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Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | 11:01 AM

As you may know, we recently launched the Google Commerce blog to share updates on all of the exciting things happening at Google in the shopping space. To simplify how we share information, we’ll begin posting all merchant-related updates to the Google Commerce blog, and this will be the last post to the Google Merchant blog. We encourage you to update your feeds and follow the Google Commerce blog to stay up to date on Google Product Search, Google Offers, Google Wallet, Google Catalogs for tablets, and more.

Posted by Lisa Coffey, Product Marketing Manager, Google Shopping

Upcoming Google Product Search Feed Specification and Policy Changes

Friday, September 2, 2011 | 10:46 AM

As we announced in July, the new Google Product Search Feed Specification and Policies will go into effect on September 22, 2011. After this date, accounts that do not comply with the new requirements may be suspended.

New tools to help you prepare
  • First, use the new Test Data Feed feature in Google Merchant Center (under “Data Feeds”) to test whether your updated feed complies with the new requirements. You will be able to download a full error report and resolve any issues prior to submitting your actual live feed. Rest assured, your test feed won’t appear on Google Product Search.
  • For additional guidance, you can now view our new video tutorials:
  • We are revamping the "Data Quality" tab in Google Merchant Center to enable you to quickly view the most critical data quality errors, and learn how to fix them (coming soon).
Understanding the new requirements

We’ve received a few questions about specific attributes and have addressed these below. It’s a lot to read, but should save you time in the long run. Also, before you cancel vacation for your IT staff, please note that many of the requirements only apply to certain countries and categories.
  • Google Product Category (aka GPC): This attribute ensures that your products appear in the right category (you wouldn’t want that Harry Potter DVD showing up under “Books”) and that we apply the correct set of enforcement rules for a given category.
    • GPC is only required for feeds targeting the US, UK, Germany, France or Japan
    • You don’t necessarily have to send us this attribute. It is only required for items that belong to one of the following seven categories:

1. Apparel & Accessories > Clothing

2. Apparel & Accessories > Shoes

3. Apparel & Accessories

4. Media > Books

5. Media > DVDs & Movies

6. Media > Music

7. Software > Video Game Software

    • For items falling under these categories, you must include one of these seven values appropriately for each item.
    • More granular categorization is always preferred, but don’t stress out about this. If you can follow the level of categorization above, then you’ve satisfied our requirements.
  • Images: We made image_link required for all products. Images are especially important for product in the “Apparel & Accessories” category, where shoppers love to see the different variations of a product.
    • Required worldwide (except Japan)
    • For products that fall under “Apparel & Accessories” (and all corresponding sub-categories), we require unique images for products that differ by the variant attribute ‘color’, or ‘pattern’, or ‘material.’ No one likes seeing a black sweater when they click on the red one.
    • We recommend sending separate images for variant products in other categories as well, but these are only required for “Apparel & Accessories.”
  • Apparel/ Variants: Variety is the spice of life, and we’re working to create a richer shopping experience for apparel & accessories that come in multiple colors, patterns, sizes, etc.
    • Apparel variants are only required for feeds targeting the US. For feeds targeting other countries, the attributes are recommended and may be required in the future.
    • Variant-level information is required only for products in the “'Apparel & Accessories' category, and all related subcategories
    • You only need to send us data for variant attributes if your product varies by that specific attribute. So, if your shirts are all made of cotton, there’s no need to send the “Material” attribute. However, if your shirts were available in three colors and three sizes, you would send us nine separate line items, varying by color and size.
    • There is no penalty for not sending variant level data for other categories
    • If you include variants, you also need to ensure that you send an “item_group_id” to connect those variants and that these group of variants share the same common title. More on this below.
  • Item_Group_ID: We use this attribute to cluster together all the variants you send us for a given item. Sort of like Crazy Glue for variants.
    • This attribute is required only for variant Apparel products in the US.
    • If you have a “Parent SKU” shared by all variants of a product, you can provide that as the value for 'item group id'.
    • If you send us an item_group_id attribute, we will automatically look for variant attributes. Conversely, if you did send us Item_group_id, you should ensure you send us at least one variant attribute.
  • Size: This is an important Variant attribute for “Apparel & Accessories.”
    • Size is only required for feeds targeting the US.
    • Separate your products into different line items in the feed (each line will have a different “size” attribute, and maybe even vary by other attributes)
    • There’s no need to send separate images for separate sizes (unless the appearance of the item changes because of the size)
Please refer back to our detailed Product Feed Specification and Help Center for more information. We hope these tips will help you be more fully prepared to make the most of Google Product Search as we head into the most important selling season of the year for online retailers.

Shop On!

Posted by Mayuresh Saoji, Senior Product Manager, Google Product Search

The +1 Button for Retailers

Thursday, August 25, 2011 | 9:32 AM

(Cross-posted on the Google Retail and Google Commerce blogs)

The people we know and trust have a big influence on our purchase decisions. I bought the chef’s knife I use every day on the recommendation of my friend Eliot, who more than knows his way around the kitchen. And I always try to bring my friend Brian along when I’m music shopping, since he has a knack for pointing out great albums I’ve never heard of.

We’re excited about the +1 button because it brings these personal recommendations to a place where many purchase decisions start -- the Google search results page.

Adding +1 buttons to your product pages makes it easy for your customers to recommend the products they love on your site with a single click. And thanks to recent improvements to the +1 button, they can take the conversation even further by sharing your products right away on Google+.

From there, +1 annotations can help your products stand out. Potential customers might see +1’s from their friends and contacts on your search ads, your organic Google Search results, or even on your page itself.

We’ve worked with Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews to make it even easier to get the +1 button on your pages. Both companies have extensive experience in social commerce, and can help you develop the right strategy for implementing +1 buttons on your site.

