In this regard, "format" has two meanings. It can be the file type and it can be the exact specification of the content of a feed.
The most-used formats are CSV, XML, TXT and Json. CSV and XML are the most common and most online shops are able to export their product information in one of these formats.
Each shopping channel has its own format. They require all customers to upload a feed according to their own feed specification – that is the only way they can process all product information. Unfortunately, none of the channels have the same format, so merchants that advertise on multiple channels have to create a separate data feed for each channel.
A feed specification describes the file format that is required and how the content should be in the feed:
- A list of fields. Each field has name (like “Title”) and a detailed description of the information that should be in that field
- What fields are required and which are optional (and possibly custom)
- For each field it is specified if it is text, a number, a date or something else and what fields have limitations (max. of 150 characters, contains 2 decimals, etc.) or fixed values (like: “new”)
- Categories and sub-categories