Updated: FAQ for Brand Owners

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Here, our Icecat FAQ (frequently asked questions) for Brand Owners. In order to use Icecat’s product content to its full potential and syndicate it easily into your channel, we provide you with the below FAQ to answer the most common questions you might have as a Brand Owner.

Who is Icecat?

Icecat is an independent global syndicator of rich product content and provider of Product Information Management solutions for multilingual and multimedia content.


Product Syndication – managing your product data in Icecat

How can my product content be included in the Icecat database?

Manufacturers have two easy ways to add their product content to the Icecat database.

  1. Manual data-entry – provide your product content to Icecat, and our editors will describe and standardize the product information for you. You can also enter it yourself using your Icecat Free Vendor Central account. Content to our editors can be provided in any format, e.g., Excel, Word, PDF, links to websites, etc. As long as the information is available, our editors will describe the products. We recommend this method is for portfolios smaller than 500 SKUs.
  2. Automated import – use our API-in interface between your PIM and Icecat’s PIM (Product Information Management system) to automatically import all available product information. This is only worthwhile in large numbers of products (>1000). Contact us for information about the Icecat API-in.

How can I check the described data?

Once our editors have described or changed a product in the Icecat database, you will receive a notification by e-mail, so you can check the products either directly in www.icecat.biz or modify/approve the information in our PIM back office.

How long does it take for Icecat to update my product content if there are changes to the product?

  1. Manual data-entry – it depends on the number of changes and products involved. If you do it yourself, using an Icecat PIM account: updates are real-time, and the content syndication to third parties may take one more day. If you have outsourced data-entry to Icecat editors, it depends on the number of products. Up to 5 products: two (2) business days, from 6 to 50 products, up to 5 business days. For more than 50 products, time estimates will be provided.
  2. Automated import – once you have added the updated content to the data feed, it is updated according to the import settings. Assume around 1 day of delay, before the updated content is syndicated throughout the Icecat user network.

Do I have direct access to the Icecat database to manage data myself?

Yes. Manufacturers participating in Open Icecat will receive a secure login to the Icecat Product Information Management system (PIM) or Free Vendor Central. You can directly add or adjust your own product information according to your needs.

If a product is no longer available, will Icecat delete the datasheet from a channel partner’s database or webshop?

No, as Icecat does not manage the portfolio and stock of channel partners. Bigger retailers have their own warehouses with stock that triggers the presence or absence of products in their webshop. On the other hand, smaller retailers often show virtual stock: they import data packs from their preferred distributors daily. They might use Iceimport for this. These data packs dictate a virtual channel partner’s portfolio. Channel partners only import the (Open) Icecat datasheets of the products listed in their webshop. Therefore, if a product is no longer available at the distributor or warehouse level, the respective channel partner will not list the EOL (End of Life) product anymore. As a result, channel partners don’t import the EOL product datasheet if the EOL product is no longer in their shop.

Channel partners offer a product that is End Of Life. How is this possible?

Usually, this means that a distributor or warehouse still has the product in stock. Another explanation is that the EOL product code is not removed from the data pack of distributors. In this case, we recommend bringing this to the distributor or channel partner’s attention. You can also use Free Vendor Central to keep an eye on which distributors have the product still listed.

How can I see which distributors are offering EOL products?

Manufacturers participating in Open Icecat have access to the Icecat Product Information Management system (PIM). In the Icecat PIM or Free Vendor Central, you can select the EOL article code and directly see which distributors still offer the EOL product.

My brand is currently not yet participating in Open Icecat. However, I see my brand’s products described on icecat.biz. Does this mean my product content is distributed via Open Icecat?

These product data-sheets are not available through Open Icecat. However, we might help certain advanced retailers, such as Amazon, improve their product database on a project basis. Upon participation in Open Icecat, your product content will automatically be syndicated according to your syndication policy to any of your (authorized) channel partners, who can then access your content free of charge. Please, contact us to discuss the possibilities and your syndication policies.

