Check out this set of three short tutorials introducing shadow products in Sellercloud’s Delta interface.
A shadow product is an alternative product profile for an item. Creating a shadow lets you manage separate listings and details for a single product and is often used when maintaining multiple listings for a product on a single marketplace or when managing multiple fulfillment settings for a product. Inventory levels between the main product and its shadows are linked, so that inventory movements of one product will respectively affect the others.
Additionally, product details such as title and description can be shared from parent to shadows based on shadow persistency settings, which keeps product information consistent between profiles.
In this article, you will learn how to create and manage shadow products as well as shadow specifics.
Create and Manage Shadows
You can create shadows manually or in bulk.
- Open a product and go to Toolbox > Shadows.
From here you can also view the existing shadow relationships.
- Select Assign Parent SKU to choose a parent SKU. To add shadows, click Add Shadows.
- If you select Assign Parent SKU, search for the product; add filters (if necessary); select the item; and press Assign.
- If you select Add Shadows, select Enter SKU to create new Shadow SKUs or Existing products to assign existing SKUs as shadows.
You can create or assign shadows in bulk via a File Import or through the Manage Catalog page.
To create or assign shadows in bulk via a File Import:
- Go to Catalog > Tools > Import Product Info > Import Shadows.
- Click File > select your file > Import. If you don’t have a file ready, you can download the shadow template using the arrow icon in the top right corner. Sellercloud supports .xls, .csv, and .txt.
- Note that you can enter a non-existing shadow SKU under the Shadow Sku column of the template. A new product will be created and linked to the defined parent in the Parent SKU column as a shadow.
To create shadows in bulk through Catalog > Manage Catalog:
- Select your desired shadow parent(s) and press the Action icon.
- Press Create Shadows and fill in the credentials. Press Create.
- You should enter a prefix or suffix for the shadow. If the shadow’s parent SKU is ABC and the prefix is 123, the shadow SKU will be 123ABC. If the suffix is 123, then the shadow SKU will be ABC123.
From Catalog > Manage Catalog, you can search for shadow-related products by selecting the custom filter Shadows and selecting an option from its drop-down menu.
Disconnect and Remove Shadow Relationships
You can disconnect or remove shadow relationships manually or in bulk.
Open your shadow or parent product and go to Toolbox > Shadows. Then, select Disconnect from this parent SKU (in the shadow) or Unlink (in the shadow parent).
You can use the Import Product Shadows Template file to un-shadow products in bulk by entering this exact text in the Action column: _REMOVE_SHADOW_. This action will unlink a shadow SKU from a shadow parent.
You can also remove shadow relationships in bulk from the Manage Catalog page by selecting a shadow SKU(s) and pressing Action menu > Unshadow from Parent.
Shadow Properties and Inventory Specifics
Inventories with Shadows
Inventories between Parents and Shadows are linked and the total inventory summed between all products is displayed on the Product Home page. This is also the quantity that will be used when updating inventory to channels.
However, it is important to note that products have an inventory of their own that is visible under the Product’s Inventory tab > Toolbox > Warehouse. While Sellercloud uses the sum of all products’ inventory by default as the available inventory, in some cases it takes the specific warehouse inventory. This would be the case when using Channel Warehouse. Using the Channel Warehouse workflow allows you to limit the inventory of a specific warehouse to be sent for channels of your choice.
Another instance where warehouse inventory should be taken into consideration is when managing your inventory strictly under the parent SKU (such as when using Skustack). In this case, the warehouse inventory should only go under the parent SKU to avoid inventory discrepancies.
Along with this, make sure to enable the Client Setting Always deduct inventory from Shadow Parent so that when orders with shadow products are downloaded, the parent SKU will be displayed and have its inventory deducted instead.
There are two exceptions to the rule (when inventory is not controlled under the parent):
1. When the Client Setting Allways Deduct Inventory from Shadow Parent is set to false. In this case, you will see the negative on the shadow (SKU that Sold) and a positive on the shadow parent (SKU that was purchased). The actual Available inventory will be the sum of inventory from both products.
2. When you have inventory by FBA or WFS. In a case like that, the inventory will always show on the shadow.
When setting physical inventory to a shadow product individually or through Inventory > Tools > Import Inventory Info, you have the option to merge the inventory of the shadows into the Shadow Parent. This will update the physical inventory of the parent with the inventory of the shadow.
When you click on the Action icon on the Manage Inventory page, there is an option to merge the shadow inventory into the parent inventory (Merge Shadow Inventory).
Kits and Shadows
A product can be shadowed to a kit. However, this is not always recommended because as the inventory dependency will be copied over to the shadow product. An example scenario would be when shadowing Merchant Fulfilled and Amazon Fulfilled products that are also kits. Whenever the Merchant Fulfilled product is an All Component or Main Component kit, it should not be shadowed to the Amazon Fulfilled SKU. This is because the Amazon Fulfilled product should be an Independent Kit in order to manage inventory properly.
