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Magento 2 Import Export: Built-in Module vs. Firebear Extension

Updated on December 4, 2018

10 Min Read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

Rarely any Magento extension comes close to automating the process of importing and exporting millions of products in a single go, but Firebear Magento 2 Import Export plugin can do that easily.

Now as ecommerce stores are getting more ground, store owners are partnering with suppliers to add products to their stores. Most of the times, the product feeds supplied by the suppliers are in raw format. They aren’t compatible with the Magento 2 platform therefore risking mismanagement and data crunch.

In this post we will discuss how you can improve the Magento e-commerce store management by using import and export function for almost anything including categories, products, customer data, etc. and save your time while doing it.

Let’s first take a look at default Magento 2 import export method, its limitations and why you need to move to third-party extension to take your store to the next level.

Overview of Magento 2 Import Export Method

Magento 2 offers a default import export module. The module is easy to use but limited in working. Here is how it works.

Bulk Upload with Magento 2 Import Method:

  • Login to your Magento 2 admin panel and navigate to System > Import menu

  • In the Import section, select what kind of data you want to import through Entity Type. We have selected Products.
  • Now move to Import Behavior. Here you can define the action of your imported file i.e. to Add/Update the product or Replace and Delete the selected imported products.
  • It will also let you choose between two options; either to Stop on Error or Skip error entries of your Magento 2 import export file when an error occurs.
  • Next up, we have Allowed Errors Count. You can define the number of errors at which the Magento 2 import export process will be halted.
  • The Field separator defines the symbols that the system will use to separate the fields from imported and exported files.
  • In Multiple value separator, you will define the symbols that the system will use to separate the values from your Imported / exported files
  • The Select File to Import option allows you to choose the file from which you want to import data

Note: The imported CSV files should be in UTF-8 format. You can either Download a Sample File and make necessary changes to it, or create your own file with CSV as its file extension.

Export Data with Magento Import/Export File:

Here is how to export data using the Magento import/export module.

  • To export data, navigate to System > Export option

  • Next, in Entity Type, select the data that you want to export like Product data.
  • Now select the file format in Export File Format to export your Magento 2 data.
  • You have the option to select the attributes you want to select in the Entity Attributes table.
  • Once you have the selected categories in place, click on Continue to export the data.

Easy, right?

The only problem with Magento 2 Import Export file extension is that it doesn’t come with a lot of features. It may work for stores that are just starting out or that have a few thousand products. But when the product feeds increase to millions with multiple options, Magento 2 built-in module won’t be able to handle the load.

Magento 2 Import Export Plugin Limitations

  • Files can only be exported in .csv format
  • Files to be exported can not be scheduled
  • Can Import and export files from a PC only
  • Can’t do mapping; can not apply mapping to both import and export jobs
  • Can’t export invoices and credit memo

Problems with Magento 2 Import/Export Module

  1. Consider that you want to integrate your Magento 2 import export file with your Google Document or want to import export file in .xml or .txt format, what will you do?
  2. If your job revolves around importing and exporting files to and from your Magento store on a regular basis, the Magento 2 extension won’t cut it. Especially, when you can’t automatically schedule Magento Cron jobs.
  3. In most cases, you won’t be importing exporting files directly from PC. Sometimes it will be external servers, and sometimes other devices. How will you do that with the basic Magento 2 import export module?

Now just imagine a perfect Magento 2 import export extension that can move all the possible data to / from your e-commerce website with in an instance? Guys from the Firebear Studio not only imagined, but built a tool that can just do that. It is a must-have tool for all Magento merchants because it completely revamps the import / export processes and comes with tons of new features to dramatically improve store experience.

Alternative: Magento 2 Firebear Import Export Extension

Magento 2 Import Export Extension

Firebear Import Export Magento 2 extension adds many new features to Magento e-commerce store. Because of the value it provides to the users, merchants around the world are using it to automate their store.

