What Is Amazon Flat File? A Guide To Your Ultimate Product Data Tool

As an Amazon seller, you know how time-consuming it can be to update your product listings. But what if we told you there was a way to make the process faster and more efficient? 

Our secret lies in using Amazon flat file to make bulk updates to your product listings and inventory. Because who has time to manually edit every individual listing, anyway? 

Learn how to use it to streamline your product management and save time on data entry below.

What Is Amazon Flat File?

Amazon flat file is a spreadsheet – an Excel file – containing all the product data related to your Amazon listings, such as:

  • Product names
  • Product IDs
  • Brand name
  • Manufacturer
  • Quantity, etc. 

You can use flat files for various purposes, such as adding new products to inventory, updating existing product information, or deactivating unavailable listings, in bulk. 

This is the biggest advantage that flat files have over manual edits: they allow you to easily make bulk edits. Creating new or updating existing listings is quicker as you can update them all at once instead of going through each listing one by one.

How To Download Your Inventory File

  1. Login to Amazon Seller Central

Sign in to your Amazon Seller Central account by entering your usual details.

  1. Select Add Products via Upload

On the main dashboard, hover your mouse over the Catalog tab. 

This will open a drop-down menu where you should select “Add Products via Upload.” 

When you click, you should get to a new page. Make sure you’ve landed on the “Download an inventory file” tab.

If you notice that another tab is open, simply click on “Download an Inventory File.” This will open a tab containing the Amazon file you need.

  1. Download your inventory file

On the new page, you’ll have the option to choose between four different flat files: 

  • A flat file for adding new offers to existing products
  • A flat file for creating new product listings
  • A flat file for updating the price and quantity of existing listings
  • A flat file for updating product details, such as editing product details, such as name, variations, etc.

Choose the flat file template that best suits your needs. Simply click on it, and a new window will appear. We can get to the template we want from there. 

Here’s an example of a window opening for the product template (associated with the fourth listed option): 

What you have to do from there will depend on the template you chose. But we’ll walk you through the rest of the process by using the example of downloading a product template.

First, you’ll select a marketplace that you serve (e.g., amazon.es for Spain) and the category that your product belongs to: 

Once you find the right category and sub-categories, you’ll be able to download the category template that you’ll later fill with appropriate data. Just scroll down and click “Generate template” (the large orange button at the bottom). 

Your flat file will be downloaded in .xlsx format, which can be opened with a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

How To Upload Your Inventory file

  1. Login to Amazon Seller Central

Sign in to your Amazon Seller Central account by entering your usual details.

  1. Select Add Products via Upload

We’ll follow the same steps we’ve used to download the flat file. We hover our mouse over the Catalog tab on the main dashboard, then select “Add Products via Upload” from the drop-down menu. 

  1. Upload your inventory file

Here’s where it gets a bit different. Instead of going to (or staying on) the “Download an Inventory File” tab, we’ll select the second tab, “Upload your Inventory File.”

You can upload your flat file here. After you do so, you’ll need to wait for Amazon to either accept or reject your changes. You can view the status of your file by going to the Monitor Upload Status tab. 

If Amazon rejects your changes, you’ll get a report that explains why they were rejected and how to fix the issue. Follow the steps described in the report and re-upload your file.

How To Fill Your Flat File

Downloading and uploading an Excel sheet to Amazon is, admittedly, the easiest part of the work. The hardest – and the more tedious – part is filling in the correct product info. 

Still, we promise that filling out flat files is worth it, as it’s still the quickest way to make bulk updates on Amazon. This section will help you get the hang of it sooner.

  1. Learning your way around the file

First things first, you need to get to know your inventory file and everything in it. So let’s start with that. 

You should see six sheets (tabs) in your inventory file: 

  • Instructions – The sheet that tells you how to use the file. Make sure to read it carefully before filling out the inventory file template. 
  • Images – Rules for uploading product images and examples of acceptable and unacceptable images.
  • Example – Example of an inventory file template filled out with product data. 
  • Data Definitions – Explanation of data within the inventory file template and rules on filling it out.
  • Template – Your product data. This is where you’ll make updates to your listings, create new ones, or delete existing ones.
  • Valid Values – Contains terms you’ll need to use to fill out specific columns within the template.

The most important sheet in this file is the Template sheet. In fact, this is the only sheet you need to fill out yourself, so we’ll review it in more depth in the next section. 

Still, keep in mind that you should get acquainted with all the sheets in the file. They’ll come in handy for you in the future.

  1. Understanding the inventory file template

Your inventory file template will contain multiple headings related to product info, such as the product name or product ID. 

You’ll quickly notice that the headings are highlighted in different colors. You’re required to fill out only those highlighted in bright red color: 

Filling other columns is optional and will depend on your product details. 

For example, if you sell the same model of t-shirts in different sizes and colors, you should probably fill out the columns titled “Variation.” This will form parent-child relationship between different items – in this case, t-shirts.

On the other hand, filling out these columns wouldn’t make sense if you don’t sell variations of the same item. In that case, you can just leave them blank.

  1. Using correct values 

Flat files need to be filled out with appropriate values. You can find explanations of accepted values for each column in the Data Definitions sheet: 

For some columns, you’ll have to choose an appropriate value from the list of given values instead of describing them yourself:

When that’s the case, you’ll probably have to consult the Data Definitions sheet to find the explanation for different values and know how to choose the right one. 

  1. Note the type of update you’re making

Once you update your listings, you should make Amazon aware of these changes. You can do so by selecting one of three options under the column “Update Delete:” 

  • Delete: Should be used when you want to delete a listing.
  • Update: Should be used when you’re changing multiple features of your listing or the entire listing. When you select this option, the fields you leave blank will stay blank (i.e., the product data you don’t enter won’t be displayed on your public listing). 
  • Partial update: Should be used when you’re changing just one or a few features of your listing. The fields that are blank will be filled with the existing product data you’ve previously entered. This allows you to quickly change one feature of your listing, like quantity, while leaving other fields unchanged (such as product descriptions).
  1. Save the spreadsheet as a .txt file

Once you make all the updates to your template, save it as a .txt (Tab delimited) file. 

You can then follow the steps for uploading your flat file that we described above.

How Do You Find Your Product Category On Amazon?

The easiest way to find your product category is to go straight to your public Amazon listing. Scroll down until you get to the Additional Information section (or use CTRL+F to find this section quickly).

You’ll see which categories and sub-categories your product belongs to in line with the Best Sellers Rank

(This rank may also be listed under the “Product information” sections on Amazon listings.) 

You can also click on every category and sub-category to see the full “Node Path” of a product:

Example of all the categories that a product belongs to.

Maximize Your Productivity with Amazon Flat File

You probably realize by now that making updates via flat files can save you a ton of time you’d have to spend manually editing one listing at a time. Nevertheless, uploading and re-uploading flat files on Amazon can still be a tedious task when you have to make frequent changes to your inventory. 

FlatFile Pro can help you streamline this process. Our Amazon management system automatically saves backup spreadsheets and lets you make bulk updates faster and fix broken listings without filing appeals or cases. Try it for 7 days, for free.