Create a Product Database In 3 Steps

Create a Product Database In 3 Steps

Product databases are a critical source of information for brick-and-mortar or e-commerce businesses alike. They store everything your business needs to know about its products and serve as a single source of truth for anyone who needs information about products.

Let's find out how to create the perfect product database in just a few steps.

Develop a Custom Product Database
Stay on top of your products and their attributes

Get Started

What Is a Product Database?

A product database stores information or attributes about products, such as the product name, weight, color, material, size, price, discount levels, minimum order quantity, country of origin, images, category, description, packaging information, margin, production cost, supplier details, colors, or variations.

Depending on the industry you are in, your list of product attributes might include things such as certifications ("certified organic", "GMO-free"), taste or feel ("sweet", "soft"), ingredients, or marketing claims ("long-lasting", "top-rated", "popular choice").

For example, let's say you are in charge of an e-commerce business that is selling posters on Shopify, a popular e-commerce platform.

On Shopify, your products, i.e. the posters that you are selling online, can have different attributes and variations, such as price, color, size, and paper thickness. But there is a lot of information about your products that you cannot store on Shopify, such as your product ID, Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), suppliers, inputs (materials or ingredients), production cost, margin, or required packaging materials.

This is where your product database comes in: it's a searchable database that stores all attributes about your products.

How to Create a Product Database in 3 Steps

Let's map out the steps to create a product database.

Step 1: List Out All Product Attributes

To build your product database, you first want to create a complete list of all product attributes and define your data structure.

Take the list above as an example and think about what matters to your business, your customers and your employees as they are dealing with products. Your product database is supposed to be a "single source of truth" about your products, so make sure it is as complete as possible.

A good source of inspiration for defining the right product attributes is listening to your customers: what are the most common questions they ask about your products?

Must-have items in your list are typically:

  • Product Description

  • Price

  • Ingredients or Materials

  • Size(s)

  • Weight

  • Colors

Once you have your list of attributes, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Define Choices For Each Attribute

In the second step, wherever possible, define choices for each attribute. This will introduce consistency into your database.

For example, if you are dealing with products that come in different widths, define whether you would like to express width in centimeters, millimeters, or inches. Or, if you require inches for your American customers and centimeters for your European customers, store both in your database, but in separate columns.

Similarly, for colors, it is recommended to define possible choices: green, blue, yellow, etc. If you need to be more granular - dark green, forest green, and olive green - make sure to define these choices as well.

The advantages of defining choices are data consistency, clean data, and avoidance of errors.

With steps 1 and 2 completed, you should now have a table that looks something like this, but with your own product attributes in row 1, and with pre-defined choices in row 2 (to the extent this is applicable).

Product Name








iPhone X

iPhone X is the future of the smartphone...







In Step 3, we will create the product database.

Step 3: Creating Your Product Database

Now it's time to create your product database. More often than not, people set up their product database in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. While these spreadsheet-based solutions are a natural starting point, especially for smaller businesses, a word of caution: these spreadsheets tend to have a life of their own and typically create problems, such as:

  1. Different departments or users have their local copy of the spreadsheet ("ProductDatabase_NEW", "Product Database - v2.1", "Old Product Database - DO NOT USE", etc.)

  2. A lack of version control or clear ownership (the intern who left us a week ago made some changes, but we can't remember what...)

  3. Comments, highlights, and overwrites (how about we mark out-of-stock products in red?).

Setting up your product database as a spreadsheet more often than not defeats its purpose of becoming your single source of truth. Instead, you end up constantly fighting fires and cleaning up spreadsheets. That's why we recommend creating a proper product database using an online database builder, such as Five. Five lets you rapidly create online database web apps.

Product Database: Free Sample Application

Check out this sample product database which we created in just 15 minutes and that stores 13 product attributes in an intuitive web interface. Feel free to add more products to the database and navigate through the application.

If you think building an entire web app like this is out of your reach, you couldn't be more wrong!

Here are the steps we took to build this web app:

  1. First, we created a fully customizable product database, by defining the fields (attributes) we like to store in our database. This required just a few clicks in Five's Table Wizard, a point-and-click database design tool.

  2. We then created the form that our users can interact with, again using just a few clicks. We added a drop-down for the product category, as we want to adhere to the principles mentioned above: categorization helps us keep our data clean and consistent. We also defined price as a numeric value (a currency field) while description is a longer text field, for example. We did all of this by defining Display Types in Five.

  3. We also added a simple product dashboard that gives us insight into stock levels and prices. Of course, we could have created a more impressive dashboard, using any of the information provided by our product database.

  4. Last, we could have made the application login-protected to protect access to our product database. With just a single click, we could have added a login screen and assigned user roles. However, since we want you to be able to see the app, we decided to keep it public.

To build a product database similar to (or more advanced than) our simple product database follow these steps:

First, set up your database. Sign up for free access to Five and create a database table with fields for all your product attributes. Here's what our database table looks like in Five. Notice how the fields in our database match the form fields shown in our sample application.

Second, once your database table has fields for each product attribute, go to Five's Form Wizard and create a new table in your application. Follow our documentation to understand how the form wizard works.

With just one database table and one form, Five gives you an entire ready-to-use web application that can be used as a product database. The application comes with a search bar and filtering feature, which is great once your product catalog grows in size. To preview your application, you can launch the app to the cloud in a single click.

Of course, there's a lot more that you can add to your database, such as unique user roles (read-only roles or supplier roles with limited database access, for example), logins and authentication, or email notifications to alert suppliers when their products are running low on stock.

To build your custom product database with Five, sign up for free access to Five and get started. Visit our forum to get help from our application development experts as you add more features to your product database!