Troubleshoot CSV Exports

Steps to take if MS Excel automatically reformats your CSV file tracking numbers, zip codes, order numbers, or product SKUs, causing a CSV import fail in ShipStation.

The most common issue with exported CSV files relate to how spreadsheet programs (like Excel) reformat the data in the CSV file.

At this time, we do not recommend opening exported CSV files from ShipStation in Numbers on MacOS. Once a CSV file is opened in Numbers, you may not be able to successfully import it back into ShipStation. If this has occurred, re-export the CSV from ShipStation and open it in another program (like Excel or Google Sheets).

Excel Number Format

CSV files are an efficient way to store a large amount of information, but do not include the cell formatting information to help spreadsheet programs know how each cell should be interpreted.

When you open a CSV file in Excel, or double-click a file to open it in Excel, Excel will automatically try to format the information in the file based on the content in the cells. For cells that contain only numerical data, this includes removing preceding zeros and converting large numbers into scientific notation. When dealing with shipping and order information from ShipStation, this can cause the following data issues:

  • Long tracking numbers, order numbers, or product SKUs changing into scientific notation.

  • Postal codes, order numbers, or product SKUs with preceding zeros having the zeros removed.

To prevent the above issues from occurring, do not open CSV files from ShipStation directly in Excel. Instead, import the CSV file into Excel, which will give you control of how the data is formatted.

Import a CSV file into Excel

The steps below describe how to import a CSV file into Excel file to preserve numerical data as text.

Note

The screenshots in these steps show Excel 2013. If you have an earlier version, your screen and process may differ slightly. For Excel 2016 users, you will need to restore the text import wizard to complete these steps.

If you have trouble, you may need to contact Microsoft support for help troubleshooting your particular version of Excel.

  1. Download and save the CSV file from ShipStation. Do not open the file.

  2. Open Excel, and start a new, blank worksheet.

    Excel blank workbook selected with arrow pointed to it.
  3. Click the Data tab.

    Excel UI with Data tab highlighted.
  4. Select the From Text option.

    Excel UI with From Text icon highlighted.
  5. Select the desired CSV file.

    CSV file selected in Windows with arrow pointing to file.

    This will open up the Import Wizard that will walk you through the import settings.

    Excel 2016 users will need to restore the text import wizard before moving on if you haven't already.

  6. Make sure Delimited - Characters such as commas or tabs separate each field is selected, then click Next.

    Text Import Wizard with delimited option selected.
  7. Check both the Tab and Comma boxes.

    Check the data preview to make sure your data has been separated correctly.

    Text Import Wizard with Tab selected and Comma unselected.
  8. Click Next.

  9. Locate any column which contains only numbers, then change the Column Data Format to Text.

    In the screenshot below, we're using Tracking Number as an example.

    Mac Scroll Settings

    If you're using a Mac and cannot scroll to find the columns, you may need update the General preferences for your Mac so that the Show Scroll Bar option is set to Always.

    Text Import Wizard with Text selected and arrow pointed to the highlighted text column.
  10. Click Finish and your file will be imported with the data in the correct format.

Tip

After you've successfully imported the data into Excel, you can save the file in a more advanced format (such as .xlsx) to preserve the cell formatting so you can open the file more easily in the future.

If you save the file in CSV format again, you will need to perform the above steps every time you need to review the file to ensure numerical data is preserved.