XML Doesn’t Have to Be a Square Peg

Square peg. Round hole. What are you going to do?

It’s rare to find systems that interact with each other perfectly if they’re not explicitly designed to do so. XML feeds are an excellent example of this, especially if you are trying to get an internally-organised set of product features and attributes out to multiple partners, each of which has differing requirements. There are workarounds, brute force methods. Some nose holding, and some manual editing. It can be done, but it’s not always smooth or easy.

But what if you decide to sand the sharp edges of the peg? Or, even better, remake it anew? Sure, it will cost in time and resource in the short term, but could it be worthwhile for the ease of use in the long run? Is it an acceptable trade-off for the flexibility of not having to oversee each connection?

Congratulations! If you’ve made it through this slightly tortured analogy, it’s now time for a real-life example: one of our clients found themselves in this exact position when it came to managing their XML product data feeds. Their XMLs were workable but included a host of problems, some familiar and some impressively novel. Each feed needed work to be usable, but it was still a more efficient process than manual completion. Good enough, right?

Not necessarily. Our client realised that, for them, the most effective solution was to align their product feed with the requirements of their major partners. And, with our help, that’s what they’ve done.

This prioritisation is designed to bring a host of benefits. Product setup is improved in both time and accuracy, leading to a better customer experience. Enhanced content is optimised to convert more shoppers. All of this while freeing up the resource and oversight that was once needed to babysit unreliable XML feeds to the retailers.

Only you can know if such an investment is worthwhile for your brand. But perhaps it’s helpful to keep in mind that there’s always an alternative to the continual frustrations of making a square peg fit a round hole.