Importing Your Items

This spreadsheet lists out all your available items, one per row. To get started, most people copy this information into the Handshake template from their Excel order form or from their accounting system's "product export".

Go to the bulk import page and click the Export button on the right-side of the items row to see what the required format looks like.

The basics of the items template

  • (required) sku is the SKU or "product ID" of this product. This must be unique for each product, and this applies even if you have multiple manufacturers, e.g. two manufacturers cannot have a product with the same SKU.
  • (optional) barcode is usually the UPC number of this product. If you're not using barcodes, this can just be left blank. There is more information about setting up barcodes over here.
  • (required) name is the product's name. This doesn't necessarily need to be unique (although common sense dictates that it usually should be).
  • (optional) longDesc is the product's extended description. This is where you can add long-form details or notes about a product that the salesperson might want to refer to.
  • (required)unitPrice is the base price of a single unit of this item. This value cannot be blank, but can be zero (0). This price should always be for just one unit, even if your case pack is more than one.
  • (required) minQty is the minimum quantity of this product that can be bought. If you are unsure, set this to 1.
  • (required) multQty is the multiple this product must be bought in (i.e. the "case pack"). If you are unsure, set this to 1.
  • (required) at least one category for every item is required. See *Categories below.

It's OK to have repeated rows in this spreadsheet. Handshake will simply ignore all rows after the first one for each SKU.

This is handy if your regular order form has one row for each color / size variant, because you don't have to waste time trying to eliminate all the duplicate rows for each product before uploading. Once you have uploaded your items for the first time (with all the duplicate rows), you can hit the "Export" button to get a nice clean copy of all your products without all the duplicate rows.


The rightmost section of the spreadsheet controls how your catalog breaks down into categories. Looking at the sample above, it should be fairly obvious how this works. A few basic rules:

  • The column headings are given as category:1, category:2, category:3 etc, for as many levels deep as your category needs to go. If some products in your catalog are not nested as deeply as others (e.g. the Musical Instruments part of the Demo catalog is 2 levels deep, but the Food part of the catalog only has 1 level), then it is fine to leave cells blank in those rows.
  • Every item must be in a category. When you are starting out, you can just create a single dummy category (call it "Everything", perhaps) for all your products to be in until you get fully set up.
  • Make sure you keep category names exactly the same for all items you want to be in the same category. Differences in capitalization / punctuation etc will be treated as different categories, so the best policy is to just type them in Excel once and then copy / paste them for all other items in the same category.
  • Every category must have either subcategories or items in it, but not both. For example, in the Demo company, you cannot place a product into the "Brass" category directly, since that category has "Trumpets" and "Trombones" as subcategories.

Manufacturers (optional)

Just to the left of the categories, the manufacturer column can be used to assign an item to a specific manufacturer.

  • If you are not using multiple manufacturers (i.e. you are only selling one line of products) you can just leave this column blank.
  • If you have configured multiple manufacturers, you can put the name (not the niceName) of a manufacturer in this column.
  • If you are working with multiple manufacturers, you can upload them in separate spreadsheets, one per manufacturer. The importer will not erase items from other manufacturers, even though this import always operates in "Replace All" mode.

Images (optional)

Handshake can pull product images from other websites if you already have them stored somewhere that is publicly accessible. By supplying a comma-separated list of URLs in the imageURLs column, those images will be downloaded and attached to your products.

For example, if you had a product with the following two images:


Then you could supply the following text in the imageURLs column for that product to have those images pulled from the internet and attached to the item:,


Handshake will preserve the ordering of items exactly as they are in your uploaded spreadsheet. This means:

  • Items within the same category will be ordered as they are in the spreadsheet.
  • Subcategories within the same parent category will be ordered as they are in the spreadsheet.

If you want to enforce a particular ordering (e.g. sort by SKU, or sort by name), use the sorting functions in Excel to put your spreadsheet in this order before uploading.

Help with numeric SKUs

If your SKUs are composed entirely of digits (e.g. you have SKUs that look like "453211"), then you will notice that the importer might sometimes automatically interpret these as actual numbers and accidentally import your SKUs with trailing decimal points (e.g. "453211.0").

To prevent this decimal-point-adding behaviour when saving as XLSX, you can use Format → Cells.. to mark the cells as numbers with zero decimal places.

When saving as XLS, use the Tools → Text to Columns.. feature to force Excel to treat your whole SKU column as text. Just remember to select the "Text" data format option at the end of the wizard.

If you have accidentally imported your products with in incorrect SKUs, and have already written orders using these bogus SKUs, fear not! You can remap your SKUs to the correct ones like this.

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