If an online product falls in the forest…
One of the most overlooked problems in e-commerce is what we call “Abandoned” products. These are products which at one time existed in a supplier’s data feed. Imagine a kitchen furniture supplier who has a Butcher Block Family Table product. It sold very well for a number of months but then it was removed. However, any merchant who uses the data feed has already placed this product on their store. How can a merchant tell if he has products in his store which can no longer be fulfilled?
It’s like an oversell waiting to happen. The supplier can’t provide this product any more yet it is on the merchant’s site. Eventually someone is going to click there.
Some drop-shippers provide a separate data feed of retired products. This can be used to weed out any abandoned products in the store. However, it is quite rare to find this in a supply feed. Even with that information it is still only relevant to merchants who actually listed those products.
Abandoned products are part of a broader service that we call Catalog Synchronization. The product catalog is comprised of all the possible supply data merged with the store’s product set. New products can be added dynamically, changed product data is updated, identical products are left alone, and abandoned products are hidden or removed based on the merchant’s policy.
Catalog Synchronization goes hand-in-hand with inventory synchronization. Both processes are critical to running an efficient e-commerce store.