How to Import Products to Your BigCommerce Store

In order to add a product to your BigCommerce store, you must assign it a name, price, and category (or multiple categories). You may want to add additional information as well, such as a description, images, custom gift wrapping options, etc.

It can take a lot of time to manually enter this information into the “Product Information” page of each of your products, especially if you have a large inventory. 

Instead, you should take advantage of the BigCommerce Import Products feature, which allows you to add and update products by uploading a spreadsheet. Managing your product information in a single spreadsheet makes this process much easier. 

BigCommerce import products
Image Source: BigCommerce

Setting Up Your Spreadsheet

To set up your spreadsheet, you’ll need access to a program such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets that allows you to create CSV files. 

When formatting your spreadsheet, the cells in the first row will serve as column headers, with each column corresponding to a piece of information about your products.

The following column headers are required: 

  • Product Name: The name of the product. No two products can share the same name.
  • Category: The categories and subcategories that the product belongs to. Use semicolons to separate categories and slashes to denote subcategories. For example, a food prep table might belong to a “Kitchen” category and a “Tables” subcategory within a “Furniture” category. This would be written as “Kitchen;Furniture/Tables”. 
  • Price: The base price of the product. Only use numbers in this column (write “19.99” instead of “$19.99”). 
  • Weight: The weight of the product. As with the price field, only use numbers in this column (write “2” instead of “2 lb.”). 
  • Track Inventory Value: Determines whether inventory tracking is enabled or disabled for the product. Enter “None” (this will disable tracking entirely), “by product” (inventory can be tracked on the product level), or “by option” (inventory can be tracked by SKU).

Other important fields include:

  • Product ID: The system-created identifier for the product. This column is required for when you’re updating existing products, but it must be blank when you’re adding new products. 
  • Product Type: Determines whether the product is physical or digital. Enter “P” in this column for physical products or “D” for digital products. 
  • Item Type: Your three options for BigCommerce item type are “Product”, “SKU”, and “Rule”. This is used for setting up options and rules for your products. 
  • Allow Purchases?: Determines whether the product can be purchased through your online storefront. Enter “Y” to enable purchases and pre-orders or “N” to disable purchases and pre-orders. 
  • Brand Name: The brand of the product. 
  • Description: A description of the product. 
  • Fixed Shipping Cost: How much it costs to ship one unit of the product. Again, only use numbers.
  • Free Shipping: Determines whether or not free shipping is enabled for the product. Enter “Y” to enable free shipping or “N” to disable it. 
  • Current Stock Level: The number of units that are currently in stock of the product - this only applies if you’re tracking inventory. 
  • Product URL: The URL of the product page. By default, this will be the product’s name. If you’d like to customize the URL, enclose it in slashes and use dashes to separate words rather than spaces (for example, the URL for a steel food prep table could be written as “/steel-food-prep-table/”). 

If you’re importing a spreadsheet that was provided to you by a third-party distributor, it’s unlikely that it will match up with BigCommerce’s format.

In that case, don’t worry - you don’t need to edit the spreadsheet so that the column headers are exactly the same as what BigCommerce is looking for. While this is an option, there’s also a “Match Fields” step during the importation process that allows you to choose which product information field each of the column headers in your spreadsheet corresponds to. 

Keep in mind that there is a file size limit of 512 MB. If your spreadsheet is larger than that, you’ll need to break it up into multiple spreadsheets and upload them to your store’s server with WebDAV

One issue to look out for is that your spreadsheet program may be converting long numbers such as SKUs and tracking numbers into scientific notation. Your program may be automatically removing leading zeros, too. To fix this, look for a formatting setting in your program called “Number” and set it to “Text” (in Excel, this setting is in the “Home” section of the toolbar, and in Google Sheets you can find it in the “Format” dropdown menu). 

You should download the sample template provided by BigCommerce as the starting point for your spreadsheet. This will also introduce you to many of the column header options that aren’t covered in this guide. 

Importing Products to Your BigCommerce Store

Follow these steps to upload your spreadsheet and import your products:

1. Use your BigCommerce login credentials to access your store, then select “Products”.

Select “Products”

2. Select “Import”.

Select “Import”

3. Adjust the settings on the import page:

  • File was exported using the 'Bulk Edit' template: This setting is for when you’re uploading a spreadsheet that was originally exported from BigCommerce, or for when you created your spreadsheet using the template we linked to above. It allows you to skip the “Match Fields” step.
  • Overwrite existing products: Replaces existing product information with the product information that you’re uploading.
  • Delete existing images/Delete existing downloads: Permanently deletes your existing product images and other product files. You should be careful with this setting, as there’s no way to reverse these changes. 
  • Delete product categories from CSV file: Erases the categories listed in your spreadsheet and allows BigCommerce to auto-detect the categories that each product belongs to. 
  • Ignore blank values during import: With this setting enabled, BigCommerce will ignore any blank cells in your spreadsheet. With it disabled, blank cells will erase any existing information in those fields. It’s highly recommended that you enable this option. Otherwise, you risk accidentally deleting a lot of information from your store. 
  • Default Option Type: If you didn’t specify your preferred product option type in your spreadsheet, you can do so here. Choose between “Checkbox”, “Multi-choice (radio)”, “Multi-choice (rectangle)”, “Multi-choice (select)”, “Product Pick List”, “Product Pick List with images”, and “Swatch”. 
  • File contains headers: Is the first row of your spreadsheet formatted as column headers? Generally, you should enable this option.
  • Field Separator: Which character is used in your spreadsheet to separate fields? The default setting is to use commas. 
  • Field Enclosure: Which character is used in your spreadsheet to enclose fields? The default setting is to use quotation marks.

