How to avoid duplication of products on import

Most of the time importing products is an essential part of the ecommerce business. It doesn’t matter whether you are a new store-owner or an existing store owner. Whether you need to move a few simple products or thousands of variable products. Importing products can always be a hectic process. 

One of the hurdles you may face during import is duplication of the products. If there are thousands of products with images, it can be an exhausting job. So let me introduce a simple method to avoid duplication of products on import.

With the help of Product Import Export Plugin For WooCommerce plugin you can import products efficiently and it helps to avoid duplication of products

Methods to avoid duplication of products on import

There are three methods to avoid duplication of products on import by using the Product Import Export Plugin For WooCommerce extension.

  1. Import using unique product ID/ SKU
  2. Update products if exists
  3. Delete existing products that are not present in the CSV

Here we’ll discuss three methods one by one. Before that, you will need to successfully install and activate the plugin on your store. After the plugin has been activated, from the WooCommerce sidebar menu, go to Product Im-Ex. From the plugin page, navigate to the Product > Import tab.

1. Import using unique product ID/ SKU

The Product Import Export Plugin For WooCommerce takes CSV/XML files as input.The CSV file should be UTF-8 encoded for an error-free import. Let’s prepare a CSV file of all the products with unique product ID/ SKU. 

You can import products from different sources like, from your computer or from another server via FTP or from a URL of the CSV where it can be downloaded. Select any of the three methods which is convenient for you. For the sake of simple explanation let’s choose Method 1: Select a file from your computer

  • From the product import panel choose Method 1: Select a file from your computer
  • Click on Choose File to browse and select the CSV file from your computer
  • Configure other necessary settings
  • Click on the Upload file and Import Mapping button. You will be taken to the Mapping section
  • Map ID column or SKU and Parent_SKU columns > Submit

You can see the import progress in the next screen

Thus if the importing product IDs already exist in your site, the new products cannot be inserted to the same ID. In this case the progress page will show a validation text as “Product with same ID already exists.”

In case of product SKU already exist in your site, the new products cannot be inserted to the same SKU.

Thus by using a unique product ID/ SKU you can avoid duplication of products on import.

2. Update products if exists

By using a unique ID you can avoid duplication of products in your store. But what if you need to add extra details or change some details of your existing products? Using a unique ID method will always skip the product from importing. So you may need to unmap the ID and SKU column, but it brings back the duplication issue. 

To avoid this problem, Product Import Export Plugin For WooCommerce extension introduces an option, Update products if exists. Existing products are identified by their SKUs/IDs and the fields will be updated accordingly.

As we discussed above, if this option is not selected and if a product with the same ID/SKU is found in the CSV, that product will not be imported. Repeat the following steps to update existing products

  • From the product import panel choose Method 1: Select a file from your computer
  • Click on Choose File to browse and select the CSV file from your computer
  • Enable Update products if exists option from the Available Options section
  • Click on the Upload file and Import Mapping button. You will be taken to the Mapping section
  • Map ID column or SKU and Parent_SKU columns > Submit

Based on the CSV file imported, the products are merged (or updated) as shown in the screenshot below:

3. Delete existing products that are not present in the CSV

If you have all the products with complete product details as a CSV/XML file, then no need to update existing products or no need to map ID/SKU. You can simply use the Delete existing products option available in the plugin import section.

Follow the below steps:

  • From the product import panel choose Method 1: Select a file from your computer
  • Click on Choose File to browse and select the CSV file from your computer
  • Enable Delete existing products option from the Available Options section
  • Click on the Upload file and Import Mapping button. You will be taken to the Mapping section
  • Do not map ID column or SKU and Parent_SKU columns > Submit

Now all the products from the CSV file will be imported into your store with a new ID and all the existing products will be moved to trash. This method is very helpful if you have to change/ update more than fifty percent of the products and product details. Duplication of products can be avoided in this method.

To know more about other features of the plugin, read the documentation.

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