Is it possible to exclude channel partners from accessing my product content in Open Icecat?

Yes, by participating in Open Icecat, manufacturers can regulate which channel partners can access which product content. We call this in short Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM is more time-intensive than open content policies. Further, be careful that DRM policies are not used to unreasonably hamper certain retailers, and still conform to laws and regulations.

As a manufacturer, I want to forbid channel partners to use my ‘copyrighted’ images. Can I do this?

In general, we follow the syndication policies set by brand owners. At the same time, we are compliant with legal environments such as in the EU and US. In short, according to EU copyrights regulations and the US Fair Use clauses, there are possibilities for retailers to use or link to copyrighted materials that are already published online by your brand. However, the legal environment differs per country and per case.

In essence, the EU copyrights regulation has two cumulative criteria that need to be met to speak of copyright violation. Firstly, the material is used in new communication. Secondly, to a new audience. In the European Court’s jurisprudence, the internet is seen as one audience, i.e., a new communication including copyrighted materials published by you on the internet is not seen as a copyright infringement.

In short, the US Fair Use concept is related to the following arguments:

  • What is the commercial value of the copyrighted materials? The commercial value of an image is zero as manufacturers are not publishers making money by selling these materials.
  • Is there a commercial intention with the copyrighted materials? The commercial intention is to promote the products depicted, but not to sell the images and other copyrighted materials.
  • Are the materials ‘public domain’? Manufacturers publish their images in a public domain where they are freely downloadable by any user.

If my brand is participating in Open Icecat, does that mean that my product content is automatically available in 60 languages?

Yes. All specifications, e.g., spec names and values, are automatically translated into the 60+ locales that Icecat supports. However, marketing texts, leaflets, and other language-specific materials will only be added in the languages agreed upon in your contract with Icecat.

Is it possible to include additional languages in my current contract?

Of course, get in touch with your account manager to discuss the options. We regularly work on adding new locales and languages.

How can I inform Icecat about the cross-sell items I would like to display?

Manufacturers can manage their cross-sell products by filling out a cross-sell template. Once received by Icecat, the cross-sell items will be included in the Icecat database. Furthermore, to request the template, please contact your account manager at Icecat.

How often can I send a new cross-sell template to Icecat?

There is no limitation on the frequency of sending new cross-sell lists. It is common for manufacturers to send a new list quarterly.

I have created a filter including various compatible items (e.g., Kingston Memory). Is it possible to integrate these relationships into the Icecat database?

Yes, Icecat advises manufacturers to integrate these compatibility lists into the Icecat database to increase online visibility and sales conversion. It helps channel partners to develop supplies selectors, for example. Please, contact Icecat to discuss the possibilities.

Does Icecat support multilingual product videos for one product?

Icecat supports multilingual product videos. The distribution of multilingual product videos depends on the data integration method the channel partner has chosen: Data or Live. Icecat Data users can find the link to the correct video file depending on the catalog’s language. Icecat Live users receive the datasheet in their chosen language and view the video according to their language setting.

What video format does Icecat support?

Icecat supports 265 different video formats (e.g., gif, ico, MOV, mp3, mp4, MPEG, wav, etc). By default, we’ll transform the video to mp4 and distribute the original format as well.

Does Icecat also create product videos, animations, 3D/360-degree views, etc.?

In general, all rich media is provided by a manufacturer. We generate the 3D/360-degree objections from a number of stills. Further, we can be of help in creating such and other rich media assets.


Standardization of data

What data structure does Icecat use to standardize its data?

The Icecat taxonomy is set-up according to the UNSPSC categorization, and further Icecat co-operates with standardization bodies like GS1 and toys associations, regarding adopting and developing taxonomies for verticals such as DIY, Fashion, Toys, and Games. For all taxonomies, the input from manufacturers and merchants is leading. In short, we strive to include any information that a manufacturer wants to convey about its products in a standardized and multilingual data format.

Besides the standardized data, does Icecat also distribute original vendor product specifications?