  • The tool utilizes Magento 2 import export jobs
  • It fully automates imports and exports from / to selected sources according to the specified schedule
  • You only have to configure Magento 2 import export module once, and it will work in a fully automated mode

Unlike the default platform, Firebear’s Magento 2 import export extension supports multiple file formats and import/export sources. It offers import / export mapping and export filters and allows applying import presets, and provides other useful features. Here’s a link to the following video that illustrates some basic tasks enabled by the extension.

Let’s take a detailed look at the Magento import export extension to discover all the possibilities of this module.

Import/Export File Formats

Initially, the Firebear extension was able to import only CSV files. But since Firebear always tries to enhance the functionalities of its products, the support for export was added, and it now allow merchants to move data in three formats: CSV, XML, and TXT.

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And that’s not it. It will introduce the support for native Excel files soon. Furthermore, you can always share your ideas on what other formats to add, and Firebear will make it happen. The only trouble is, you’ll have to wait in a queue, since a lot of new stunning improvements are under development at the moment. Here are all the three currently supported file formats:

Although the image above shows import file types, you can leverage the same formats for your export processes. Simply choose one that suits your e-commerce needs and handle the corresponding files. Create import or export profiles to import or export automatically according to the predefined cron schedule.

Note that the Improved Magento 2 import export extension allows using pre-defined schedules. You can create a custom one as the standard cron logic is supported. Furthermore, the module lets you generate a profile to launch manually. Similarly, you can schedule profiles manually as well.

With the Improved Magento import/export module, you can launch jobs in two different ways. If you are a tech-savvy, you can launch jobs asynchronously via CLI. Otherwise, if you don’t want to deal with all the frightening screens and commands, go to Magento admin and run import/export right there.

All jobs are gathered in a grid. Both export and import profiles have their own grids where you can apply inline cron editing, just as on the gif below:

Firebear Extension Import/Export Sources

Another feature of the module is the variety of import and export sources. You can easily move files and product images to / from your own server, a remote FTP / SFTP server, or a Dropbox account. Besides, it is possible to use the direct URL and even upload files right in the browser. Even if you have a big e-commerce website, you can upload large files in .zip or .tar archives via the module. The archives are unpacked automatically, so you don’t need to waste time on managing everything manually.

Firebear Extension Import/Export Entities

Now, let’s take a look at the supported import and export entities. In case of the imports, the module utilizes only the default Magento 2 import entities from System > Data Transfer > Import. These are Products; Customers and Addresses (single file); Customers Main File; Customer Addresses; and Advanced Pricing. Besides, you can import categories to your Magento 2 store using the Firebear’s import tool.

As for the export section, it fully supports order export including invoices and credit memos.

Before going any further, we should also mention that the Improved Import & Export extension supports all product types. It treats simple, configurable, downloadable, group, bundle, and virtual products equally well.

Firebear Extension Import/Export Mapping

Now, when you have a basic understanding of the Improved Magento 2 import export extension functionality, we’d like to draw your attention to one of the most intriguing aspects of the tool – mapping. One of the biggest drawbacks of the default Magento import export is its inability to work with custom file formats. The Magento 2 has strict requirements regarding a file structure, so you should change import files manually in order to add the desired data to your store. The same holds true about export, but in both cases, it is a very boring routine. And if you export / import multiple items with dozens of attributes, the routine becomes time-consuming.

In order to solve the problem mentioned above, the Magento 2 import export extension by Firebear provides the ability to apply mapping to both import and export jobs. The powerful feature was added to the extended functionality to let you match default Magento 2 attributes to custom ones. As a result, any file with a custom format can be imported to Magento 2. At the same time, you can export a file that already satisfies the requirement of any third-party platform.

Furthermore, the Magento 2 import export extension allows using default (hardcoded) values. If you are not familiar with this feature, here is a brief explanation: a hardcoded value is a static value that is provided to each item in the attribute column automatically.

In the image presented below, the ‘_product_websites’ system attribute is mapped to the ‘tier_price_website’ import attribute, and the default value is ‘ENG.’ It means that in front of all items in the  ‘_product_websites,’ which is ‘tier_price_website’ in the import file, the extension will specify the ‘ENG’ value. Note that this example is just an illustration of basic mapping functionality and is not a practical case. However, you should carefully match attributes and set default values that are really used with the selected attributes.

