eCommerce stores can get out of hand quickly. A store with hundreds or even thousands of products can be difficult to track and organize. One way to keep things under control is to automate as much of the work as possible.

Depending on the platform you choose to use, there are a couple of ways to automate the process of populating your eCommerce store.

Using Prestashop As An Example

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume you are using Prestashop, though other platforms may have similar processes for populating stores either automatically, or semi-automatically. With the assumption made that Prestashop is the platform of choice, we can look at the primary method of importing products into your store.

Note that the following process does take a bit of time and effort to set up, but it is still much faster than taking the time to upload each product one by one on the backend o your store.
To do this, you will need to create an excel spreadsheet in a CSV format. It is important that your CSV file has the product name and category. You must also have a product ID field, but assigning product IDs is not necessary. Prestashop can handle this during the import process.

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The full step by step instructions, as well as visual representations of each step in the Prestashop back office can be found here. The guide also has some troubleshooting tips and pointers to keep in mind during the import process.

The import process is fairly quick and simple. It is important to ensure that you check your work. Look to see that product IDs are properly assigned and that each category is set up.

For those who hit the “import” button and feel that it is too time-consuming, there is a module available to make the process faster. It still requires that the CSV files are prepared properly before, but it is a nice way to speed up the process and get to work writing descriptions and actually marketing your business.

A Word On Prepping Your CSV Files

Prestashop has a sample CSV file for import that can help you to get started. Under the “tools” tab there is a “CSV Import” link. At this link, there is a sample file that can be downloaded that shows how data should be laid out for the actual product import process.

This can be a great time saver when you have to go through the process of entering product names, SKU numbers, categories and everything else required.

Other Platforms

For the purposes of this article, we focused on how to import products to a Prestashop store. However, not everyone uses Prestashop. There are plenty of other self-hosted eCommerce platforms that allow for CSV importing. Two of the more popular options are Magento, with instructions here, and X-Cart, with a manual here.

To find instructions on any platforms not noted here, a simple search operator to use is “your eCommerce platform CSV import”.


One final point to note is that some drop shippers provide data feeds for their vendors to use. These feeds are often in a CSV format which can be imported into the stores. This is obviously the fastest way to get a store populated quickly but is not always available.

@JulianaPayson is an associate at InMotion Hosting based in Los Angeles. They specialize in hosting for business as well as simple one-click website installs for Prestashop and other opensource e-commerce platforms.