flat file

Managing Amazon listings can be a complex task, especially when you need to update multiple listings simultaneously. This is where flat files come into play. Flat files are spreadsheet-based tools that allow sellers to manage their product listings efficiently, ensuring data accuracy and saving time.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about updating Amazon listings with flat files. We’ll explore what flat files are, their benefits, and provide detailed instructions on how to use them for updating existing listings, uploading new ones, and performing bulk edits.

What is a Flat File and Why Use It?

Flat files are CSV (comma-separated values) or text files that contain structured data about your product listings. They enable sellers to upload and manage product information in bulk, rather than editing each listing individually through the Amazon Seller Central interface. This is particularly useful for sellers with a large catalog of products, as it streamlines the process and minimizes the risk of errors.

Benefits of Using Flat Files for Amazon Listings

  • Efficiency: Allows bulk updates, saving time and effort.
  • Accuracy: Reduces manual entry errors by using a structured format.
  • Consistency: Ensures uniformity across all product listings.
  • Data Management: Simplifies inventory and data management.

How to Update an Existing Listing in Amazon

Updating an existing listing with a flat file involves several steps, starting with accessing the correct template, filling it out accurately, and then uploading it to Amazon.

Accessing the Flat File Template

To update your listing, you’ll first need the correct flat file template. Here’s the step-by-step process:

1. Log in to Seller Central:

2. Go to Inventory File Templates:

  • Navigate to ‘Inventory’ > ‘Add Products via Upload’ > ‘Download an Inventory File’.
  • Select ‘Category-Specific Inventory Files’ or ‘Listing Loader’ depending on your product type.

3. Select the Category:

  • Choose the appropriate category for your product. This ensures you download the correct template that matches your product’s attributes.

4. Download the Template:

  • Click ‘Generate Template’ to download the file. Save it to your computer for further editing.

By following these steps, you’ll have the template necessary to update your listings accurately.

Filling Out the Flat File

Filling out the flat file correctly is crucial for successful listing updates. Here’s a detailed guide:

1. Open the Template:

  • Use software like Excel to open the downloaded template.

2. Enter the SKU:

  • The SKU is a unique identifier for your product. Enter the SKU of the product you wish to update.

3. Complete Required Fields:

  • Mandatory fields include SKU, title, price, quantity, and product ID (UPC, EAN, etc.). Ensure all required fields are filled accurately.

4. Update Specific Attributes:

  • Depending on what you’re updating, fill in or modify fields such as color, size, product description, bullet points, and keywords.
  • Ensure consistency in data formatting as per Amazon’s guidelines.

5. Validate the Data:

  • Double-check all entries for accuracy. Mistakes can lead to errors during the upload process.

Example Fields

  • SKU: Unique identifier for the product.
  • Title: Product title (e.g., “Men’s Running Shoes”).
  • Price: Updated price.
  • Quantity: Available stock.
  • Product Description: Detailed product description.

6. Save the File:

  • Save the completed template as a text (.txt) or comma-separated values (.csv) file.

By carefully filling out the flat file, you ensure that your listing updates will be processed smoothly and accurately.

Uploading the Flat File

Once the flat file is correctly filled out:

  • Save the File: Save your completed template as a text (.txt) or comma-separated values (.csv) file.
  • Upload via Seller Central: Go to ‘Inventory’ > ‘Add Products via Upload’ > ‘Upload your Inventory File’.
  • Check for Errors: After uploading, review the processing report for any errors and correct them if necessary.

How to Upload a Flat File in Amazon

Uploading a flat file to Amazon is a straightforward process, but it requires attention to detail to ensure that all updates are applied correctly. Here’s how you can do it.

Step-by-Step Upload Process

1. Access Upload Section:

  • Log in to Seller Central and navigate to ‘Inventory’ > ‘Add Products via Upload’.

2. Upload Your File:

  • Select the file you saved earlier. Make sure it’s in the correct format (.txt or .csv).
  • Choose ‘Upload your Inventory File’ and browse for your saved flat file.

3. Select Processing Report Options:

  • Before uploading, select to receive a processing report. This report will provide details on the success of your upload and highlight any errors.

4. Monitor the Upload Status:

  • After uploading, monitor the status of your file. You can do this by going to ‘Monitor Upload Status’ under the ‘Add Products via Upload’ section.
  • Wait for the processing report to be generated. This report will indicate if the upload was successful or if there were any issues.

5. Review the Processing Report:

  • Download and review the processing report carefully. It will list any errors or warnings that occurred during the upload process.
  • Correct any errors mentioned in the report. Common errors might include incorrect SKU, missing mandatory fields, or formatting issues.

6. Re-Upload if Necessary:

  • If there were errors, correct them in your flat file and re-upload it. Repeat the process until the file is processed without errors.

Example Steps for Upload

  1. Log in to Seller Central.
  2. Navigate to ‘Inventory’ > ‘Add Products via Upload’.
  3. Choose ‘Upload your Inventory File’.
  4. Select your flat file and upload.
  5. Monitor the status and review the processing report.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

When uploading a flat file, you may encounter several common issues. Here’s how to troubleshoot them:

Validation Errors

  • Solution: Ensure all mandatory fields are filled correctly. Cross-check with Amazon’s data definitions and requirements for each field.

Formatting Issues

  • Solution: Verify that your file is saved in the correct format (.txt or .csv). Check for any unintended changes in formatting, especially when using spreadsheet software.

Missing Data

  • Solution: Double-check that all essential data fields are filled. Commonly missed fields include SKU, price, and quantity.

