How to maximize Shopify bulk import speed?

Shopify import speed

There are different ways how you can gain maximum import speed when loading data to your Shopify store. Some are faster than others.

I will describe two basic import scenarios – one for importing with the goal to create new items, the other – with the goal to update existing items.

By “items” I mean: Products, Collections, Customers, Discounts, and so on.

While Shopify CSV file import is also quite fast, the following instructions apply to “Bulk Import Export Update with Excel” Shopify app and its Excel file format for importing and exporting data.

Overall import logic

A bit of background logic, how importing to Shopify happens.

At first, an item is identified by “ID” column value. ID is the Shopify internal identifier for an item. You can’t assign them by yourself – you can only get them out by exporting existing items.

If the ID column value is empty or such ID doesn’t exist – then it tries to find the existing item by “Handle” value. In Discounts case the handle is the “Code” column value; in Customers case that is an “Email”, but for the sake of common terminology – app will refer to them as “Handle” in all those cases.

If it finds existing item by ID or by Handle, then it will update that item by changing only fields you provided in the import, and leaving other fields as they were. If it will not find such item, then it will create New.

So if you really want the fastest possible import speed, here’s what you do in each scenario.

Fastest import of New items

Keep the ID column empty, or remove it entirely from the import file.

Then it will not even try to find existing by ID, it will only check if item with such Handle exists – that is needed to determine if it needs to create New or do the Update of existing.

If your store is relatively small, import speed by Handle will be the same as by ID.

Fastest Update of existing items

First – help the app to identify existing items quickly

Shopify import upadte by ID

Have the ID column with ID values from the export file.

If you have ID for each item, and if item with such ID actually exists, then it will be the fastest way to update them – it will do one single “push”, and that’s it.

You don’t have to have ID – you can have just the Handle. Then it will find by Handle – it will be roughly two times slower, but still ok.

You will have the slowest speed if you have IDs which don’t exist. Because Then it will try to update by ID, which it will not find, then it will need to search by Handle, and then do the update. So it will be three times slower.

So – whenever you can, update by ID, the correct one.

Second – import only fields you need to update

Shopify import speed - delete unneeded columns

When you import your data, whatever item columns you import, all of them be sent to Shopify. So to improve the speed, import only those columns, which you really need to update, and avoid importing columns, which you are sure, are already correct.

Especially big difference is made with uploading images. Every time you import an image, Shopify will re-download that image. That adds at least one second to each item import, which might not seem a big deal, but it accumulates big time – imagine if you are importing several thousands of items. So, if you know you have your images already in place, just remove image columns from the import file.

Similar principle is about “related” details for each item. For example, do you need to update Product Variant data, when you are updating the Product Tags? Probably not. If you need to just update Product Tags, then you just remove all the Variant columns (and rows), and it will not have to touch Variants at all, again, gaining a bit of speed per item. Similarly, if you don’t need to update related Products for Manual Collections (Custom Collections), just remove those columns (and rows) form import file.

The same also with Metafields.

Pre-loading

In certain cases, the app will “pre-load” existing items from your store, to make the searching existing items faster. That’s because pre-loading is 250 times faster than identifying items one by one, so you can imagine the impact it has on overall import speed.

If you start the import and it seems like it’s not doing anything, give it a minute or two, because it decided that in total it will be quicker to pre-load your existing items, and then do the update on them.

Don’t check if items already exist

If you are absolutely sure that your import is just creating new items, and they don’t exist in Shopify, you can force the app not to load any of existing items by any of method. Just be aware that if items do exist, then there might be failed imports, errors, duplicates, or any other unexpected updates if those items exist.

Force not to check if items already exist in Shopify store

 

Which scenario was chosen?

You can see, how the existing item was identified, when you look in the Import Results Excel file (which you can download after import has finished).

