ChannelEngine: custom channels
About this article
This article describes ChannelEngine's custom channels (a.k.a. custom feeds), why they are used, how to configure them, and more.
Table of contents
Marketplace-specific requirements and exceptions
Custom channels offer a way to create a channel for non-standard purposes. Some of the main uses for custom channels are:
- Create a custom feed for an affiliate channel.
- Reporting purposes. E.g.: if part of your product information comes from a different system, you can use a custom channel to check this data.
- Forward specific data to a third party. E.g.: a custom listing of your products on a third-party website.
- As the foundation for a Channel API channel.
These scenarios are covered in more detail in the Scenarios section of this article.
Settings and configuration
Setting up each marketplace on ChannelEngine follows the same flow, once you add the marketplace. However, there is no categorization on custom channels.
- Go through the Setup.
- Create a Product selection.
- Set up the Mappings (content, offers, and carriers).
- Configure the Pricing (rules and currency conversion).
- Finish the Activation.
- Check the Listed products overview.
Marketplace-specific requirements and exceptions
You can change the name and logo of the custom channel to make it easier to identify it, which is handy if you want to use several custom channels.
Once you have created and saved a product selection for your custom channel and activated it, it can take up to one hour before a product feed is generated as the related task runs hourly.
You can find the feed URL on the Product selection page, in both XML and CSV formats.
Unlike most marketplace channels, custom channels do not require categorization because there is no fixed category tree to map to. However, it is possible to map attributes on 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, but remain empty. 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.
To include specific attributes in a custom feed/channel, 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 page, under Products, Custom fields.
You can change the Is public status by clicking 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. Because the purpose is to transfer the data to a product feed, the attribute is not available for mapping. The 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 feed/channel on the Pricing page.
It is necessary to activate the channel to generate a feed. Following the activation, it can take up to one hour before the feed is generated for the first time.
Affiliate channels (a.k.a. click-and-ad channels), such as Google Shopping and Kieskeurig, allow prospective buyers to quickly compare multiple offers for the same product across different marketplaces and webstores. When the prospect clicks one of your offers, they are redirected to the related product page – either in your webstore or on a marketplace.
Before you can share the generated feed with the affiliate channel you are working with, you need to create a product selection and activate the custom feed/channel.
If you work with a third party to sell your overstock, budget line, or products from a previous collection, for instance, you can monitor their sales and handle their orders via a custom channel. To do so:
- Add the custom channel to your environment on ChannelEngine.
- Create a product selection.
- Map your content.
- Activate the custom channel.
- Share your Channel API key with the third party. You can also share your product feed, in either CSV or XML format.
- The third party can then use the Channel API reference on OpenAPI/Swagger to set up the required flows and retrieve your product data, push incoming orders, etc. – just like a Channel API-based marketplace would.
This is particularly useful if the third party you are working with is a dropshipper. They can sell products on your behalf, and you can focus on fulfilling their orders.
By default, custom channels include all of ChannelEngine’s standard attributes. You can also map a custom attribute (a.k.a. custom field) to a standard attribute you do not use, as long as its visibility is set to public. If your custom attributes are set to public, they are also included in the product feed generated by the custom channel.
For more information on how to set up this kind of channel, check out the ChannelEngine: connect to the Channel API article.
One of the features of a custom channel is Channel API access. This can be used to initially develop and test a custom channel, which can be later converted by ChannelEngine into an established channel.
For more information on the endpoints available in ChannelEngine's Channel API, go to your tenant's OpenAPI/Swagger and select ChannelEngine Channel API from the dropdown menu at the top of the page. E.g.: sustainable-suits.channelengine.net/api/swagger/index.html.
Make sure to check out the Channel API data flow: products, orders, and shipments article. 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.
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