Table of Contents
- Software for creating a database for your store
- Example of an online store database
- Designing a database for your virtual store: the essential components
- Step by step guide to creating a database for your online store
- Centralizing and distributing information
Your online store database is the main backbone of your business.
It gathers together all the product information that will make all your internal and external communication processes, sales and distribution either a success... or a failure.
How to create an optimized database is something every online business needs to learn, but we can help you in this phase by reviewing which software will make it easier for you to develop, maintain and enrich your product database.
Less well known than its sibling software that we'll see below, Microsoft Access is a database management program that forms part of Microsoft Office.
It is a very useful software for those companies that have a more complex structure, because it allows them to work with related databases and create business applications.
In short, while other spreadsheets seem oriented to mathematicians or to be multifunctional, Access is a tool designed for business and will allow you to organize your database in a 100% professional, organized and safe way. The only drawback is that you will need enough technical knowledge to be able to make the best use of it and not get bogged down among tutorials and tables.
Without a doubt this was the first top-ranking database. Excel spreadsheets made the lives of many companies easier by enabling them to move from paper to digital media.
Instead of accumulating thousands of sheets and cards in filing cabinets, with Excel you could create gigantic tables occupying hardly any space, with the freedom to organize columns, rows and fields, from the simplest tables to the most complex templates. As in Microsoft Access, some expertise in Excel is required to make the database system efficient, so that you don’t end up losing track of data and tables that may be difficult to locate among your various servers and folders.
But times evolve, and so does the most effective method for creating databases for your online store.
Let's see what that is.
Spreadsheets are fine. But what happens when you lose one, duplicate another by mistake, or when you need to adapt them to meet product data standards for a marketplace like Amazon?
Following Excel, the era of cloud automation is arriving, thanks to PIM (Product Information Management) software, like the Sales Layer PIM.
A PIM is a centralized database where you can:
- Import all your documents and files (such as Excel and CSV)
- Edit and manage product cards more intuitively
- Coordinate thousands of fields and tables
- Decide with one click what you want to make public, share, export, or connect to other software systems, such as catalog design.
Here's a basic example of a virtual store database created on a spreadsheet:
Before opening Office, you need to analyze what your product catalog should look like, how you want to organize your product information, and where you're going to use your database.
If your goal is to make a database for a virtual store, you'll need to think from the start about an accessible system that's easy to edit, update, and export.
Whatever your choice may be, here are the 3 basic types of product databases to consider:
- Relational database: a set of spreadsheets where data is related to each other. For example, your customer database data relates to data in your order database. Updating a particular piece of information means that it will be automatically updated in other tables.
- Non-relational or key-value database: based on a directory that groups data (values) into a number of folder types (keys), such as "products", "orders", and "customers".
- Cloud database: organizes and stores your database centrally, with universal access from any device and user having permission, and with the guarantee of backups, such as the Sales Layer PIM. In addition, you can import to the PIM the other databases you’ve already created, and export the data via API or connectors to your chosen channels.
Therefore, the essential components when creating your product database will be:
- Your product information
- The logic your catalog structure will follow (according to categories, subcategories, families, variants...)
- Related materials (audiovisual, virtual and text resources, links...)
- Data linked to your product information (inventory, orders, customers...)
- Editing and management software
- Connectors for your online store
Design your database
Before you open any particular program – and better on paper, whiteboard or iPad – note down what your main blocks of information are and what tables you will need for organizing them.
Then sketch what each table will look like: what columns to include, if they will need to relate to other tables, what their eventual names will be...
Treat each data table separately
- Product tables: Your main source of work, with all the information organized and related to each product, including name, description, metadata, variants and technical data adapted to each industry, and related materials.
- Customer table: This will include all your buyers' personal data (provided you get their express permission to store them), such as shipping address, phone, email, payment account, etc.
- Order table: This will include information about each order, such as customer, order and delivery date, delivery time, etc.
- Individual order table: While the previous table collects information from an order as a whole, this table will collect data for each product (since several different products can be purchased in the same order), such as quantity, unit price, variant, and/or discount.
Depending on your business needs, you can also create tables for suppliers, distributors, shipping or parcel companies, inventory, payments, customer service feedback...
Define your database structure
You will need to organize your catalog according to:
- Families and subfamilies
- Categories and subcategories
- Product attributes: These are what distinguishes each of the products on your database and allows you to locate it in online stores. Apart from the item’s name and price, you will need to include its specific attributes (color, size, weight, strength, etc.).
- Variants: Indicating when a given product is available in different variants of size, color, material, composition, etc.
Store and organize your database in an efficient system
If you decide to stick with just a few spreadsheets, plan a secure system to easily locate them and keep multiple backups.
If you opt for automation software that streamlines your editing and management of the database, such as a PIM, you can import your database in no time and always have it available in the cloud, ready to work with and connect to all the platforms you want.
Organizing your product information into a centralized database is the most effective way to gain efficiency and agility in launching and maintaining an online store.
Here's how the Sales Layer PIM works for you:
- It imports your Excel or CSV databases to the PIM, or connects it to your company ERP
- It checks your information, detects omissions, and enriches data with Sales Layer's quality analysis
- Our PIM synchronizes information from your databases with other programs of your company, such as CRM or inventory management
- It connects your database to other platforms: marketplaces, e-commerce platform, catalog editors, mobile app...
- It automates the updating in real time, across any channel, of any data modified in the PIM
- It exports your databases in Excel or CSV file format when you need it
- It takes full control of changes, editing-permissions, old version history, and your database backups
We invite you to test the database system of the future without further delay: try a free 30-day demo of Sales Layer’s PIM and transform your spreadsheets by the fastest and most complete method – whether you’re an expert in code or an e-commerce beginner.