Froogle Review

Creating the data feed?

The following is pretty specific to my scenario but I thought it might be insightful and helpful.

So now I have all the information and just need to create the data feed. No small task if you aren't a programmer (I'm not) however it's not nearly as hard as it sounds. At first, I decided to go into the shop and just copy and past. We have over 150 products so after the 10th product I decided there has to be an easier way. Fortunately, there was or my wife would have divorced me around the 75th product.

Our site uses a MySQL database so I probably could have contacted our programmer to write a small application that would automate this process but I was way too anxious to get started so I decided to do it myself. After all it was Sunday night after 10pm and I wanted to get a jump on the week. Always the best time to make rational judgments. Time to put on a pot of coffee. This option was hard to avoid considering I had spent an hour staring at coffee products.

We already had a small PHP application that listed all of the products in our shop. Only big problem was that it listed ALL the products not just the products in stock and it was missing a few fields. I started tinkering with the application and after a while I got it to list everything I needed. The only two issues were that it was still listing all the products whether or not they were in stock and it was not in the tab-delimited format I needed. I figured out how to at least add a field at the end that specified if the product was active.

Next I decided to tackle the formatting. The application I was using displayed the products in one big HTML table. So I removed all the HTML tags in the application and put in Pipes or "|" to separate each field. This proved to work quite nicely and I now had a page displaying a pipe-delimited flat file. Next part was pretty easy, I copied the text out of my browser and dropped it into a text file and then imported into Excell. Once I had all the data in Excell, I removed all the products that weren't in stock and outputted a Tab-delimited text file for the data feed.

Now the easy part, uploading your data feed. Using WS-FTP I uploaded the file the way they specified as username.txt and e-mailed them to tell them the upload was complete. The file wasn't that big so I decided not to compress it and just uploaded the file directly.

I finished all of this around 2:30am and by that afternoon they had approved my data feed. The e-mail stated that the feed was approved and it should appear in Froogle within the next few business days. Needless to say, after all that work, I was pretty excited about the potential business this could drive to our site. I kept checking the site periodically all evening and by late evening our products were listed. That was quick!

I realized after the upload that some of the images in the data feed were dead links. Froogle handled this really well by automatically putting an "Image not Available" graphic in for those dead links. I should also mention they resample all of your product images to 90 x 90 pixels and they do a great job at it.

All in all, the whole process was quite easy and I believe Froogle might become the next big thing for e-commerce. If it says anything about Google, it shows they are innovative and on top of new emerging markets. Although, I have yet to see one single sale derived from Froogle, I remain optimistic. BTW, the feed only appeared last night. J Good luck to all you future "Frooglers" out there!