In the “Import Comment” column you will see the following comments (in the order starting from fastest):

Update: Pushed by ID If you see this, it means you did the best job in helping the app to identify the existing item.
Update: Found by ID (pre-loaded) Here the app searched for the existing item by ID in the pre-loaded items list, because it can’t push it, it needs additional data about the item to be able to do the update. You can improve this by removing columns, which you don’t need to update.
Update: Found by ID The same reason as for pre-loaded, just app decided that in this case searching items one by one is faster than pre-loading all existing.
Update: Found by Handle (pre-loaded) Either you don’t have the ID, or the item with such ID doesn’t exist in this store. But it exists with the same Handle (or Code in case of Discounts, or Email in case of Customers). Also, app decided that pre-loading items will be the fastest way to find them.
Found by Handle The same reason as for pre-loaded, just app decided that in this case searching items one by one is faster than pre-loading all existing.
New The new item was created – meaning, that it didn’t find any existing item by ID or by Handle.

Summary import speed tips

  • Identify items by correct ID.
  • Remove columns and rows form import file which you don’t need to update.

What to do next?

  1. Review the “How it works?” tutorial.
  2. Install the “Bulk Import Export Update with Excel” app if you haven’t already.
  3. Upgrade to Big Plan or Enterprise Plan to give yourself to enjoy all the other benefits that come with them.

How to import several product images from one row?

So you are in this situation when you have to import several product images, but you hate to copy rows?

Here’s how you import several images per Product as one row – by separating image URLs with ; (semicolon).

Step 1: Prepare Import File With Several Product Images

Prepare your import file, where you have one row per Product, and put all your images in the same “Image Src” column, delimited by ; (semicolon).

For example:

https://i.com/image-1.jpg ; https://i.com/image-2.jpg

To change images for a Product in this way, you need at minimum the following columns in your import file:

  • ID (or Handle)
  • Image Src

Shopify import several product images separated by semicolon

Step 2: Import That Excel File With Images

Import that with Bulk Import Export Update with Excel app.

Shopify Product several images import

Step 3: View Imported Images

Shopify imported several images delimited by semicolon

Good To Know

  1. You can have up to 250 images per Product.
  2. You can add, replace and update images for products the same way.
  3. You can combine both image import methods – have them as several rows, and split by ; (semicolon) in the same cell. As visible in the example image with Product “Jumping Dog”.
  4. Remember to give name for sheet “Products”, so that it knows which sheet contains Products import.
  5. You can update many Product fields at once with the same import file – just put them as additional columns.

 

Where To Go From Here?

  1. Install the Bulk Import Export Update with Excel app from Shopify AppStore and try bulk update for Free on your own store.
  2. If you want to know more about this app, look the How it works? tutorial and video.
  3. Read the detailed Field Descriptions.
  4. Read other Tutorials.
  5. If you are not sure how to prepare the import file, ask our Support, we will teach you, or do that for you.

 

How to group products into products with variants

Products into Variants

If you have products without variants which you want to group into fewer products with variants, this is how you do it.

Step 1: Export products to Excel

Export products into Excel spreadsheet and open it to edit.

Shopify group products without variants into fewer products with variants

Step 2: Add data to variant columns

I will use following approach: Will add all products as new, but with variants, and then remove old products, which were without variants. I will do it, because this will save me in case something will go wrong (will add tag “new” for all newly imported products and they can be deleted easily, if imported incorrectly) and it will allow me to save images.

If you delete old products first, then Shopify will delete also attached images, and you will not be able to import them. That’s why you first need to import new Products, and then you are safe to delete the old Products.