Yes, Icecat does distribute original vendor product specifications. This way, your channel partners can also use/import your original data. But, be aware that channel partners prefer to have standardized product specs to use these for product filters and product comparison tables.

I sell products that I don’t see on www.icecat.biz. Does this mean Icecat does not support these product categories?

No, the Icecat model is flexible and applicable to multiple business segments. It might also happen that we suppress a brand because of its syndication policy. Please, contact your account manager for more information.

Does Icecat also distribute price information to channel partners?

Icecat provides rich product content information primarily. Through additional services such as Iceimport, Icecat can help channel partners connect to their suppliers and automatically receive their reseller pricing. Finally, we also gather and display end-user pricing, a link to which can be found on each product data-sheet.

There is pricing information on icecat.biz. Why?

Icecat.biz also supports price comparison, although this is not our business model. Channel partners upload all listed prices for free. Icecat does not influence these prices. All leads they receive via the www.icecat.biz comparison website are free. The price monitor is also helpful for brands and channel partners. Because it helps Icecat editors to focus their energy on products that are popular and on the market.

Can Icecat help me entering a new market or country?

Icecat connects to thousands of channel partners worldwide. We help manufacturers with marketing and sales activities. Thus, this includes increasing online brand awareness and developing a new channel (e-tailers and distributors). Further, the Iceshop Vendor Network helps vendors to reach out to connected resellers in your target markets.


Market Intelligence

How often are download reports being distributed?

You will automatically receive the download reports on the first day of the month. The reports contain the figures for the previous month. It is also possible to receive the reports weekly or quarterly. Please, contact your account manager to discuss the possibilities.

Can my competitors access my brand’s download figures?

Yes, anonymized download figures per product are accessible to competitors. We work on a brand dashboard, where aggregated figures are public, but especially user-specific data is treated as private and confidential. Anyway, we will not provide privacy-sensitive or confidential data regarding the downloads per channel partner to your competitors.

Can I prevent my competitors from receiving reports about my brand?

This is not strictly possible. But, we will not share privacy-sensitive data. By aggregating data, we’ll take care to be discrete regarding brand-retailer relations and we’ll avoid sharing data that is marked as confidential.

Is it possible to receive a custom-made download report for my brand?

This is possible. Please contact your account manager at Icecat to discuss the options.

Is it possible to receive a list of the users of my content?

Yes, we can provide a report of users per period, brand, country or region.


Hatch – generating leads

What are the advantages of Hatch?

Hatch converts leads into sales, increasing your revenue through your own website or online campaigns.

How much do channel partners have to pay for Hatch?

Participation for retailers is free.

Can we include our preferred business partners?

Yes, Hatch will connect partners upon request.

Why do we need Hatch to list our partners’ offers?

Because Hatch receives product feeds from thousands of retailers enabling worldwide coverage of your portfolio.

Can we manage the reseller that are displayed?

Yes, through a control panel, you can manage the partners listed for each country.


Editorial Guideline: How to Deliver Great Product Content to Icecat

Delivering product content correctly is important for easy addition to the Icecat catalog. When the available product content from a manufacturer is to be included in the Open Icecat database, Icecat editors are involved. For example, in the large-scale production of standardized and localized product data-sheets (PDSs) on behalf of brands participating in Open Icecat. Icecat editors take care of the taxonomy and update the data by hand via copy and paste.

How does Icecat work?

Firstly, manufacturers or Icecat import all available product data to the Icecat database. Next, Icecat editors will take care of the standardization and completeness of product data-sheets. Finally, Icecat will automatically distribute or syndicate the product content to all tens of thousands of users. Or to a limited distribution list conforming to the syndication policies of the respective brand owner.

The syndication can either be direct or indirect. To clarify, direct syndication is towards registered Icecat users, typically directly connected channel partners, distributors, or platforms. Indirect syndication is towards channel partners that receive Open Icecat data via distributors and other international e-business platforms, and who may not be registered at Icecat as a user.

