How to Import a File Into a Table Within Your Database

When setting up or updating content within your store, you may need to update a large number of records in your store's database. For example, you may need to update the prices on half of your product inventory.

If your store is stocked with hundreds or thousands of products, you can save a lot of time by importing data using a text file known as a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file.

Volusion's Import/Export Tools

To get started, go to Inventory > Import/Export in you Admin Area.

Your import and export controls are located under the Standard Import and Standard Export tabs.

Creating a Template for Importing

Before importing data into your store, you should generate a CSV file template that you can update and then import back into your store. This will allow you to edit a CSV file that contains the correct column names and structure for the portion of your store's database you wish to update.

To export a CSV file to use as a template for updating your product database table:

  1. Click the Standard Export tab on the Import/Export page.
  2. Select Products from the Columns menu.
  3. Select the elements within your products table that you wish to export (only export the fields you plan to edit on a regular basis).
  4. Select CSV from the File Format menu.
  5. Click Export.

If your store contains a large number of products, the export process could take a few minutes. Once the process is complete, click the link to download your CSV file.

Editing the CSV File

Once you've created your CSV file export, you can use it to make updates to your products, save the file, and then import it back into your store's database.

CSV files can be edited in any standard spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel or Open Office. When you're finished editing the file, be sure to save it in CSV format.

Importing the CSV File

With your CSV file edited and saved, you're ready to import it into your store.

  1. Under the Standard Import tab, select Products from the Import To menu and use the Browse button to find the CSV file on your computer.
  2. In the Overwrite Existing Data option, you have 3 choices:
  • Update your database without changing any records already in it.
  • Replace any existing data in your store with updated data in the CSV file
  • Delete all records in the table and replace with the data in the CSV file. This option is not recommended unless you want to completely clear a table and repopulate it from scratch using a CSV file.
  1. Click Import.  

You will receive a notification once your import is complete.

Import Troubleshooting

When performing an import, you may encounter some errors. Below are some tips for minimizing potential errors.

Avoid Columns Without Data

Some spreadsheet editors can reformat cells within columns that have no data contained within in them and insert non-breaking space characters. This can cause errors when attempting to import data into your store.

To avoid this, delete any columns within your CSV file that are assigned a column name but don't contain any data.

Check Your Data Types

Each field in your store is assigned a data type. This refers to the kind of data that can be contained within each element in the store database (e.g. text, integers, dates, etc.). You must adhere to these data types when editing your database tables in a CSV file.

For example, the ProductCode column within the products database table is of a TEXT data type that can contain up to 30 characters. If a field were imported into the store with more than 30 characters, the import process will not be completed.

Note that you can view the data types of any element in your store's database when selecting columns during the export process.

Note for Macintosh Users

Some versions of Excel for Mac allow you to save multiple types of CSV files. If presented with the option, be sure to select "CSV file for Microsoft Windows."

Special Characters

Certain characters contained within CSV file cells can cause issues, preventing the file from being imported.

For example, Excel may reformat long strings of numbers (such as Category IDs) to remove the commas: 14,25,35,69,71,73 becomes 142535697173. Your file will fail on import because the Category ID does not match your system.

Text that contains commas should be enclosed in single quotations.

You should remove any double quotation marks from file cells before executing an import. In a case where quotations are required, you can substitute double quotations (") with single quotations (').

See Common Import Errors for further information.