ChannelEngine: custom feed/channel
About this document
This document describes ChannelEngine's custom feeds/channels, why they are used, how to configure them, and more.
Table of contents
Custom channels offer a way to create a feed or channel for non-standard plugin purposes. If you want to create a product feed specifically for an affiliate channel that is not available as a channel, for instance, you can use a custom channel.
Main uses for custom channels
- Create a custom feed for an affiliate channel.
- Reporting purposes. E.g.: if part of your product information comes from a different system, this can be used to check or use this data.
- Forward specific products/data to a third party. E.g.: a custom listing of your products on a third-party website.
- As the foundation for a new API channel.
Setting up each channel on ChannelEngine follows the same flow, once you add the channel:
- Go through the Setup
- Create a Product selection
- Complete the Categorization
- Set up the Mappings (content, offers, and carriers)
- Configure the Pricing (rules and currency conversion)
- Finish the Activation
- Check the Listed products overview
You can change the name and logo of the custom channel to make it easier to identify, which is handy if you want to use several custom channels feeds.
Once you have created and saved a product selection for your custom channel/feed and activated the channel, it can take up to one hour before a product feed is generated – the related task runs hourly.
You can find the feed URL in the Product selection section, in both XML and CSV formats.
Unlike most marketplace channels, custom channels do not require categorization mapping because there is no fixed category tree to map to. However, it is possible to map attributes under the Content mapping tab – including the exported category.
While almost all attributes are labeled Required because they are mandatory ChannelEngine attributes, you can leave attributes empty in the mappings. They are still included in the export/feed, but remain empty in the export. It is not possible to rename attributes, or add custom ones and exclude product extra data attributes. They are always included in the generated feed.
If you want to include specific attributes in a custom channel/feed, it is important that these attributes are marked as Public. The public status for custom or product extra data fields can be managed via the custom field management screen, under Products > Custom fields.
You can change the Is public status by selecting the pencil icon and setting it to enabled. More information on custom field management can be found in the ChannelEngine: product custom fields/extra data fields article. If an attribute is set to public, it is automatically included in the product feed generated for the custom channel. These custom fields are grouped under the element ExtraData.
It is possible to add price rules or currency conversion to the Price field for the custom channel/feed by setting this up under the Pricing section.
It is necessary to activate the channel to have a feed generated. Following the activation, it can take up to one hour before the feed is generated for the first time.
One of the features of a custom channel is Channel API access. This can be used to initially develop and test a custom channel plugin, which can be used later by ChannelEngine to convert it to a fixed channel plugin.
You can see all available calls on your tenant URL with /api/swagger begin it, for example https://demo.channelengine.net/api/swagger/index.html.
Make sure you check out the dataflow for channels document. Acknowledging a product with your own channel product number to mark it as 'listed' on ChannelEngine's end is an important, but often overlooked step. This is why you can use the generated product feed to read in product data, but still need to acknowledge these products in order to create orders – as that requires your channel product number.