Via the Brand Rank Monitor, brands can track several statistics. For example, the score is calculated based on the number of requests. Furthermore, the break-down per country is visible. In the future new features will be added like the download statistics er Authorized reseller, the performance of individual product pages, and stock-based sales automates.

Single point of contact

We separate the commercial from editorial issues. To avoid miscommunication and keep the process clear, Icecat appoints a single point of contact regarding the delivery of product content. And, we ask the same from the brand owner towards Icecat.

When should a manufacturer contact Icecat?

You can contact Icecat in case of adding new, updating, or existing product data-sheets. But also in case of PIM, reviews data, integration needs, content production questions and ETAs (Expected Time of Arrival).

In which formats should I deliver the content?

Icecat prefers to receive content in one of the following formats:

  • Icecat excel template* (content elements are organized according to Icecat taxonomy);
  • Excel/CSV (preferable to get a well-structured file for further bulk upload)
  • Txt, doc, PDF
  • XML, JSON**

In which formats should I deliver multimedia objects?

The following preferred formats for multimedia objects are possible to deliver:

  • Images: Jpeg, PNG
  • Videos: mp4 format or Youtube links, from official channels only

In which formats should I deliver documents?

Documents like manuals, leaflets or others can only be delivered in one format:

  • PDF

Please note that the available content can be sent by email*** or be uploaded on an FTP server. The editorial process starts as soon as all information becomes available. Alternatively, the manufacturer can share sources from where Icecat editors can get high-quality content. For example, partner pages and media hubs.


Requirements delivering available product content to Icecat

The following brand information is needed. A brand logo is mandatory. The logo must be on a white background. Further, high-resolution product pictures with a minimum size of 200 x 200 pixels. Thirdly, indicate if a product belongs to a product family or series, and give the respective logos, if applicable. Additionally, provide access to partner pages, media hubs, and press release sources. Finally, provide a contact person for editorial questions during the whole production process.

What logistical information to deliver?

To sum up, all the logistical information that an Icecat product datasheet contains:

  • Brand Product Code (SKU or MPN).
  • GTIN (EAN, UPC, JAN)
  • Weight and dimensions.
  • Release date, (if applicable).
  • End of life date (if applicable).

Which messaging elements per language to deliver?

In short, the messaging elements per language are:

  • Product model name.
  • Product title, which is in general formed as follows: brand name + product family + product series.
  • Short description or highlights, based on the concatenation of key spec values.
  • Marketing text: an original long product description supplied by the manufacturer.
  • At least five bullet points: short phrases that summarize the main properties and key benefits of a product.
  • The warranty note.

Which technical information to deliver?

The following technical information is applicable in an Icecat datasheet:

  • Category per Brand Product Code (or SKU or MPN)
  • Specifications
  • The product codes of related products

Which multimedia elements to deliver?

Multimedia elements:

  • Primary image (according to icecat guidelines)
  • Image gallery (including image types and shoot angles if available)
  • Product videos

Which documents to deliver?

In short, the documents that you can deliver to Icecat are:

  • Product leaflet: the brand’s PDF of a product brochure.
  • Manual: the brand’s PDF manual of the product.
  • EU label, mandatory if applicable: energy efficiency label and PDF product fiche.
  • Product fiche, mandatory if applicable.
  • Other PDFs, if applicable: extra useful information in PDF format.

Which rich content to deliver?

Rich content to further optimize visitor experience are:

  • Reasons-to-buy (RTB): enhanced traditional product descriptions by adding rich content to heighten the customer’s shopping experience. In general, this is image + title + text.
  • Product story: an HTML5 minisite that contains rich content with multimedia objects.
  • 360 view:  360 views of the product

Please keep in mind that the Icecat product content promotes your products and optimizes various processes. For example, purchasing, after-sales, warranty, logistical fulfillment, comparison, and product selection.

*the template can be requested via Icecat;
** if files are updatable, the process can be automated;
***max 5 MB per email

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