarvoice can determine which questions go to which vendor. If the product feed does not contain vendor IDs, then Bazaarvoice uses only the <Brand> element to determine where to route questions. Without vendor IDs, all vendors for Brand XYZ’s products will receive questions about all Brand XYZ products, including those they do not supply.

Best practices

Single feeds best practice

When using feeds, you can upload your catalog data using the following formats:

Format Description Best practice
XML file

Upload a single XML feed file that includes all of your catalog. Providing a well-formed structured product feed is critical for success.

  • Upload a single full XML feed daily
  • We highly recommend you use this method to provide your primary catalog feed
  • Sending feeds multiple times a day will result in poor performance

Text file

If creating an XML feed is too difficult, you can provide your catalog data in the form of a separator-delimited text file.

Note: Although Bazaarvoice accepts XML and flat (CSV or TXT) formats, XML is the preferred format. It supports localization, has a rich category hierarchy configuration, as well as other features.

  • Use supplemental feed files to provide updated or missing data from the main XML feed to Bazaarvoice
  • We recommend that you upload supplemental flat files (CSV or TXT) weekly
  • Don’t provide your primary catalog data using a text file (due to its format limitations).

Caution: Do not include data with personally identifiable information (PII). PII is data that is personal and often private to consumers. Its use might identify a specific individual or distinguish one person from another in your product catalog feeds.