Bol.com: why is the product information on bol not updated?

// Contents

Introduction
Mappings are correct / no validation messages
Data export is running & valid credentials
Product is in content export & feedback file
Contact bol.com - they decide which information to use

// Introduction

For a lot of marketplaces, it is possible to create or update product information via ChannelEngine. However, the speed at which these marketplaces process product content or if they will even use changed information, can vary. To clarify, product information is all generic information for a product like titles, descriptions, or images, so not offer specific information such as prices or stock for a product.

Bol.com offers the option to create or update product information via an automated way as well. However, there are some requirements and restrictions when it comes to updating product information at bol.com:

  • It can always take up to 24-48 hours before some parts of a product update are processed (images and description take a lot longer than simple attributes)
  • You can never update product information for products marked as 'core' by bol.com (this will be main products that bol.com usually also sells themselves like books or large brands)
  • Bol.com will validate all submitted product information and if invalid data is submitted, the entire product update will be ignored (so if you submit '15 ml' in a field expecting a numeric value like '15', the update will fail)
  • Bol.com uses an algorithm to decide which product information they use for non-core products (this means that if you submit a new image or title, but the algorithm gives a higher score to the previous content, it will not be updated)
Please note: The restrictions mentioned above mean that there is never a 100% guarantee that your product information will be visible on bol.com even though you configured everything correctly.

// Mappings are correct / no validation messages

The first step in checking why the product information for a product is not updated in bol.com is always in the mapping screen in ChannelEngine. This seems obvious, but often products that are not 'updated' have an attribute set in the mapping, but that attribute turns out to not have any value for the product with issues.

As can be seen in the image above, all required attributes for bol are mapped with an attribute, but this is empty for several products. This will always result in these products not being exported. To check for these products, you can mark the checkbox 'Filter on empty values'. As the label already states. this will be slow and can take a while to load depending on the number of products you have in your product selection.

That the main image (or whatever required attribute) is missing, can also be seen in the ' Validation and feedback' tab of the Listed products section.

The most common reasons for products not being included in the export (and thus not being updated) are:

  • No longer complying with the current product selection filter
  • Missing values for the mapped attribute or missing the attribute altogether (if it's a custom field)
  • The product isn't categorized

// Data export is running & valid credentials

If the product is in the filter, is categorized, and has all it's required mappings filled, it should be included in the export to bol.com. This is currently done via one or more template files placed on an FTP-server owned by bol.com, but this will change to their V4 content API in the future.

/ Export task

A possible issue could be that there isn't an export task running to bol.com so no product information (update) is ever exported. Please note that this task isn't running that often on purpose: bol.com states that content exports should only happen once every 8 hours. If you are not sure this task is scheduled and running, you can check the ' Settings' > 'Scheduled Tasks' page. If a product information export is running, this task will be labeled as 'Export product data to channel'. However, as stated this task doesn't run that often so will not always be visible depending on the time you check this page. If you want to make sure the task is running, contact our support team.

/ Valid (FTP) credentials

In order to actually export product information, we need to have valid credentials to access the relevant systems at bol.com. We currently use bol.com's content FTP server but will change to the V4 content API in the future. 

If you do not have credentials (yet), please consult this article on how to get FTP server credentials. The username will usually look similar as shown above, starting with a PLAZA prefix, underscore, and an id for your seller (not the same as your bol.com seller number).

Please note: if these credentials are invalid, but the task is running for exporting data, this will lead to errors. In that scenario, the hidden setting 'Disable FTP Calls' will be set to 1 effectively meaning that we will no longer export (updated) product information to bol.com. You will receive a notification if this happens and it is important that you double-check the supplied credentials. If you are certain these are accurate, please contact ChannelEngine to have this reset.

// Product is in content export & not in feedback file

If the export product data to channel task is running fine (it will get the label Completed), the next step to check is the content export file itself. As stated in the previous section this is one or more files (exports are split up in a file for each category, so if you have products in 23 categories and they are all marked for an update, there should be 23 new files placed on the FTP server).

/ Content file

The content files are placed on the FTP in the /SQUARE folder and the /feed subfolder. These files will have the extension .txt, but are in fact tab-separated CSV files so a program like Excel or OpenOffice Calc can open these and should the headers and rows correctly. By opening the file and using a search on your MerchantProductNo / SKU or EAN should help you locate the exported content.

If you have multiple product categories you sell products in, there will be more than 1 export file. To locate the correct file that should contain your product, you will need the id of the product category. This can be found on the product detail page (so open your product in ChannelEngine) en selecting the bol.com channel on the right-hand side. In the 'Channel' section, you will see the "Channel category".

The number between the brackets (in the image this is 345897) is also the number in the name of the export file right after 'ce-product-export-'. So if the category has number 345897, the file you're looking for should start with  ce-product-export-345897 as well.

/ Feedback file

If the product is present in the content file, there is the possibility that bol.com will return automated feedback on it. This basically means that one or more attributes that were supplied for products, had an invalid value. 

As goes with the export file itself, the number of the category you are looking for is included in the file name. The file name is always the name of the export file, prefixed with feedback_date by bol.com. So once again you should be able to look up the correct file if there are multiple and you're mainly interested in one product.

The feedback file itself will be an Excel file (XLSX) and can also be opened with a program like Excel or OpenOffice Calc. Each tab will give feedback about a specific product type. In the image above the text 'Engels' is entered, but the input expects an URL to an online manual. Other common mistaken are submitting the units of measures in weight or size fields (so those should contain a numeric value like '870' and not '870 ml').

/ Access to the FTP server

One important thing to realize: access to the content FTP server of bol is restricted on an IP address basis. All of ChannelEngine's IP addresses are whitelisted / allowlisted, so our servers and systems have access to it. Should you wish to have access to bol.com's FTP server to check the (feedback) files, you can request your own IP address to be whitelisted via this form on the bol website: https://developers.bol.com/documentatie/ftp/content-ftp/aanvragen-content-ftp/. Please make sure to select "IP adres toevoegen" as the type of request (aanvraag) and fill in "ChannelEngine" as your intermediary.

// Contact bol.com - they decide which information to use

If the correct product information is visible in the mapping, the product is in the content export and there is no feedback file returning errors for a product, the product information will either be stuck or ignored by bol.com and they are the only ones that can help. As stated in the introduction, bol.com uses an algorithm to determine which product information submitted for a product is best so your update may simply be ignored.

They have recently made changes to the algorithm as can be read here.

/ From bol.com's website

Hoe wordt bepaald welke productinformatie online komt te staan?

Om de kwaliteit van productinformatie te bepalen wordt een algoritme gebruikt. Dit algoritme meet aan de hand van bepaalde voorwaarden de kwaliteit van de productinformatie. Je kunt hierbij denken aan de lengte van een titel en of het merk wel of niet in de titel staat. Het algoritme zorgt er uiteindelijk voor of jouw productinformatie wel of niet wordt gepubliceerd op bol.com.

/ Translated

How is determined which product information is placed online?

To determine the quality of product information an algorithm is used. This algorithm uses specific conditions to determine the quality of the product information. Some examples are the length of a title and if the brand is in or excluded from the title. The algorith is responsible for if your updated product information is published or not on bol.com.

So if your update isn't processed and you feel it should (because you're the brand owner or only seller for example), please contact bol.com's zakelijk verkopen: https://partnerplatform.bol.com/contact