In this lesson, you will learn how to:
- What is a CSV?
- How to export a CSV document of your products from control panel
- How to import a CSV into your control panel to add or update products

Importing and exporting products to and from your Bigcommerce store can save you tons of time when it comes to adding or editing those products. The control panel is an incredible way to visually add products to your store, but it can be kind of tedious when you have hundreds or thousands of products to add or edit. Enter the C-S-V.
CSV stands for “Comma Separated Values”. A CSV is a filetype that turns data into plain text so it’s easy for humans to read. A CSV document is raw data separated by commas. In its true form it looks like this.
Not very flattering, I know. But when opened with Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice it fills into a spreadsheet nicely. Excel separates each value into a cell. It’s easy for Excel, because every value in the CSV is separated by a comma. Get it?
Each row in excel is also referred to as a “record”. The first record, or top row, is normally reserved for your Column titles. This way I can sort all this great data in Excel.
Then, all the data formulates below the first record in its respective record (row) and position (column). Let’s take a closer look at exporting our products, making some edits and re-importing into your Bigcommerce store.
To export my store’s products I will go to “Products”, and then “Export”.
When exporting products you always want to choose “Bulk Edit” from the template menu. This exports every value possible for Bigcommerce products. If you export with a bulk edit template your imports will be much smoother than if you were using a foreign, 3rd party CSV document. These other options are for different types of exports. Default should be used for orders, while MYOB and Peachtree are specifically set up to work well with those independent accounting programs.
All the other settings are ready to export your CSV to your machine. However if you were interested in getting an XML version of your products you could select that here. Or if you wanted to save your products up to your server for other teammates to access via WebDAV, you could do that by checking this box. But I’ll just Continue on and download it to my computer. After clicking Continue you’ll see a popup window.

Click the Generate link in the middle of the window to generate your products CSV.
Then Click the Download link.
Find the CSV document you just downloaded and open it. I will be using Microsoft Excel to edit my CSV, but you can easily find and install a free CSV editor if you don’t have access to Excel. If you do have Excel on your machine your CSV should automatically open it. If not make sure you “Open With” Excel.
Once I open my CSV I can see every Product, SKU and Rule in my store. You can tell which is which by the very first column here. Now, notice the first row or “record” of my CSV. It’s a bit different from the following records. This record is just the headings for each type of data in our CSV. Your first step when looking at a CSV should always be to sort your data. To do this I’ll grab the entire first record by clicking the 1 to the left of the first row, and then Sort and Filter. Whether you’re using the Mac or Windows version of Excel, the Sort and Filter function is represented by a funnel icon.
This helps us sort and filter information we Do or Do Not want to see. For example, let’s look at this first column: Item Type. There can only be three types here: Product, SKU, or Rule. If you create product rules on a product they’ll export here as Rules. You can adjust the value depending on the rule. In this case I can adjust what the price changes to in the price column. If I save and import then my rule for this product would change. This rule applies to the nearest Product above it.
Since I don’t really need to see Product Rules, as I’m not editing any of those today I’ll click the arrow next to Item Type. A popup should appear. Below, in the Filter section
I can remove “Rule” from the display. It’s still there. It’s just hidden from the user’s view.
That leaves us with two item types: Product and SKU. SKUs are Product Options that you create for your products. But they will only export into your Products CSV if they have been assigned a SKU. This is like an idea for the product option. Without a SKU, the product options still work, but they don’t’ have the ability to track inventory, and they won’t show in your Products CSV. So another good reason to generate those SKUs. We can also filter out SKUs to clean up this CSV. We won’t be editing any SKUs today.
That leaves us with the last Item Type Product, which represents the products in our store. So I will create a new Product here on my CSV and then I’ll show you how easy it is to import my CSV and add this product to my store.
To import into my store I’ll go back to my control panel. Click on Products, and then Import. Most users will only have to worry about one item on this entire page: the first check box for “Bulk Edit Re-import?”. This option is asking if you are importing a “Bulk Edit Template” that you’ve exported from a Bigcommerce control panel. This tells Bigcommerce that all of your headings in the first record of this CSV will be named the way Bigcommerce intends. So if you’ve exported a Bulk-edit template and are re-importing it, you always want to check this box. Now you shouldn’t have to adjust anything else, but I’ll give you a quick heads up to these options.
The default option type is set to Multiple choice. This only comes into play if you’ve created options and option sets in your CSV, but you did not specify which type of
Option they were. The system would automatically create them as Multiple Choice, but if you specify a type in your CSV it will override this option. Then you have Category. By having this checked your telling Bigcommerce to use the categories you wrote in your CSV for each product. If you uncheck you can select just one category for all products to go into.
Override Existing Details may sound ominous, but it’s actually a good thing. This means any edits you made in your CSV to existing products will override product values currently LIVE on your store. If you selected Bulk Edit re-import the system doesn’t even let you uncheck this, because it assumes you exported your product CSV, edited your products’ details, and want to update them in your store through this import process. So short story no need to touch this one. What you definitely shouldn’t adjust unless you know what you’re doing are the next two options Delete existing images and and delete existing downloads. These options will delete all of your product photos. This is a dangerous option. It can be very beneficial for some store owners, but the average user will not want to delete all of their product images.
The same goes for existing downloads. This would erase your downloadable products’ files in your store’s database. Best to always leave this unchecked.
Next is Ignore Blank fields. This should always remain checked as it ignores any blanks in your CSV document, instead of trying to erase current data or making some values 0.
Now below, we can choose our file. Just browse your computer and locate the CSV you just saved.
You won’t have to adjust any of these technical details below. Just click “Next” to move on to the 2nd and final step.
This is your “Link Import Fields” page, or as we sometimes refer to it the “Mapping” step. What this is asking is to link Bigcommerce’s field titles to whatever titles or headings your CSV uses. These would be those values in the first record of your CSV.
Fortunately, if you used the Bigcommerce Bulk Edit template these are all mapped accurately and ready to go! Just click Next. But if you’re using a foreign CSV from your merchandiser or wholesaler you may have to link these fields appropriately. For example if your Product column says “Product Title” instead of Bigcommerce’s “Product
Name” You’d have to select Product Title from this dropdown menu here. This pulls in all the values from your first record. But it’s’ up to you to match them if you’re not using the Bulk Edit template. So again, it’s always best to use the Bulk Edit template!
The trick to a good import is a good export.
OK. So the next step is the actually import. Just click Start and your import should begin. You’ll then be presented with a results page, that tells you how your import went. If you see errors click more information to see what they were. This allows you to go back to your CSV and see if there were any errors in your data. Otherwise click View Imported Products to see your new products in your control panel!