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What are CSV Files?

Last updated: February 01, 2024
This article has been written and researched by our expert Avada through a precise methodology. Learn more about our methodology





On Shopify, you can import products into or export products from your store by using a CSV file. And thank for this function, you can import or export numerous products and their details at the same time. When you need to exchange many product information between Shopify and other systems, then this can become very helpful. You can export existing customers to a CSV file or import exsisting customers to a CSV file on Shopify.

What are CSV files?

I believe that you will first need to have a basic idea about what are CSV files on Shopify. To get started, CSV stands for comma–separated values. CSV file is a spread that store information in plain text and separated by commas. With both products and customers information, you can use CSV files to not only to import but also export their details on Shopify. But when it comes to orders and discounts information, you can only export them.

You can use CSV files in many kinds of situations. For example, you will use them when you want to switch from another commerce platform to Shopify when you are importing a customer account list, or even at the time you want to use a spreadsheet to upload some products.

At first, you will feel that CSV files are difficult to understand, but once you have learned the rope which includes the formats and the ways that they work, CSV files will become very helpful because they could be applied for various tasks on Shopify.

Besides, your CSV files must have UTF-8 encoding in which a character can be 1 to 4 bytes long.

There is a caution that you must remember is that you need to confirm the UTF-8 encoding when you are updating a CSV file export; otherwise unwanted special characters may generate in your file. If you forget and save your file without confirming its UTF-8 encoding, then when uploading it as a new spreadsheet, your data will be corrupted badly. Once this situation happened, Shopify cannot do anything to help you recover it.

In a CSV file, each cell in a spreadsheet is represented by an entry. Also, each row in a spreadsheet is represented by a line. And a comma will indicate where an entry ends and another entry begins.

For example, here is the customer information in a CSV file.


And here it in a spreadsheet program.


Shopify has recommended that it is best for you to use Google Sheets when working with your CSV files. You first need to import the CSV file into the program before you can use Google Sheets. After your changes have been made, you then need to export the CSV file to your Desktop. Some special characters will not always work correctly in CSV files which are exported. To fix this problem you have to edit it with another spreadsheet program, and then re-import it into your Shopify page.

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Above are the definition of CSV files and some notes you need to know when using them on Shopify. I hope this basic knowledge will help you and your crew understand more about the CSV files and can master it in no time.

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.