We love MS Excel as product database

This may sound weird, but indeed we are enthusiastic supporter of MS Excel® or equivalent as product management database in many cases. And we have arguments


  • a mature software and format. Versions do change over decades, but unlike some OS, everytime with fewer bugs and compatibility maintained.
  • you have Microsoft® editor of course, but also very decent free alternatives (OpenOffice & LibreOffice just to name only a few), on most OS systems.
  • ease of use as no other. Spend time on your datas rather than on a non product specialized interface. On “real” database systems, can anyone create a query for a special need ? Or add a new product field ? Or see, copy/paste or change 50 lines of products in 1 click ?
  • well documented: resources, books, collegues or trainees to help on very smart new usages.
  • and best of all: your datas are yours = accessible = it’s a long term choice. While you will have headaches to export completely your datas from ERP or CMS or other data related software, all these systems will happily import Excel-like datas if you need to change.

Some cons

  • we fully agree, this is not a database in the IT sense. In particular this does limit multi sources or tables merging or simultaneous access.
  • the ease of use and open aspect have some drawbacks: any one can modify, brake it or steal it  (but means exist against all these)
  • not adapted to continuous, high volumes write/change interactions
  • does not handle well other kinds of datas than texts and numbers (related files -like images- have to be saved aside, but that is part of being open)
  • They are some size limits
    • .xls: max 65.536 rows & 256 columns
    • .xlsx: max 1.048.576 rows & 16.384 columns
    • Note that for some industries this can be a real showstopper. Moreover, if you really have a lot of products, it’s not the number of rows the file can handle, but the software that becomes incredibly slow or even crashes. So if you have more than several 10.0000 of products, we indeed recommend you to do some tests before & consider a “real” database, otherwise …

In a nutshell

Unless your industry is concerned by the size mentionned above, we are fervent users of the following process:

excel as product database

You loose a bit by adding one more step in your process, but you gain daily ease of use, flexibility and long term freedom.


see the red flag, when a vendor tells you to enter all your company’s data in his proprietary system!

Your choice ?

Disclaimer: we have no incentive whatsoever from any of the editors listed here,

but in prodalist, we like to use long-term options & not brick-walling customers with our solution

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