Incorrect SKU

  • Solution: Make sure the SKU entered in the flat file matches the SKU of the existing listing you intend to update. Any discrepancies can cause the update to fail.

Duplicate Entries

  • Solution: Ensure there are no duplicate SKUs in your flat file. Each SKU should be unique and correspond to a single product variation.

Error Messages

  • Solution: Refer to the specific error codes provided in the processing report. Amazon’s help pages can provide additional context and solutions for these errors.

By following these steps and troubleshooting common issues, you can effectively upload flat files to update your Amazon listings. This ensures your product information is accurate, complete, and optimized for customer visibility.

How to Fill a Flat File on Amazon

Filling out a flat file accurately is essential for ensuring your updates are processed correctly and efficiently by Amazon. Here’s how to do it.

Required Fields and Optional Fields

Required Fields

  • SKU (Stock Keeping Unit): A unique identifier for your product.
  • Product ID: Usually a UPC, EAN, or ISBN.
  • Product ID Type: Indicates the type of product ID (e.g., UPC, EAN).
  • Title: The product title.
  • Price: The selling price of the product.
  • Quantity: Available stock quantity.
  • Condition Type: The condition of the product (e.g., new, used).

Optional Fields

  • Bullet Points: Key features of the product.
  • Product Description: A detailed description of the product.
  • Search Terms: Keywords that help customers find your product.
  • Manufacturer: The brand or manufacturer of the product.
  • Item Type Keyword: Helps categorize the product correctly.
  • Image URL: Links to images of the product.

Best Practices for Data Accuracy

Double-Check Entries

  • Verify Data: Ensure all data entered is accurate and correctly formatted. Mistakes can lead to errors during the upload process.
  • Consistent Formatting: Follow Amazon’s guidelines for data formatting strictly.

Use Consistent SKUs

  • Unique Identifiers: Ensure each SKU is unique and matches the product you intend to update.
  • Avoid Duplicates: Double-check that there are no duplicate SKUs within the file.

Follow Amazon’s Data Guidelines

  • Field Requirements: Adhere to Amazon’s specific requirements for each field. This information can usually be found in the flat file template documentation.
  • Valid Values: Use valid values for fields that require specific data types (e.g., condition type, product ID type).

Regular Updates

  • Frequent Checks: Regularly update your listings to reflect any changes in product details, inventory levels, or pricing.
  • Responsive Adjustments: Be proactive in adjusting your listings based on market trends and customer feedback.

Validate Before Uploading

  • Use Amazon’s Tools: Utilize Amazon’s tools to validate your flat file before uploading it. This can help catch and correct errors beforehand.
  • Processing Report: Carefully review the processing report after uploading to ensure all updates are applied correctly.

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your flat file is filled out accurately, minimizing the risk of errors during the upload process and ensuring that your Amazon listings are always up-to-date and optimized for customer visibility.

How to Do a Bulk Edit of Amazon Listings

Bulk editing Amazon listings using a flat file can save time and ensure consistency across your product catalog. Here’s how to prepare and execute bulk updates efficiently.

Preparing Your Bulk Edit File

1. Consolidate SKUs:

  • Identify Products: Gather all SKUs that require updates.
  • Categorize: Ensure all products belong to the same category or use the same flat file template.

2. Download the Template:

  • Go to Seller Central: Navigate to ‘Inventory’ > ‘Add Products via Upload’ > ‘Download an Inventory File’.
  • Select Appropriate Template: Choose the correct template based on your product category.

3. Enter the Data:

  • Required Fields: Fill in all mandatory fields such as SKU, product ID, title, price, and quantity.
  • Optional Fields: Add data to optional fields like bullet points, product description, search terms, and image URLs to optimize listings.

4. Validate the Data:

  • Consistency Check: Ensure data is consistent and correctly formatted.
  • Avoid Duplicates: Make sure there are no duplicate SKUs in the file.

5. Save the File:

  • Correct Format: Save the completed template as a .txt or .csv file.

Executing Bulk Updates Efficiently

1. Upload the File:

  • Access Upload Section: In Seller Central, go to ‘Inventory’ > ‘Add Products via Upload’ > ‘Upload your Inventory File’.
  • Select the File: Browse and select the saved flat file.
  • Upload: Click ‘Upload’ and monitor the upload status.

2. Monitor the Upload Status:

  • Processing Report: After uploading, download the processing report to check for errors or warnings.
  • Resolve Issues: Correct any issues identified in the processing report and re-upload if necessary.

3. Batch Uploads:

  • Segmented Uploads: If you have a large number of listings, consider uploading in smaller batches to manage errors more effectively.
  • Staggered Updates: Spread out uploads to avoid overwhelming the system and to manage updates more efficiently.

4. Review and Confirm:

  • Verify Updates: Ensure all changes have been applied correctly by reviewing the updated listings in Seller Central.
  • Consistent Checks: Regularly check listings to maintain accuracy and consistency.


  • Bulk Price Update: If you’re updating prices for a range of products, ensure all SKUs and new prices are correctly entered in the flat file. Upload the file, review the processing report, and verify the updated prices in Seller Central.


By following these steps, you can efficiently perform bulk edits on your Amazon listings, ensuring accuracy and saving time. Proper preparation and validation are key to successful bulk updates.

Updating Amazon listings with flat files can significantly improve your efficiency and accuracy, especially for bulk updates. By following these steps and best practices, you can ensure your product listings are always up-to-date and optimized for better performance. Adapt, optimize, and focus on meeting customer needs to ensure your brand stands out. Make your campaign a hit and watch your sales soar!

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