The “Human Error” Factor: How it can destroy your Shopify Business

Marina S
June 15, 2023 • 5 min read
Human error Shopify

As a Shopify store owner, you’re probably used to handling things manually. After all, relying on apps whose operations are difficult to understand can be risky. But here’s a question for you: can one single employee really pose a threat to your Shopify product catalog, profitability, and even the existence of your store? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, over the years of work in the data protection field, we’ve seen countless cases where clients have experienced devastating losses due to accidental data deletion or alteration.

Let us share with you a story about a dropshipping store (spoiler alert: it has a happy ending thanks to the backup available). Next, our expert will guide you on how to optimize your store operations with large amounts of data while minimizing the risk of errors and protecting your Shopify store.

From Excitement to Chaos: A New Employee's Costly Mistake

Meet a newly hired employee, who we’ll refer to as Mike since our support team didn’t ask who was responsible for the chaos in our customer’s dropshipping store. Mike was stoked to get an offer to work in a growing and promising drop shipping business as an e-commerce project manager. The company owner, Levi, explained that his first goal was to expand the store’s product by adding new t-shirts and updating the existing ones to attract more customers. Stressed the importance of avoiding errors and maintaining the store’s high-quality standards, Levi provided Mike with full access to the Shopify catalog with t-shirts, which had tons of different designs.

Mike was eager to impress his new boss. After browsing the store’s catalog on Shopify, he noticed that there were several categories that could have more t-shirts, such as “funny t-shirts” and “vintage t-shirts”. Mike began adding new t-shirts to the store manually as he wasn’t familiar with how to add products to the Shopify catalog with any automatic tools. He entered the t-shirt name, description, price, and other details for each t-shirt, carefully checking for errors and typos. He also assigned each t-shirt to one or more categories to make them easy to find.

However, after a few hours of hard work, Mike realized that the t-shirt catalog was not as organized as he had initially thought. When Mike decided to clean up the catalog by removing duplicate t-shirts, he accidentally deleted several SKUs associated with multiple t-shirts. Realizing that he had made a serious mistake, he searched for a way to undo the deletion, but it was too late because Shopify doesn’t have a trash bin. This means that once an item is deleted, it cannot be retrieved. The deleted SKUs caused several tees to become unsearchable. Mike spent the rest of the day trying to fix the errors he had made, but there were too many to handle on his own.

When Levi returned to the office two days later, he was shocked to find dozens of duplicate tees, missing SKUs, and incorrectly assigned categories. That was the moment when Levi contacted our support team for the first time.

How did the dropshipping store end up losing its data?

We requested our experienced team lead to provide their input on the situation and actions taken by Levi and Mike. He noticed the following mistakes:

  • Giving an inexperienced employee full access to the Shopify Admin without proper training or supervision.
  • Not ensuring that the employee understands how to change catalog on Shopify correctly, the store’s organization, and standards before giving them tasks.
  • Not emphasizing the importance of double-checking.
  • Not setting clear expectations or goals for the employee’s tasks.
  • Failing to provide the employee with the necessary tools and resources to make the process more effective and secure, rather than relying solely on manual work.
  • Not having a clear communication system in place to report mistakes or issues promptly.
  • Not providing adequate support or resources to fix mistakes and errors.
  • He had a backup system in place to prevent data loss in case of accidental deletion or errors.

But Levi did something right:

  • He had a backup system in place to prevent data loss in case of accidental deletion or errors.

Manual data entry in Shopify stores is highly susceptible to errors, which can have significant negative impacts such as lost sales, decreased customer satisfaction, and damage to the store’s reputation. When it comes to dealing with massive amounts of data, like product information, ensuring accuracy and consistency can be challenging, and therefore, the risk of inaccuracies and inconsistencies is considerably high.

