Google Shopping Requirements – What You Need To Get Started

Here’s a reminder of all that needs to be considered. It is important, because we don’t want the client buying a plugin, or ourselves spending hours configuring it, only to find that there is something in the way of it working
 
Examples:
 
Client won’t change product images
Site uses Australia Post plugin for shipping prices
  
OVERVIEW
 
There are numerous issues that can arise with Google Shopping listings, that the client must be made aware of before we commence. Here’s a quick overview:
 
·         Your ecommerce system needs to generate the shopping feed, and there are numerous pieces of data that are required by Google
·         Product images are required, and must be clean with only the product portrayed
·         Shipping pricing needs to be easily described – such as flat rate, or weight based
·         Your website needs Refund and Shipping policies
·         Your products can’t be from disallowed categories
·         It can take more than a week to get a shopping campaign up and running
 
 
AUTOMATED UPLOADS
 
If there are just a handful of products, and they never get updated, a manual product feed can be created.
 
Otherwise, it is imperative that the product feeds are generated automatically by the client’s website, and updated regularly. This might already be part of their ecommerce system, they might require a plugin, or it might not be possible without major changes. Our staff can ascertain what needs to be done. We may recommend the purchase of a plugin.
 
Whenever product data changes on the site, the feed needs to be updated automatically.
 
 
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS and PLUGINS
 
There are hundreds of ways your shopping feed can be generated. If your website uses WordPress and a popular ecommerce system like WooCommerce, your odds of successfully creating a shopping feed are high. If you use an obscure or custom built CMS, it might be difficult to build a shopping feed.
 
Sometimes a single fault with the plugin (describes the weight as kilos instead of kg) is enough for the whole feed to fail.
 
 
FEED DATA
 
The following information is the minimum that must be included in shopping feeds:
 
·         ID
·         Title
·         Description
·         Link to the product page
·         Link to a product image on the product page
·         Price
·         Sale Price (if applicable)
·         Condition (new/used)
·         Availability
·         Brand/Manufacturer Product Number/GTIN (barcode) – any two of these will suffice
·         Google Product Category
·         Product Type
·         Weight (if shipping requires it for calculations)
 
 
PRODUCT IMAGES
 
Each product needs to have an image on its page. The image for the shopping feed does not have to appear on the product page, but it must be the same product being represented. The shopping feed image needs to be of the product only, on a plain background. It cannot contain watermarks, badges, logos, arrows or anything written. The only writing allowed is if it is part of the actual product.
 
Note: Competitors using eBay seem to be immune from this requirement
 
 
SHIPPING CHARGES
 
At the moment, if the shipping price for their products is generated by Australia Post’s system, it is unlikely that we can get a shopping feed approved. For Australia, we are limited to simple rules for determining shipping prices. Flat rate or weight based pricing are best.
 
 
WEBSITE CONTENT
 
Google have numerous requirements about what is required, and what is not allowed. For example there is a list of product types Google does not allow:
 
Even if your product is allowed, if it is similar to disallowed products your account might be regularly suspended by Google’s automated processes. For example selling nutritional tablets – they are OK by Google, but the word tablet and numerous other trigger words can cause a suspension.
 
Your site must contain the following:
 
·         Refund and Returns Policy
·         Delivery Information with Costs
 
 
TIME FRAME
 
We cannot guarantee that your shopping campaign will be up and running tomorrow or the next day. More realistic is a week or two. Sometimes there is numerous communications between the client, the account manager, the tech team and Google support.
This is major.
 
From May 16, 2016, we will require merchants targeting the US, Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK to submit correct GTINs and the corresponding brand for all new products with GTINs assigned by the manufacturers
 
GTINs are the numbers below barcodes.
 
Not all Shopping clients have GTINs listed in their CMS – because unless they use them for stock management (scanning barcodes), they haven’t needed them.
 
Future shopping clients need to be aware of this – if they have thousands of products, that could be a lot of manual work for them. I doubt there is a way of automating it, and we can’t do it for them.
 
The only workaround I can think of is not listing the brand in the brand column. This may or not work, depending on if Google looks for brand names in the title of a product, and decide to clamp down.