CSV File Imports Broke Your Store. Now What?


This week, we’re bringing you tales from inside the Rewind Vault: how our customer support team helped restore two stores after bad CSV imports. 

Disappearing barcodes

During a busy Boxing Day 2022 shopping day, a leading European online retailer for crafts and hobby materials had a CSV import go wrong – all their GTIN barcodes were lost during the import. (Remember: friends don’t let friends import CSVs.) GTIN, or Global Trade Item Numbers, are essential for standardizing millions of product codes worldwide. The 13-digit code is listed with every product in the online store and is a cornerstone of the retailer’s product tracking.

Ecommerce platforms operate using the Shared Responsibility Model, where merchants are 100% responsible for all the data they enter into the product. The vendor can’t help retailers get their data back even if they wanted to.   

After the barcodes failed to import correctly, the retailer’s web team logged into their Rewind account to restore the product data of almost 14,000 products. The vast majority of the product data, including the codes, were successfully restored. Unfortunately, 69 product restores failed due to a timeout, which sometimes happens during large data transfers.

Luckily, the Rewind support team is online even during red letter days, and they could see why 69 items had failed and shared updates with the customer.

The customer was very concerned about the products that failed to restore – at this point, they only knew that 69 items had failed to restore, but not which items. 

The only way to help the customer at this point was to either have the customer run another large restore (which they were hesitant to do) or to get the customer a list of the products that failed to restore so that they could run individual item restores for each missing item. Rewind’s support team escalated the ticket to the Run Team, Rewind’s internal team of data recovery experts on standby, and reassured the customer we would have the list to them as soon as possible. 

The developer on the run team was on top of this and was able to share the product list with the customer the following day. The customer logged into Rewind and used the list to manually restore each failed product, preventing the need to manually update and restore the company’s GTIN codes and other precious product data. 

They were extremely happy with the overall service and even left us a 5-star review.

Lessons learned

The moral of the story is: You really shouldn’t use CSVs to import tens of thousands of lines of data– but if you do, and it goes wrong, Rewind’s got your back (even on a holiday).

Another holiday tale from the Vault – with more bad CSV uploads…

On to our second tale from the Vault! This one also involves data disasters during the worst possible time – Boxing Day. 

During Rewind’s holiday break, the Customer Support team worked in the background to ensure we had holiday coverage. We don’t get a ton of traffic around Christmas, but what we get is almost always an emergency.

Sure enough – Boxing Day came around, and Dwights Outdoor Gear came to support in an absolute panic because they had imported a bad CSV (seeing a pattern here?) that had created havoc with over 13,700 of their products.

The variant images had been re-arranged, deleted, and messed up in all kinds of un-fun ways. It was one of their biggest sale days of the year, and they had nearly 14k+ products with no useful images.

This was clearly disastrous for the retailer– today’s modern consumers have high standards for ecommerce sites. AWS found that 88% of customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. 30% of US shoppers will not buy a product if the images are missing or of low quality. Think about it– have you ever bought something online without seeing a picture of it first?

Fortunately, Rewind’s Customer Support Wizards were ready to guide Dwights Outdoor Gear through a full restore of their products and product images which restored everything back to how it was before the CSV messed up. Dwights Outdoor Gear’s site was restored back to its former glory, and downtime during one of the busiest shopping days of the year was avoided. 

They were so thrilled they left us a great 5-star review:

Lessons learned

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, friends don’t let friends use CSV files to import items into their ecommerce stores. There’s just too much that could go wrong. 

See: Why CSV files are not a backup for your ecommerce store for full details on how to use CSV files safely and securely.

Especially during busy holiday shopping seasons, it’s essential to have a backup plan before something goes wrong. A reliable backup of your ecommerce store data allows you to get back up and running in minutes if something goes wrong. And of course, Rewind’s team of stand-by data recovery specialists (which we call the ‘run team’) are always ready to help– even on a holiday.

Special thanks to our friends at Rewind for their insights on this topic.
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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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