It’s essential to learn how to edit catalogs in Shopify safely. Below is a list of the most common human mistakes caused by manual data entry and editing in Shopify stores:

  1. Data entry errors, such as incorrect product names or descriptions.
  2. Accidental deletion of products, images, tags, etc.
  3. Back-end/code errors leading to incorrect display or deletion of data.
  4. Duplicate products or mistakenly deleting what appears to be duplicates.
  5. SKU mistakes when a wrong or duplicate SKU number is assigned to a product or a variant, or when a SKU is mistakenly deleted.
  6. Deletion of blog posts or pages (the most common is when users intend to delete only one post but end up deleting the entire blog).
  7. Deleted collections
    Accidentally publishing incorrect data that overwrites the correct data.
  8. Inaccurate product categorization or tagging.
  9. Failure to properly configure product variants.
  10. Data/code conflicts
    Deletion of critical app data.
  11. Copying and pasting errors.
  12. Incorrect pricing, shipping, or tax information.
  13. Inaccurate inventory levels.
removed product

Manual work also requires a significant amount of time and effort, which can be better spent on other tasks that require a human touch, such as customer service and marketing. Automated processes, on the other hand, can save time and effort while also reducing the risk of errors. Before proceeding with manual editing, it is recommended that you first consider whether you can import a catalog in Shopify using efficient tools. By utilizing Shopify apps and tools, store owners can streamline their workflows and improve the overall efficiency of their business operations.

Human errors can be costly for Shopify stores and should be considered a significant risk that threatens the existence of a business. It is essential to have a clear plan in place to prevent such errors and to respond promptly and effectively when they do occur to minimize their destructive impact.

A full guide on how to mitigate the risk of human errors when working with a Shopify product catalog

1. Limit Access to the Backend: Only grant access to the Shopify Admin to trusted employees who have a legitimate need to access it. Ensure that employees have access only to the areas of the store where they need to do their job. Find more information on Shopify use access here.

Shopify restricted access

2. Provide Proper Training: Ensure your employees receive proper training on the Shopify Admin and Shopify platform as a whole, including understanding the store’s organization, standards, and expectations. Shopify offers learning materials that enable users to fully explore the platform. Encourage them to participate in discussions and explore materials on the Shopify Community to stay up-to-date with industry best practices and trends. Check out the Shopify Community’s help resources for more information.

3. Be cautious when working with CSV files: While CSV files offer many advantages compared to manual data entry, it also requires accuracy and careful attention to detail, especially when editing data. Follow all necessary measures provided by Shopify when using the CSV tool.

4. Use Automated Shopify Upload File Tools: Alternatively, you can use specific third-party apps for bulk editing, which can help streamline the process. Before using any third-party apps, it’s important to ensure that you have a backup copy of your website. We recommend using only reputable apps with a large number of reviews, such as:

5. Implement Backup and Recovery Systems: Implement a backup and recovery system, like the BackupMaster app, to prevent data loss due to accidental deletion or errors. Always create an up-to-date backup copy before making significant changes to your site. Duplicate themes and blog posts before editing.

6. Use Best Shopify Inventory Management Apps: Use Shopify’s inventory management apps and tools to help you track inventory levels, reduce the risk of overselling, and avoid stockouts. These tools can help prevent errors related to inventory management: 

7. Regularly Review the Catalog: Regularly review the product catalog for errors, duplicates, or missing information. This will help prevent lost sales and improve the overall customer experience.

8. Establishing Standardized Operating Procedures:  Develop customer service policies, safety and security procedures, and merchandising guidelines, as well as an employee handbook and training manual.

9. Set Clear Expectations and Goals: Clearly communicate task goals and expectations to employees to avoid errors. Provide a job description with responsibilities and expected outcomes. Identify KPIs and develop SMART goals. Regularly provide feedback and adjust expectations as needed. Celebrate success to motivate employees.

10. Establish a Communication System: Establish a clear communication system with accessible channels to report mistakes promptly. Assign a point person or team to handle error reports, develop a standardized reporting process, and track and analyze error reports for process improvement. Encourage open communication and provide feedback to employees who report errors.

Extra Tip: Never underestimate the productivity of an incompetent employee. They may make more mistakes in a few hours than others make in days, but at least they keep things interesting!


We hope that this article has provided valuable insight into raising awareness about the risks associated with manual work on Shopify product catalogs. It’s important to be aware that manual work can lead to errors, such as incomplete or incorrect information, missing images, and accidental deletion of important SKUs. These errors can make products unsearchable and can negatively impact your store’s sales. We also hope that you have found some useful takeaways to apply in your own work. We would greatly appreciate your feedback at Our team of data protection specialists is always happy to read and respond to all your messages.

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