So, to prepare the import Excel file I need to update following columns:

  1. Product ID – remove all data, so that it knows to create new Products with this import.
  2. Handle – set new handle for each product. For example, if the handle was: dress-anna-red-s, now I will have only dress-anna. This handle will be set for each variant of Dress Anna product. You can use formulas or play with Excel “split data” features to split your old handle into portions and then combine back as you need.
  3. Title – set appropriate Title (if there was a colour or size, now you can remove this data from the Title). You can also do that with formulas in Excel.
  4. Tags – add some tag for every row, that is absolutely new and use can use later to distinguish newly added products with variants. I used tag “new”.
  5. Variant ID – remove all data, so that it knows that those are new Variants.
  6. Option1 Name – set name for the first Variant option. In my case this is “Color”. Set it only in the first row of the product (no need to copy it for the each Variant.
  7. Option1 Value – set values for the option1. In my case these will be Variant colours: Black, Red, Blue, etc.
  8. Option2 Name – If you have more then 1 option for the Variant, like Colour and Size, set 2nd option Name here. In my case: Size.
  9. Option2 Value – Set sizes, L, M, S, XS.
  10. Variant Image – if your old Products has just one image per Product, copy Image Src column data here – then it will assign that same image to variant image.
  11. Image Src – Keep them as they are, with whatever images you have for your Products.

Shopify group products without variants into fewer products with variants

 

Step 3: Mark existing Products with tag “old”

Set tag for all existing products, so that you can filter them later. I added tag “old” for all existing products before importing the new ones, as will delete old products after the import:

Shopify group products without variants into fewer products with variants

Step 4: Import updated Excel

Import updated Excel file:

Shopify group products without variants into fewer products with variants

Shopify group products without variants into fewer products with variants

I have old products without variants and new products, but with variants.

 

Step 5: Delete old products

Now I can delete old products, by filtering them by the tag “old”, and doing “bulk delete” in Shopify Admin.

Shopify group products without variants into fewer products with variants

 

Good To Know

  1. It is important, that you firstly add new Products with variants and only then delete old Products without variants, to keep all you images.
  2. Set some unique tag for new products to distinguish them from the old ones, in case something will go wrong.
  3. Delete old products only after you are sure that all new Products and imported correctly!
  4. After import is complete, you can download the “Import Results” Excel file, where the last 2 columns (Import Result and Import Comment) will show you the result for each row. This is helpful, when something failed in the import – you will see the failure reason there.

 

Where To Go From Here?

  1. Install the Bulk Import Export Update with Excel app to your Shopify store.
  2. Read the detailed Column Descriptions of all columns (fields) that you can export and import.
  3. Write us a Review and give some stars along with your story, how it helped.

Bulk Delete Products

Shopify bulk delete is tricky. But there is a better way to bulk delete Products from Shopify Admin, especially in cases, when you need to delete several products on several pages by criteria which are not available in search.

Step 1: Export Products to Excel

Export all products into Excel file with with Bulk Import Export Update with Excel app.

Step 2: Add “delete” Tag For Products You Need To DeleteBulk Delete Shopify Products

Note that you can use Excel “filter” functionality to find exactly the products, which you need to delete.

After you have marked the “delete” tags, filter those rows, which don’t contain “delete”, and delete those rows from Excel, so that you don’t import them back.

Save edited file.

Step 3: Import Updated Excel Back To ShopifyShopify Bulk Delete Products

Step 4: Filter Products in Shopify Admin By “delete” Tag And Delete Them

Shopify Bulk Delete Products

Select all filtered items and do Bulk actions -> Delete selected products.

Shopify Bulk Delete Products

 

Useful To Know About Shopify Bulk Delete

  • This method is very useful if you need to delete a lot of products that are located on the several sheets in Shopify product list. There is no need to browse from page to page.
  • You can filter products in Excel spreadsheet by any parameter you need and set tag “delete”.
  • You can use the same method to delete Collections or Customers in bulk too.

Where To Go From Here?

  1. Install the “Bulk Import Export Update with Excel” app from AppStore and do your Shopify Product price update.
  2. Read the Field Descriptions about the Excel file columns that can be exported and imported to Shopify.
  3. Ask our Support to help you prepare the import file, report an issue or ask for a new feature you desperately need.

