Importing Manufacturers

Handshake supports splitting your catalog by manufacturer

If you are selling multiple brands, this feature could make life a lot easier. Using manufacturers in Handshake adds a little bit of complexity, however, so in the spirit of simplest is best, you should only use this feature if you actually need to.

Thankfully, the format of the items spreadsheet is very similar whether you are using manufacturers explicitly or simply representing them as top-level categories, so it should be very easy to switch back and forth to see which method best matches your workflow.

Benefits of using manufacturers

  • You can split orders by manufacturer. This means you can write one big order for multiple brands during an appointment, but transmit only the relevant line items to each manufacturer later on (via email or exported spreadsheet). This is helpful if all your brands are not shipped from a single location.
  • The catalogs of each manufacturer are kept completely separate. If you are writing an order and you go into manufacturer A's catalog and start a search, you will not see search results from manufacturer B's catalog, which would be confusing, especially if both manufacturers have similar products (e.g. you represent two dinnerware brands and they both sell a lot of plates).
  • You can define manufacturer-specific fields for your customers. Right now, the only supported one is the customer ID (i.e. you can store multiple customer IDs for each customer in the system, which manufacturers might require you to transmit to them with your sales orders). We will add support for more manufacturer-specific customer fields in future as users .

Possible downsides of using manufacturers

  • You can't search all items at once. As mentioned in the benefits above, the catalogs of manufacturers are kept separate, so you can't search the products of more than one manufacturer in a single search. If you navigate your catalogs almost entirely by searching (rather than drilling down through categories), this might be a small disadvantage for you.

Setting up manufacturers

You can set up manufacturers interactively through the website. Unless you have a large number of manufacturers, it will probably be simpler to do it that way instead of using this spreadsheet-based method.

The manufacturers spreadsheet is very simple. It contains only three columns:

  • name is the "system name" for this manufacturer. You can think of this as the manufacturer ID. It is used in other spreadsheets to reference this manufacturer, so you should try to avoid changing it (because this obviously means you need to update references to this name in other places).
  • niceName is the name for this manufacturer that you actually see on your iPhone or iPad. You can update this as much as you like and it won't break references elsewhere in your database.
  • email is the email address that Handshake will use to email orders to this manufacturer.

Manufacturers are listed in the iPhone app in the same order in which they appear in your spreadsheet.

Helpful hints

  • Pick a short, simple name for each manufacturer and then stick with it. Change the niceName as much as you like but try not to touch the name if you can help it.
  • If you add manufacturers, remove manufacturers, or change the name of a manufacturer, this will almost certainly impact your item setup, so a good rule of thumb is to always re-upload your items at the same time as you upload your manufacturers, just to make sure they stay in sync.