Importing Products into your WooCommerce store can look pretty daunting at first. But surprisingly enough, WooCommerce offers a robust CSV importer along with the steps needed to fully import products into your store.
Furthermore, it even gives you the option to convert your simple products into variable products as well. Let’s look at the basic method of WooCommerce product migration and later see how a plugin could do the same task for you.
Regardless of whichever mode you pursue, there are a few things that you must ensure before you begin importing.
The preferred mode of export of products in WooCommerce, as well as plugins, is through CSV files. Following are the guidelines that you must adhere to create proper CSV files with your product information:
- All CSVs must be in the UTF-8 encoded format.
- Dates in your CSV must be defined for your store’s local time zone.
- While importing boolean values( true/false ) make sure you use 1 or 0 in your CSV file.
- Commas will be used to separate multiple values within a field.
- You can insert a comma by wrapping values within quotes.
- Use ‘id:’ to prefix id while referencing to an existing product ID. Meanwhile, SKUs dont require prefixes while being referenced. eg: id: 101, SKU100
- You can’t import JSON or Serialized data. Also, every other custom meta can only be imported as plain text.
- denotes hierarchy.
- Nothing from your draft pages will be imported. Only published products and privately published products can be imported through CSV.
- Links to websites are supported and will be imported to the media library.
The WooCommerce way of product import
Uploading your CSV file
New owners or existing store owners can easily add new products by uploading their CSV directly to the store.
First, go to WooCommerce > Products.
Second, You’ll find three options on top of the products table – Add New, Import, and Export. Click on Import and choose the required CSV file.
Note: You always have the option to update existing products along with this step. Just click on ‘update existing products’ and you’re all good to go. Make sure that the data is created based on the guidelines as discussed before.
There is also an option to specify the path to your file on your server. It is okay to use delimiters other than commas. For such cases, there is the option to mention their respective CSV delimiters to ensure proper import.
This is a crucial step in importing data into your store. In this step, WooCommerce tries to automatically ‘map’ or match column names in your CSV with the data fields in WooCommerce.
Third, From the dropdown menu on the right side, correct the fields if not properly matched, or indicate ‘DO not import’. As an added measure of safety, unrecognized columns will not get imported by default.
Next step – Run the Importer
It may take a while to get all your data imported. It’s advised not to refresh or work on other tabs during product import. At the end of importing, you’ll see how many products have been successfully imported to your store.
When to use a product import premium plugin
As your inventory gets complex with an array of products and tons of information on each of them, it becomes a bit more difficult to export and import product data into your website. Here are some of the occasions when you may need plugins to import your products.
- Plugins are effective in importing all types of products – simple, grouped, variable, external, and subscription products.
- You get so many other methods to import your CSV file. Plugins can read CSVs from URLs or import them from remote servers as well.
- As we’ve seen earlier, the columns in your CSV may not always match with the fields in WooCommerce while exporting. Plugins can provide more options to help you here.
- Scheduled imports are one major feature that plugins offer which is not a standard feature on WooCommerce. You could even set rules to skip certain product updates.
Product Import Export Plugin for WooCommerce is a premium plugin that comes with all the above features and more. With more options such as product reviews import and export, you could easily save a lot of time by letting it schedule the imports for you.
Product imports were buggy in past years of website development. But most of all the latest store builders take special care in making a smooth addition of products into stores without much work being done by the store owner.
If you are in for a minor import, it is advisable to go with the default importer inside WooCommerce. You may have to consider appropriate product plugins as your inventory grows more complex and difficult to handle as easily as before. There is also the issue of getting corrupt files that could halt your import process altogether. So always choose wisely on the mode of product import in your WooCommerce store.