 

Add Variants To Existing Product

Add Variants to existing Product

You already have Products with Variants, and you just want to add Variants without touching existing Variants.

You can do that the following way. Let’s assume, we have this Product with one Variant:

Add Variants to existing Product

Step 1: Construct the Import File

Construct the Import Excel file, which contains only new Variants you want to add.

Make sure that you copy the ID or Handle rows for each new Variant:

Add Variants to existing Product

Now the most important part. Set the value of column “Variants Add” to TRUE for each Product, where you don’t want the Variants to be replaced. This will make the import to append Variants to existing.

To replace existing Variants with whatever rows you will have in this import file, leave that “Variants Add” column empty, or set the value to FALSE, or remove that column entirely.

It looks like this:

Add Variants to existing Product

A word about images. If you want it to use the existing images from your Product, then do the Export, and take the same link from the Product Image, and put it in “Variant Image” column. However, if you will take the link from somewhere else, it will add that image to Variant and to the Product itself.

Step 2: Add Variants by Importing That Excel File

Remember to mark the checkbox “Update items which have no ID, but are found in store by Handle.” if you use Handle column to identify the Product.

Add Variants to Product

Step 3: Check The Added Variants on Product

Add Variants to Product

By looking at the Product you see that it still has its previous Variant, and 3 new variants are added after that.

Also, you see that new Variant images are added to the Product.

Additional Tips

  • To find out Product Handles, you can take that information from Product SEO Description section, or do the Export.
  • If you update Products by ID, then remember to copy ID value for each Variant row, and make sure Excel didn’t increment it, when you copied.
  • You can remove from Excel file all columns which you don’t want to update.
  • You need to set “Variants Add” value only for the first row of each Product.

Where To Go From Here?

  1. Install the Bulk Import Export Update with Excel app from Shopify AppStore and try Free version to add variants on your own store Products.
  2. Get the Template Excel file, or to the Export to generate it from your own store.
  3. Read the detailed Field Descriptions.
  4. Read other Tutorials.
  5. If you are not sure how to prepare the import file, ask our Support, we will teach you, or do that for you.

 

Bulk Update Product Handles

Shopify Bulk Update Product Handles

You can bulk update product handles the following way:

Step 1: Export Existing Products

Select to export only Products, and click Export.

Bulk Update Handles of Products in Shopify

 

Step 2: Prepare The Import File

Download the Export file, which will look like this:

Bulk Update Handles of Products in Shopify

Since you need to update only Handle field, you don’t need the other fields and additional rows in the import file.

Clean it up by removing columns which you don’t want to update. Also remove the additional rows, so that you have only one row per Product. Best way to do that in Excel is filter to show all rows where Title is Blank. And then delete those rows.

The import file for bulk update product handles should look like this:

Shopify Bulk Update Product Handles

 

Step 3: Import Product Handles Bulk Update File

Do the import from the app.

Shopify Bulk Update Handles

After import is complete, go to check your new product handles in Shopify Admin.

It’s located in the Product page, block “Search engine listing preview”, when you click the link “Edit website SEO”.

Shopify Bulk Update Product Handles

 

Additional Tips

  • You can update handles of Smart Collections and Custom Collections the same way as Product Handles.
  • You can update e-mails of Customers the same way.
  • You can update any other field or combination of fields by the same principle.
  • If you need to update Variant fields, look into this tutorial: Shopify Product Price Bulk Update.
  • It will not create additional Products (or any other items), because it will identify by ID field that you need to update existing Product (or other item) with this import.

Where To Go From Here?

  1. Install the Bulk Import Export Update with Excel app from Shopify AppStore and try bulk update for Free on your own store.
  2. If you need to update Product Variants, look into this Tutorial: Shopify Product Price Bulk Update.
  3. Read the detailed Field Descriptions.
  4. Read other Tutorials.
  5. If you are not sure how to prepare the import file, ask our Support, we will teach you, or do that for you.