Mapping works fittingly well for import and export, but there are several unique features added to export profiles. For instance, if you need a limited set of data to be exported, you can use filters and create special conditions to narrow down the selection of items to be exported. Consequently, you get only the necessary data in one file and apply mapping to make it fully suitable with the requirements of any third-party platform. To create a new filter, select an entity type, specify a field that will be used as a basis of the filter, and provide filtering parameters. Note that depending on the specified field, the filter parameters may vary a lot.

These are exclusive export features, and there are some unique import-related improvements introduced by Firebear. The Improved Magento 2 import export module allows creating new product attributes and their values on the fly. It means that if an attribute or value doesn’t exist in the Magento 2 database, you no longer need to worry about this problem. Both are generated automatically during the import procedure. You only need to enable the corresponding option.

Another import feature is represented by presets. Currently, the Magento import export extension supports only the Magento 1 preset, but presets for simplified migration from WooCommerce, Shopify, and other popular platforms should be released in the near future. The current preset simplifies product migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2. In order to move data from your old store, it is only necessary to upload the import file and apply the preset. Next, the module creates the appropriate mapping scheme automatically.

Firebear Extension Import/Export History

All import and export log are available under the appropriate section. You can always get the closest details due to the extended debug feature of import and export. Detailed logging by SKU, time of import, and many other parameters are illustrated within the extension. To get the necessary information, select the job, open the history tab, and download the log file.

Ways to Use Firebear Extension

Here are common ways to use Firebear extension.

  • You run a Magento 2 store, but it is connected to various third-party platforms that require information about customers and products. Instead of adding this data to the platform manually, use Firebear Magento 2 import export extension. Apply mapping to make it the default Magento 2 extension for export files suitable for the requirements of all these platforms. Next, move any custom CSV, XML, or even TXT file with information about customers and products from your store. The opposite – import of products – is possible as well.
  • You run a multi-channel business, but the channels are not synchronized with your store. Keep stock information and other data up to date with the Magento 2 import export extension by Firebear. Create a new job, set a cron schedule, apply mapping, select the most convenient import sources, and automate regular updates.
  • The accounting system is used in your business. It means that you need to export orders, invoices, and other documents out of your store. Follow the algorithm mentioned above, but for the new export job, upload all the necessary files right on a remote server of the accounting system in the required format. Export customers, products, and product stock files.
  • Migrate data of other e-commerce platforms. You don’t have to move most of the information manually. Create a new job with mapping and enjoy a fully automated process.
  • Export products to third-party marketplaces and other similar platforms with ease. There is no need to install a third-party feed generator; the extension provides the ability to get an export file with any custom structure.
  • Use improved import functionality to update product and customer attributes. The extension supports bulk update via CSV, XML, or TXT files. Stop spending hours on manual admin work, use this precise resource wisely.

Which One is Better?

After going through the above processes of both Magento 2 import export default method and through Firebear extension, it is surely clear that the default method is good if you are working on small scale and can manually look after all things on your own. Whereas Firebear extension is even better choice than default Magento 2 import export method and is a must-have if you are working on a medium or large scale with a need of an automated solution for your store.

Final Thoughts

The Firebear Magento import export extension is completely open source and is designed according to Magento 2 best practices by the team of Certified Magento Developers. If your required features are not available in the Firebear extension, ask the development team. They are open to feedback.

If we have missed something, make sure to visit the official extension manual of Firebear to know about the extension in more detail. The guys also plan to add more updates, and you can get them for free since Firebear offers one year of free updates and support.

Share your opinion in the comment section. COMMENT NOW

Fayyaz Khattak

Fayyaz is a Magento Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed Magento Hosting Platform. His objective is to learn & share about PHP & Magento Development in Community. Fayyaz is a food lover and enjoys driving. You can email him at m.fayyaz@cloudways.com

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