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Formatting item import files

To import inventory items via our Retail Imports team, please refer to this article.


To add items or item images to your Retail POS account, the column headers and inventory data in your import file need to be compatible with Lightspeed Retail POS. The same is true if you're updating items or item images. Therefore, to make sure your import file is compatible with Lightspeed Retail POS and that you enter your inventory data in the intended columns, you need to format it accordingly. Doing so involves these main steps:


  1. Creating your item import file
  2. Opening your item import file
  3. Formatting your item import file


Note: If you're importing your inventory for the first time, we recommend reading the following Help articles as a starting point instead:


Before you begin

Before you format your import file, please note the following:


  • Only 1 import can run at a time per account.
  • Once an import is done, it cannot be undone.
  • Your import file must be in XLSX or CSV format (we recommend XLSX).
  • Your import file can contain up to 10,000 items.
  • You can re-order the columns as you wish or even remove columns you won't be using. You cannot, however, create new columns with new headings.
  • Certain columns use a default value if left blank (see the Data format column).
  • You can only import the quantity on hand (QOH) of new items. To update the QOH of existing items, we recommend doing an inventory count.
  • You can't import custom fields.
  • You can import up to 10 levels of categories and sub-categories. For example, if you import all 10 levels, the column headers would be Category, Subcategory 1, Subcategory 2, Subcategory 3, Subcategory 4, Subcategory 5, Subcategory 6, Subcategory 7, Subcategory 8 and Subcategory 9.
  • To import matrix variants, you need to format them differently in your item import file than other item types. For more information, please see Formatting matrix variants in item import files.
  • To import images, your Retail POS account uses the inventory data in your import file to identify the filenames of the images you plan to import and which items they should be uploaded to. For more information, please see Formatting matrix variants in item import files.
  • If you order an item from multiple vendors, that item can have multiple vendors, vendor IDs, and vendor costs in your inventory. You can only import one vendor, vendor ID, and vendor cost per import, however. If you add the same item to a new import with a new value for these three fields, the new values will be added to the item; it will not overwrite the previous vendor, vendor ID, and vendor cost.


1. Creating your item import file

As a starting point, we recommend creating your item import file in one of the following ways instead of starting from scratch:


  • Export your inventory data from Lightspeed Retail POS
  • Download a template CSV file from Lightspeed Retail POS


Export your inventory data from Lightspeed Retail POS

Exporting your inventory data from Lightspeed Retail POS is an especially helpful starting point if you're updating existing items. To do so:


  1. From the main menu, click Inventory Item Search
  2. Optionally, use the available filters to refine your list of items.
  3. At the top-right of your search results, click Export.


A CSV file that contains the inventory data of your items should download to your computer automatically.


Download a template CSV file from Lightspeed Retail POS

Downloading a template CSV file from Lightspeed Retail POS is a great time-saver as it includes the column headers that are compatible with Lightspeed Retail POS. It also includes examples to help you understand how you should format your import file. To download a template CSV file:


  1. From the main menu, click Inventory > Import Items.
  2. Click + New Import and Download Template CSV at the bottom-left of the page.


2. Open your item import file

To open and format your file, we recommend using Google Sheets. It's free and it causes fewer data-breaking issues compared to other spreadsheet software. The only thing you need to do to avoid data-breaking issues with Google Sheets is to save your import file as an XLSX. We recommend doing so right after opening your file so you don't forget.

If you plan to open and edit your file in Excel, please see Opening and saving import files with Excel as you need to open and save your import file in a specific way to avoid breaking certain columns of your inventory data. Once you're done formatting your import file, save your import file as an XLSX.


3. Format your item import file

To simplify your import file and make it easier to format, delete the non-essential columns within it so that only the essential columns you need remain. If you're using an export file from your previous POS or are creating your import file from scratch as a starting point, also rename the column headers to match the column headers in the tables below. This will make them compatible with Lightspeed Retail POS. 

Once you've simplified your import file (and renamed the columns headers, if required), consult the tables below to format your inventory data. How you format your import file is dependent on if you're:



Note: If you upload your import file into your Retail POS account, your Retail POS account is designed to help you map your column headers when it reviews your import file. If there are any formatting errors in your import file, it's also designed to tell you how many errors your file contains and how to fix each of them. More on that in Importing items


Format to create new items

The table below lists and defines the column headers that are compatible with Lightspeed Retail POS. It also explains how to format the inventory data you enter within each column if you want to create new items with your import file.

As for the rows in blue in the table, they only apply if you're using Retail with eCom (Omnichannel). Some cells are also in blue to provide additional Omnichannel information.

If you have a multi-store account, some rows in the table below, such as [Shop name] - Quantity on Hand and [Shop name] - Unit Cost, have additional information as well.

Note: Column headers must be in English to be compatible with Lightspeed Retail POS.


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