A parent SKU can have one profile, whereas the shadow SKU can have a different Product ID, description, images, and title. This is an innovative and very useful way to list a product in alternative venues.
Amazon and eBay allow a single SKU to be listed only once, under one category. By creating a shadow SKU, or multiple shadows, the product can be listed in multiple categories.
When you are selling the product in multiple companies. ProductIDs must be unique and a product can only be associated with a single company, so shadow SKUs can be used to link products from multiple companies.
It is not necessary to create shadows to list a product on multiple channels within one company.
A shadow product is a type of virtual product. It “shadows” a real product (a parent); meaning, its inventory count is linked to an actual inventory SKU, but it can have its own alternative product profile.
For example, a parent SKU may have one profile while the shadow SKU will have different Product ID, description, images, and title. This is an innovative and very useful method by which to list a product in alternative venues. For example, Amazon and eBay only allow a single SKU to be listed once, under one category. By creating a shadow SKU, or multiple shadows, the product can be listed in multiple categories. Another use for a shadow is when you are selling the product in multiple companies. Because ProductIDs must be unique and a product can only be associated with a single company, shadow SKUs can be used to link products from multiple companies.
You can enable fields on a shadow to be automatically populated based on the value in that field on the parent. This can be controlled under Shadow Persist Fields, more info here
There are several ways to create a shadow relationship. If you are trying to shadow two existing SKUs, you can do it in an import or from the Shadow properties page of a product in Sellercloud. To manually create a shadow relationship between existing SKUs, open the product toolbox of one of the items and click on Shadow Products.
On this page you have several shadow creating options:
- Select another product as a parent product, which will turn the current product into a
- Add new product SKUs into the text box to create shadows.
- Select existing products as shadows.
You can create a shadow SKU if one does not yet exist in bulk from the Manage Inventory page:
- Search your desired shadow parent(s) in the Inventory tab.
- Select all products from the grid.
- Go to the Action Menu and choose Create Shadows.
- From the next page, add either a prefix or suffix. This will be added to the selected item’s SKUs to generate the shadow’s SKU.
- Select a company to create the shadows into.
This will generate a queued job. Once the job is complete, the shadow SKUs will be created along with the shadow relationships.
When viewing a parent SKU, all shadows will be displayed in the Shadows panel. Click Manage Shadows to edit the shadow configuration. When viewing a shadow product, the parent SKU will be referenced with a link right below the Shadow’s Product Name.
Watch this video on shadow products!
You can easily bulk-import Shadow Products using the Import Product Shadows Template file. (You can also use this template to unshadow products in bulk! Use the Action column described below.)
- Go to Inventory > Manage Inventory > Import Product Info > Import Product Shadows.
- Download the shadow template in the desired format (Tab Delimited, CSV, or Excel). (You do not
need to select the company associated with the shadow from the Company dropdown.)
- Paste the product information into the file columns as follows:
- Parent SKU— Enter the main SKU of the product.
- Shadow SKU— Enter the alternate SKU (e.g., for another ASIN, or for a product from another company). Existing Product IDs in your catalog entered under this column will be linked to parents as shadow. Product IDs that do not exist in your catalog will be created and link to the defined parent as a shadow.
- Company ID (optional)— Enter the company the shadow is associated with.
- Fulfilled By (optional)— Enter either Amazon or Merchant.
- Action (optional)— To bulk-unshadow products, enter this exact text for every product to
unshadow: _REMOVE_SHADOW_. This action will unlink a shadow sku from a shadow parent.
- Save your populated file > Choose file > Import Shadows
Shadow Properties and Inventory Specifics
- Inventory of Shadow Products are linked so inventory of the actual product is maintained. Available inventory for any product in the Parent/Shadow group is linked to all products in the group.
- Client setting Always deduct inventory from Shadow Parent controls whether orders for shadow products deduct physical inventory from the parent product’s inventory or from the shadow. However, the available inventory will always be synced. When this option is enabled, the order will always display the shadow parent.
- When setting physical inventory to a shadow product individually or in bulk through a Warehouse Inventory Import, you have an option to merge the inventory of the shadows into the Shadow Parent. This will update the physical inventory of the parent with the inventory of the shadow.
- On the Manage Inventory page action menu, there is an action to merge shadow inventory into
the parent inventory.
- It is NOT necessary to create shadows to list on multiple channels within one company.
A shadow kit can be created from a kit. However, an Amazon Fulfilled kit should typically not be shadowed from a Merchant Fulfilled kit. This is because the inventory dependency of an Amazon Fulfilled kit must be set to Independent while a Merchant Fulfilled kit can have an All Components or Main Components dependency as well. If the Merchant Fulfilled is set to Independent, an Amazon Fulfilled kit can be shadowed from the Merchant Fulfilled kit.