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Home > Driving Traffic > Inventory: DotFeed & AspDotNetStorefront

Inventory: DotFeed & AspDotNetStorefront

Inventory - how AspDotNetStorefront, DotFeed and Google interact

 

As it becomes increasingly important for all online sellers to effectively manage their structured product feeds, we are focusing on helping to manage inventory. (This is the first of a number of specific focal points.) We have changed the way that the inventory level of 'items' is fed to Google via DotFeed and this is an important document, especially if you track inventory by size and color.

 

There is a LOT to understand about the different ways that AspDotNetStorefront and DotFeed can handle inventory. Hopefully, you can draw on expert help. If you don't have a subscription to our annual support coverage (Year-Round Benefits), then most likely one of our resellers is supporting you and you should feel free to ask for as much help as you need.

About Products

In AspDotNetStorefront, every product has at least one 'child' called a 'variant'. There can be multiple variants for a single product, and one is always set as the default. Every variant carries an inventory value (the parent product does not carry any stock.)

A variant can, optionally, carry up to two 'attributes'. In our examples, these are used for size and color, but can actually be renamed and used for any attributes.

Each attribute combination (e.g. 'small/blue') can carry its own inventory value if the administrator turns 'Track Inventory by Size and Color' to true.

 

About Display Pages on AspDotNetStorefront

There is a configuration setting 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel'. If this is set to -1, then the store ignores inventory and shows all products. If there is a value other than -1 in this setting, then (this is important) any product with a default variant that is carrying less stock than the value of the setting will not be displayed (the product page will not be rendered at all - a 404 error will stand in place.) Use this 'hide' setting with caution.

There is a configuration setting 'DisplayOutOfStockProducts' which is stronger than the 'hide' setting. If 'DisplayOutOfStockProducts' is set to true, then every product shows up, regardless of the inventory level of each variant. In stock/out of stock messages can be set for each variant on product pages.

About DotFeed

If 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel' is set to anything other than -1, and if a product/variant does not have 'Track Inventory by Size and Color' set to true, then DotFeed matches the storefront - since under these settings the store hides the variant, then so does DotFeed (the variant will not get delivered to Google, or to any shopping engines.)

If 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel' is set to anything other than -1, and if a variant DOES have 'Track Inventory by Size and Color' set to true, then regardless of the total inventory for the variant, DotFeed gathers up the variant and breaks it into "items". An "item" is an attribute combination and is a child of a variant. DotFeed compares each itemwith the value in 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel". If 'DisplayOutOfStockProducts' is set to 1 (true), DotFeed will compare the inventory against the value of 'OutOfStockThreshold' (HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel is ignored). If 'DisplayOutOfStockProducts' is 0 (false) and 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel' is not -1, DotFeed will compare the inventory to 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel'. If 'DisplayOutOfStockProducts' is 0 (true) and 'HideProductsWithLessThanThisInventoryLevel' is -1 (disabled), DotFeed will set the availability setting for Google as "in-stock" (since nothing on your store is setup to behave otherwise).

In this way, if the storefront displays the variant with out of stock messaging, then DotFeed hands over items to Google with matching availability settings. Variants (which can be handled using rules, should be watched and set accordingly.

About Google

When DotFeed hands Google an item marked 'out of stock', then Google marks that item 'not yet searchable'. When a subsequent feed changes the availability to 'in stock', then Google seems to very quickly adjust the status to 'searchable'. 

This table (below) attempts to teach more by way of example:

Stock Level Hide?
(More)
Display?
(More)
Show up?
(More)
Fed?
(More)
Rules?
(More)
Google?
(More)
Store 1

This store does not use attributes at all and chooses to hide products with less than 5 units in stock.

Product-1 5 - -
Variant-1a 11 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Store 2

This store does not use attributes at all and chooses to hide products where there are less than 6 units in stock.

Product-2 -1 6 No
Variant-2a 7 - - No (Why?) Yes Yes (Why?) Yes
Variant-2b (default) 1 - - No No No No
Store 3

This store does not use attributes at all and chooses not to hide products, but to mark 'out of stock' where there are less than 9 units in stock.

Product-3 -1 9 No
Variant-3a 7 - - Yes Yes Yes (Why?) Yes
Variant-3b (default) 1 - - Yes Yes Yes Yes
Store 4

This store uses attributes and chooses not to hide products with less than 3 units in stock, but instead to display out of stock values. Also, this store has turned the setting "Track Inventory by size and color' to TRUE.

Product-4 -1 3 Yes
Variant-4a 2 "Out of Stock" No No No
Variant-4b (default) 16 "In stock" (Why?) Yes, as items No (Why?) Yes, as items
Item-4b small/red 1 Out of stock No Not yet searchable (Why?)
Item-4b sm/blue 4 In stock No Searchable
Item-4b lg/red 5 In stock No Searchable
Item-4b lg/blue 6 In stock No Searchable


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