Looking for a couple examples of retailers using +1 to help their products stand out on Google search? Jockey (working with PowerReviews) and Golfsmith (working with Bazaarvoice) have already added +1 buttons to the product pages on their sites.

If you’d prefer to add the +1 button to pages yourself, it’s easy to do. Just install a small snippet of code wherever you want the +1 button to appear. For advanced implementation FAQs and documentation, you can visit the +1 button page on Google Code.

As more retailers add +1 buttons to their sites, we’re excited about how much more helpful search results will get. The next time I need a new frying pan, I won’t need to call Eliot up -- his recommendation will be right there waiting for me.

Important changes to Google Product Search feed specification & policies

Monday, July 11, 2011 | 6:07 AM

Updated 7am PST to include updates on China and Australia.

In 2011, we are committed to making Google Product Search an even better shopping experience for our users. Our goal is for shoppers to quickly and easily find the information they need on Google Product Search - and in turn to send more shoppers to our merchants.

To support this effort, we’re announcing a number of changes to the Google Product Search Feed Specification and Policies. Starting on September 22, 2011 we will be taking action against accounts with feeds targeting the United States, France, United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany that do not comply with the new specification and policy requirements. We will be sending emails to those accounts with feeds targeting China, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, with more information about changes in those countries.

Summary of Changes
We are confident that the new feed specifications will have a strong impact on the user experience. Below are several examples of how the feed spec is changing in the United States; please note that other countries have slightly different requirements:

  • Availability: We’d like a user to be able to find your products even when they are out of stock. For this reason, the [availability] status of all your items will be required.
  • Google Product Category: We have added a new required high-level attribute called [google product category] that contains the category of the item in Google’s taxonomy (currently only required for a select number of categories). This is in addition to the current [product type] attribute.
  • Images: We’re making [image link] required and we encourage you to submit up to 10 additional product images through [additional image link]. This way, you can improve the visual representation of your products.
  • Apparel: In order to create a better experience for product variants such as dresses or shoes that are available in multiple colors or sizes, we ask you to include information like [size] and [color] in your product feed. In addition, we require you to provide [gender] and [age group].
  • Data Freshness: We will continue to regularly check feeds for accuracy of pricing, availability, and general product information, and take action against accounts that violate our standards.
Merchant Resources
Below you’ll find the new feed specification and policies and resources to help you prepare for these changes.
We will also provide a video with a more in-depth look at the changes soon. Check back for more information.

Enforcing the new Product Search Feed Requirements and Policies
After September 22, 2011, we will be taking action against accounts with feeds targeting the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and France that do not comply with our policies (please review the policy document referenced above for details). Note these changes only apply to Google Product Search - not to Google product ad formats or Google Commerce Search.



An update to tax & shipping requirements

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 | 11:04 AM

On March 14, we let you know about a new set of data requirements for Product Search merchants. As part of these changes, we communicated that shipping and tax information would be required in your data feeds as of June 6.

However, based on feedback we’ve received from merchants, we are extending the deadline until September 1, allowing you more time to modify your data feeds. We are also permitting estimates for tax/shipping information. However, we recommend reviewing the submission options and submitting the most accurate information that you can, as this ensures the best experience for shoppers.

Here is a summary of what’s changing:

For Feeds Targeting the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany: The June 6 deadline for providing shipping information has been extended to September 1.

For Feeds Targeting the United States: The June 6 deadline for providing tax information has been extended to September 1.

An update on the Google Base API deprecation timeline

Thursday, May 26, 2011 | 6:20 PM

As we announced in December, the Google Base API will soon be decommissioned, and current Google Base API users are encouraged to migrate to the new Shopping APIs as soon as possible. Below you’ll find an updated timeline for the Base API deprecation and resources to guide you through the transition.

Updated Timeline
As of June 1, users will no longer be able to create a new Google Base account. However, current Base API users will have a one month grace period to continue using the Base API until July 1. After July 1, users will no longer be able to submit or access content through the Base API. The login at base.google.com will be removed as of June 1.

Resources


Mobile shopping: a big opportunity for retailers

| 8:11 AM

At an event in New York City today, we announced Google Wallet, an app that will turn shoppers’ phones into their wallets. Google Wallet will enable consumers to store their credit cards, coupons, loyalty and gift cards securely on their phone, so they can pay, redeem offers, and earn loyalty points - all with a single tap of their phone. It is in a field test now and will be available to all consumers this summer.

A key benefit to retailers will be the integration of coupons, or offers, into Google Wallet. We’ve been testing a variety of offers - from discounts directly within search ads to check-in offers to offers in Google Places. Over time, consumers will be able to save each of these offers directly to their Google Wallet. That means consumers will get the benefit of carrying their offers with them at all times, bringing retailers targeted foot traffic.

The integration of offers into Google Wallet will enable merchants to close the loop by directly connecting their online and mobile advertising with offline purchases. In addition, Google Wallet provides merchants with a way to engage with customers in-store, enhancing the customer experience. Many leading merchants are integrating Google Wallet into their stores.



From the outset, Google Wallet will be compatible with more than a hundred thousand merchants nationwide that are part of the MasterCard PayPass network - a merchant point of sale service that enables consumers to tap to pay.

We’re also working with leading retailers and point of sale systems companies to integrate Google Wallet into their physical store experience. Participating retailers include: American Eagle Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s, Champs Sports, The Container Store, Duane Reade, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy’s, Noah's Bagels, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, RadioShack, Subway, Toys“R”Us and Walgreens.

Google Wallet is currently being field tested, and we plan to release it soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to learn more at our website: www.google.com/wallet.