Data feed best practices

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1. Product data feeds

If you want to promote your products by data feed, here are some tips to make the most of your feed. If you are a merchant and have a feed on one of our partner network FTP services (CJ, Google Affiliate Network, ShareASale, LinkShare, LinkConnector, Pepperjam, or Bridaluxe), then we can access that feed at no cost to you. Be sure and follow their standards carefully so that your feed will be well organized and have the data needed to provide your affiliates with an excellent marketing tool.

If you have a feed that needs special attention (e.g., if we need to access your feed outside the network FTP server), a setup charge will apply.

Use searchable product names

When users type keywords into the product search box, Rakuten PopShops currently looks for matches only in the product names, not in the categories or descriptions. Make sure that at least a few of your product names contain the term(s) your affiliates might think to search for. (Once affiliates discover that a merchant has products that match their search, they often browse the whole feed.)

Categorize your feed

If you've got more than 25 products in your feed, then it really pays to categorize. Sure your products can always be located by keyword (if your affiliates know what the name of the product is), but why not throw a bone to those who want to browse? To continue the canine theme, an affiliate who is looking for dog collars does not want to have to flip through 200 pages of other pet products just to make sure she's not missing anything.

Of course each network handles categories differently, and none of them seem to provide easy-to-find information on how to categorize product feeds, but here is what we have divined so far:

  • Commission Junction uses the Advertiser Category field. If it is necessary to drill down into subcategories, feel free to do so, but please use the greater-than sign (e.g., Dogs > Accessories > Collars). Other symbols (e.g., slashes, commas, etc.) are read as text and will cause your carefully considered subcategories to disgorge themselves all at once.
  • For ShareASale feeds, we pull category data from the MerchantCategory and MerchantSubcategory fields (not the four Custom fields). You can include multiple subcategory levels in the MerchantSubcategory field, but please use the greater-than sign (>) to separate them.
  • Google Affiliate Network has a Category field. It's a single column, but you can add subcategories simply by using the ">" separator.

Custom SKUs, UPCs, etc.

Be sure to add as much detail as you can for the individual product if you want to be included in price comparisons, etc. Unless you provide a real UPC, ISBN, MPN for a product it wont be included in price-comparison results.

Images and thumbnail URLs

If you want to convert to sales, be sure that you have URLs to both small and large images in your feed, and ideally small, medium, and large.

Thumbnail Image URL = The URL for a small thumbnail image of the product (ideally under 100x100)

Medium Image URL = The URL for a mid-sized image of the product (ideally around 250x250)

Large Image URL = The URL for a large image of the product (ideally 500x500)

Custom feed browser

If you would like to offer your affiliates a white-label version of Rakuten PopShops, co-branded with your company and limited only to your feeds, please contact our team at

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2. Coupon links and feed

Rakuten PopShops receives your coupon and promotional links via your network feed. Rakuten PopShops QA then reviews each coupon/special offer link and approves only those offers that meet the quality bar. Here is what Rakuten PopShops QA looks for in each deal before we reject or accept a coupon or special offers in Rakuten PopShops.

  • Must include meaningful quantifiable savings or call to action (e.g., free shipping, buy one get one, "save $x", "save y%" etc.)
  • Must include start date and end date
  • Landing page should speak to the special savings.
  • Provide the link as a "text" link and not just image/banners.
  • We recommend creating a new link ID for new offers (instead of reusing existing or expired link IDs)

Here are some common examples of rejected offers (other than those without any start or end dates):

  • REJECTED (has no quantifiable saving): "Save on contact lenses today! We deliver. You save."
  • REJECTED (has no quantifiable saving): "Samsung - 40" 1080p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV."
  • REJECTED: If all the offer does is recap company's standard value proposition.
  • REJECTED (can't be validated): "Redemption instructions will be included in the shipment."
  • REJECTED: if offer automatically begins a download on user's machine.