Adjust the settings

4. Select “Choose File” and upload your CSV file.

Select “Choose File” and upload your CSV file

5. Select “Next”. 

Select “Next”

6. Match the product information fields with the column headers in your spreadsheet. When you’re done, select “Next”.

Select "Next"

7. Select “Start Import”. 

Select “Start Import”

8. After the import is finished, you’ll be presented with a summary that covers how many products were imported/updated successfully, how many products were duplicated in the spreadsheet, how many products failed to be imported, and how many products were only partially imported. 

Import summary

Importing Product Images

You can import product images to BigCommerce with this feature as well. 

The following restrictions apply to importing images:

  • There must be no special characters or spaces in the name of the image file (in other words, only letters, numbers, dashes, and underscores are allowed). 
  • The file type must be JPG/JPEG, GIF, or PNG. The TIFF, BMP, and PDF file types are not allowed. 

BigCommerce recommends 1280 x 1280 pixels as the dimensions for your images. This relatively large image size is ideal because the original image will be used to create thumbnails and other images.

There are two ways to upload images:

  • Uploading image URLs
  • Uploading images to your store’s server

Uploading Image URLs

If your image is already hosted somewhere on the internet, you can simply enter the URL of the image into your spreadsheet. In the template provided by BigCommerce, it would go under the column header “Product Image File - 1”. 

There’s also a column for “Product Image File - 2” if you have another image that you want to upload for the product, and you can create additional columns for each image you want to add on top of that (the column for the third uploaded image should be titled “Product Image File - 3”, the column for the fourth uploaded image should be titled “Product Image File - 4”, etc.). 

When creating a new column header for an image, you’ll need to create matching column headers for the ID and description of the product. For example, the third image for a product would need these three column headers:

  • Product Image ID - 3
  • Product Image File - 3
  • Product Image Description - 3

The Product Image ID is like the Product ID in that it is automatically generated by BigCommerce. If you’re updating existing products, it needs to be included. If you’re uploading new products, it must be blank.

Uploading Images to Your Store’s Server

Instead of linking to an image that’s hosted somewhere else, you can upload images directly to your BigCommerce store’s server with WebDAV. 

From your BigCommerce dashboard, go to “Server Settings” > “File Access (WebDAV)” to access your server. Open the “product_images” folder, then open the “import” subfolder. This is where you’ll drag and drop the image files from your local computer storage to your online store. 

After your image files are uploaded to the “import” folder, go to your spreadsheet. Enter the names of the files in the “Product Image File” column or columns (remember, if you have more than two image files, you’ll need to create new “Product Image ID”, “Product Image File”, and “Product Image Description” columns for each product after the first two in your spreadsheet).

WebDAV is case-sensitive, so the file names in your spreadsheet will need to be an exact match. 

Importing Product Options

You can also use a spreadsheet to import options for your products (for example, the different sizes available for a piece of clothing that a customer can choose from). 

First, you need to export the products that you will be adding options to. You should save a copy of this export before you make changes in case you run into any issues when you’re further involved in this process. 

With the exported spreadsheet, add a new row under the product for each option that you want to add to it. Let’s assume you’re adding “Small”, “Medium”, and “Large” sizes to a jacket. In that case, you would need to add three new rows under the row for the jacket product. 

There are five column headers you need to address for these option rows:

  • Item Type: Enter “SKU”. 
  • Product ID: Make sure this is blank. 
  • Product Name: There’s a sort of code that you’ll need to use here to specify the option type and format you want to use. For more information, refer to the BigCommerce help center page for Importing Product Options. In this example, we’ll be using the multiple choice dropdown menu format.
  • Option Set: Enter a name for the set of options that you’re adding (for example, “Apparel”). 
  • Product Code/SKU: The unique product code for the option. You can either create these manually or use the Auto-SKU Generator tool to automate the process of creating SKUs. 

The final result would look like this:

Importing Products for Multiple Stores? Use Shogun to Save Time

Managing multiple online storefronts for your inventory allows you to tailor your web design and marketing language to different niche audiences. 

The Shogun page builder app makes it easy to create custom landing pages, product pages, and blog posts for your store, and it also has a Sync feature that gives you the ability to instantly copy content from one store to another to save time. 

Shogun sync feature

With the help of the Sync feature, you’ll have more time to create new content, interact with your customers, and do everything else you need to do to make your store a success.

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Build BigCommerce pages that convert.

Create professional-quality pages for your ecommerce store with a powerful drag and drop page builder for Bigcommerce designed with ecommerce teams and agencies in mind.
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Adam Ritchie

Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.