The goal of a comparison shopping engine is to compare like items from different merchants. Shoppers ordinarily use these engines once they know what they want to buy; they just want to find the best place for it. Google Product Search, Google’s comparison shopping engine, has recently announced some changes which should increase the overall shopping experience for its shoppers. Google is achieving this goal in the next coming weeks, by requiring merchants to include data which was previously optional in most selling categories. This blog will cover the required changes.
Beginning on May 3rd Google will be requiring “Unique Product Identifiers” for all products except for “apparel and one-of-a kind items”. Basically this means that Google is requiring that merchants start including either the UPC 12-digit barcode number, and / or the original manufacturer’s part number (MPN) along with the product data they are sending to Google. This information will be used by the engine to compare your products with your competition’s products.
I would just like to shed some light on this, in hopes of clearing up some confusion. “Unique Product Identifiers” might not be the best name to help you understand exactly what Google is actually looking for. Think of it like this: Google receives identical products from many different stores, and since these items are coming from different stores, they will be named, described, and priced differently (since different people sell them). Google needs a way to group these similar products together for the shopper, and currently the way Google matches like products is through the UPC or MPN. These numbers will be the common theme across your products and your competition’s products.
Once Google finds products that are indeed the same, it will then allow the shopper to compare prices for that item. Like this:
Once the shopper clicks “compare prices”, it will look like this:
Wait, there is more. Google has also announced that it is also requiring merchants to begin sending all tax and shipping information for their items. This requirement is dated to begin on June 6th, so you still have a few months to comply. Like most comparison engines, Google gives you two ways to provide your tax and shipping information. You can send it with your product data, directly in your datafeed, or you can log into your Google Merchant Center dashboard and enter it there. I find it to be much easier to do this within the Merchant Center. One thing to keep in mind is that Google can calculate your shipping based on weight and the real time shipping value from UPS, FedEx, or USPS. It might be impossible to get your shipping exact for your unique situation, but it’s likely that it won’t be hard to get accurate without much work.
There is still more. Google is also recommending that sellers begin to include “Sale Price” information in their data feed. The “Sale Price” column will be used for your product’s lower price when it’s on sale. If the items price is not on sale, then you would just leave the “Sale Price” column blank.
I haven’t noticed any visible change for the shopper by using “Sale Price”, but maybe in the near future it will work like other shopping engines where your old price will get crossed out, and the new lower price will be visible for the shopper. However, if this is how Google recommends getting the lowest price for your item, then it is a good idea to comply.
All of these changes are not required for a few weeks, but I would recommend you take action to include these product attributes soon. Remember these are put in place to help the overall shopper experience, but they could potentially make your items more visible then they previously were too. We have updated FeedPerfect to handle all of these changes that Google has recently announced, and wish you the best of luck with your data feeds.
Here is some more information on Unique Product Identifiers: http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160161
For the official Google article: